Washington Nationals: End Dusty Baker’s contract distraction

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 13: Manager Dusty Baker
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 13: Manager Dusty Baker /
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Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker deserves an extension. Announcing it now makes his job easier in the playoffs. Here is why.

The time has come to put aside a playoff distraction for the Washington Nationals

and extend manager Dusty Baker for another year or more. When you consider all the adversity the team went through this year why make him squirm in press conferences over his future?

The reasons returning Baker to the dugout outweigh the negatives.

Washington clinched the National League East with three weeks to go. The Nats scored a franchise-record 819 runs, shattering the mark by 46. They return to the postseason for the first time in consecutive years. Players such as Michael Taylor and Anthony Rendon blossom under his leadership. Frankly, players will run through walls for the man.

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You can quibble over how long starters stay on the mound or how strange lineups are, but the results speak for themselves. In two seasons, Washington is 192-130 with two NL East flags. Only Dick Williams guided the franchise to repeat 90-win seasons in 1979 and 1980 in Montreal.

Imagine a fully healthy offense next year with Baker at the helm. The rest of the division will have cold sweats

At the beginning of the year, the general thought was wait until the playoffs and then decide. When you win night after night considering all those injuries, forget the playoffs. Baker’s ability to see the big picture as a manager brought Washington playoff baseball.

Add Mike Rizzo under contract next year and it makes sense to have a winning combination remain together for one more round. Rizzo’s brilliant in-season moves game Baker the confidence to run a championship-level team out there when the Andrew Stevenson’s and Jose Lobaton’s were in the starting lineup. Why mess with a system which works.

Is Baker a master tactician? No. There are times when you will scratch your head. But, he is not hurting the team or their World Series chances. The reason Terry Francona, Joe Maddon and Bruce Bochy are in the Cooperstown conversation is based on October success.

But, Baker is not far behind that elite group. When you consider his nine 90-win campaigns and 1863 overall wins, he is a championship away from Cooperstown. Eight trips to the playoffs help.

Baker and the fans deserve better. At 68, he has earned the right not to audition every October for his job. Until the Nats go through a rebuild, it should be his choice to stay.

Next: Looking back against the Cubs

Announce the deal and let the press worry about the games.