Don Baylor wants to manage again

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Don Baylor is the Rockies’ hitting coach. He used to be their manager. He wants to manage again:

“The last interview that I had was the one with the Phillies when Charlie Manuel took the job. So that’s a long time ago. If it’s in the cards again for me, we’ll see . . . Managing a team in the World Series is what motivates me. I played on teams that made it, and been a coach on a couple, but managing your own World Series team is that big giant carrot that you’re trying to obtain. The past is in the books, and I’m trying to focus on things in front of me. I enjoy what I do now very much and really like being here. But I know I can still manage.”

I can’t say that I’ve thought of Baylor as a managerial candidate for some time, but that’s really just because he hasn’t been named as a candidate by anyone, as he says, since 2004.  There’s a certain buzz and a political vibe around the kinds of guys who get multiple chances at manager jobs. Maybe that’s media-created, maybe it’s reflective of real politicking behind the scenes. I’m really not sure. I am sure, however, that Baylor has never given off that vibe as someone who’s out there networking his butt off to get another gig.

It’s possible that his cancer diagnosis several years ago — which he beat, by the way — has contributed to this. It would be unfair if that was the case, yes, but baseball wouldn’t be the first industry to be loathe to hire people with some medical history for high-pressure leadership positions.

And of course, more important than anything else is the fact that — let’s face it — no one ever accused Baylor of being a managerial genius. He had his supporters and he had his detractors like so many, but no one ever thought “we HAVE to get Don Baylor for the next job!”  If you’re not networked out the yingyang, you probably need to be that guy to be considered for the top job.

Baylor is perceived as a good hitting coach.  It sounds like that’s the job he’ll likely top out at going forward.

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.