Full disclosure, I was not a huge fan of the firing of Nationals manager Dusty Baker. Sure, Dusty had an abysmal postseason record, but, at least under Baker the Nationals made it to October. However, I logged onto ESPN this morning to find out that Washington had hired Dave Martinez out of Chicago and I will be the first to admit that I am pretty thrilled about the hire.
For us Nationals fans, the postseason was a time to be fearful, for no matter how well we had done from April to September, October seemed to be a time that the team just fell apart. After two years of great regular seasons followed by sub-par postseasons, the Nationals fans and front office had had enough of the fear and selected a manager with a great pedigree.
Martinez will have some immediate credibility in the dugout, thanks to both his playing days and his time as a bench coach. As a player, Martinez was a bit of a journeyman but had solid numbers throughout his career. He played for nine teams during his MLB tenure, batting .276 with a .341 OBP.
Upon retiring from the game, he took a break for a few years before being hired under Joe Maddon in 2008 to be on his staff in Tampa. Martinez then followed Maddon to Chicago, where he won a World Series ring with the team in 2016. Maddon has, in the past, been an outspoken advocate for Martinez taking a managerial role, so it's not a big surprise to see him go.
This isn't the first time Martinez has been looked at for the Nationals manager role. After Matt Williams left two years ago, Martinez was interviewed for the spot, but ultimately lost the job to Dusty Baker. Time was kind to Martinez, however, and now he's with the organization with big goals.
With this hire, the Nationals have put their foot down. They're telling everyone in the MLB to watch out. Martinez, though unproven, comes from one of the best managers in baseball today, and he's certainly hungry for his own success.
He's no stranger to the organization, having played for the Montreal Expos during his career, and has long been interested in the Nationals' leading role. He's got good experience as a player and a bench coach but isn't so far removed from his playing days that he's out of touch.
He's also been put into one of the best positions a manager can enter. Almost all the legwork has been done for him, and he inherits one of the most solid teams in the MLB. The Nationals are a consistent playoff contender, and all Martinez needs to do is light the spark in October that the Nationals have been missing and the future looks bright for Washington.
Changes to come
It won't be a walk to the World Series that's for sure. Nationals fans will hope that change comes quick under Martinez, or else some will call for his exit. It will be of interest to see how well he and Bryce Harper get along, but I'm not too worried about that. If Bryce can get along with Matt Williams, I think he can get along with anybody.
It'll also be interesting to see how much of an effect Martinez can have in his first year. It'll also be interesting to see who Martinez chooses to join him in the clubhouse. Mike Maddux is already out and has moved to St. Louis under the same capacity, and Davey Lopes contract is up too, though there's no word yet on whether he will re-sign.
It could be a busy off-season in Washington, as there is no guarantee that Washington will even care about Martinez's input on his team. The talent is there, however, so the success shouldn't be too far behind.
It's a happy day in Washington to be sure. The team has shown that they are serious about making it deeper in October than in the past, and they are doing everything in their power to make it happen. Now, it's up to Dave Martinez to see just how far the Nationals can make it, and the Capital will be watching and hoping that the Nationals can rack up some more Curly W's in 2018.
Your thoughts on the hire? Discuss in the comments below!