Report: Nats' interest in Ripken 'serious'

Report: Nats' interest in Ripken 'serious'
October 10, 2013, 11:30 am
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Beltway Baseball: Should the Nats hire Cal Ripken?

It’s been nearly two weeks since their season ended, but little information has come out of Nationals’ camp as to who their manager will be in 2014. There are many directions they can go with the decision, and they will surely take their time in doing so.

One candidate out there who has been linked to the job is Cal Ripken, Jr., both by his vague references to the opening in recent interviews and a groundswell of support from the fanbase.  

Would the Hall of Famer who is arguably the best baseball player this region has ever seen actually have a shot at the job? Former Nationals’ general manger Jim Bowden – who has been right on reports about the club in the past – says it is indeed realistic.

Ripken, Jr. has no experience managing in baseball, at any level of significance, but carries with him a great deal of respect in the game. 

Jayson Werth is a leader in the Nationals’ clubhouse and he’s already said Ripken would be his choice. Ryan Zimmerman has also said in the past he grew up idolizing Ripken as a young ballplayer in the Tidewater region of Virginia.

But current GM Mike Rizzo has countered that sentiment by saying it’s not up to the players, as one would expect. He is the ultimate decider in this case and is not easily influenced by his players, or fans for that matter. 

What could help Ripken is the absence of any home run candidates out there this year. Joe Girardi is back in New York and Dusty Baker has already kind of run his course as a MLB manager. Charlie Manuel is also like Baker in that he’s got a mile-long resume, but he’s 70-years-old and the Nats are probably looking for a younger voice.

The others who’ve been rumored for the job as serious candidates – Randy Knorr and Matt Williams – don’t have major league experience either. They can’t be considered much stronger than Ripken is for the position.

At this point it seems the Nats’ decision will be between those with very little experience and those who have decades of it. Ripken could find himself on the odd end of that, or in the perfect situation given he lives just up the road and it’s a team loaded with talent.