Does he know baseball? Sure. He played in the majors, managed in the minors, coached in the majors. But lots of people know baseball.
Can he manage a game? Presumably. He managed six seasons in the Nats’ minor-league system. But lots of people can manage a game.
What a successful major league manager needs, more than anything, is the ability to manage personalties. They’re strong at that level. Players have egos, some of them huge. A clubhouse can be a volatile mix. The late Casey Stengel once said his biggest challenge as a manager was keeping the players who hated him away from those who hadn’t made up their minds. And that was before the players made the huge salaries they do now.
Managing personalties doesn’t mean coddling them. It means setting a firm, consistent standard and living up to that standard every day. It is establishing professional expectations. It is not kowtowing to the big star, or the high-priced closer when he’s pitching like he doesn’t care. It’s not accepting a lack of hustle from the young phenom or the last guy on the bench.
Knorr managed a number of the current Nats during their trek through the team’s system. He’s been around as the bench coach for two seasons, so there’s good familiarity with him in the clubhouse. But those alone aren’t the right reasons to promote Knorr to the big chair. A new face could get familiar with the team pretty quickly.
That he’s already there, knows the team and appears to have the right stuff are the reasons to promote Knorr. Any new hire brings with it a certain amount of risks, sure. This one looks like it would be pretty safe.