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The Nationals still aren’t close to extending Dusty Baker

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Entering Saturday’s contest against the Rangers, Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker has guided the club to a division-leading 38 wins. He’s sitting on a 1804-1592 career managerial record and hasn’t seen a losing record since 2011, when the Reds took third place in the NL Central with a 79-83 finish. Other than a World Series ring, the only thing he’s missing is a contract extension, which would give him a landing spot when his two-year, $4 million contract expires after this season. That, however, appears to be the one thing the Nationals are reluctant to give him.

The Nationals were open to an extension back in January, according to a report from Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, who also noted that the two sides had yet to open talks. No concrete show of faith has been made by the club yet, though, and it’s unlikely that a deal will be struck while the season is in full swing. Washington general manager Mike Rizzo addressed the issue prior to the series opener against the Rangers on Friday. Via MLB.com’s Jamal Collier:

It’s not going to be an issue, we’re not going to let it be an issue,” Rizzo said. “Dusty’s a true professional. Been through the rigors of the regular season a million times; I’ve been through it a million times. Suffice to say that there’s great communications, great respect between the front office and the managerial office.

Baker, meanwhile, has repeatedly affirmed his desire to continue his career in Washington. There doesn’t seem to be a lack of affection between the 67-year-old skipper and his general manager, and it’s clear that the players value his presence in the clubhouse. The Post’s Thomas Boswell¬†instead chalks the problem up to some reluctance on the owners’ part, speculating that the Lerner family could be dragging their feet simply because that’s the way they’re used to dealing with past managers. If that’s the case, it might take Baker the rest of the season — and a World Series title — before his achievements are appropriately rewarded with an extended stay in Washington.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.