by Jakob Cole
After a disappointing season in which the Washington Nationals were once World Series favorites, changes loom for the ball club. On October 5, second year manager Matt Williams was fired after an 83-79 campaign filled with many bumps along the way. This decision comes just one year after Williams was voted National League Manager of the Year in his first opportunity.
In Williams’ place, General Manager Mike Rizzo hired veteran manager Dusty Baker to a two year deal $4 million dollar deal on November 3. Baker has spent 20 years in the MLB as a manager, and has won three Manager of the Year awards. “We were looking for a manager to help us achieve our ultimate goal of competing for a World Series championship,” said managing principal owner Ted Lerner in a team-issued press release.
Along with Baker, the Nationals have also hired a new pitching coach and first base coach: Mike Maddux and Davey Lopes, respectively. Maddux, brother of Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux, had spent the last eight seasons as the pitching coach for the Texas Rangers. Lopes had served as the first base coach for the Dodgers from 2011-2015 and previously held the same position for the Phillies from 2007-2010.
Baker’s hiring does come with some controversy. The Nationals had initially offered the managerial position to Bud Black and there were reports from the Washington Post that he had accepted. However, Black later declined Washington’s offer after finding out that Washington only offered him a one year $1.6 million dollar deal. So, Washington then moved on to their next choice in Baker. “I was looking for more of a younger manager to replace Williams. Dusty seems like just another Davey Johnson,” said senior Lars Erceg-Warner.
In addition to changes in manager and coaching staff, many players will be leaving the ball club this winter. Washington has free key free agents that could possibly sign with other teams this winter; including shortstop Ian Desmond, outfielder Denard Span, starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, and starting pitcher Doug Fister.
For a team that was predicted to win a World Series this year, it seems as though they are back to square one with all the new changes underway.
“Baker is a veteran manager with over 20 years of experience managing in the MLB”
Photo by AP Images