Point well taken. (And here it is 5:00 am and the baby's keeping me up so I may as well do this.) Here's the short-version:
If you wanna know why we're not making progress rebuilding as fast as other teams have, go back and look at what Bowden did from November, 2004 to 2006. Virtually every single move was young for old, cheap for expensive, more guys for fewer back, improving for declining. It's not cherry-picking a move here or there--it's a pattern, almost unbroken.
The first thing JimBo did when he got here was to gift away the 32nd overall pick for 37YO VINNY CASTILLA. The money was bad enough--that's essentially a late first round pick for a guy everyone knew was done. Guzman not only cost us $16m over 4 years, but worse, another draft pick. What on Earth is a team as barren in the minors as the Expos circa 2004 doing giving away high draft picks for expensive vets??
Some of those moves in 20/20 hindsight clearly bit us in the butt (Guzman, Castilla, releasing Scott Downs, now one of the top LHRPs in MLB to make room for old, bad, pointless Gary Bennett), some you could argue gave us some fun in the short-term but in the long run hurt (Soriano), some were just inconsequential (P. Wilson for Zach Day), and at least one probably worked out ok for the short and long (Loaiza, pitched good in 05, turned into a compensatory pick).
If we had we committed to rebuilding from the start, we clearly would be much further along now, and if we got a little good luck and drafted as well as the best drafting teams in the league do, we could conceivably be looking at at true title run as soon as next year. (Which is not to say that he should be fired for not drafting as well as the Red Sox and the D'Backs did from 03-05, but just to establish that those who say Bowden had NO CHANCE are wrong.)
But the course Bowden chose was to sprint in the opposite direction, to run the team as if we were piecing together a the final parts of a championship run. We were not. He miscalculated. We inherited a barren talentless desert of a franchise begging for rebuilding, and Bowden spent 2 years moving us BACKWARD by making us an older, more expensive, declining team. For that, he gave us the dubious prize of an 81-win last place team in '05 and a flashy but awful team in 06. We're still paying the price.
Now, for the last year or so, Kasten has forced Bowden into rebuilding, but his past track record shows no aptitude or even interest in this. A notoriously impatient, hyperactive GM and a terrible drafter, he is the wrong guy for this job, and he continues to slip from the plan by doing things like signing LoDuca and Estrada to block Flores to "win now."
- Chris Needham vote of approval for the SparkNotes version: "See. That's shorter, more intellectually honest, and accurate. Works for me!"