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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.

 

Giants fire general manager Bobby Evans

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Earlier today, Craig wrote about a potential shake-up in the Giants’ front office. It didn’t take long for that to come to fruition. Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports that the Giants have fired GM Bobby Evans.

Evans had been with the Giants for 25 years, starting in 1994 as a minor league administrative assistant. He was promoted to director of minor league operations in 1998, became the director of player personnel in 2005, then was named vice president of baseball operations in 2009. For the last four years, Evans has been the Giants’ general manager.

In part due to Evans’ influence, the Giants were quite successful, winning the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014. However, the last two years have been the Giants’ worst in quite some time. The club went 64-98 (.395) last year and enters Monday’s action 72-84 (.462) despite some splashy additions in the offseason (Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria).

There will certainly be conversations as to whether or not it’s fair that Evans is the fall guy for the Giants’ recent lack of success. But that’s part of the deal when you’re a public-facing employee in the front office of a baseball team. Pavlovic says it seems unlikely Evans remains with the organization in a different role.

The Giants have reportedly been considering hiring a “high-profile baseball operations executive” to push the team in a new direction. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that Ned Colletti is the favorite to become the new GM. The offseason is still more than a month away, so the Giants have some time to stew on their candidates and not make any rash decisions.