James Wagner of the Washington Post’s latest column is an excellent, in-depth look at Nationals assistant general manager Doug Harris, who draws strong praise from his colleagues within the Washington front office and from the players whose development he has aided over the years. Both Steven Souza and Tyler Moore told Wagner they wouldn’t be in the Majors were it not for Harris’ dedication and belief in their abilities, even at their lowest points. Wagner looks at Harris’ history as a former prospect who broke down due to injury, only to work his way into the other side of the game by becoming a scout in the Rangers organization. “He’d be a very strong candidate if you look at the next wave of general manager candidates,” said Braves president of baseball operations John Hart. “…He brings a field background and scouting background into everything. He understands the whole analytics and creative pieces. But he also has really good feel for players and the game.” Wagner’s article is well worth a read in its entirety, particularly for Nationals fans or for those fans whose team will be on the hunt for a new GM this offseason.
More on the Nationals…
- Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com looks at five things the Nationals will need to do in order to overtake the Mets en route to a division title. Included in his list is better production from the middle infield, and he notes that while Ian Desmond has looked better of late, he’s had other encouraging signs this season that didn’t have staying power. Castrovince notes that, if Desmond’s struggles return, he could lose out on playing time to Danny Espinosa over the season’s final weeks, and a promotion for top prospect Trea Turner in September can’t be ruled out either.
- The Nationals recent struggles have some questioning the job security of manager Matt Williams, writes Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today. Ortiz spoke with GM Mike Rizzo about Williams, and while Rizzo stopped short of giving him a full vote of confidence, he did offer praise to the second-year skipper: “I’ve had nothing but complimentary things to say about our manager since we hired him.”
- Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron also looks at the Nationals’ slide and wonders if moving on from Williams would boost the team’s chances in the final weeks of the regular season. Blame can’t solely be placed on Williams, though, Cameron points out. The Nationals have received what amounts to replacement-level production from the group of Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond, Doug Fister and Stephen Strasburg. Cameron wonders if Werth should even hold down a starting spot over Michael Taylor when Denard Span returns, though he notes that benching a veteran player in favor of a rookie isn’t the type of move we should expect from a manager who may be on the hot seat. While Williams can’t fix his struggling players instantaneously, he “might be the most replaceable in the organization,” Cameron opines, and the mounting losses only increase the pressure to do something to spark a change.