One reason to wish the Yankees were still in the playoffs

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Like a lot of red-blooded Americans, I’m happy the Yankees got beat in the first round. Viva variety and all of that. Let Fox and TBS fixate on some other teams for a change.

But a side effect of that is that a bunch of New York reporters now have nothing to do except to come up with silly trade and free agent ideas, and I’m just not ready for that kind of thing until at least mid-November.

The latest: John Harper of the Daily News playing the “it would never happen but what if the Yankees signed Prince Fielder” game:

Or would the Yankees be better off paying huge money for Fielder, whose lefthanded swing just might produce 50 home runs a year with the help of Yankee Stadium, and using Jesus Montero to trade for pitching? I know, I know, I advocated for keeping Montero in my look-ahead column a few days ago, and I do think the Yankees should find out what he can do for them. But the point is, you can’t rule out the possibility that Fielder could wind up a Yankee, slotting in between Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez as a full-time DH.

I suppose anyone could end up a Yankee.  I just don’t see Bud Selig hammering through a rule change that would allow that team to have multiple first basemen and designated hitters play every game for the next six or seven years.

Oh well. Hot stove season is coming. It’s never too early to start girding yourself against the loony stuff we’re going to encounter over the winter.

Dusty Baker drops truth bombs

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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.