We can talk about Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon. We can talk about injuries. We can talk about those Amazin’ Mets. But just about everything you need to know about the 2015 Washington Nationals can be found in this amazing article from Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post.
In it, Svrluga talks about how general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams lost this team. About how the trade for Jonathan Papelbon upset a good portion of the clubhouse and how Williams’ treatment of his players upset anyone who wasn’t already angry and further antagonized those who were.
Two major examples Svrluga cites of Williams’ failure: (1) his poor management of the bullpen which, in addition to putting the wrong guys in the wrong situations, alienated players and put them into a position where they were less likely to succeed; and (2) not communicating with players about their roles and playing time.
A vivid example of the latter came when Jayson Werth showed up one day to find that he was not in the lineup. Svrluga notes something most of us don’t think about much: getting mad about not being in the lineup is not necessarily an ego thing. It’s a preparation thing. If you know you’re sitting, you can relax more. Maybe sleep more. Maybe come in later. You can actually get a mental break the night before and day of a game that may be just as much if not more needed than the physical break. As such, managers let players know when they’re going to get a day off after the previous game. Williams didn’t do that, and it led to this scene with Werth, who had just discovered his name was not in the lineup:
Incensed, Werth ripped the lineup card off the wall, bellowing that it was going to change. Then, according to several people who were present, he confronted Williams — not just about whether he would play that day, but about what most of the clubhouse considered to be a chronic lack of communication with his players. Among the most jarring barbs, from Werth to Williams: “When exactly do you think you lost this team?”
Absolutely damning stuff.
If Williams and possibly Mike Rizzo have a job on Monday, I will be shocked. And I will be inclined to believe that the Lerners simply don’t give a crap about their team.