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Wire Taps: Nationals' manager Dusty Baker on experience + Nats rumors, links

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The Washington Nationals introduced their new manager last week. Now it's time for the rumors to start. Where will the Nats' free agents land? Who will the Nationals sign this winter? How importance is experience according to Dusty Baker?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

When Dusty Baker was hired by the Washington Nationals as their sixth full-time skipper last week, the 66-year-old, 20-year veteran became the second-oldest manager in the majors, behind only the New York Mets' Terry Collins by a few weeks. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo said the Nationals were looking for major league experience this time around after hiring a manager with no time on the bench outside of the Arizona Fall League and a brief stint as a substitute in the minors in Matt Williams two years back. Experience, Baker said, is something that might be undervalued these days.

"The way I look at it, not to sound cocky or nothing, but I don't see a whole bunch of dudes out there who look better than me now." -Dusty Baker on being the second-oldest manager in the majors

Collins, of course, just guided the Mets to a division title in the NL East, a National League pennant and one win in the World Series they lost to the Kansas City Royals. Baker and Collins, as you might suspect, have some history.

"Terry Collins and I go way, way, way back," Baker said in his introductory press conference last week when asked about the advantages and disadvantages of being an "older" manager and dealing with the everyday grind of a full season at his age.

"He was the manager in Houston. He's a guy -- formerly with the Dodgers and then the Angels. I was very, very happy for Terry Collins. I would say happy for the 'old' dudes, but I'm going to change that to 'experienced' dudes. Because experience is something that it seems like we're forgetting about. Experience is something that takes time that you can't get back. As far as the grind, it depends how you take care of yourself. It depends how you think of yourself. I don't think of myself as 66 years old. I don't know how old I am sometimes and it really doesn't matter, because the way I look at it, not to sound cocky or nothing, but I don't see a whole bunch of dudes out there who look better than me now."

CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman wrote Sunday that part of the appeal of Baker for the Nationals was that he was, "... anxious enough to win a championship... he took far less (about $2M per) [than the] $3.5M he made with the Reds," though, "Word is he can make close to $4M per year with incentives."

Heyman also said the Nationals have inquired about a reliever from the Nats' neighbors to the north:

• "Darren O'Day is getting a lot of hits, and the Dodgers, Tigers, Nats and Red Sox are all pitching." - "Inside Baseball: Dodgers manager search; Ozuna market; more notes" - Jon Heyman, CBSSports.com

It's rumor time. Are you ready for some rumors?:

• "Zimmermann went from a great 2014 to a good 2015 in which his fastball did not play quite as well. Though he makes all his starts, there is a constant buzz about the health of his arm." - "Breaking down the deepest pool of free-agent pitchers ever" - Joel Sherman, New York Post

• While the Nationals have succession plans in place at most spots, their outfield depth looks a bit questionable, and Aoki could shore it up." - "The Reiter 50: Price, Greinke, Heyward lead list of top free agents" - Ben Reiter, SI.com

• "DECISION: The Mets should pass. They already have a Desmond-lite in Flores for a small fraction of the price. They should spend those dollars elsewhere." - "MLB hot stove: Examining if Mets should sign Washington Nationals' Ian Desmond" - Mike Vorkunov, NJ.com

• "[Zimmermann] did what he needed to do to get the nine-figure deal. The Nats were a mess this year, but he remained solid." - "Inside Baseball: Top 50 free agents, ranked by dollars and projections" - Jon Heyman, CBSSports.com

Rizzo's got jokes for Andy Green:

• "'They wanted to give me a $1,000 signing bonus, but I stood firm on a $2,000 signing bonus,' said Green. 'Mike Rizzo never forgot that. When I walked in for the interview, the first thing he said was, "Did you use that extra $1,000 for that suit?'" - "Green’s had his tough bounces" - Chris Jenkins, SanDiegoUnionTribune.com

NATS BEAT: Fister's sinker; Baker stories still going strong

• "Whether there was purpose behind it or not, Dusty Baker shared a pretty interesting anecdote during his introductory news conference Thursday." - "Baker offers thoughts on dealing with conflict" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "New Nationals manager Dusty Baker gave us a clue about his possible managing style at Thursday's news conference when he talked about being aggressive on the base paths." - "Baker on his style and how important listening to Nats players will be" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "For the first time in Fister's career, his two seamer had a negative pitch value, which was likely driven by his declining velocity and horizontal movement." - "2015: The year Doug Fister's two seamer died" - Matt Goldman, Beyond the Box Score

• "Last week when media reports had Bud Black penciled in as the Nationals’ new manager, Dusty Baker gave an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle at a book signing in which he lamented losing out on the job." - "Baker sees Nats as ‘perfect fit’ both on and off field" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

NL EAST UPDATES: Braves' prospects, Harang's grade; Marlins' interests; Span in Citi Field?

Mets: "However, early indications are that the Mets will target free-agent centerfielder Denard Span, who was not given a qualifying offer after an injury-plagued year with the Nationals.." - "Mets GM Sandy Alderson's job: Keeping National League champions at that level" - Marc Carig, Newsday

Braves: "Here is the current 'first pass' grade distribution breakdown for 35 players Atlanta Braves farm system." - "Atlanta Braves preliminary 2016 prospect grade distribution" - John Sickels, Minor League Ball

Marlins: "The Marlins like Giants free agent pitcher Mike Leake but worry the bidding might get too high." - "Marlins chatter" - Barry Jackson, Sports Buzz

Phillies: "Because you’ve heard enough about Jerome Williams and Sean O’Sullivan, and because the story’s not much different for Harang, let’s get to some numerology, at your request." - "2015 Phillies Report Card: Aaron Harang" - Adam Dembowitz, Crashburn Alley