According to multiple reports including one by the Washington Post, former San Diego Padres manager Bud Black will be named the 5th manager in Washington Nationals history. He should be a good fit for a veteran club that failed to live up to expectations last season under Matt Williams. Another managerial opening closing could also help the Padres rev up interest in their own managerial opening if they can’t work things out with the presumed top two candidates Ron Gardenhire or Phil Nevin.
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With the Nationals Black inherits a team that went 83-79 last season and missed the playoffs to the New York Mets who now find themselves in the World Series. In 2016, ironically the Nationals still might start the season as the front runners for the division. After all, they will still have two-no-hitter throwing Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in the rotation, not to mention Bryce Harper in the lineup.
One of the biggest challenges for Black will be corralling the talent and personality of Bryce Harper. While I’m inclined to believe that Jonathan Papelbon‘s own combative personality is partly to blame for the end of the season choking, I also do not leave Harper out of the blame game. When Matt Williams took over the Nationals, early on he benched Harper for his lack of hustle. Harper has incredible talent, and this year he improved by leaps and bounds in his ability to get on base and lead his team offensively. The question mark is still his maturity – which can be misleading since he is still just turned 23 years old in early October.
The team is not expected to announce anything until after the World Series, as teams normally don’t make any announcements that would distract from the World Series itself. We do know that the Padres have trimmed their list of manager candidates, but just how close they are to making a final decision is not yet known.