In coming to Washington to join the Nationals' coaching staff, bench coach Chris Speier is once again reuniting with Dusty Baker, whom he served under with both the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds. It also represents a bit of irony for Speier, who was drafted by the Washington Senators back in 1968. He didn't sign, but does appreciate the significance now that he is in D.C.
"Full circle. Yeah, Washington Senators, 1968. So it's great. Couldn't have dreamed it," Speier said.
Speier comes to Washington hoping to help his good friend Baker get the only thing that is missing on his managerial résumé: a World Series ring.
"I know Dusty doesn't have one as a manager. That's a big, big goal for me, for him to finally put that on his legacy," Speier said.
"When [Baker] got that phone call and he called me, I said 'let's go do this thing.' There's a piece of business that's been incomplete and that's the World Series and what a great opportunity with a great team. We're excited."
The Nationals are getting a pair of coaches who have been friends and colleagues for decades. Needless to say, they know each other well.
"Dusty is, number one, I just have to say, away from the baseball side, is probably one of the greatest human beings that I've ever met, most giving man that I've been around in a long, long time," Speier explained. "A lot of things that he does off the field for a lot of different people go unnoticed. He makes my position easy. There's very little that he demands... he's a great delegator."
Speier shared some insight into why Baker is generally very popular among his players.
"Dusty's whole thing is 'be honest with me. If you ever need anything, come to me.' His big thing is let's keep things as quiet as we possibly can and not go to you guys (media) with things. He treats men as men. He trusts them and they know that he can be trusted. I think that's something that has been, ever since he's been a man, that's how he approaches things," Speier said.
Speier expects to focus mainly on the defense as an assistant on the Nationals' staff. It's his specialty and he plans to use analytics to help develop gameplans.
"I love [analytics]. I've always been a guy that looks at tendencies, percentages, but the one thing that I like to bring into it is, for me, it always comes down to the starting pitcher or the pitcher that's at hand and asking them are you ok with this? This is what we're going to do, this is what we'd like to do. Now are you going to pitch accordingly to the shift or do we need to make some adjustments? So the analytical part, I've always been a big believer in.
"It comes down to tendencies. Tendencies have been around since the inception of baseball. If you play those tendencies and if some things become extreme then you might go extremes so I'm on board with it," he said.