- The Washington Times
Sunday, January 19, 2020

Former Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker is in Houston to interview for the Astros’ managerial job.

Baker told the Houston Chronicle on Thursday that he had not yet been contacted regarding the Astros’ opening. But sometime over the weekend, the team added him to their list. It was confirmed when he landed in Houston on Sunday night and spoke to reporters.

“They got a good team,” said Baker, 70. “They’ve always had a good team and I’ve enjoyed watching them to play and it would be a privilege and an honor to be the manager of this team.”

The Astros are searching for a manager with a month to go until spring training because they fired A.J. Hinch, as well as general manager Jeff Luhnow, last Monday following a one-year suspension MLB handed down for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Baker joining the Astros would only add another layer of intrigue as the Nationals and Astros continue to cross paths. Baker managed the Nationals to two playoff appearances in 2016 and 2017, but he was not retained after the team blew a 4-1 lead in Game 5 of the 2017 National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Nationals hired Dave Martinez to replace Baker, and in his second year Martinez took them to their first World Series — beating the Astros in seven games.

The Nationals and Astros share a spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, and they’re scheduled to open their spring training schedules against each other on Feb. 22.

At one point while speaking to reporters, Baker seemed to reference the Astros’ sign-stealing and its consequences.

“I’m just hoping to bring some love back to baseball, some integrity to the game,” he said. “I think I’ve got, you know, relative respect in the game.”

MLB’s investigation found a “player-driven” system in which a center field camera at Minute Maid Park carried a livestream of visiting catchers’ signs to the replay room in the dugout, where the Astros “decoded” them to gain an advantage.

Baker managed the San Francisco Giants, Cubs and Cincinnati Reds between 1993 and 2013, and he was never out of work for longer than one season. His career winning percentage as a manager is .532 (1863-1636). But there’s one championship-shaped hole on his career resume.

“There’s something missing,” he said. “I need a championship and I’d like to bring a championship to this team.”

Baker said the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox — who also fired their managers last week in the aftermath of MLB’s investigation into Houston’s sign stealing - had not yet contacted him to gauge his interest for their jobs.

“First come, first served,” Baker said. “Everybody likes to feel that they’re wanted, and I talked to (Astros owner Jim) Crane and he made me feel that I had a chance to be wanted here.”

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