Where Do Nationals, Cubs Turn in Managerial Search with Joe Girardi Gone?
With Girardi gone, teams like the Nats and Cubs must find new ways to fill their vacancies, and they're looking for new options.
It won't be easy finding managers who can turn these teams around.
The Nationals suffered a huge setback this season, missing out on the MLB postseason entirely after owning baseball's best record a year ago.
The Cubs, on the other hand, have been basement dwellers for years. It'll take a special manager to get them back on track.
With a crucial managerial search ahead of them, let's look at the top three candidates for the Nationals and Cubs.
Washington Nationals No. 3 Option: Matt Williams
I know that I'll get criticism for having the man considered to be the team's top option listed at number three, but Matt Williams deserves to be no higher on this list.
Williams has been coaching in Arizona for a few years, and used to play for the Giants, Indians and Diamondbacks. However, he's looking into the managerial job in D.C.
Jon Heyman reported that Williams would be a candidate for the job in August, citing Williams' history with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo.
"Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has an extensive history with Williams, who from 1998-2003 played in Arizona, where Rizzo served as the scouting director in the early 2000s."
Williams might not have the experience of other candidates, but this history and a rave review from a rival GM made him an early contender.
"'He has the traits of (Kirk) Gibson,' one rival GM said, referring to Arizona manager Kirk Gibson. 'He's tough-minded, and doesn't let things slide. He has a fierceness to him.'"
Williams still appears to be a top candidate, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, but he is only the third-best option for the team right now.
Washington Nationals No. 2 Option: Randy Knorr
In that same report from Danny Knobler that listed Williams as a top coaching option, he also cited Randy Knorr as being among the leading contenders.
Knorr has been Washington's bench coach for the past two seasons, and he is the best in-house option the team has.
The Nationals should seriously consider promoting from within, as reliever Tyler Clippard told reporters about how good the situation in the team's clubhouse is right now.
The clubhouse is in a good spot. The only thing I ask of whoever makes the decisions on the managerial side of things is: Don’t mess it up. We’ve got a good thing going on. We’ve got a good thing here. Hopefully whoever comes in here next year realizes that and the dynamic of the chemistry that we’ve built over the last two seasons is a very important thing. I think somebody who is more familiar with the dynamic of the clubhouse is going to be more beneficial to the organization as a whole. So whoever it is, as long as they understand that, I think we’ll be fine.
That sure makes it sound like Clippard would be in favor of Knorr, as he knows the team very well and wouldn't destroy the current dynamic.
The team has trusted Knorr in the past, and signing him to a short-term deal seems like a good option right now, albeit not the best.
Washington Nationals No. 1 Option: Dusty Baker
The best option the Nationals have at the moment is to hire former Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker.
After leading the Reds to the postseason this year, Baker is available to replace Davey Johnson in Washington.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Baker contacted the Nats to express his interest in the job:
Longtime manager Dusty Baker, whom the Reds fired late last week, contacted General Manager Mike Rizzo through his agent to inform the Nationals he is interested in the job. Baker said no interview has been schedule[d], and it is not clear if the Nationals have reciprocal interest in him.
Baker has managed the Giants, Cubs and Reds, bringing all three teams to the postseason and being named Manager of the Year. His track record is beyond impressive, and he is the guy the Nats should be going after.
We know Baker would sign with Washington if offered the job since he contacted them, and now all the team has to do is give it to him.
Chicago Cubs No. 3 Option: Rick Renteria
According to Gordon Wittenmyer, Rick Renteria is among the managerial candidates for the Cubs.
Renteria is currently the bench coach for the Padres, but he has had experience managing the Marlins, the Padres, and even Mexico's national team during the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
He has experience working with young players, and has proven himself to be a solid manager when given the chance. That's exactly what Theo Epstein is looking for, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune:
President Theo Epstein said last week he is looking for a candidate with major league managerial experience and or a strong reputation in leadership and working with the development of young players.
The Cubs don't have as many willing options as the Nationals, but Renteria is among the best.
Chicago Cubs No. 2 Option: A.J. Hinch
A.J. Hinch has been on the Cubs' radar for about a week, thanks to his relationship with Cubs GM Jed Hoyer.
As Carrie Muskat of MLB.com says, Hinch's history with Hoyer will certainly help him:
"[Hinch] was hired in San Diego by Jed Hoyer, who was the Padres' general manager at that time and is currently the Cubs' GM."
The Cubs are looking for someone they trust, and Hinch's past relations with Hoyer could help him secure the job.
Hoyer's hired Hinch before. Why not do it again?
Chicago Cubs No. 1 Option: Manny Acta
Manny Acta is by far the best option the Cubs have after Girardi signed with the Yankees.
According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, Epstein wants his new manager to have experience, saying "We're going to look, first and foremost, at candidates with managerial experience."
Acta has already been listed as one of the guys Chicago will interview in the coming weeks, and he has the most experience of the guys with a chance of landing the job.
With six years of managerial experience under his belt, Acta has the track record the team is looking for. Unfortunately, none of those six seasons ended with his team above .500, but he has dealt with young, basement-dwelling teams in the past.