WASHINGTON — In describing what he will look for in a manager to replace Matt Williams, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo might have been pointing out exactly what he felt went wrong with the man he hired two years ago and fired Monday.
"Leadership qualities, knowledge of the game, X's and O's are all important. Communication in the clubhouse, communication within the coaching staff, is vital," Rizzo said during a conference call. "Experience is always helpful. It always adds a layer of expertise to anybody's resume. We feel that where we're at in our timetable of winning a championship, we certainly would lean toward someone that has some type of managerial experience, especially at the major-league level."
Williams did not, but he had a history with Rizzo. And though Williams was voted NL manager of the year for his rookie season in 2014, he is now out of a job because the Nationals failed to make the playoffs after entering the season with World Series aspirations.
Rizzo delivered the news to Williams in the Nationals Park manager's office the morning after Washington finished the regular season at 83-79, seven games behind the Mets in the NL East.
"This entire season was a disappointment," Rizzo said. "It was not our best year. It wasn't Matt's best year. It wasn't my best year. As an organization, it wasn't our best year."
In February, the Nationals exercised Williams' 2016 contract option. But he presided over a 2015 season filled with defeats, discord and a dugout dustup between NL MVP front-runner Bryce Harper and teammate Jonathan Papelbon during a game the day after the team was eliminated from playoff contention.
Williams said he had no idea of the extent of the skirmish until much later. Even though he was, of course, in the dugout at the time, Williams said he hadn't been aware of exactly what happened — including that Papelbon grabbed Harper by the throat.
ANGELS HIRE GM: The Angels introduced Billy Eppler as their 12th general manager a day after their season ended. The big-budget club missed the postseason for the fifth time in six years. Eppler, who has worked in the Yankees front office the past 11 years, was the other finalist for this job four years ago, when owner Arte Moreno hired Jerry Dipoto instead. Dipoto resigned from the Angels at midseason after repeatedly jousting with manager Mike Scioscia.
HALL OF FAME: Former stars Marty Marion and Bucky Walters are among 10 candidates from the earlier days of baseball who will be considered for the Hall of Fame on the Pre-Integration Era ballot. Joining them on the ballot are Doc Adams, Sam Breadon, Bill Dahlen, Wes Ferrell, Garry Herrmann, Frank McCormick, Harry Stovey and Chris von der Ahe. A 16-member panel will decide on Dec. 7.
ATTENDANCE HIKE: Major League Baseball averaged 30,517 fans at games this season, up slightly from the previous two years and the sport's seventh-highest mark.
SHIFTS UP: Teams used 17,733 defensive shifts on balls in play this season, Baseball Info Solutions said. That is up 33 percent from 13,298 last year. The Rays led the majors with 1,462, a rise of 638, and the Astros were second at 1,416.
A'S: Wanting to keep David Forst in the front office after other clubs sought to hire him, Oakland promoted him to general manager and elevated Billy Beane to executive vice president of baseball operations.
D'BACKS: Pitching coach Mike Harkey was fired.