The Nationals will have no problem finding a manager; But will that manager be better than Dusty Baker?

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

There was a barrage over the weekend of negative press about the Nationals ability to land a manager amidst all of the rumors of mistreatment of managers in the past. That is their story — and it is not a new story. Still, managers will line up at Mike Rizzo’s office this week to interview. Once that name is announced as the successor to the popular Dusty Baker, you can expect criticism. It just comes with the territory. In warfare, the Nationals are known as a soft target because they don’t fight back. They rarely do. The ownership group likes to neither be seen or heard from which is a far different story from the other sports franchise owners in D.C. Continue reading

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Grading the Washington Nationals: Position players part deux

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

The rest of the Nats’ roster of position players has to face my utterly unscientific grading rubric, too. There’s no escape, not for the likes of Adam Lind and not for the likes of Rafael Bautista.

I didn’t quite get to everyone last time, so let’s dive right in where I left off. Continue reading

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Two East Division Crowns in a row; A World Series win and they fired him!

You thought this story was about Dusty Baker? It is — but the headline is about John Farrell who spent under 5 years in charge of the Boston Red Sox. He won the 2013 World Series in his first year with the Red Sox and then was stricken with cancer. He came back to win the first back-to-back AL East titles in Boston’s storied history winning over 90 games in each of those seasons and then he was fired. The difference is there was no outrage when Farrell was fired. Both managers, Farrell and Baker, lost 2 straight Division Series after they had both won over 90 games each season. Both managers are gone.

The difference in The USA Today headlines (above) and the accompanying stories should probably be reversed. Farrell was under contract and was fired — Dusty Baker was not fired. Baker was a free agent and free to go wherever he wanted although Baker made it clear he wanted to stay — so did John Farrell. The same newspaper took two different approaches to covering similar stories. Farrell’s farewell story was mellifluous and positive while Baker’s was harsh and negative. Continue reading

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Updated: The Dusty Baker era is officially over

Our sourced report said that Dusty Baker wanted to stay and the two sides were talking, and it came quickly to an end early this afternoon that Dusty Baker would not return to the Nationals making any conversation/negotiation made — a moot point as the Nationals felt like they came to a decision and the Dusty Baker era is over.

The popular vote on the MLBTR poll seemed to be slightly in favor of Baker staying. The only vote that mattered was that of Mike Rizzo and the Nationals ownership.

Grant Paulsen on 106.7 radio just said that he heard from his source that Dusty Baker was going to be back, and Mike Rizzo wanted Dusty Baker back. Continue reading

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Bold Statements Backfire; Chicago’s Cookie Crumbles as the Dodgers will rep the NL in the WS

It is quite possible that silver spoon Todd Ricketts’ daddy, Joe Ricketts, never taught his son about being humble. Bold proclamations sometimes bite you back.

“We’re going to run into these guys in the playoffs,” Todd Ricketts said at a White House celebration at the end of June. “And you’ll come down and you’ll see them crumble.”

Last night the Ricketts’ Cubs team dropped 4-of-5 games in excruciating fashion and were bounced from the post-season after an 11-to-1 loss. The Cubs crumbled and never really put up much of a fight. The final score of the series was Dodgers 28 — Cubs 8.

“…The [Ricketts family] better be careful, they have a lot to hide!”, Trump once tweeted. Is that like saying people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones?

Hopefully Ricketts is hiding. Be seen and not heard is usually good advice for a team owner’s son who sat in the front row at Wrigley and was often seen on camera with a beer in-hand. Then there is Anthony Rizzo, Mr. Respect-Me, who batted .059 in the NLCS series with no RBIs and 8 strikeouts out of 17 at-bats which is a 47.1% K rate. You must earn respect Anthony. Continue reading

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Nats starters are among the least efficient pitchers in baseball while clearly among the best in results in the regular season!

