The Washington Nationals made it official just before today's game with the Chicago White Sox, naming Davey Johnson manager of the Nats "for the remainder of the 2011 season," per a team press release. In addition, Johnson also agreed to a three-year consulting contract that will have him remain with the Nationals after this season and allow him to participate in the hiring of his successor.
“We could have absolutely no better choice to lead the Nationals at this time than Davey Johnson,” GM Mike Rizzo said. “He knows the game, he knows our players, he knows our fans, he knows the Washington, DC area, and he knows exactly what we need to be doing to build the Nationals into a contender.”
It's fascinating to me that Johnson, who has publicly stated on multiple occasions that his time in the dugout was over, had agreed to take on the job of guiding this ballclub for just a couple months before turning it over to someone else, if that is indeed the case.
Johnson, 68, has served as a Special Advisor in the Nats organization since 2009, and it's obvious his input has been vital to Rizzo and the rest of the organization. His experience as a World Series winner as a player and manager will be invaluable to a Nats team that is outperforming anyone's wildest expectations due to their ridiculous hot streak of the past two weeks.
I just have to wonder this: What's in it for Davey? Why did he agree to take on the task of guiding this team for the next three months, apparently just to go back to a consulting position at the end of that short tenure. Why would he interrupt his retirement to go back on the field for such a limited engagement?
It would be one thing completely if the original rumors of a contract through 2012 with a mutual option for 2013 was what happened. It would be easier to understand Johnson's willingness to get involved with an up and coming team for the next two or three years, try to make a playoff run one last time in his storied career.
But unless today's press release doesn't tell the whole story, Johnson essentially agreed to be the team's interim manager for the rest of this season only, and it hardly seems likely, despite the team's recent streak, that this team is built for a playoff shot this season.
It will be fascinating to hear from Johnson, finally, when he has his first press conference as skipper of the Washington Nationals, presumably before Monday's game in Anaheim.