The Washington Nationals and Dusty Baker are going their separate ways after two “win now” teams didn’t win.
The postseason struggles of the Washington Nationals have been well documented. Despite winning four of the past six National League East division titles, all they have to show for it is four first-round exits. Each one more crushing than the previous one.
Likewise, Dusty Baker is known for his lack of postseason success. Sure, the veteran manager is a lock to make your team a postseason participant. But despite managing some very talented teams with the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Nationals, he’s won as many World Series as you – none.
The status quo in DC is no longer acceptable. The Nationals proved this on Friday, parting ways with manager Dusty Baker. He was not fired, as his original two-year contract expired.
There are two sides to this story. On one hand, Baker was hired by the Nationals to take the team to the next level. They have yet to reach that level. And it’s much easier to create change by firing the manager than by changing the roster. Especially one that is built to win immediately. Granted, it’s worth questioning if Baker could have reasonably done anything more to help them. Their past two first-round exits were heartbreaking, but it’s hard to argue with his logic in any of his decisions.
However, it’s worth questioning if Baker could have reasonably done anything more to help them. Going with Max Scherzer out of the bullpen when you have a lead is going to work 99 times out of 100. It’s not Baker’s fault his staff ace, who was nothing short of phenomenal in 2017, had one of his worst games at the worst possible time. Could Dusty have prevented Jose Lobaton from committing one of the most painful brain farts in DC sports history? Probably not.
The Nationals are fully in win-now mode. Bryce Harper will be a free agent after the 2018 season and it’s hard to see him not hitting the open market. Firing Baker puts the onus on the players to step it up. But it’s fair to question if the Nationals will find a better manager for them than Dusty.