Mike Schmidt: “Michael Young could retire tomorrow, and he would be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame”

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Mike Schmidt is the best third baseman to ever play the game of baseball. That does not make him qualified, however, to judge talent, it seems:

“Michael Young could retire tomorrow, and he would be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame. He’s probably two Michael Young years away from being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”

To be fair, I’m not sure if Schmidt is saying “he deserves to be a strong candidate” or “because Young is inexplicably thought of as being better than he is, he will be a strong candidate whether or not he is truly deserving.” If the latter, it’s pretty astute, because I think that Young will get a fair amount of Hall of Fame support. At least enough to last on the ballot for a few years. Unlike, say, Lou Whitaker, who is a better Hall of Fame candidate on the merits than Young is.

Beyond all of that, I don’t think Schmidt saying that Young is a Hall of Fame candidate is as silly as his comparing him to Derek Jeter:

“… he’s a little like Derek Jeter. Is he not? If he played in New York, imagine what people would be saying about Michael Young’s career. Somebody would have mentioned the Hall of Fame a long time ago.”

Maybe Young would have benefited from playing in New York, but Jeter would have been a Hall of Famer if he had played for the East Nowhere Blue Sox. I know people in Texas like to think of Young as “the Rangers Derek Jeter,” but that has never washed for me. Maybe there’s a core of truth to it regarding some perception of his intangibles or what have you, but Jeter is so clearly the superior player the comparison seems to obscure far more than it illuminates.

Nationals’ sell-off a vindication for Dusty Baker

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The Nationals threw in the towel on Tuesday, trading second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and 1B/OF Matt Adams to the Cardinals. The club also placed outfielder and soon-to-be free agent Bryce Harper on revocable waivers but took him back. The Nats’ sell-off is a vindication for former manager Dusty Baker, let go after the Nationals failed to advance past the NLDS for a second straight year.

Baker had roughly the same team current manager Dave Martinez did. It was arguably worse, considering he never wrote Juan Soto‘s name on the lineup card. The 2018 squad, sans Baker, has been marked by mutiny and underachievement. While failing to reach the NLCS in Baker’s two years was disappointing, he took them to Game 5 in the NLDS both years as well as 95 and 97 regular season wins. Right now, Martinez’s squad has a winning percentage more than 100 points lower than Baker’s last year. They’re on pace to go 80-82, which would be their first sub-.500 season since 2011.

Baker has always had an undeserved bad rap. He was, correctly, blamed for the Cubs’ demise, due somewhat to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior falling apart, ostensibly from overuse. However, after his stint in Chicago, Baker took the lowly Reds from the bottom of the NL Central to the top in two years between 2008-10. Then he took the Nationals, which had won a meager 83 games in 2015 and had made the playoffs just twice since moving from Montreal, to two consecutive NLDS Game 5’s.

Not much changed from 2017 to ’18. Martinez inherited Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Michael Taylor, Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, Daniel Murphy, Matt Wieters, Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley, and Koda Glover, among others. But for one reason or another — injuries, admittedly, make up one reason — almost all of these players are having worse years under Martinez than under Baker. Describing the 2018 team to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Baker said, “They’re together, but they’re separate.”

Is it strictly Baker that would make the difference? No, of course not. But the Nationals organization seems unwilling or unable to address issues that may extend into the front office. The Nats seem happy to go through a new manager every couple of years and hope that fixes all that ails them. Since Frank Robinson’s five years at the helm from 2002-06, Manny Acta managed two and a half years, Jim Riggleman one and a half, Davey Johnson two, Matt Williams two, Baker two. Maybe the problem was never the manager. Perhaps the problem is the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo.