FLUSHING, N.Y. - As we come to the end of the road on a season that finished far too prematurely for the Nationals, many questions face the organization regarding the future. First on the general manager Mike Rizzo’s list is a decision on who will manage the Nationals in 2016. A report on CBSSports.com on Friday indicated that Williams will be relieved of his managerial duties after the season.
“We’re gonna jump into our postseason mode probably on the plane leaving New York City,” Rizzo said standing on the field before today’s game. “We’ll meet as a staff as early as tomorrow. We’ll get all our baseball operations staff together. We’ll begin the process of sorting out what went right, what went wrong, what we need and what we need to do to move forward to be the championship organization the Washington fan base deserves.”
Williams said Saturday that he hasn’t had any conversations with anyone in the Nationals’ front office regarding his future. Rizzo didn’t budge when he was press further about when he plans to speak with Williams.
“We’re gonna evaluate, like I said, each aspect of the organization,” Rizzo said. “Any decision we make, we’re gonna be decisive and make decisions sooner rather than later about personnel both on the field, off the field and in the front office. We’re not gonna let people twist in the wind. We want to make those decisions and move on and get moving to 2016.”
The Nationals were eliminated from playoff contention when the Mets clinched the National League last Saturday. The pivotal moment of the season occurred when New York aggressively attacked the July 31 trade deadline, acquiring slugger Yoenis Cespedes, reliable reliever Tyler Clippard and veteran infielders Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. Meanwhile, the Nationals chose to rely on the returns of Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon from the disabled list. The only move Rizzo made was a controversial trade for closer Jonathan Papelbon.
“I think the Mets made a lot of great moves, there’s no doubt about it,” Rizzo said. “They got the most impactful player at the deadline in Cespedes, who is a great player. We thought the roster that we had and the players that we had coming off the disabled list was enough to get us through. Obviously, we were wrong in that assessment, just because the guys we did have come back weren’t in playoff type of mode, they were more in spring training type of mode. So we will look back on it and rethink and see if we can improve on that.”
The Nationals entered the season as the prohibitive favorites to win the World Series. They guaranteed a winning year yesterday, but fell far short of their goals.
“We come into the last game of the season extremely disappointed, extremely frustrated about the year that we thought - we had much higher expectations,” Rizzo said. “We thought going into the season, we created a roster that could’ve and should’ve competed for the National League East championship and beyond - that’s what we were built for - and it didn’t happen. Myriad of reasons come into it. We’re gonna investigate all those things after the season when we do our postseason analytics of what went wrong. But suffice to say nobody’s more disappointed than I am about the way this season transpired.”
A shakeup is almost certain - on how large of a scale is the question.
“We’re out of the tournament,” Rizzo said. “That’s the most painful part of it. We had expectations about playing deep into the playoffs, and we haven’t gotten there. Congratulations to the New York Mets. They played extremely well down the stretch and we played extremely poorly. So they’re now the king of the National League East and our job in 2016 is to dethrone them and take back the decision.”