Davey Johnson told reporters there was "unfinished business" he had to attend to in 2013 in the nation's capital, but after that, the Washington Nationals' manager said he was done as a major league skipper.
Johnson's managing the Nats through the end of this season in what he's called a "World Series or bust," campaign, then the plan is for the 70-year-old baseball lifer to return to the consultant's role within the organization that he held before being called back to the bench in the majors mid-season in 2011 for the first time since he was fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers after failing to make the postseason for the second-straight year in 2000.
Johnson decided he was the right man for the job after the 2011 season ended and he agreed to return for one more run this past December after leading Washington to the NL East crown and the postseason in 2012.
Johnson took a moment to address the mantra for his final go-round early this Spring. "Being as this is my last year," he told reporters, "it wasn't any great, earth-shaking news, 'World Series or bust,' because I think that we've already won [the division], we've been in the postseason and with that experience and with the talent level that's here, our goal should be higher."
"There's no sense in me romancing anybody," Johnson said, "and telling you that, 'Jeez, we'll be lucky if we win the division,' or be lucky if we go far in the playoffs. Maybe I'm just covering my [butt]. But my [butt] is going to be gone anyway. But, I think, I'm not telling these players anything that they don't believe themselves."
After this season, however, he's done. No one's budged from that stance since it was first announced. No one's really discussed a potential successor either, not seriously, though there were some rumblings today after CBSSports.com reporter Danny Knobler threw Don Mattingly's name out there just as the current Dodgers' skipper's being barraged by rumors of his impending dismissal.
Several reports today contradicted recent rumblings that said Mattingly's tenure as the Dodgers' skipper might be nearing its end with "multiple sources" telling ESPN.com's Jayson Stark and Buster Olney that the 52-year-old, third-year manager, "... is in no imminent danger of being fired." CBSSports.com's Mr. Knobler, while acknowledging the reports that Mattingly's not in danger of losing his job right now, wrote that if he were to leave the Dodgers, "... keep the Nationals in mind.":
"People who know Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo say Rizzo is and has always been a Mattingly fan. The Nationals considered Mattingly as manager once before, according to sources, although they never officially interviewed him for the job at that point."
Mr. Knobler went on to write that Rizzo, "... not surprisingly, didn't want to come anywhere near discussing Mattingly or the Nationals' succession plans for Johnson," when his colleague, Jon Heyman, asked recently, and added that the Nationals, "... ownership and the front office are believed to strongly favor hiring a high-profile manager, rather than simply promote someone like Randy Knorr or Trent Jewett from Johnson's coaching staff."
As the report notes, the Nationals reportedly asked for permission to interview Mattingly, then the Dodgers' hitting coach under then-manager Joe Torre, when the Nats looked to find a full-time manager in 2009 after Jim Riggleman had succeeded Manny Acta on the bench 78 games into the '09 campaign.
Several sources at the time, including Mr. Heyman, confirmed what CBSSport.com's Mr. Knobler wrote today. The Nationals asked for permission to speak to Mattingly then, though they reportedly never did interview him. The Nats stayed with Riggleman. Mattingly took over in LA once Torre retired from managing. And Davey Johnson took over in D.C. in 2011 when Riggleman abruptly resigned. Don't expect the Nationals to comment on who'll take over on the bench in 2014 until long after this season ends. That won't stop the rumors, however. Who will eventually replace Davey Johnson? I think we can be pretty sure it won't be either Acta or Riggleman. After that, who knows...