The Nationals are in a weird spot. They're going to lose Jordan Zimmermann, most likely, and there are some aging concerns throughout the lineup. On the other hand, Bryce Harper is 14 years old, and they have the best pitching prospect in baseball. They're expecting to win, and they're expecting to win right away. They need someone with a deft touch to wrangle this all in.
Finally, some long-awaited interest: Dusty Baker interviewing with the Nationals today. Rock-solid source.— Bruce Jenkins (@Bruce_Jenkins1) October 14, 2015
Well, huh. That would be an inspired choice in a lot of ways. I'm not sure if it would be a good choice, but it would sure be inspired. You might remember Dusty Baker fondly from his time with the Giants. There were fond memories, alright. The 1997 season is still one of my very, very favorites, even if it ended too early. Dustiny was a thing. Remember Dustiny?
My favorite Baker memory, though, isn't from his time on the Giants:
Why would you ... I mean ... you're down by ... and the runners aren't ... and the catcher is ... why would you ...
(If that strike isn't called, it's possible that none of the three championships happen. Baseball is so weird. )
Okay, so Dusty isn't the best tactical manager, and he has a longstanding reputation of someone who hurts young arms. So what gives? Well, first, that reputation is overblown. R.J. Anderson did a good job pointing out that Baker has changed a bit since his days with Mark Prior.
If you're not worried about that part, then you're probably ranking what you want in a manager like this:
- Tactical skills
Everyone loves Baker, for the most part. I'm sure there are some hurt feelings out there, somewhere, but it's pretty rare to hear about Dusty-hate. Managing the emotions in the clubhouse is a pretty big deal. And for all his tactical faults, he was a hanging slider from Sergio Romo away from advancing that year. It's not like he's a total obstacle to success.
I still don't know why Tsuyoshi Shinjo was DH'ing with Kenny Lofton in center, though. That still hurts my brain.
You know, give me a call, Nationals. We should talk.
But it's not just Baker they're looking at. Ron Wotus is also getting an interview. Let me just rustle up a tweet from last year ...
Ron Wotus at his next interview: "Managing? It's just a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time."— Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron) November 21, 2014
Maybe he just doesn't interview well. He doesn't not look like Jim Tomsula, after all.
The funny thing is that after 16 years in the Giants' organization, I'm still not exactly sure what Wotus does well. Or poorly. I know he's a big part of the shifting, which has been good, but I don't imagine him in the Shift Lab for hours after every game, poring over the spray charts and coming up with the shifts himself. I know he's been a part of a very successful franchise and is highly regarded, so his personality probably isn't toxic. He might be the leader the Nationals are looking for.
Maybe he shows up shirtless to every interview. Man, he would be a legend.
I'm pulling for Wotus, just because he deserves it. I have no idea why Dave Righetti, Roberto Kelly, and Hensley Meulens don't get a lot of attention ... but, good. It's pretty impressive that Wotus stuck around through Baker, Felipe Alou, and Bruce Bochy, so he must be doing something right.
The Nationals were probably hoping they would siphon off the Giants' success when they hired Williams. When he was hired, they asked him, "So what's the Giants' secret?", and he probably responded with, "Oh, I don't know. Most of that stuff happened after I was gone," and then it was really, really quiet and awkward in the office, and then Williams backed toward the door wordlessly, and then later that season he screwed up in a way that gave the Giants a World Series title.
Here, the Nationals can get an actual Giant. They can also get a Giant who wasn't around when the really good stuff happened, and then eventually helped them win a World Series by screwing up. Let's see if they know their Giants history.