Photo by @MomWithNatitude for TalkNats

The Nationals once again boasted one of the best starting rotations in baseball and once again were one of the least efficient in terms of pitches per inning. A question came up about the catching style of Matt Wieters and his effect on the 2017 Washington Nationals pitching staff which is very subjective. The Nationals pitching staff was the 7th best in baseball this season with a 3.99 FIP and 4th best in baseball with a starter’s ERA of 3.63 which included the bloated numbers of the part-timers who appeared on the mound during the season. Wieters posted a 3.61 catcher’s ERA which was well ahead of the staff ERA of 3.88. The Nationals had a 3.51 ERA in 2016 overall just for comparison and Wilson Ramos last year caught the Nats at a 3.46 ERA.

What is troublesome as a staff, the Nationals got worse in pitch efficiency overall at 1.70 pitches per game this season, and Tanner Roark ranked as the worst pitcher in efficiency at 17.7 pitches per inning. In fact, the Nats top 4 starters all ranked in the Top 25 worst for pitch efficiency. Much of the inefficiency could be attributed to the bullpen. Continue reading

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Grading the 2017 Washington Nationals: Position players

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

Sorry, Nats position players: You don’t escape without being graded too, just like the pitchers.

(In case I need to disclaim: These grades are determined by an entirely unscientific process that involves my own gut feeling. Disagree? Tell me why I’m wrong in the comments section. That’s what it’s there for!)

Again, I thought about splitting this up, but Howie Kendrick, Adam Lind, and Wilmer Difo all played both infield and outfield this season and…huh. That’s actually not very many guys who did both. Oh well. Continue reading

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Dusty Baker has unfinished business!

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

The number is 1863. No, that is not Dusty Baker’s birth year. It is his managerial win total, and he is another full season and a month or two from eclipsing the 2,000 win total and 40 wins from surpassing Gene Mauch and 43 wins from moving ahead of one of the greatest, Casey Stengel. At that point when you match Stengel’s win total, all the managers on the win list from Stengel forward are Hall of Famers.

There is a clear line after Gene Mauch. That line of demarcation separates the World Series winners from many of those who never hoisted the trophy. That is really what Dusty Baker has wanted — a second chance to do what he could not do in 2002 with the San Francisco Giants. The ghost of Russ Ortiz still haunts Baker. Did he do the right thing when his team was winning 5-to-0 in game 6 and 9 outs away from winning the World Series?

Did he stick with Russ Ortiz too long or too little or was it just a matter of his relievers not doing their jobs? Baseball is cruel. Every team on the losing end of a monumental loss can commiserate on how and why it happened. Baker finally won an elimination game in his managerial career when the Nationals won the 4th game of this season’s NLDS and his record in elimination games is now 1-and-9. But he continued his streak of losing post-season games in which his teams had a chance to wrap up a series and Thursday’s game 5 loss to the Cubs ran that string to 10 straight losses which began with the game 6 loss in the 2002 World Series and continued to his game 7 loss in that 2002 World Series and 15 years forward with 8 more heartbreaking losses. That inauspicious streak continues. Continue reading

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The 2018 #Nats roster and the free agents, options, and projections

“One thing I’d like to read would be your expanded take on possible off-season moves for FA and players with options. Particularly Lind, Kintzler and Howie. The team was so strong most of this 2017 season, especially after Rizzo built the bullpen up with KMD.” — NavyYardNats 

That was a great suggestion from NavyYardNats for an off-season analysis.  Here is a look at player statuses with projected 2018 salaries (below). You will note we have input Matt Wieters in the projections as he will almost certainly take his player option, and Nationals fans can hope he chooses free agency which seems very unlikely. There is a mutual option for Adam Lind meaning both the team and player have to pick up his $5 million option, and you can expect the Nationals will want him back however common sense says Adam Lind will want to test free agency after having a very good season and seek a multi-year contract. Continue reading

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111 questions for the 111 days to Spring Training

111 days, 111 questions.  In no order whatsoever. (Minus Winterfest and the GM meetings, it’s about 111 days to Pitchers and Catchers report).

Continue reading

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