"There’s not one single incident that was the tipping point of making a decision with Matt Williams," GM Mike Rizzo assured reporters on Monday, in announcing that after two years on the bench in the nation's capital, Williams was out.
Williams was relieved of his duties after a disappointing 83-79, second-place finish in the NL East the Washington Nationals won in 2014.
"Like I said during the season," Rizzo continued, "we’re gonna take his whole body of work into consideration and make a decision based on that, based on what was best for the organization moving forward."
Asked when exactly the Nationals' brass determined that Williams remaining as manager wasn't what was best for the organization, Rizzo repeated what he'd said previously.
"Again, I wanted to give the manager the benefit of the doubt for his full body of work," he explained.
"With all the struggles that we incurred this year with injuries and so on and so forth, we had to balance that with the successes that he had last year. I don’t think there was any one tipping point... that said this is it, this is the reason.
"It was after the season, looking at the full body of work and making the judgment that going forward, what’s going to give us the best chance of having ourselves the championship-caliber franchise the fan base deserves?"
So, of course, the question is, who will give the Nationals the best chance? Who will Washington turn to for their seventh manager (counting interim manager John McLaren, who bridged the gap from Jim Riggleman to Davey Johnson in 2011)?
Nationals' next manager speculation:
• "Okay, now, long shots aside: Bud Black. For eight-and-a-half seasons he managed the San Diego Padres, often at times when the club didn’t have the payroll clout or development system to compete against the powers in the National League West..." - "Likely candidates to replace fired Nationals Manager Matt Williams" - Barry Svrluga, The Washington Post
• "And maybe they will hire Ripken. "But the Nationals are more likely to go with someone experienced this time, perhaps someone like Bud Black." - "Nationals manager: Cal Ripken Jr. sexy choice, Bud Black more likely" - John Heyman, CBSSports.com
on nats search: ripken jr. would be sexy pick, but bud black (or someone like him) more likely. http://t.co/vOBH2dBx0C— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) October 5, 2015
• "In the other dugout, according to a person familiar with the situation, Giants Manager Bruce Bochy turned giddily incredulous that Williams had not instead chosen all-star Tyler Clippard..." - "By betting on Matt Williams, Nationals GM also bet on himself" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post
Bruce Bochy was "giddily incredulous" with how Matt Williams handled his bullpen: http://t.co/2NnurfDobT— Deadspin (@Deadspin) October 6, 2015
Opinion time - Matt Williams relieved of duties columns:
• "That description still fits the Nats after two years under Williams. They didn’t change, in part because he didn’t force them or inspire them to change." - "After parting ways with Matt Williams, Nationals need to find a true leader" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post
My col: Everyone has a personality. Top MLB managers SHOW theirs. That's how they lead. Matt Williams couldn't do it https://t.co/JbZ21dFa8A— Thomas Boswell (@ThomasBoswellWP) October 5, 2015
• "The next hire will be the most important of Rizzo's career as the Nats seek to rebound." - "#MLBFrontOffice: What's next for the Washington Nationals?" - Jim Bowden, The GM's Office - ESPN
• "In his final weekend leading the most disappointing team in baseball, embattled Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams declined to campaign publicly to save his job..." - "Analysis: Nationals' Matt Williams was overmatched, inflexible in debut gig" - Joe Lemire, USA TODAY Sports
• "I still wonder if 1) Williams just wanted to win the game and denied to himself how bad the fight was or 2) wanted to punish Papelbon in some way (he left him out there to give up five runs and get the loss)." - "Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post
Nats beat writers on MW's firing:
• "But Williams’ final undoing might well have been his handling of matters off the field during the latter stages of this season, with a variety of key players questioning his decisions and complaining about the 49-year-old’s communication skills." - "Williams fired by Nats, entire staff let go" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
Two yrs ago, Nats hired Matt Williams, hoping he'd grow w/ the team. Monday, Nats fired him & will look at experience http://t.co/qR0Mi5t26W— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) October 5, 2015
• "With Span lost for most of the second half, the Nationals never adopted the form Rizzo intended — the lineup he built, then waited for through the first half, played two games intact." - "Mike Rizzo on why his plan at the trade deadline didn’t work, and why the Mets won the NL East" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "Some available veteran managers with major league experience include Bud Black, Dusty Baker, Larry Bowa and Willie Randolph. Cal Ripken Jr.'s name will likely be floated for media fodder, but aside from being a former manager's son, Ripken has no managerial experience." - "Nationals Pastime: Experience is key for Mike Rizzo in searching for new manager this time around" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
• "On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Brad Ausmus and Matt Williams, who were both stingy with when to challenge and had a low tally of successes." - "Which manager had most success with review system in 2015?" - Owen Watson, FOX Sports
#Nationals, by firing entire staff, showed they learned from one mistake. Allowed Williams to hire only one coach: Weidemaier. Not ideal.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 5, 2015
Not saying coaches were #Nationals’ problem; they had some good ones. But a manager needs confidants on his staff.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 5, 2015
• "By the time Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams was dumped Monday morning after a season of dysfunction, the weeks-long drumbeat of predictions that his exit was going to happen made it seem like old news." - "What it's like to get fired from job as coach, manager, executive like Matt Williams, Joe Philbin"- Johnette Howard, ESPN
• "The move was not a surprise, given the Nats were early favorites who instead became a disaster in many ways, but the speed with which it came suggests the Nats made their decision well before Monday." - "Nationals fire Matt Williams after disastrous season" - Marc Normandin, SBNation.com
• "Despite the disappointment that was this season, the Nationals are an attractive job for potential managers. It's a club with plans to contend, a solid foundation, a new ballpark, and one of the wealthiest owners in the league." -"Six reasons why Nationals' manager job is one of most attractive in MLB" - Mike Axisa,CBSSports.com
The goodbyes, they're too much/dusty in here:
Coaches were told by MW or Rizzo this morning. Nats want new manager to pick staff. Steve McCatty, w/ Nats since '09: "I'll miss those guys"— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) October 5, 2015
Sorry Jordan doesn't have Twitter. But this message is from him. pic.twitter.com/F1jFGAahLd— Mark Pieper (@Mark_Pieper) October 5, 2015