The search for Davey Johnson's successor is underway. As quoted by Washington Post writer James Wagner recently, former Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers' GM John Hart, who's also an MLB Network analyst, said the Washington Nationals' managerial job is a much sought-after position this offseason.
"'If you’re a guy that wants to manage, the best baseball job on the planet earth is the Washington Nationals,'" Hart was quoted stating, "'It’s the plum job.'" During Nats' GM Mike Rizzo's appearance on ESPN980's The Sports Fix with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro this afternoon, the 52-year-old General Manager and President of Baseball Ops in D.C. was asked what he thought made the gig so desirable?
"I think it's a unique opportunity for a manager to come in," Rizzo explained. "Usually when there's a change in managers, it's usually because of a problem. A disappointing season, a losing roster, teams that are really struggling. And there [are] usually a lot of losses tacked on to a manager getting fired. It's not the case here. We've got a team that's done a good job of winning games, certainly not to the heights that we wanted it to be this year, but we showed what type of talent we have on the club. It's a deep team. It's a young team. It's a team that has a good, fertile minor league system. And I think it's a job that is probably going to be embraced by a lot of people."
"We certainly have done a lot of due diligence," Rizzo said when asked where the team was in the process. "We've done a lot of the vetting process. We started off with an extremely large list of good candidates and we're in the process now of whittling them down to a manageable few that we'll begin to call to other teams for permission to speak to these guys and to interview them. Once we have a wave of [interviews], we'll probably take second look at some managing candidates and make our decision when we feel that we've got the candidate that we want and that we need."
As for what he's looking for in the sixth Nats' skipper who will follow Frank Robinson, Manny Acta, Jim Riggleman, John McLaren and Johnson, the Nationals' GM said, "In today's game, leadership, respect and trust of the players I think are three topics that come right off the top of my head as things that are extremely important for a manager to have. A manager has to come in with respect of the clubhouse and respect of the players. They have to be able to trust the manager that he has the players' back and that trust is earned almost on a daily basis. Every little decision that you make either gains the trust of the players or loses some trust of the players."
Asked about the reports out of Chicago this morning which said the Nationals had requested permission from the New York Yankees to interview Joe Girardi, Rizzo declined to comment:
**Girardi Update** I have learned that Washington Nationals have requested permission to interview Joe Girardi. Reds may be calling shortly.— David Kaplan (@thekapman) October 4, 2013
"We're certainly not going to discuss any of our strategy on asking for permission and calling for permission. The reports, as usual, are beyond our control and we're going to control the message that we can control."
• LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW: MIKE RIZZO ON ESPN980's THE SPORTS FIX.
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