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Entering the final year of his contract, Davey Martinez would 'love to stay' in D.C.

Entering the final year of his contract, Davey Martinez would 'love to stay' in D.C.

Nationals manager Davey Martinez enters an interesting situation as the 2020 season begins.

In his second year as manager, Martinez orchestrated an epic turnaround. His squad was 19-31 with just days left in the month of May. The Nationals went on to have the best record in baseball for the next three-plus months, finishing with 93 wins and a Wild Card berth. A month later, they hoisted the Commissioner's Trophy for the first time in franchise history.

Now, Martinez enters the 2020 season ready to defend the title -- and also without a new contract. The 55-year-old is in the final year of his contract, meaning there is no guarantee he manages the Nationals after this season.

Martinez was asked about his contract on Thursday during the first media availability of spring training, and he did not appear to be a tad bit worried about his future. 

"I never worried about any of my contracts, as a coach," he said. "I just come out here and try to do my job the best I can."

Although there was a lack of concern from Martinez about his future, he did make his intentions clear.

"I've had an unbelievable experience in D.C.," he said. "Would I like to be here? Yeah. Definitely."

Martinez is not the only important Nationals staffer entering the final season of his current deal. General manager Mike Rizzo, who hired Martinez, also enters the 2020 season with just one more season guaranteed. Martinez has a club option for 2020; Rizzo does not.

Rizzo has been the main person in charge of putting together the Nationals' roster. Despite losing some of their best talent over the past couple of seasons, the Nationals have continued to put a team on the diamond capable of competing for a championship.

Martinez recognizes the incredible job the front office has done and hopes he can continue to be at the helm managing the team.

"I think this organization is definitely headed in the right direction," Martinez said. "I see us competing for many, many championships for years to come."

The manager has made his desires public. The Nationals understand what Martinez brings to the table, and he understands it's a business at the end of the day.

"I would love to stay here for more years than this year, but we'll see how that plays out," he said.

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MLB says it hasn’t settled on contingency plan to play out season in Arizona

MLB says it hasn’t settled on contingency plan to play out season in Arizona

Not yet.

At least that’s what Major League Baseball announced Tuesday morning in response to an overnight ESPN report which detailed a possible plan for the season to be played out in Arizona.

Here’s the statement:

“MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so. While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan.

"While we continue to interact regularly with governmental and public health officials, we have not sought or received approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or the Players Association. The health and safety of our employees, players, fans and the public at large are paramount, and we are not ready at this time to endorse any particular format for staging games in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the coronavirus.”

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ESPN’s report outlined a possible plan for all 30 teams to play their games in and around Phoenix. It was littered with contingency plans, what-ifs and far-reaching ideas to assure the health of players and everyone involved.

At the core of the report was the idea baseball could restart as soon as May or early June. And, it seemed to be an overnight trial balloon to test response to the idea.

For now, baseball has no start date and remains in the same holding pattern as the rest of society while the coronavirus pandemic continues. Spring training games stopped March 12. The Nationals’ spring training facility has been converted into a coronavirus test site. Players dispersed to work on their own. And the league has postponed things until at least mid-May.

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Five baseball books to read while in quarantine

Five baseball books to read while in quarantine

The Nationals Talk podcast has been on a book run lately. Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post stopped by last week to discuss his book, “Buzz Saw”, about the 2019 Nationals season. Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, and author of “Swing Kings”, joined us for Tuesday's episode. We’re a veritable baseball library.

So, in keeping with the book theme -- and the lack of baseball coupled with extra time -- here’s a list of five baseball books to read during quarantine. The list could include 20 other titles. But, many of these books are the reason this was a personal pursuit in the first place. Feel free to add some in the comments. And happy reading.

The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn

I don’t remember how old I was when I first read Kahn’s book, but I do remember it presented this fairy tale view of baseball in my mind.

Kahn covers his Brooklyn childhood, early reporting days at the New York Herald Tribune and follows the Dodgers to the end of the 1955 World Series. For a kid growing up in the sticks three hours north of New York City, everything about the situation delivered the grandeur you would associate with such a life. And the team was loaded with legendary names: Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Don Newcombe, Johnny Podres (who was from upstate New York).

The era has striking differences to our current baseball one. Kahn was working in a time of baseball-player-as-hero, where emotion, personal interaction and unfettered access colored the presentation of the sport and its players as much as analytics does now. Kahn also knew those players could be incomplete humans, like anyone else, and presented them as such.

This book is part nostalgia, part writing master class and part memoir. Do yourself the favor.

Ball Four by Jim Bouton

What Kahn held in eloquence, Bouton held in -- how to say this -- chutzpah.

The subtitle of the book goes like this: “The controversial bestseller that tears the cover off the biggest names in baseball.” Corny? Yes. Oversell? A bit, or so it seems now. But any time a book written about a specific sports league leads to the league’s commissioner, in this case Bowie Kuhn, speaking out against it, the book clearly sent a jolt.

Bouton’s diary of his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots (great throwback jerseys) and Houston Astros is also a look back at his time with the Yankees. He spent seven years (1962-1968) in the Bronx, pitched well (3.36 ERA), and paid attention. What distinctly set Bouton’s book apart was his willingness to tell the truth about what happened behind closed doors. From his personal clashes with management to Mickey Mantle’s drinking, Bouton spilled secrets which were -- and would remain -- significant breaches of any “circle of trust.”

For that, Bouton was reviled and revered. Players despised him for it. Critics adored the insight. The book became a hit. Time magazine once listed it among the 100 greatest non-fiction books of all-time.

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Three Nights in August by Buzz Bissinger

This hops us into a more modern look at baseball. Beyond that, it also gives a look into what baseball is built on: the three-game series.

When writers travel to cover the NFL, it’s an in-and-out experience. You arrive in the city on Saturday and sometimes leave as soon as Sunday night. For the NBA, you drop in one place, then go directly to another, easily losing track. Baseball provides a temporary chance to unpack.

And during the settling teams blast through three games. Bissinger chose the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry to write about. Tony La Russa was still running things in St. Louis at the time, and became the central figure of the book. He’s intriguing for the obvious reasons of brand recognition, but also because his bullpen strategy in the late 1980s became the standard and remains paramount today.

Bissinger became famous for “Friday Night Lights” and his background knowledge here about La Russa allows the access to deliver even more insight. Good writing, good figures, good story.

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

This is on the list because if you somehow have not read it, why not?

We won’t spend too much time on one of the most-famous baseball books in history, if not the most well-known, period.

Quickly: The low-budget A’s force math into the equation in order to find a way to win without significant cash resources. General manager Billy Beane is the architect of this approach (and apparently good-looking enough Brad Pitt plays him in the movie).

At its core, the book is about old-school versus new-school thinking and is (gasp) already 16 years old.

The Only Rule Is it Has To Work by Ben Lindbergh

Lindbergh took the Moneyball concept a step further and crossed it with baseball kookiness.

The Sonoma Stompers, part of the independent Pacific Association, allowed Lindbergh and Sam Miller to run baseball operations strictly on advanced analytics.

The book is a functional, real-world application of a consistent baseball argument: do everything by the numbers in order to maximize outcome. So, does it work?

No spoilers here beyond saying the experiment combined with those who populate independent baseball produces a compelling read.

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