Davey Johnson has yet to make difference with Nationals


Former football coach Bill Parcells is known for his best quotes. My favorite quote was you are what your record says you are.

Davey Johnson has been the Nationals manager for 20 games, and the results haven’t been good. Let’s put it this way. He has yet to make Jim Riggleman a distant memory.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo hoped the Nationals would take the next step under Johnson. It hasn’t happened. The Nationals are two games under .500 at 48-50 after losing 3-2 to the Astros yesterday afternoon. The new manager is 8-12, and the team is a game away from being in last place with the Marlins playing well under Jack McKeon, who took over in June.

The 80-year old McKeon has done more for the Marlins than the 68-year old Johnson has done for the Nationals.  Now, that’s an example of a manager that is doing  a good job.

Under McKeon, the Marlins are playing better. They are getting key hits, and their pitching has improved. Their fielding has been exceptional.

The Nationals can’t say the same under Johnson.

There is no question there was going to be a tough transitional period for the Nationals under Johnson. He hasn’t managed since 2000. The guys were new to him, so they had to adapt to what he wanted.

By now, the team should figure it out. How come McKeon was able to get results by two weeks? He started off poorly, but the Marlins are now responding with wins, which they are 15-11 under his leadership. Shouldn’t this be the same for Johnson?

For whatever reason, something is missing. The Nationals were playing better ball before Riggleman quit after Rizzo did not want to talk contract with him. It seemed like the team was starting to figure out how to win games with efficient pitching and timely hitting. That team seems to know what they were doing.

That is not the case under Johnson’s leadership. This is a team that makes too many mistakes almost every game. For instance, the infielders make errors. Either they fail to make a double play or they throw the ball away. Other teams make the Nationals pay by scoring runs on those errors.

On Tuesday night, the Astros attempted to execute a squeeze play in the fourth inning. With Mike Morse  and Jordan Zimmermann trying to get the ball in an attempt to get Astros’ Chris Johnson out at home, there was no National at first base to get Humberto Quintero, who bunted, out .

That’s inexcusable.  Not only did the Astros scored, but Quintero was safe.

This shows Johnson does not spend much time having them run defense drills.  People claim the Nationals manager does that, but action speaks louder than words. The errors under his watch tell a different story.

When Riggleman was the manager, he made it a point to work those guys endlessly. If he did not like what he saw, he would make them work on defense after the game. Is it any coincidence the Nationals went on a streak where they were errorless this season?

This shows repetition results to perfection. That explains the difference between both managers.

Here’s another thing. Riggleman knew how to manage pitchers by putting them in a position to succeed. He would be proactive in taking them out when he knew there was a sign of trouble.

With Johnson, he takes his pitcher out when the game is out of reach. It’s good to give the guy a chance to get out of jams on the mound, but the manager’s job is to win a ballgame, not worry about feelings.

When Livan Hernandez was starting to lose it against the Cubs two weeks ago, it was on Johnson to have his relievers warm up, and talk to his struggling starter in an attempt to give time for his relievers. The manager couldn’t even do that.

When the Angels started to get to John Lannan, Johnson should have taken him out rather than let him finish the inning.

Only Johnson knows why he puts Sean Burnett in games. All that reliever does is get hit hard when he is out there. Sure he has gotten out of jams at times, but why does he put himself in that position? Only time he should be pitching is if the game is a blowout or if he is there to get one or two outs.

A good manager must know how to manage pitchers. Johnson hasn’t done that so far. There has been too much second-guessing from that end.

When Johnson was hired, he was supposed to get Jayson Werth back on track. It hasn’t happened. Yes, he had three hits yesterday, but prior to yesterday’s game, he was batting .212. People thought he couldn’t play for Riggleman, but it turned out he played better for the previous manager than the current manager.

Only good thing Johnson has done is utilizing the running game. Other than that, there hasn’t been much to be positive about with the new man.

The old manager is missed, and it’s painful to admit after saying good riddance when he quit.