While discussing the decision to relieve Matt Williams and his coaching staff of their duties with the Washington Nationals on Monday afternoon, General Manager Mike Rizzo also offered his own thoughts on what went wrong for the 2015 version of the Nationals, who finished the season 83-79, 7.0 games behind the New York Mets, in second place in the National League East.
Expected by just about everyone to repeat as division champs and take another crack at a postseason run after NLDS losses in 2012 and '14, the Nats' fell short of their goal, but Rizzo talked big or in his words "grand" picture when asked to put the season in perspective.
"I think you have to take a step back and look at the grand picture," he said. "2015 -- there’s nobody more disappointed about the 2015 season than I am. We thought we put together a roster that should compete not only for the division title, but to move along throughout the playoffs. It didn’t happen for a litany of reasons.
"But when you look back at the organization since 2012, we’ve won the third-most games in all of baseball behind only the Cardinals and the Dodgers… our winning percentage is third best among all teams.
"We’ve got ourselves a good, young core of players at the major league level. We’ve got ourselves a fertile farm system that we can reach for for major league talent on a daily basis. So we feel proud of the franchise that we have put together. We take pride in the organization that we have and the process that we use to make the decisions here in Washington."
The next big decision, of course, is going to be an important one for the Nationals, who have just begun the process of hiring the seventh manager the team has had in eleven seasons since the franchise that was the Montreal Expos was relocated to the nation's capital. So what names are being bandied about? Who's interested? That's what these links are for...
Next Nationals' skipper - The Candidates, rumors, interest and chatter:
• "Baker was reportedly on the Marlins’ radar, but he said he hasn’t been contacted by them. He wants to be back in a major league dugout..." - "Ron Gardenhire, Dusty Baker interested in Nationals managerial vacancy" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
Ron Gardenhire and Dusty Baker interested in Nationals' managerial vacancy. http://t.co/5djITENuTF— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) October 6, 2015
• "It has gone mostly unnoticed, but the Nationals have become one of baseball’s biggest merry-go-rounds when it comes to managers..." - "After a decade of change, time for a long-term manager" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "Triple-A Syracuse's Billy Gardner Jr. just finished his 21st consecutive season as a manager in the minor leagues. Very few can match his resume as far as pure baseball experience goes - and at almost every level." - "Manager search: Triple-A Syracuse's Billy Gardner Jr. brings wealth of experience to post" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
Byron Kerr: Manager search: Triple-A Syracuse's Billy Gardner Jr. brings wealth of experience to post http://t.co/fauGTqeRR1— Byron Kerr (@masnKerr) October 6, 2015
• "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
Dang, Desi. Quit it:
Ian Desmond (@IDesmond20) October 7, 2015
NATS BEAT: Season in review; ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
• "The bullpen was the weakest link. The Nationals never found an effective eighth-inning setup guy after trading Tyler Clippard to the Athletics in the offseason." - "Nationals fall short of expectations" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com
• "Welcome to the offseason. It got off to a dramatic start for the Nationals with the firing of manager Matt Williams and his entire coaching staff Monday." - "Covering the Bases: The offseason begins" - Jonathan Warner, WTOP
Congrats to @Bharper3407, the #Nats nominee for the 2015 Hank Aaron Award. Vote! http://t.co/NeRtt5ouSd #Bryce4MVP pic.twitter.com/G0OYNjR30T— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 6, 2015
• "The humility is undeniable now. For all the hubris the Washington Nationals have been accused of displaying during their rise to prominence, failure and embarrassment currently serve as their anchor." - "The humbling of Mike Rizzo and the Nationals" - Jerry Brewer, The Washington Post
• "Wide-eyed and smiling, Trea Turner was just south of giddy. Max Scherzer was pitching a no-hitter against the New York Mets, and Turner, just 22 years old and in his 26th major league game, was standing at shortstop." - "Nationals recognize an offseason of change is on the horizon" - Todd Dybas, Washington Times
NATIONAL(S) BEAT - What is coach poaching? Lerner bucks:
• "With the firing of manager Matt Williams in Washington, the Nationals are expected to consider Cubs bench coach Davey Martinez – who interviewed with the Nats for the job that Williams got." - "Cubs notes: Social Media Jake, lineup intrigue and possible coach poaching" - Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun-Times
• "Williams has been a lightning rod for criticism since the Nationals started to falter in the middle of the year so it’s no surprise that he was relieved of his duties..." - "Matt Williams and What We Don’t Know" - Matthew Kory, FanGraphs Baseball
• "Actually, Rizzo says the Mets' activity at the trade deadline is why they won the division and the Nationals sunk in the second half." -"Washington Nationals GM explains why Mets are 'king of the National League East'" - Mike Vorkunov, NJ.com
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says the Mets are "the king of the National League East" http://t.co/29J61VQL7E #mets— Mike Vorkunov (@Mike_Vorkunov) October 6, 2015
• "[Ted] Lerner, who’s set to celebrate his 90th birthday next week, came in at No. 86 on the list with a net worth of $5.5 billion, according to Forbes." - "Seven With Local Ties Make Forbes List of Richest Americans" -Aaron Kraut, Bethesda Magazine
America's richest sports team owners for 2015: http://t.co/heNPWiYCba pic.twitter.com/lH4nqBwHH4— Forbes SportsMoney (@SportsMoneyBlog) September 29, 2015
• "Craig Stammen (5.160) – $2.4MM Drew Storen (5.140) – $8.8MM Stephen Strasburg (5.118) – $10.5MM..." - "Projected Arbitration Salaries For 2016" - Tim Dierkes, MLB Trade Rumors
NL EAST UPDATES - Harvey's totally getting traded; Fish moving lime green walls:
• Phillies: "Sure, the '15 Phils lost 10 more games than they did last year, but this season was more productive from a big-picture goal of becoming a relevant, contending baseball team sooner rather than later." - "What the Phillies need to do this offseason" - Ryan Lawrence, Philly.com
• Mets: "There were any number of ways that David Wright could have downplayed the latest Matt Harvey drama, and over the years the Mets’ captain has learned how to put out such brush fires perhaps more adeptly than any other high-profile New York athlete." - "Harper: Mets are Wright to be annoyed with Matt Harvey drama" - John Harper, NY Daily News
David Wright on Matt Harvey: "I'm concerned about the guys who are here. The guys who are here had a great workout. #Mets— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) October 6, 2015
harvey missed workout after getting stuck in tunnel. i sympathize; traffic brutal lately in nyc. sandy not as sympathetic.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) October 6, 2015
• Marlins: "They’re hiring a new manager and bringing in the fences. Now, if only the Marlins can figure out a way to win more games." - "Marlins shuffle front office, begin search for new manager, plan changes to home park" - Clark Spencer, Miami Herald
• Braves: "When the season concluded on Sunday, the Braves exited a second consecutive losing season for the first time since 1990." - "Braves endure second straight losing season" - Mark Bowman, braves.com