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Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo on the very, very difficult decision to not bring Dusty Baker back as manager...

It doesn’t all add up just yet. Mike Rizzo talked to reporters on Friday about the decision to move on from Dusty Baker.

MLB: NLDS-Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

“Dusty Baker conducted himself with class and dignity, won 95 and 97 games here with the Washington Nationals, and is a Hall of Fame-type of manager,” GM Mike Rizzo said in a conference call with reporters on Friday, after announcing that the 68-year-old Baker would not be returning to the bench in the nation’s capital in 2018.

In two seasons in D.C., Baker led the Nationals to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, but was unable to get them past the NLDS, though how much of the blame for those losses falls on his shoulders is debatable.

As Rizzo explained it on Friday, it’s simple, division titles aren’t enough any more.

“Our expectations have grown to the fact that winning a lot of regular season games and winning divisions are not enough,” Rizzo said.

“Our goal is to win a World Championship and to that end, we made the decision late last night and alerted Dusty this morning.”

“I think that the important thing to look at here is what is our end goal?” Rizzo asked rhetorically.

“What are we trying to accomplish here? And we’ve come such a long way our goals have morphed from infancy in 2006 when the Lerners took over to now.

MLB: Washington Nationals at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

“Our expectations are high, we’re very focused in our goal and that is to win a World Championship and we decided to make this move in accordance with that goal.”

But what convinced the Nationals that Baker wouldn’t be able to help them reach that goal?

The talk all winter and this season, was about an eventual extension for the veteran skipper that would keep him in D.C.

Did something that happened in the NLDS change the team’s thinking?

“After Game 5 we assessed where we’re at and where we’re going with our organization and our franchise,” Rizzo said.

“And we thought after Game 5 that this was the right decision to make and we’ll begin the process immediately.”

“This was a decision that was very, very difficult for ownership and myself,” Rizzo continued.

“It took us a while to get to the point where we are now, and we’re going to eagerly start the search for candidates and we’ll do our due diligence and go as quickly as we can but take as much time as we need.”

Baker and the Nationals reportedly discussed an extension before and during the 2017 campaign. Rizzo, in early June, told Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes that while the focus was on winning games and going deep in the postseason, “... we’re not going to mistake that for not making him a priority.”

“One person familiar with Rizzo’s thinking said he hoped to get an extension done with Baker during spring training,” Janes noted, adding that Rizzo, “‘strongly recommended’ to ownership that they extend Baker before his deal expires.”

Before the start of the NLDS with the Chicago Cubs, Rizzo reiterated his stance that he thought they would eventually get something done with Baker.

"We're both confident that he'll be back with us, but we haven't had any conversations about it,” Rizzo told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “And we will not do so until we finalize this season.”

MLB: Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

So who made the ultimate decision to part ways with Baker? Rizzo said that as always, it was a group decision.

“This decision was obtained like every important decision we make here,” Rizzo said on Friday.

“It’s a total group decision with a consensus at the end of it. And this was no different.”

Did the players have a say in the decision, or offer input, or was it all the Nats’ brass?

“No, we didn’t take any advice or have any comments [from] the players about this,” Rizzo said.

In the end, Rizzo seemed to say, the Nationals were winning before Baker took over on the bench, and their goal is to keep it going and eventually win a World Series.

“Let’s not forget that what we’re talking about here is a team that has had a lot of success in a very, very short period of time,” Rizzo said.

“Let’s not gloss over the fact that, yes, we’ve won a lot of games, we’ve won four divisions and we’ve only been in existence under the Lerner’s regime since 2006.

“So we’ve won a lot of games and a lot of division titles, had a lot of success in a very, very short period time.

“When people compare us to the other teams, the Cardinals and the Dodgers and the Cubs and the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians and that type of group, we’re in our infancy still.

“We’ve had a lot of great success here, we continue to have a lot of great success.

“We’re going to continue to work hard to go beyond what we’ve gotten to before. Our goal has never wavered.

“We’re laser-focused on creating a team and atmosphere and a culture that allows us to win a World Championship for the D.C. fans and to have a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. That hasn’t changed since Day 1. Expectations are higher now, and that’s where we’re at. With success comes expectations and our expectations are to win a World Championship.”


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