BOWDEN TO STAY
[July 1st] -- Bill Ladson reported on Friday that Stan Kasten has signed Jim Bowden to a multi-year deal. Kasten will not divulge how long the deal will last, but Ladson hinted that Bowden will be around long enough to see Chris Marrero and the rest of this year's draft to make it to the big leagues.
I can think of no words that will properly describe how I am feeling at this moment. We, the loyal fans of the Washington Nationals, see with clarity that Bowden, while a decent enough guy, isn't the long-term answer for this team.
Several bloggers have broken down Bowden's trades over the years. A few months ago, I tracked every deal he made with the Cincinnati Reds. The conclusion reached was that the great majority of his transactions were meaningless (minor leaguer for minor leaguer, for example), and the big ones usually back-fired on the team. The Ken Griffey trade with the Mariners comes to mind, as does the Roberto Kelly for Paul O'Neill fiasco a few seasons earlier. The Cristian Guzman signing wasn't the best way to start the Bowden era in Washington. Even disinterested fans knew that a great part of Cristian Guzman's batting average came from the fast Astroturf at the Metrodome. And while the Soriano trade still tilts Washington's way at this point (Galaraga is getting hit pretty hard at the 'AA' level and Termel Sledge, since traded to San Diego, played poorly and was optioned to the team's 'AAA' affiliate), the Rangers will have Brad Wilkerson's rights after this year. In essence, it was a three-for-one trade for a guy who would be, at best, a one-year rental.
And all of this makes Bowden the "best man for the job?"
So, what's worse: Bowden staying as the team's general manager for the foreseeable future, or Stan Kasten somehow thinking that his staying is a good thing? The only way this makes sense is if Kasten and the Lerners are ready to slash and burn the team, and figure that Bowden can't possibily screw the team up any worse.
And that couldn't be happening. Could it?
Now, I don't know exactly what they do mean. One thing is for sure: If they do the "team-on-a-shoestring budget" scenario, I'm outta here. Not because I won't support a bad team, because I will (see my life as a kid circa 1963-1971). What I won't do, however, is support a team where the ownership and management group cuts payroll for fudiciary reasons. If they take that $30 or so million we won't have in payroll, and throw it into the minor league system, that's fine (because they are investing the same dollars into the team). But if they cut payroll, and make a half-hearted attempt to improve the minors, then there is no reason to live (but mostly die) with them each and every night.
I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I'll play wait-and-see.
But, dog-gone it, we shouldn't have to "wait and see," not after those 70 bad years of baseball in Washington, followed by those 34 years of no baseball at all.
We've earned an owner who is at least willing to try, right?
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