Nationals officially hire Matt Williams as new manager
The Washington Nationals have officially hired Matt Williams to be their next manager. Williams replaces former skipper Davey Johnson, who retired at 70 at the end of the 2013 season. No announcement can be made now since Major League Baseball rules prohibit teams from making major news announcements during the World Series.
Williams has been the third base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks and he played for 17 seasons in the Majors, including six All Star games and one MVP runner-up in 1994. He won four Gold Glove awards and finished third in MVP balloting in 1999.
However, Williams has no experience as a big league manager, which may explain why Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is hoping Randy Knorr, who has been the bench coach for the Nats, will continue in that role under Williams. That remains to be seen. Knorr was publicly endorsed for the job by several Nationals players, so they will presumably be hoping he sticks around, but it could complicate matters slightly.
Williams, 47, was a power-hitting third baseman for the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks before going into coaching. He has been on the Arizona staff for the last four years.
In addition to Williams and Knorr, the Nationals considered first base coach Trent Jewett, Brad Ausmus of the San Diego Padres, and DeMarlo Hale of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Williams will take over a Nationals team that won 86 games last year, good for second place in the NL East. However, coming off a 98-win season in 2012, the ’13 campaign was a major disappointment and Williams must quickly assess why the Nationals failed this past season and what they need to do to upgrade the roster. Key decisions loom in the starting pitching and bullpen, as well as what to do about first baseman Adam LaRoche, who went into a terrible production tailspin in 2013 after a fine season the year before.
Williams was named in the Mitchell Report as someone who purchased banned substances. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2007 that Williams bought $11,600 of steroids and human growth hormone in 2002. Williams admits he bought the substances, claiming he used them to help recover from an ankle injury, but soon quit using them because he did not like the way they affected his body.