Dusty Baker hints that he intends to return as Reds manager next year

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Dusty Baker is currently in the final year of his contract with the Reds. The 63-year-old also just recently returned to the dugout after missing 11 games in September due to an irregular heartbeat and a mild stroke. However, he hinted to reporters yesterday that he intends to remain with the Reds next season.

Here’s a sampling of his comments via Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.

“The way I look at it, we’ll get even better in the future,” Baker said. “The more mature these guys get, we’ve got a bunch of guys here still learning how to hit, still learning how to play, basically.”

Does that mean he will be back in 2013? Baker’s face cracked a smile.

“This is my team, you know,” Baker replied.

“Maybe [the stroke] was a sign I am supposed to stay maybe where I am,” Baker said. “I believe in signs, so sometimes it happens.”

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has not discussed Baker’s situation publicly and intends to take care of it during the offseason. Baker is currently 19th all-time among managers with 1,571 wins, including a 419-391 record over five seasons with the Reds. Only Jim Leyland (15th all-time with 1,676 wins) has more wins among active managers.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves