Getting To Know The New Washington Nationals Manager, Dusty Baker


Yesterday, the Washington Nationals officially introduced their new manager, Dusty Baker, to the media. This will be the fourth team that Baker will be managing in his career as he tries to lead the Nationals back to the postseason after a disappointing year this season. One of the quotes that stood out to me during the press conference yesterday was when Baker was talking about the talent that is in Washington DC compared to the other teams he managed (Giants, Cubs, and Reds).

In addition to Baker stating that this team has the most talent he has ever had, he also talked about the talent that he had in the other three cities when he took over the job:

"“Beyond compare, this is the best talent. That’s why I was excited about coming here. Most of the teams I’ve had were either on the bottom or near the bottom or had to rebuild from the bottom. (h/t Scott Boeck, USA Today Sports)"

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One of the things Baker has been known for as a manager is winning as he took all three teams to the postseason. After winning a mere 72 games in 1992 under Roger Craig, Baker led the Giants to a 103-59 record in ’93, but they missed the playoffs by one game to the Braves in the then NL West (no Wild Card). After the Cubs won 67 games in 2002 for Don Baylor, Rene Lachemann, and Bruce Kimm,  Baker’s Cubs went 88-74 in 2003, won the NL Central, and made the NLCS.

Even though Baker didn’t have immediate success in Cincinnati, the Reds went 91-71 and won the NL Central in his third year (2010). Baker did steadily increase the win total in his first two years from when Jerry Narron’s squad won 72 games in 2007 (74 wins in 2008, 78 wins in 2009).

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Before Baker begins his tenure with the Nationals, I reached out to the editors from the Giants, Cubs, and Reds sites to get their thoughts on Baker’s tenures with their respective teams and how they think he will do in DC. First, here’s Danny Vietti, the editor of Around The Foghorn:

"“Although he began his playing career with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, it did not take the fans and, most importantly, the organization to warm up to manager Dusty Baker in his 10-year tenure with the San Francisco Giants. His first impression was as good as it could have gone in his first year as manager in 1993 when he led the Giants to the second-best record in baseball and earning himself the National League Manager of the Year award. Dusty is a man of few words to the media, but a man of many words with his players. The man loves baseball and shows his love of the game every day.“Ol’ Dusty is known to be a player’s manager because he aims to build relationships and cares about his players. In an article by Doug Glanville of ESPN, who played with Dusty as a Chicago Cub in 2003, Glanville recalled a day when he showed up to the clubhouse with an enormous afro and Dusty said, “Man, that is out of control, cut it or braid it, but do something with it.” Although he has yet to make a deep run in the playoffs with his recent managerial jobs, he was instrumental in leading San Francisco to their first NL Pennant since 1989. His players have always appreciated his tight ship, but comical attitude. For instance, Dusty is infamous for having his son as the Giants bat boy, and J.T. Snow having to save him from getting in the middle of a play in a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 2002 World Series. Perhaps the greatest Dusty quote of all-time is, “You can tell your uncle stuff that you could not tell your dad. That is kind of the role of an uncle. I feel very much like a father sometimes but sometimes I feel like a teammate.”"

Next up, here’s the response from the editor of Cubbies Crib, Jacob Misener:

"“Most Chicago Cubs fans remember Dusty with mixed emotions; he brought us within five outs of the World Series back in 2003, but also has been accused of ruining some of the organization’s best young arms in overusing them. But if I had my choice between Bud Black and Dusty Baker, I’d take the latter every time. He’s been a elite manager for two decades and it’s great to see him back in the game again.”"

Finally, we get the response from the editor of Blog Red Machine, Matt Wilkes:

"“Baker was criticized for a lot during his time in Cincinnati, whether it was for his questionable bullpen management or his inability to win in the playoffs (which ultimately got him fired). But there’s also no doubt that he did a lot of good for the Reds during his six season as manager. He guided a young team to the playoffs three times in four years, something that hadn’t been seen in Cincinnati for nearly two decades. He certainly has an old-school style of managing that can drive fans up the wall, but there’s no denying that he was a great clubhouse leader and his players respected him.“For that reason, I think he’ll do well in Washington. From all the reports out there, Matt Williams was the complete opposite of Baker and lost his clubhouse with a combination of poor managing and communication. Baker should completely change the clubhouse culture and make the Nationals a cohesive unit again. Veterans respect him and he’s good at getting young players to respond to his leadership as well. The talent is definitely there for the Nationals to be a winning team, and Baker could be the guy to get them over the hump.”"