Nationals Name Matt Williams Manager

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals named Matt Williams as the team’s field manager on Thursday, agreeing to terms on a multi-year contract with the five-time All-Star and former Arizona Diamondbacks coach. President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

The agreement culminates a thorough process by the Nationals to find a successor to Davey Johnson, whose tenure as the team’s manager came to an end after 2 1/2 seasons.

MW_photo_darker“I am thrilled to welcome Matt to our organization and am confident he is the best choice to lead the Nationals at this time,” Rizzo said. “He is exceptionally prepared for the task. Matt came into the interview process already possessing an extensive knowledge of our organization: our roster, our Minor League system – and our fan base.

“He has genuinely creative, unique ideas on how to increase performance, and on cultivating leadership and team unity.”

Williams, 47, comes to the Nationals after four years on the Diamondbacks’ coaching staff, the last three as their third base coach. A decorated player during his 17-year career, Williams becomes the organization’s fifth manager since baseball returned to D.C. in 2005.

“Matt has a wealth of knowledge and experience as a former player and coach,” said Theodore N. Lerner, Managing Principal Owner of the Nationals. “But what most impresses us is his ability to understand and ably communicate situations and strategies in a disciplined, forthright manner. We think he is the right leader for a Washington Nationals team ready to compete for a World Series championship.”

Williams is a rookie Major League manager, but Rizzo’s relationship with him dates back more than 10 years, to their time together in the Diamondbacks organization – and this is a role in which he long thought Williams could thrive.

“I saw first-hand the leadership qualities he possessed as a player, on the field and in the clubhouse,” said Rizzo, who was a part of the Diamondbacks front office for seven years before joining the Nationals in 2006. “He’s been someone on my radar as a potential manager for years.

“Matt was a great player, but he also understands just how much hard work goes into becoming a great player. In the second phase of his baseball life, he has channeled the intensity he had as a player into becoming an intellectual coach with a calm, confident demeanor.”

Known for his hard-nosed, no-nonsense style as a player, Williams was a career .268 hitter with an .317 on-base percentage, .489 slugging percentage and .805 OPS in 1,866 games. He totaled 378 home runs, including six seasons with 30-plus home runs. Williams earned four Gold Glove Awards and four Silver Slugger Awards as a third baseman.

“I think it’s great,” Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said of the hire. “He’s a younger guy who was a good player and knows the game. I’m looking forward to getting to know him a little bit… I don’t think we were too far away from where we needed to be, and I think we’re all looking forward to next year.”

A former first-round draft pick, Williams appeared in the top 10 in the Most Valuable Player voting four times in his career, finishing as high as second in 1994, when he clubbed 43 home runs and drove in 96 runs for the San Francisco Giants in the strike-shortened season.

As a player, Williams was no stranger to the postseason. He played on six playoff teams and appeared in the World Series with the Giants (1989), Indians (1997) and Diamondbacks (2001), winning a World Series ring in Arizona. He is the only player in baseball history to hit at least one World Series home run for three different teams.

After retiring from playing in 2003, Williams dabbled in broadcasting for a few years, serving as a color analyst on select Diamondbacks broadcasts from 2005–09, and co-hosting the weekend pregame show for the Diamondbacks with his wife, Erika, in 2007. He joined the Diamondbacks as a first base coach in 2010.

In addition to his coaching duties with the Diamondbacks, Williams managed in the Arizona Fall League in 2012, leading the Salt River Rafters – which included several of the Nationals’ top prospects – to the AFL Championship Game.

11 Comments

Best of luck Matt, Phoenix will miss you!

Reblogged this on Nationals Weather Service and commented:
Nationals officially name Matt Williams as the 5th manager since the team came to DC. More from the Curly W Live Blog:

My hopes are in your hands. Best of luck. The fans are rooting for you and the team.

No mention of the rest of the coaching staff….what has been worked out with Randy Knorr, Jewett, etc?

Excellent choice. His focus on team unity and on-the-field fundamentals is exactly what the team needs to win in 2014.

I’d rather see them take a chance with someone new than recycle someone else’s fired manager. Of course, you never know. The woods are full of ‘sure-thing’ managers who have failed. But with very few exceptions, managers who failed elsewhere never seem to find the winning magic. Maybe Matt Williams will be a winner. He certainly will be under a great deal of scrutiny, coming in to a team that is pretty set and that will probably be the favorite in the NL East. GO Nats!!!

ahem….John Farrell….

Ben, I don’t know where you got the info that Matt W is a “fired manager”? He was the third base coach the last three years for Arizona. Typically, the coaching positions are one year deals and are rehired at the managers discretion IF the coaches want to stay on. I don’t know that he is a sure fire manager but has a good playing history that will serve him well in managing. Scrtinize him all you want – the ownership will too – but let him shoot himself in the foot before you hang him.

Bienvenido Mr Matt just be active and wild also stay young…

@Repete — Rizzo said on Holden and Danny earlier that he’s not discussing those just yet and things are still being worked out. But it sounds like Knorr will remain as bench coach at the very least.

I am tremendously disappointed that Mike Rizzo brought in a known steroid user (see the Mitchell report, or just take a look at the curve in his stats) as manager. This sends all of baseball the message that we aren’t really serious about getting PEDs out of the game. I think I will take my money back to college baseball down in Charlottesville.

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