Dibble joins Nats broadcast team

Dibble joins Nats broadcast team

WASHINGTON -- The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network named Rob Dibble as its new color analyst for Nationals games on Tuesday. He will replace Don Sutton, who is going back to the Braves to become a play-by-play announcer.

Dibble, 44, becomes the fourth analyst since MASN started televising Nationals games in 2005. Ron Darling and Tom Paciorek are the others to be in the TV booth. A spokesman for MASN said that Dibble will be with the club for more than two years. Dibble vows that he will be candid on the air and continue to be a role model.

"I will be as outspoken as I've been in the past 12 years," Dibble said. "What I bring to the table is fairness and openness. I will never hold back on a player, because my job is -- first -- to the Nationals and MASN. Second -- to the fans.

"The players are not paying me. The players are playing baseball. I keep it to that. I won't assassinate their characters. I'm not going to be critical of a guy who doesn't deserve it. I'm not going to rip a guy because he makes $20 million a year. It's a privilege to be a player and a privilege to be a broadcaster. ... It's something I don't take lightly."

Dibble will join play-by-play announcer Bob Carpenter, who has been with MASN since 2006. Dibble and Carpenter worked together on ESPN in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Dibble will also continue to do work for XM on Sirius five days a week from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

"I've always loved Bob Carpenter's work, whether it's on ESPN or the Cardinals. He is one of the best in the business," Dibble said.

Dibble made it pretty clear during a conference call that he already has done his homework on the Nationals. He pointed out that the team's rotation and bullpen need to get stronger, and he also feels that the team has a lot of good young talent.

"I see them as a young Braves-type organization," he said. "You have [team president] Stan Kasten, who was part of all those division championships with the Braves. ... He knows how to build a nucleus. I feel the Nationals are a handful of players away from being a division winner. It can happen that quickly."

Said Kasten on the hiring of Dibble: "We are thrilled to have a talent like Rob Dibble join our broadcast crew. His enthusiasm and knowledge will quickly make him very popular among Nationals viewers. Rob and I talked today about the three things we know he will be: honest, informative and fun."

Dibble, a two-time All-Star, was the MVP of the 1990 National League Championship Series while with the Reds. His broadcasting career includes stints with ESPN, FOX and FoxSports.com. He will make his MASN debut in March.

As for Sutton, he was halfway through a four-year deal with MASN when, in early December, Braves president John Schuerholz went to Kasten and asked for permission to talk to Sutton.

Sutton wanted to go back to Atlanta to continue the legacy of his mentors -- Skip Caray, Ernie Johnson Sr. and Pete Van Wieren. Sutton was previously part of the Braves' broadcast team from 1989-2006.

Sutton then asked to be released from his contract with MASN. Negotiations between MASN and the Braves lasted almost two months. On Tuesday, however, the Braves finalized a deal that allowed Sutton to return to the Braves and serve as the radio broadcast partner with Jim Powell.

"I had a good gig with MASN. The Nationals were wonderful to me," Sutton said via telephone. "When John Schuerholz called Stan and asked for permission and I heard about it, it's the only thing that popped up that I thought, 'Yeah, it would be good to go back there, finish my broadcasting career there and try to continue the legacy of Ernie Johnson, Skip and Pete.'"

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.