Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's February 26, and Jim's Still the GM

He's known as a survivor, but we're moving into zombie vampire territory here. Remember when we thought that maybe he'd get might fired over Paul Lo Duca? Bah! We weren't even close.

So the Nationals begin another day with Jim Bowden's butt occupying the GM chair. Truth be told, he's been so totally undermined that it's hard to imagine what part of the GM's job he could do right now. Let's assume for the moment that the Nationals might be interested in flipping a player--oh, I don't know, maybe a corner outfielder. If I'm one of the GMs who was still taking Jim's calls as of a month ago, I certainly wouldn't now. What's the point? He clearly isn't operating with anything remotely resembling the support of ownership. There are a hundred issues large and small like this, leaving the whole organization in limbo.

Tonight ESPN reported that Mike Rizzo is in the DR working on replacing Jose Rijo as the team's director of Dominican operations and actually met with (interviewed?) Fernando Ravelo, general manager for the Dominican Winter League Tigres de Licey. Who bottom-lines that decision now? Stan? Rizzo? Certainly not Jim, right? If it was up to him, Jose Rijo would still be in charge down there. Does the decision get cleared with LaCava first, assuming he's really standing in the on-deck circle? When Ravelo was asked if he'd been offered the job, he answered "maybe." Perhaps that's a coy non-answer to a reporter, but perhaps it's an honest answer. I mean, who's job is it to offer him now?

This is such an untenable, inexplicable mess that I'm starting to come around to a conclusion I'd resisted: this delay is about money. Craig Calcaterra suggested it earlier this week--that the Nationals are waiting for the FBI to give them something incriminating in the Smiley-gate investigation so that they can fire Bowden for violating some kind of moral turpitude clause that would allow them to withhold the rest of his contract.

This theory gained traction with the Chico Harlan story on Monday, which reported:
Behind the scenes, according to sources, some within the team's ownership group -- which includes Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner, seven principal owners and nine founding partners -- are eager to cut ties with the general manager they inherited almost three years ago, and see the investigation as a way of facilitating Bowden's exit. The Nationals, one source said, are encouraging the investigation to return an answer on Bowden so the parties can "go on their merry way."
The Lerners aren't known as forgiving bleeding hearts. It's hard to believe that they are going to this length out of some wildly exaggerated commitment to fairness. So maybe Calcaterra is right, and this is just another version of the stadium rent story, a case study in extreme penny wise-pound foolishness that leads them to do real harm to the value of the overall product with a protracted PR embarrassment, all for the sake of the MLB equivalent of a few nickels.

Ed note: a previous version of this post implied that Tony LaCava may be in the DR on Nationals business. Tony is 100% an employee of the Jays, and if he's there, it's on Jays business. I didn't mean to imply otherwise, but my language was sloppy, so I wanted to be clear.


An Briosca Mor said...
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Arlington Public Library Communications said...
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Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity,'ve been at this for a pretty long time now dating back to old Nationals Journal postings.

do you ever plan on letting go of whatever grudge you have against Steven?

I mean you go way out of your way to try and disparage every single thing Steven says, for god knows what reason.

Is it really that serious?

Chris Needham said...

ABM's a troll. Doesn't matter who it is, what the blog's saying or anything. He just likes being the needles under the fingernail.

Took me a while to realize that, but once you do, you reach a nice sort of serenity.

That being said, I think he's actually kinda right on this one.

Anonymous said...

Who gives a crap about Jim getting another job? What about all the people who worked their asses off before he got there only to be let go for no reason? See if people who gave their lives to the game for 20+ years only to be an outcast now care. F*ck him and I hope he doesnt get another job because he should be in jail.

An Briosca Mor said...
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Anonymous said...

Oh, I see. I question 26 words out of a six-paragraph post by FJB (and to be more specific, 26 words that were a direct response to something I had said earlier that he was taking dispute with) and I'm a SoCH hater?

ABM, you make the critical mistake of thinking that I am taking one single comment that you've made and turning into an indictment of your entire personality towards Steven.

I'm not.

I've been around longer than you think, I'm not some guy who just discovered this site. I've got a lot of post history both here and on Nationals Journal to reference.

so I repeat the question: When do you plan on dropping your grudge against Steven?

brianrein said...

For what it's worth, I thought ABM's post here was perfectly justified, and in fact very elegantly written. I'm glad that he brought the matter up.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps so, but I'm not asking based on the post in this thread alone.

this is just the most recent blog posting, so this is where my question went.

jg3 said...

