Thursday, March 5, 2009

I Think Jim Pissed Off Boz...

Thomas Boswell for most of the four years of Jim's time in DC was a kind of ambivalent defender. He praised the "resourcefulness," and mostly just deflected blame onto the ownership for payroll. Now, suddenly, Boz seems about ready to launch his own FJB petition. Two columns in a row have focused on ripping into Jim, and this morning's is particularly harsh. Check it out:
The expressions on the faces of Manny Acta, Mike Rizzo and Stan Kasten on Sunday after the resignation of Jim Bowden told a vivid story. They ranged from relief to smiles. No tears for sure. Seldom have three men been so at peace with a colleague blowing up. Meet the new bosses, same as the old bosses but, minus Bowden, all more powerful and maybe more cohesive, too.

All three men had qualms about the former general manager. Acta didn't like him or the kind of troubled players he accumulated. Rizzo wanted his job. Kasten constantly had to worry about Bowden or his palace intrigues.
Ouch! Smiles when he resigned? Manny didn't LIKE him? Really? The column continues:
Minutes later, Rizzo was animatedly analyzing players, chatting trades, his career-long GM dream close to coming true. As for Acta, asked a general question, he veered directly into his relationship with Bowden, volunteering that, "If it had been as bad as some people said, I wouldn't have been around here for three years." But it wasn't good.

As soon as Bowden left the scene, the chemistry at the top of the organization changed radically. Much as Bowden got under their skins at times, Kasten, Rizzo and Acta have few problems with one another. They are competent, no-drama peas in a pod. The Nats' hierarchy just got less entertaining, but, maybe, more functional. Few leadership trios were ever more bland than Kasten, John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox in Atlanta under Ted Turner.

The three vital qualities in an executive, it's said, are energy, brains and character. The third is most important because, without it, the first two virtues turn into vices. For years, the Nationals, especially the Lerner family, focused on the first two qualities, which Bowden had in spades, and which the team desperately needed. Now, in the wake of Bowden's resignation, the veil may be falling from everybody's eyes.

A general manager is supposed to solve problems, not create them; be the adult, not the child; bring people together, not divide them; and focus his energy, not spew it.

Now, the grown-ups are running the Nats.
Oof! Wow. This last riff is about as damning as it gets. Boz goes on to rip Jim's propensity for the anonymous leak, which, considering Jim's tantrum at his "resignation" news conference about how he was undone by an unfair media using anonymous leakers, must have been especially galling:
By the time he gave up the GM ghost, not many Nats secrets were left in the shadows. Bowden's version got out -- one way or the other. He wanted to sign free agent pitchers but Kasten had the spreadsheets to show it was a bad investment. He wanted to re-sign Ryan Zimmerman for close to $60 million for six years, but Kasten saw the player differently. And, thanks to Ted Lerner, who makes every important decision, the Nats had a moment when they might have gotten Mark Teixeira at $188 million for nine years. But the Yankees pounced.
I've said before many times that Jim could be useful as a scout, some job where he's just responsible for going out and finding those diamonds in the rough. But you have to wonder, if Boz is any barometer, has Jim finally made so many enemies that he's done in baseball, at least for now?


John O'Connor said...

It's funny how the newsies pull out the knives only asfter a guy has been canned. Thom Loverro said on the radio the other day that Boswell thought of Bowden as a "lovable scoundrel."

Kenny G said...

This is great stuff... but at least we can move on to the future. Looks like Rizzo will be the new GM since he's pretty much got the assistant spot without the title.

El Rey said...

Even Nixon rehabilitated his image over time. Maybe Jimbo can do the same?

Cheryl Nichols said...

Boz had a chat today and very briefly touched on Bowden, but very mild compared to today's article. You can read transcript at

I didn't realize that Perez was such a jerk to his teammates.

Glover Park: I'm curious: if it is news now that Bowden is gone that Acta doesn't like him, why was it not news before?

Tom Boswell: It was brought nup several times last year that Acta felt Bowden had burdened him with too many "character" projects. It's okay to work with one or two, like Dukes, if the talent is enormous. But I was talking to one of the Nats last week about last year's clubhouse and he started to list all the people who'd been added to the team in '08 who didn't fit the '07 Manny mold. "Not necessarily bad guys, but not good teammates. Like, how can a veteran lefthanded pitcher like Odalis Perez, not say one word to a rookie like John Lannan ALL YEAR. He doesn't have one word to add, one piece of advice?"

Make a list of who's gone since mid-season last year and, mostly, it's people who aren't missed in the clubhouse. The big problem, however, was the purge of cta's coaches, except St. Claire, after the season. That may have been necessary and/or good. But it was Bowden's decision. And that sure didn't help the relationship. So, one of the major issues came out AFTER last season. If they'd both been on board this year, you'd have heard more about it. Acta is from the Dominican, of course, so at some point we may hear his feelings on what went on down there with Rijo, Baez, etc. He might not have been on the same side of the fence as Jim on that one. Bt I'm not sure. We'll know in time.