Sunday, August 10, 2008

Nieto... Neato!

The Nationals today signed Adrian Nieto, generally considered the second best high school catcher in the draft, paying him a $376k bonus, more than double the "slot" recommendation for a fifth round pick.

This is very good news, and hopefully a sign of more to come. From the start, Nieto was considered the least likely of the Nationals' higher round picks to sign.

Embittered Nationals fans conditioned to expect the worst should take heart that this team, regardless of their public posturing, has never acted like a "slot" team in the draft (McGeary, Hood, now Nieto...). Yes, they've taken a pass on blockbuster free agents. Yes, the strip-mall builders running the team showed the same terrible aesthetic judgment that brought you Tyson's Corner by blocking the view of the Capitol Dome with a cheap, ugly parking garage. And yes, they're clearly willing to play hardball in business, going to war with the city over what any sane person would consider minor issues on the stadium. But on the draft, at least so far, the "Lerners have not been cheeeeeeeap." I'm sure the player agents all expect the team to cave at the end to get their guys signed--they always have so far (hence the posturing).

Still, they damn well better sign Crow or this will be the last time you'll see me sticking up for their open space-destroying, traffic hell-creating, carbon footprint-expanding, taxpayer gouging, monopolistic, greedy capitalist butts.

11 comments:

Steve Shoup said...

"Yes, the strip-mall builders running the team showed the same terrible aesthetic judgment that brought you Tyson's Corner by blocking the view of the Capitol Dome with a cheap, ugly parking garage"

If i'm not mistaken the basic design for the Stadium was done well before the Lerners were named owners, and i thought the city mandated that the design included a certain number of "on site" parking spaces, so as not to increase problems with street parking and that is what necessitated the garages. While I agree with you that it does limit the city skyline and is a bit of an eyesore. I think this is something that needs to be blamed on the city since it was their specifications, decision for the location and that they signed off on the plans not the Learners.

Steve Shoup said...

Seriously though I'm really happy we signed Nieto, I think he was a 'late second round talent', and we got him for a reasonable price. Hopefully they can sign the rest of their top guys this year and maybe next year we can take a page out of the O's book and get extremely aggressive throughout the entire draft, really build up this farm system so it really will be the 9th best in baseball and not just on paper.

Steven said...

There was an option to put the parking garages below ground, and the Lerners chose to go the cheaper route and build above ground. If memory serves, the cost would have been $50m more to bury it.

It's not the city's job to look out for the fan experience in Nationals Park and more than it's the city's job to make sure the view is good from the deck at Lauriol Plaza. It's a corporate profit-making venture, not a public trust.

Hendo said...

Re the draft, I'm trying, and mostly succeeding, not to get all spun up about how many of the high draft picks sign.

Your take about nails it IMO. The Lerners are what they are, but what they aren't is an ATM (a metaphor in grave danger of becoming cliche very soon).

I'd far rather direct my energy at the real impediment to this team's being able to do business effectively after draft day. Which, appropriately, is the subject of this blog.

Steve Shoup said...

I hate to disagree with you but first and I honestly don't remember reading much or anything on the topic of parking garages underground, but to me $50 million extra is a bit too much. 1/12th of the overall price of the stadium is excessive, we know the city wouldn't foot the bill, why should the team when they didn't have say in the overall design, (they could have put the garage ANYWHERE else and it would have been fine). It also seems to me that the city has as much of a vested interest in the success of the ball park as the Lerners if not more.

1. They are getting paid based on Ticket sales, as well as the sale tax on food and other items. The more fans that are happy the more money the stadium brings into the city.

2. They funded it with public money, shouldn't it have been built with the public in mind? It is their job to make it fan friendly, look at Pittsburgh, Cinnciatii, San Fran all those cities incorporated the waterfront directly or indirectly into their stadium design and they are wonderful places to go (or see from TV, never been to SanFran). No they wouldn't have wanted to spend $50 million i doubt anyone would, but why the need for that parking deck don't necessitate that number of spaces build parking garages near by whatever. It seems that there were cheaper options then building an underground deck, which i would bet on the fact would not have had the stadium ready (to play in) for opening day.

