Updating the Nationals' Manager Situation; Hale an Option?

There’s been no shortage of talk lately about “changing leadership” and “bringing in a new voice” with all of the executive changes taking place around Major League Baseball. And while it’s no secret teams are encouraged to not make significant announcements during the World Series (though it’s also no secret that MLB is lenient with regards to granting permission to do so on travel days), that hasn’t stopped the constant flow of information (or lack thereof when it comes to the Sox/Cubs compensation agreement). Yet, through it all there still has not been a formal announcement by the Washington organization with regards to who will manage the team.

It is still widely expected that the job is Davey Johnson’s if he wants it. I’ve expressed my thoughts on the matter – in short, Johnson might be the right manager for 2012 but isn’t necessarily the right manager beyond that – but let’s check in on the latest rumblings about the situation.

Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman suggested via Twitter just a few days ago that the team will follow through with a formal interview process due to an MLB mandate. But, he adds, the job is still Johnson’s if he wants it.

Meanwhile, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe throws another candidate into the mix, buried deep within a column mostly focused on the Red Sox’s managerial search. He mentions Boston Bench Coach DeMarlo Hale as an option, citing the backing of Nationals special adviser Bob Schaefer. First, and to be fair, I’m not certain what Hale and Schaefer’s background is or why this would have any significance on the team’s decision during this process. So, I’m refrain from comment until I’m able to learn more about that situation.

More importantly, with regards to Hale, I don’t see him as a likely candidate for one key reason – he has zero managerial experience at the Major League level. Now, Hale does have a thorough resume. He served as Bench Coach and Third Base Coach for the Red Sox under former manager Terry Francona. He also spent some time as a coach at the MLB level with Texas. Prior to all of that he did spend a number of years managing in the Red Sox minor league system, including leading the 1999 Trenton Thunder (Double-A) team to a league leading 92-50 record and was named Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America.

His playing career was nothing to write home about it. He played parts of five seasons in the minor leagues (four years with Boston, one year with Oakland) and never played above Double-A. In 2,165 career plate appearances he batted just .267/.332/.364.

Considering his history, the question also then needs to be asked, why hasn’t he been offered a job already if he’s such a good candidate? I certainly don’t have an answer, at least not one that can be trusted with any degree of accuracy. I see the qualities in Hale’s resume but there isn’t anything that screams “Hire me!” for me. There isn’t that one factor that sets him apart from any of the other potential managerial candidates. To put it another way, I don’t see him being a serious candidate for Boston’s open manager position. Considering his ties to the organization, I think that speaks volumes to the actual potential of him coming to Washington.

From what I understand, the team officially has until October 31st (one week from today) to make a formal announcement regarding Johnson’s status as manager for 2012. Considering how quiet both the team and Johnson have been I don’t expect any resolution until the World Series concludes. Heyman might be right, we could see a thorough managerial search – which would make the Commissioner’s Office happy. And Cafardo might be right, we could see some options emerge that aren’t expected right now.

Tags: Davey Johnson DeMarlo Hale Washington Nationals

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