Who cares what ABM thinks of SoCH?

And who cares what happens to JimBo post-nats?

I doubt seriously that they're politely letting him pack up his desk because they're good people. They're businesspeople and if JimBo doesn't already know what's coming he is really stupider than I once thought. I tend to believe that they are hanging on to him until the feds indict him (or not) so they can see if they get to break their contract with him. That's a shrewd business move that I would expect from the Learner-lead ownership team.


James Bjork said...

Letting the FBI and other investigations play out is a win-win for the Lerners. If Bowden gets indicted or whatever, then they can save some dough wiggling out of any financial commitments toward Bowden.

If Bowden is innocent, he can be let go for performance reasons, without the onus on ownership of having presumed an employee guilty before an investigation had concluded.

Really, who besides the 17 of us who follow Nats blogs (of the 9k who watch them on TV) is really going to care whether Bowden gets fired now or a few weeks from now, per se?

Also, should Bowden get the axe, at least I'm glad that the Nats were able to first leverage Bowden's relationship with Dunn to get Dunn for a multi-year deal for the price they did.

Rob B said...

I don't have any problem with the opposite viewpoint of sticking up for Bowden, but right now it's just hard to agree with any arguments that can be made on his behalf.
It's particularly frustrating to see as guy making lots of money keep his job when he is obviously not getting it done. Especially considering how many people out there are doing their jobs well right now and still getting laid off.

Jared Maynard said...

The Cincinnati media has been alerted to your blog. Rijo is still a big name here, and Bowden is much despised.

Jared from

Basil said...

I have no particularly pertinent opinion to share about ABM (although I remember the screen name as far back as Needham's comments), but he has a fair point in this thread.

We think of Bodes as a buffoon of sorts, and we can cite anecdotes or a general reputation indicating he's not well respected, but no one here to my knowledge is within the industry. Within other professional industries such as law, there is a custom to extend soft landings to established individuals within the industry who find themselves in trouble, so as to protect their name. Firing Bowden right now might create the perception that he was in fact complicit in something fraudulent or illegal. So, while it might seem to us that they're letting him twist in the wind, maybe what they intend to do is give him some slack. It may be that he needs to go* eventually to hold him accountable for poor associations and hirings to important positions. But it also might be that there's forces at work to keep him in the GM chair until things evolve and/or settle down a bit. (For instance, maybe Selig himself has some fealty to Bodes, seeing as several other people declined or expressed no interest in the GM while it was under MLB control prior to Bowden.)

Anyway, maybe it's because I'm now too far removed from the blog scene, but this whole episode has progressed kind of strangely in the "Natosphere," especially the whole 'confirmation' of the existence of rumors thing. The entirety of the rumor -- Bowden gone, replaced immediately by LaCava -- doesn't even make much sense to me. But I could be wrong.

redcottageaudio said...

This feels like our dreams are unraveling. The main problem is that they need to get someone doing the GM job while Bowden is being gagged.

We still have a corner outfielder/1st baseman to move, a reliever to acquire, maybe a veteran starter. There is work to be done and no one is doing it.

Steven said...

Folks--While I'm tickled that I have a little posse of loyalists, I don't feel that ABM is picking on me or a hater. I do get the feeling that he's naturally contrarian, which is ok. I'm kinda that way too. There's a lot of speculation here.

As for the LaCava rumor--blame Perrotto.

Basil said...

As for the LaCava rumor--blame Perrotto

Really? I could've sworn Teh Fed and some others had floated it well ahead of Perrotto's Unfiltered post, and had 'confirmed' it from at least one 'source' other than Perrotto.

Whatever, I guess I'm getting old or something. PS: Get off my lawn.

Steven said...

I didn't post anything inaccurate. I said that a well known reporter emailed me implying that it was done. Which happened.

redcottageaudio said...


You did however ignore the 'if it seems to good to be true' rule of being a Nat's fan.

He's going to survive isn't he? Damn roach.

Basil said...

Sorry, Steven, I didn't mean to imply any comment about you personally. I'm just saying that, if there were several sources to this rumor (as others stated), then it wasn't dependent on Perrotto to come out.

I should add, since I've mentioned Perrotto's name, that he seems to me like a fine baseball writer.

Steven said...

Basil--you don't have to apologize. I wasn't being defensive--I was just saying. I'm not that thin-skinned. :)