3. This is the city's 3rd chance with baseball and this stadium is supposed to be the beacon on the waterfront that the city is going to build around. For both of those reasons the success of the stadium and the fan enjoyment factor of the stadium is immensely important to the city. More so than the Lerners who could build their own stadium in 5 years if this fails, or decide to move the team (yes i'm sure both expensive legal options) to Las Vegas or NOVA. They didn't pay for the stadium so they don't need a return on their investment, they didn't choose DC MLB did. I think DC needs the Lerners and the Nats more than the Lerners/Nats need DC.

jimbo's brain fart said...

There was an option to put the parking garages below ground, and the Lerners chose to go the cheaper route and build above ground. If memory serves, the cost would have been $50m more to bury it.

The main reason and indeed possibly the only reason that the garages ended up being built above ground is because the stadium never would have been finished on time otherwise.

And if the garages weren't there, the Capitol view would still be blocked before long by other construction going up between the stadium and the Capitol. Does it bother you that you won't be able to see those buildings because the garages are there?

Steven said...

I'm kind of amazed I'm getting so much flak on a rare "Lerners are cheap" post.

On the parking garage, my two cents are that the Lerners for their own private interest would have been smart to preserve the vista of the Capitol. It's a long-term aesthetic feature that I think would have increased the value of their property. I think it was dumb and short-sighted from their own perspective to do that.

@Steve--I've heard all the arguments, and really I'm just pretty set in my views, which are that 1. the stadium 'investment' overwhelmingly profits private interests not the public interests--stadiums simply don't spur economic development--it's a myth; 2. if you were going to invest public funds in new infrastructure that the money would be better spent on any number of things, from improving the sewage system to the schools to the libraries to public transit to creating a city-wide wi-fi network to greening the city's building; 3. the voters of DC didn't want it, and to suggest that the political leadership should have gone even further than they did in disregarding the will of their constituents I think is unrealistic and undemocratic.

@Jimbo--I think I read somewhere that some of those buildings are also Lerner properties, but regardless, I think those buildings are ugly too. While we're at it, I'd like to get rid of the coal fired power plant that in the way of the view as well as the highway.

Bottom line, I just don't think sports stadiums are an appropriate use of even one dollar of public money (or public borrowing power, as the case may be). I'm not really open to changing my view on that, though I know many other people (and probably 100% of this blog's tiny readership) disagree.

Moreover, I'm generally not interested in what's essentially an endless and pretty much moot political debate. I don't mean that to be disrespectful of your views, just to say I just think we could go round and round and you'll get frustrated talking to me. The main reason I included the knock at the Lerners in this post is because I think some people have been getting the impression that I somehow love the Lerners because I don't criticize them, when in fact I really don't like the Lerners at all, I'm just way more interested in writing about sliders and splitters than greedy corporate scumbags.

jimbo's brain fart said...

On the parking garage, my two cents are that the Lerners for their own private interest would have been smart to preserve the vista of the Capitol.

The Lerners would have to buy every parcel of land between the stadium and the Capitol and not develop it in order to preserve any vista of the Capitol from the stadium.This would include them tearing down their own building at 20 M Street that was well underway before they even bought the team. The only kind of development between the stadium and the Capitol that wouldn't obscure the vista would be the very same strip mall development you complain about them building everywhere else in the metro area. Do you not understand that?

Steven said...

We disagree. I think there would be a better view of the capitol if the parking garage was below ground. You seem to think it would make no difference. I think they were short-sighted and dumb to build it there. You disagree. That's fine.

But I'm done on this topic.

Offense/offensive said...

Just to let you know, it's not 100% of your readership.

Steve Shoup said...

I'm not wholly in the group that A. "Lerner's are beyond reproach" or B. That "city's should fund stadium's". I think the Lerner's have made plenty of mistakes, just not too sure this one is on them was my point i really think it was a failure of the city and MLB to act before an ownership group was in place. And I think stadiums should be joint ventures but I realize A. there was no ownership group and B. the city had to sweeten the deal to get the Nats back to the capitol. By the same token I think that it was a good investment for the city they will make their money back and then some just on stadium taxes alone (food, tickets, ect.) not to mention rebuilding the waterfront, and the extra 1.5 million people coming into the city, when that area is built up with bars and ect the city will benefit greatly.