The Washington Nationals surprised many when they let manager Dusty Baker go last offseason and replaced him with skipper Dave Martinez.
Under Baker, the Nationals finished 2017 with 97 wins and fell one game short of the National League Championship Series. In two seasons with Washington, Baker’s team became one of the best in baseball. Yet Baker was let go and replaced by Martinez, who had no managerial experience.
Ever since Martinez took over, things have not gone well for the Nationals. Expected to be a serious contender for the World Series, Washington has a .500 record and is on the fringe of the playoff picture.
Of greater concern has been the team’s level of dysfunction, from Bryce Harping calling out the front office to a report in July that the clubhouse is a mess. While the organization tries to fight off rumors of friction in the clubhouse, it has left many to think about the loss of Baker’s presence in the clubhouse.
During an interview with FanCred, former Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth repeatedly praised Baker and spoke about the positive impact he had on the entire team.
“One thing about Dusty, he does a lot for chemistry. He does a lot inside the clubhouse that people don’t see,” Werth said, via Fancred. “It’s tough, you win that many games and you win two divisions, because you don’t get through first round of the playoffs, that’s tough.”
One can’t help but wonder if Werth isn’t the only player, both inside and outside of the current clubhouse, who feels that way about Baker.
While Washington tried to make a calculated decision that could push them further into the postseason before Bryce Harper became a free agent, the move backfired in the worst way.
Now the Nationals are stuck facing an uncertain future with aging pitchers due major increases in pay, while the team’s star outfielder could walk in free agency. Meanwhile, the clubhouse could be in shambles and there is no potential postseason run to bring them together.
While Baker had some drawbacks as a skipper, he clearly held the clubhouse together. After seeing what happened after he was forced to leave the Nationals, he could become a coveted candidate for an open manager’s gig this offseason.