Johnson provides Nationals much-needed stability


The Nationals confirmed their worst kept secret on Monday.

They picked up Davey Johnson’s option for next season. It’s a move that didn’t surprise anyone. It was expected that he would be retained going back to the day he was hired to replace Jim Riggleman, who quit in June after a contract dispute with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo.

Rizzo has had a liking for Johnson for awhile.  This was the only manager he wanted, and if the Nationals general manager had his way, the current Nationals manager would have managed long time ago going back to last offseason.

It was the right move to retain Johnson for several reasons.

For one thing, he gives the Nationals the best chance to win next season. There are not many good candidates out there. It’s hard to think a rookie manager will help the team do well, and Terry Francona will likely take the year off.  Plus, Johnson knows how to handle high expectations, which the Nationals will deal with next year. He is the right man at the right time to help the team take the next step.

Second of all, the players loved playing for Johnson. They played well for him in September when it was easy for them to tank it after a losing streak in August. It was enough for the Nationals to win 80 games. The good managers always have the guys grind it out and get through their struggles in a long season. They command respect from the players. That’s what the Nationals manager has going for him, and that could go long way heading to next year.

Finally, Johnson should be in charge of seeing the Nationals take the next step. It’s only fair that he came back after the team flourished under his leadership. He did a good job overall after a rough start when he took over for Riggleman.

Johnson loved managing the team. It was obvious by him being relaxed in the dugout and him gushing about his players since the day he took over. He never had a disparaging word to say about them. He enjoyed being hands-on with the young players.

He missed the game of baseball after taking several years off. He managed the game as if this was his last game of the season. He knew he was fortunate that a team wanted to take a chance on him, and he made the most of his opportunity.

He feels he can manage for another five years by the way he talks about his team. He has no interest in being a manager that is keeping the seat warm for his replacement. He wants to be the manager that will lead the Nationals to a championship.

Johnson will get his shot with the Nationals. This team has a three or four-year window to achieve his objective of winning a World Series. They feature plethora of young players in the team and in the farm system.  They are going to spend to get premier free agents. Everything is starting to come together.

What the Nationals need is stability at this point. They have had three managers since being in the nation’s capital.   It’s never good to have a new manager once in every three years. Successful teams always have a manager that manages for eight or more years. It’s hard to believe Johnson will manage for that long, but if they can get three or five years out of him, that would be something. He should be here for awhile, and that’s all that matters.

Johnson’s contract is for next year only, but with him and Rizzo, it might as well be gentleman’s agreement that he can stay as long as he wants.

It has to be a good feeling for the players that they don’t have to worry about who will manage them for a long time. They know who is charge, and they know where they stand with their boss. They can focus on doing bigger and better things such as trying to make the playoffs next year.

This is what stability brings to a team, and that’s why keeping Johnson was an easy move to make for the present and the future.