Before the Washington Nationals hired Matt Williams as their sixth manager (fifth full-time) in the Fall of 2013, they reportedly discussed the possibility of hiring Baltimore Orioles' Hall of Famer Cal Ripken. How seriously did the Nats consider the O's icon? Ripken, in an interview with ESPN 980's Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan this past August, (as transcribed by the Washington Post's Scott Allen), said he and GM Mike Rizzo had what he described as preliminary discussions:
"We had some serious discussions about it and never really got down to the point of choice and those sorts of things," Ripken said. "I think the world of Mike Rizzo. I think he’s done a fantastic job. I like how he thinks, I like how he talks. If you’re looking at a potential position, who wouldn’t want their first managing job with a team built the way it was built? It was interesting discussions. With many things in life, it’s about timing, and so you have other considerations. I would say timing was an issue there, but it was fun talking about it."
Two years later, the Nationals are once again searching for a manager after relieving Williams of his duties following a disappointing, drama-filled 2015 campaign which ended with the Nationals in second place in the NL East.
Rizzo, in an interview with reporters earlier this week, talked about what Washington's looking for this time around as they search for another new manager.
"As we go through the laundry list of things that we look for in our manager and a perfect leader of the ballclub on the field, leadership qualities, knowledge of the game, Xs and Os, are all important," he explained.
"The communication in the clubhouse, communication within the coaching staff is vital. Experience is always helpful, it always adds a layer of expertise to anybody's resume. We feel that where we're at in our timetable in our time frame of winning a championship, we certainly would lean towards someone that has some type of managerial experience, especially at the major league level, but again, we're going to be open-minded and look for the best candidate we can that allows us to win a championship here in the very near future."
"Last time, we brought in managing candidates with little or no managerial experience," Rizzo continued.
"I think that we’ll have a greater pool of manager candidates this year, stemming from very experienced to limited experience and really go through a process that gets to know the manager personally first, and then professionally and what he does on the field."
So will Cal Ripken get consideration again this time around? Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell wrote last night that he should.
My col: Great reasons why Nats'd be nuts not to hire Cal Ripken as manager & why they might be crazy if they did. https://t.co/uvBHh5Umpn— Thomas Boswell (@ThomasBoswellWP) October 8, 2015
"Few understand Cal Ripken," Boswell writes. "That’s why it will be hard for any team, including the Washington Nationals, to evaluate him accurately as a potential manager."
He thinks the Nationals should make the effort though.
"If Ripken turns out to be a fine manager, then passing on him, when he’s right under your nose, would be an incredible waste of possibility."
Ripken doesn't have managerial experience at any level, nonetheless the major league level, but he does have role models in former managers Earl Weaver and Davey Johnson, and his father, Cal Ripken, Sr.
The question, Boswell asks, is whether the Nats will go with what he describes as a "retread" like managers Bud Black or Ron Gardenhire, or, "... take a chance on the candidate who, though worrisome, also offers the biggest potential rewards: Ripken?"
What other candidates are reportedly under consideration? There are plenty of rumors out there...
Phil Nevin also receiving interest for the Nationals manager position, according to a source— Zach Buchanan (@azc_zachb) October 8, 2015
• "But Knorr, who was the Nationals bench coach for the past four seasons, doesn’t know what will happen to him yet. He still has one lingering goal in mind." - "Randy Knorr on the Nationals’ changes, his desire to still manage" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
• "Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez has never managed before, but comes with a different type of experience that could lead Rizzo to take another chance." - "Could Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez be a strong candidate for manager?" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
NATS BEAT: Changes coming, turning points; AFL updates
• "Keep in mind that Zack Greinke is expected to opt out of his contract with the Dodgers after the World Series. The Nationals had a chance to acquire Greinke after the 2010 season, but he accepted a trade to the Brewers instead." - "Changes coming 2016 for Washington Nationals" - Bill Ladson, MLB.com
• "Two series. Six games. Six losses. Four games lost after a lead was blown in the sixth inning or later. Flip the outcome of those four games, and the Nationals end up 87-75 with the Mets 86-76." - "What was the turning point for the 2015 Nationals?" - Mark Zuckerman, Chase Hughes, Nats Insider
• "Here is where it’s important to add more days to the Turning Point: the way the Mets behaved after the season-shaking series with the Nats." - "Trades, torrents and tears: The 2 weeks that transformed Mets" - Mike Vaccaro, New York Post
• "People from the front office to the players have bragged about his 98-mph sinker. That sinker had trouble staying down, and left-handed hitters hit Treinen hard." - "Who stays, who goes and who has something to prove?" - Bill Ladson, All Nats All the Time
Chris Bostick, who finished the season with the AA @HbgSenators, will take Wilmer Difo's roster spot in the @MLBazFallLeague. #Nationals— Lacy Lusk (@lacylusk) October 8, 2015
Trea Turner's season isn't over. He's also going to the @MLBazFallLeague. Will focus on gaining strength this offseason.— Lacy Lusk (@lacylusk) October 8, 2015
Or is Turner going? I'm confused...
.@leanonmeCB added to AFL roster. @treavturner and Wilmer Difo removed. @Nationals' #23: http://t.co/BQYm0pvZNy pic.twitter.com/jJ9VMuuTQZ— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 9, 2015
• "Double-A Harrisburg Senators second baseman Chris Bostick will replace injured infielder Wilmer Difo in the Arizona Fall League for the Nationals." - "Bostick replaces Difo in Arizona Fall League" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
NL East Updates: Mets vs Kershaw/Greinke; Phillies report cards; Nevin/Marlins; Braves' future
• Phillies: "Of course, there’s plenty to like about the 2015 version of Phillies baseball, particularly the emergence of Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, and Jerad Eickhoff." - "2015 Phillies Report Card: Darnell Sweeney" - Adam Dembowitz, Crashburn Alley
• Mets: "The Mets crawled to the finish line in the final week, losing five of six games to the Phillies and Nationals and squandered a chance for home-field advantage in this series..." - "Specter of Kershaw, Greinke not shaking Mets’ confidence" - Mike Puma, New York Post
Terry Collins on the #Mets veteran leadership. #LGM pic.twitter.com/WQm7j3BYjE— New York Mets (@Mets) October 9, 2015
• Marlins: "Add one more names to the Marlins’ managerial hiring mix: Phil Nevin. Nevin interviewed Wednesday for the position." - "Phil Nevin interviews with Marlins for manager position" - Clark Spencer, Miami Herald
• Braves: "As the Braves look toward next season, they are hopeful to benefit from a healthy Freddie Freeman and a more experienced Hector Olivera." - "Atlanta Braves hope to make progress in 2016" - Mark Bowman, MLB.com