During a Diamondbacks game this week I got to thinking…
Sitting on the third base side of the diamond I saw Matt Williams, back with the team as third base coach after his stint managing the Nationals. I couldn’t help but to ponder what led the Nationals to letting him go after just one year removed from winning the National League Manager of the Year award in his maiden season as a manager, as well as the job security of current Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale.
After many years of severe mediocrity and disappointment for the Nationals/Expos, the organization and the fans of the team have finally gotten a chance in the last couple of years to be able to enjoy a run at an elite position in the standings.
Matt Williams was plucked from the Diamondbacks’ coaching staff prior to the 2014 season to lead this charge. Following a division title and a 96-66 record, the Nationals were Las Vegas’ favorites to win the 2015 World Series. The offseason acquisition of front-line starting pitcher Max Scherzer to the top of Washington’s rotation only helped further these expectations.
Despite the Diamondbacks’ jump to 79 wins in 2015, one could still find parallels between the Diamondbacks and Nats. The offseason acquisitions of Zack Grienke and Shelby Miller have exponentially increased expectations, especially due to the hefty price the team paid to acquire both.
Injuries to key players don’t seem to fit as a valid excuse for falling short of the goals that an organization has in a given time period– at least not with Williams and the Nats. They had injuries to Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Denard Span, Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister last season. This did nothing to give a break to Williams regarding the perceived underperformance of last year’s Washington squad.
The Diamondbacks are already off to a poor injury start with the loss of A.J. Pollock. Chip Hale may very well be under a similar position in the next couple of seasons as was his current third base coach Matt Williams, speculatively speaking. Personally, I say hail to Hale for having done a solid job, but things change quickly in this game .