First, I don't really understand people saying that it's ridiculous for Francona to lose his job in Boston. He missed the playoffs two years in a row with massive payrolls. Last season, you could blame injuries. Although personally I think that was a bit overdone--I hear the world's smallest violin playing for a guy who gets to roll out a line-up with Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis, and Adrian Betre for most of the season.
But this year Boston was loaded. MVP candidates all over the line-up. They had a massive lead going into September. Yes, the injuries in the rotation hurt, but the guy had a month to figure out how to muddle through a few competent starts, and he couldn't do it. He didn't need to find 5 outstanding starters. He just needed to make sure they didn't have a total meltdown in all five spots in the rotation, and he couldn't do it. And as long as Afredo Aceves was sitting in the bullpen, you can't say he tried everything.
And all that wouldn't have mattered if it wasn't for the horrible start to the season. That happened on his watch. Add to that the public criticism by players like Lackey and David Ortiz--I think it's fair to say Francona wasn't commanding respect in the clubhouse.
Hey, Francona won two World Series. He buried the Curse of the Bambino. He's probably one of the better managers in the game. But is he a guy the Nationals should want so badly that they'd be willing to toss aside Davey Johnson? No way.
When Jim Riggleman left, the Nationals either lucked out or had done a brilliant job of contingency planning by having one of the best managers in baseball waiting in the wings. The Lerners should put a boatload of money on the table, lock up Davey, and move on to more difficult decisions, like filling the gaping holes in the lineup and starting rotation.