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Good morning baseball fans, we are getting closer and closer to free agency and the winter meetings. Yesterday, a number of teams decided on options for the 2016 season, including the Phillies declining a $27.5 million option on Cliff Lee.
The Blue Jays exercised options on Jose Bautista, R.A. Dickey and Edwin Encarnacion while the Red Sox exercised their option on starter Clay Buchholtz.
Washington has decided to go with Dusty Baker instead of Bud Black as their next manager, and Mike Bates believes they may have made the right decision.
Ultimately, this is the biggest and most relevant question for the Nats. Did the Lerners' thriftiness make the team worse? And, frankly, I don't see a lot of evidence that it did. Black boasts over eight years at the helm of the Padres, during which time his clubs finished above .500 twice and never made the playoffs. He did win Manager of the Year in 2010, but given that the Nationals just fired the 2014 Manager of the Year, how much is that really worth? Overall, his .477 winning percentage simply isn't impressive.
That isn't to say Black is a bad manager. He had to manage some bad teams and bad players in San Diego, thanks to the team's low payroll. He didn't draft or trade for any of them. That said, he didn't seem to get the most out of them either. Yonder Alonso never developed under him. Jedd Gyorko took steps back. Look, Black is incredibly well-respected, but there isn't a lot of evidence that he helped elevate the players under him.
Baker, on the other hand, has an extensive track record of successes. He shepherded the Giants through the Barry Bonds era, finding a way for disparate personalities like Bonds and Jeff Kent to play together without murdering each other. He took the Cubs to within a couple outs of the World Series. He led the Reds to three 90 win seasons in six years. He has three Manager of the Year Awards (again, grain of salt), and a pennant. He is 1671-1504 for his career. He has weaknesses as a skipper, sure, but those have been effectively blunted by his ability to keep his teams pointed in the right direction.
We now have an options tracker to go along with our free agent tracker and our important dates list.
This day in Baseball History: Jim Palmer wins his second career Cy-Young Award in 1975, leading the American League in wins with 23, shutouts with 10 and a 2.09 ERA.