Dusty Baker was, in the minds of many, let go prematurely by the Washington Nationals after the 2017 season, with a number of fans believing that he should have been given a longer tenure in charge.
Baker agrees — and sometimes he wishes he was still with the franchise.
Dusty Baker on the #Nationals : "They still have outstanding talent. I still root for the players. I get calls and letters from people who miss me, and quite frankly, I wish I was there too sometimes." #MLB @MLBNetworkRadio
— Casey Stern (@CaseyStern) May 10, 2019
Baker roots for the players, but he made it quite clear after his dismissal that he had some issues with the front office’s handling of things. He posted a .593 winning percentage with the Nationals before leaving, while his successor, Dave Martinez, is at .485 and has yet to make the playoffs. Baker may yet get the last laugh.
Dusty Baker still has some gripes with the Washington Nationals, and it’s safe to say those issues may have carried over to the new manager.
Baker hinted at meddling from ownership and the front office during his tenure as Nationals manager in a revealing interview with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, saying that his higher-ups often wanted to meddle with his roster.
“There were a lot of things in the two years I was there,” Baker said. “We’d have these meetings upstairs. You’d be surprised how ownership wanted to release this guy or send this guy to the minors. I was like, ‘No, man. No! You’re going to tear up my team!'”
Baker added that Jayson Werth, who he viewed as a valuable clubhouse leader, was one of the players ownership pushed to get rid of — and miss now.
“He’s one of the guys they wanted to get rid of,” Baker said. “I told him that. I said, ‘Come here, man, I’m going to tell you something I ain’t supposed to tell you. You better pick your s— up. Because they’re going to get rid of you.’ And he did.
“He said, ‘What, with all the money I’m making?’ I said, ‘They don’t give a s—, they have to pay you anyway.’ Players think that’s a safety jacket, a bullet-proof vest? ‘Here, man. Go home.'”
Some of the front office decisions lately have raised eyebrows for the Nationals. They reportedly traded Brandon Kintzler because they felt he was giving negative comments about the clubhouse to the press, and Shawn Kelley was released for very odd reasons. This may be some of the meddling Baker is alluding to, and it may be an explanation for some of Washington’s current frustrations.
Count Dusty Baker as one of the people quite surprised by his departure as manager of the Washington Nationals.
Baker said he was “surprised and disappointed” to learn that the Nationals would not renew his contract despite two NL East titles in his two seasons as manager — but no playoff series wins.
“I’m surprised and disappointed,” Baker told USA Today on Friday. “They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me.
“I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It’s hard to understand.”
Baker said he has no plans to retire and aims to continue managing somewhere else if given the opportunity.
There is a chance that Washington’s opinion on Baker shifted in the NLDS, when he led the organization’s stumbling explanations regarding Stephen Strasburg’s health for Game 4. Either way, something clearly soured ownership on him.
Dusty Baker took the Washington Nationals to the playoffs in his first two seasons with the team, but he is not going to get a chance to do it for a third consecutive year.
The Nationals announced on Friday that they will not be bringing Baker back in 2018.
Dusty Baker is out as #Nats manager, club just announced.
— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 20, 2017
The Nationals lost 3-2 in the ALDS both this year and last, and Baker had to deal with a sticky situation involving Stephen Strasburg. He has done fairly well dealing with the drama and seemingly had a good relationship with general manager Mike Rizzo, but Rizzo obviously wants to go in another direction.
Baker, 68, may end up retiring. If he did, he would finish his career with a 1863-1636 record.
Washington’s roster is loaded with young talent, so there should be plenty of people interested in the job.
At least one Chicago Cubs fan is not buying the reason Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker gave as a possible cause of Stephen Strasburg’s illness.
A day after Baker blamed mold season as a possible cause of the illness that nearly kept Strasburg from pitching Game 4, at least one Cubs fan came prepared for such a danger.
Well played kid. Well frecking played. pic.twitter.com/pRkV65C1Wf
— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) October 11, 2017
Baker had this coming, as did the Nationals. The organization’s shaky explanation of Strasburg’s illness on Tuesday looked even sillier when, 24 hours later, the ace pitcher did indeed turn out healthy enough to start. The Nationals simply could have said that Strasburg was sick and he would pitch if he could. Instead, they immediately ruled him out, went back and forth, made excuses, and ended up looking sheepish when he pitched anyway.
The Washington Nationals may be cruising down Baker Street for a bit longer.
According to a report by Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post on Tuesday, the Nationals are willing to discuss an extension with manager Dusty Baker, who is entering the final year of his contract in 2017.
Baker, 67, led Washington to a 95-67 record and a National League East division title in his first season as their manager in 2016. He also finished third in NL Manager of the Year voting but presided over an early postseason exit at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, adding to his noted history of underachieving in the playoffs.
A notoriously old-school skipper who is never afraid to speak his mind (sometimes to a fault), Baker has his shortcomings as a manager and a tactician, but the Nats could certainly do worse than extending him.
Dusty Baker was on the losing side of one of the most exciting postseason games in recent memory, and the man wasn’t exactly magnanimous after the defeat.
Following his Washington Nationals’ 4-3 Game 5 loss to the Dodgers, Baker didn’t strictly applaud his opponents and the gutsy maneuvering of opposing manager Dave Roberts, but rather he pointed out the downside to Roberts’ moves.
Dusty Baker: "I’d be interested to see — they won the war — but the effects of Jansen and Kershaw when they get to Chicago."
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) October 14, 2016
Sour grapes, Dusty? We know he’s never been shy to speak his mind, but that remark is still a surprise.
Roberts’ pitching staff may be overworked at this point, but at least his team is moving on to the NLCS rather than going home, which is sort of the objective, not making sure your staff is well rested and set up for games they’re not going to play.
Roberts is being lauded for his creativity with managing the Dodgers in the decisive game. He pulled his starter in the third; went to his setup man that inning; used a 20-year-old in relief; put his closer in for the 7th; and then used his ace, Clayton Kershaw, on short rest in the ninth. Baker says that managing in that manner, which is going against the proverbial “book,” is not something he’ll be doing any time soon.
I asked Baker if the Dodgers' use of Jansen tonight could turn into a trend: "It’s not a trend that I’d like to be a part of anytime."
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) October 14, 2016
Maybe it’s Baker’s failure to adapt that’s preventing the Nats from going further. The team still has yet to win a playoff series.