Before hiring Dusty Baker, Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo talked about what the Nats were looking for in a new manager after parting ways with second-year skipper Matt Williams.
"As we go through the laundry list of things that we look for in our manager and a perfect leader of the ballclub on the field, leadership qualities, knowledge of the game, Xs and Os, are all important," Rizzo said.
"The communication in the clubhouse, communication within the coaching staff is vital. Experience is always helpful, it always adds a layer of expertise to anybody's resume. We feel that where we're at in our timetable in our time frame of winning a championship, we certainly would lean towards someone that has some type of managerial experience, especially at the major league level, but again, we're going to be open-minded and look for the best candidate we can that allows us to win a championship here in the very near future."
In Baker, a veteran of nineteen seasons as a major leaguer and twenty years on the bench in the majors, the Nationals got a manager with plenty of experience, and a desire to win a World Series before he walks away from the game.
"You hate to have voids in your life," the 66-year-old manager said during his introductory press conference in D.C.
"You can live without them, but I'd rather not."
In ranking MLB's managers in his weekly Boston Globe column, Nick Cafardo put Baker 13th overall, describing the baseball lifer as a stabilizing force for the Nationals after two seasons with Williams, who took over in the nation's capital with minimal managerial experience:
13. Dusty Baker, Nationals — Tried and true, Baker has managed 3,176 games and been named National League Manager of the Year three times. Out of the game the last two seasons, he will add much-needed stability in Washington after the Matt Williams experiment failed.
In interviews on MLB Network Radio and 106.7 the FAN in D.C. this past week, Nationals' NL MVP Bryce Harper talked about what Baker brings to Washington.
"Such a great guy," Harper told MLB Network Radio hosts Jeff Joyce and Mike Stanton.
"Such a player's manager. Being able to talk to him, he's got that enthusiasm, that demeanor that you want your manager to have.
"We're all very excited about it, but being able to add a guy like Davey Lopes and Mike Maddux as well, [Chris Speier], we have such an All-Star staff now and we're very excited about that, very excited to get going this year and we can't wait."
Grant Paulsen, of 106.7 the FAN in D.C., asked Harper what Baker, who Paulsen described as the "marquee addition of the offseason" for the Nationals, brings to the bench?
"Just the attitude," Harper said. "Just the charisma that he has, being able to walk into a clubhouse and just -- we all have the respect for him and he has the right respect for his players and just very excited to get going, very excited to learn from him, learn from Davey Lopes and [Maddux] as well with the pitchers, and just looking forward to the team that we have and the camaraderie of guys that we have, the family knit that we have in the clubhouse. Just looking forward to it."
Nationals fans and players alike are undoubtedly looking forward to putting the 2015 campaign behind them and moving forward with a new manager, new-look lineup with the additions of Ben Revere and Daniel Murphy, and a rebuilt bullpen that features a number of new arms.
Can Baker take the Nationals to the next level? Winning a World Series championship, Baker said in an MLB Network documentary that aired this past Monday, would be the "icing on the cake" of a long career in the game.
"The Nationals, you know, they never had a championship," Baker said. "So why not now and why not me?"