WASHINGTON, October 27, 2013 — Matt Williams has interviewed for the vacant mangerial job with the Washington Nationals.
Williams had a long baseball career as an MLB player. He was proven as a hitter, fielder and clubhouse leader for the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks. He helped lead all three of those teams to a World Series, hitting home runs in each of those Fall Classics.
Nationals’ General Manager, Mike Rizzo first got to know Williams as a player when Rizzo was the Scouting Director for the Diamondbacks Organization back in 2000. Matt Williams retired as a player and then went on to coach first base coach for the D-Backs in 2010. The two have kept in touch since then and have a great level of respect for each other.
The one thing Mike Rizzo has maintained since being the Nats’ GM is consistency with how he believes in himself and trusts his own organizational decisions. In an industry where second-guessing is second nature, his is faith in his own talent assessments was never more scrutinized than it was this past July, 2013.
The Nationals simply could not get anything going offensively. Specifically, Denard Span was the major off season acquisition for the Nationals and it was proving to be a bust. Span had been a disappointment at the plate when he was supposed to be one of the most consistent hitters on the team, batting in the lead off position. Rizzo did not give up on Span despite thousands of fans and skeptics begging for a benching or even a trade.
Rizzo knew there was more to the Nationals anemic offensive equation than just individual players’ hitting. That same tumultuous month last July, Rizzo replaced the Nats’ hitting coach Rick Eckstein with Rick Schu. Schu coached for Arizona, and Rizzo knew of his abilities based on his time there, just like how Rizzo observed Matt Williams while in Arizona.
Then, following the hiring of Schu, Denard Span (and the rest of the team) started hitting the cover off the ball. It was too little too late for the Nats in 2013, but the organizational decision made by Rizzo seems to have kept this team together while providing them hope at a time when a less patient General Manager could have dismantled everything and started from scratch.
If this managerial hire for the Nationals is anything like Mike Rizzo’s hiring decision for the hitting coach (Rick Schu- like Matt Williams- also a former D-Backs Coach), this should work out very well for Nats fans in 2014. Is it April yet?
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