According to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, the Washington Nationals are expected to consider Cal Ripken Jr. for the open manager position created by Matt Williams‘ dismissal earlier today. Ripken was reportedly a candidate the last time the Nationals’ job was open, but he and the Nationals made a mutually agreed upon decision that the time was not right for him to step into a Major League manager’s role.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) October 5, 2015
If Ripken spoke with the Nationals about the manager’s job last time around, of course he will get a chance to discuss the opening this time. Whether that is more than a courtesy to a regional icon remains to be seen. Williams was handed the keys to the franchise prior to the 2014 season because he was viewed as a recently retired player with some coaching experience. The trend of hiring former players with little to no game management experience has played out to mixed results over the past few seasons. Robin Ventura has been mostly a bust with the Chicago White Sox and Brad Ausmus, like Williams, has shown an inability to manage his bullpen late in games.
Ripken has no professional coaching experience, but should at least command a clubhouse more effectively than the old school Williams who never quite connected with his players. By the end of the disastrous 2015 season, it had become painfully clear that Williams had lost control of his clubhouse. Ripken would seem to be seen as a more player-friendly option than Williams, but the Nationals would be better off avoiding the inexperienced manager route even if that player brings Hall of Fame credentials. Ripken will be seen as the sexy choice for a franchise looking to rebound from a disappointing season, but an experienced hire like Bud Black should top their search list.