The Nationals will pursue Brandon Webb

1 Comment

A pursuit, eh? Hopefully he’ll try to get away by swimming. With that shoulder, they’ll surely catch up to him fast!

The Nationals will be one of several teams to pursue Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander and former Cy Young award winner Brandon Webb, according to someone close to the Nationals. Webb, 31, ranked third in the majors with a 3.13 ERA from 2006 through 2008, but he has not thrown a major league pitch since opening day 2009 because of right shoulder surgery.

Well, that’s certainly way more realistic than chasing after Cliff Lee.  Even if it’s nothing approaching a sure thing that Webb will ever be able to get major league hitters out again (and so far, so bad).  When you’re Washington, and you’re both unable to develop your own, non-Strasburgian pitchers, and unable to attract top free agents, going after rehab cases isn’t the worst plan in the world.  If it works, genius, because Webb was once a great pitcher. If it doesn’t, well, you’re not out too much. That is, unless they do what the A’s did with Ben Sheets and give him way too much money.

This isn’t the first trip to the scrap heap for the Nats, of course. Last year they signed Chien-Ming Wang on the same theory. That bore no fruit, but there are worse approaches than trying to get lucky with a fixer-upper.

Dusty Baker drops truth bombs

Getty Images
1 Comment

Dusty Baker was fired last offseason despite leading the Nationals to 95 and 97-win seasons. This was not new for him. Cincinnati let him go after taking a miserable Reds team to back-to-back 90+ win seasons — three in the space of four years — and making it to the playoffs in his final two seasons. In both cases the team that let him go cratered as soon as he left. There are likely reasons that have nothing to do with Dusty Baker for that, but it seems like more than mere coincidence too.

I say that because every time someone gets to Dusty Baker for an interview, he drops some major truth bombs that make you wonder why anyone wouldn’t want him in charge. Sure, like any manager he has his faults and blind spots — more so in his distant past than in his recent past, I should not — but the guy is smart, has more experience than anyone going and is almost universally loved by his players.

Recently he sat down with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic to talk about life, baseball and everything, and once again the truth bombs were dropping. About the state of front offices today. About the different way black and white ex-managers and ex-players are treated. About what seems to be collusion on the free agent market. And, of course, about the state of the 2018 Nationals, who are likely to miss the playoffs despite being, more or less, the same team he led to those 97 wins last year. It’s an absolute must-read on any of those topics, but taken together it’s a “block off some time this afternoon and enjoy the hell out of it” read.

Two of my favorite passages follow. The first one is a great general point in life: always beware of people who spend more time telling you why they are successful than actually, you know, being successful.

In Cincinnati, no matter what I did or what we did — we brought them from the bottom — they were all over me, all the time, no matter what. If we won, it wasn’t winning the right way. They were like, “I don’t understand this mode of thinking.” Well, I don’t want you to understand my mode of thinking. That’s how I can beat you.

The second one is just delicious for what he does not say:

Rosenthal: Bryce Harper struggled for two-plus months. He didn’t struggle for two-plus months when you had him…

Baker: I know.

Based on the tone of the rest of the interview, in which Baker does not hesitate to say exactly what he thinks, it’s abundantly clear that he believes the Nats have messed Harper up somehow and that it wouldn’t have happened under him.

Like I said, though: there is a TON of great stuff in here. From a guy who, if you’ve listened to him talk when he does not give a crap about what people may say about him, has time and again revealed himself to  be one of the most interesting baseball figures of the past several decades.