Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fecal Gravity at Nationals Park

As they say, stuff rolls downhill.

The Nationals are the worst organization in the majors because of dyfunctional management starting with Mark Lerner, Stan Kasten, and Jim Bowden. But when things get ugly, it's the middle relievers, bench coaches, and now Randy St. Claire who take the fall.

Remember, Bowden was never fired. He was allowed to resign, with a teary-eyed speech about how he's about the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. And that was after four-plus years of some of the worst GM-ing the world's ever seen.

The Nationals aren't the first organization where accoutability functioned in inverse proportion to authority. Legions of GM workers got their walking papers before Rick Wagoner finally had to face the music. Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld signed off on torture and invaded Iraq without a plan, and it's Lynndie England who takes the fall.

Of course, it doesn't have to be this way. There are healthy, functioning organizations out there where the buck stops at the top in a meaningful way. Scapegoating down is often a sign of a poorly run operation, and the Nationals have it down cold.

After all, if you were going to lay the blame at one person's feet, who would it be? Kasten? Well, he didn't want Bowden in the first place, so you can't hardly blame him for the mess he wrought. Rizzo? Dude just got here. Bowden? Yeah, that's clearly the person I think is most at fault, but even he didn't get to hire his own people. Rizzo was imposed on him, he inherited Dana Brown, and he didn't have Kasten's support.

And of course, Manny inherited St. Claire. Bowden kept him on. Would Acta have picked him if he'd had a chance to hire his own coaches? Who knows? And then yesterday we were told that Rizzo fired St. Claire, not Manny.

The only solution here is to clean house. Put someone in charge of everything, and get out of the way. Either that's Stan or someone else (you can't fire an owner, but he could lose his management authority if Lerner wanted him out). Then that person hires a GM (permanent), who hires a manager, who hires coaches. And then you'll at least know who's in charge of what, and whom to fire when firing time comes.

14 comments:

Sasskuash said...

Steven- How much of this house cleaning should happen right now, immediately before the draft and with 2/3 of the season to go? You could get rid of Manny (and let Riggleman take over) to make a statement. But I don't think you're going to find a permanent GM mid-season. Unless you name Rizzo the permanent GM. You can't expect to find a permanent solution to any of these problems now. This discussion is better served for September, so you can re-set the chain of command in the offseason when anybody you consider a serious candidate (for ALL positions) will be in a position to interview and join your club.

Ben said...

I really do believe that a lot of decisions are being put off until after the draft, simply because regardless of what his office door says, Rizzo was brought into bring talented young players into the organization.

Once this rather important draft is out of the way, you would expect them to begin start more of the top level house cleaning.

Rich said...

If they wait until after the draft then we are talking after August 15th when Strasburg finally signs or not...

Scott said...

I agree with Sasskuash that big decisions should be held until the off-season.

(I also agree with Steven that if the Nats don't sign Strasburg, I'm done rooting for them, but that post disappeared).

Dave Nichols said...

Steven's comments here are timely because the Nats fired Scapegoat St. Claire yesterday.

i agree (and wrote so several weeks ago) that with no title for Rizzo and no contract extension for Manny, we could very well see a complete house-cleaning after the season.

and for what it's worth, i still don't understand how St. Claire escaped this fate last winter with the rest of the coaches. his performance (team ERA) never lived up to his reputation.

Steve Shoup said...

Cheap shot on Wagoner Steven, UAW should clean house as well. EPIC FAIL on there part.

As for the Nats I believe that at this point let Rizzo have the test drive of this draft and trade deadline. If it blows up in his face then look for a replacement but if he does the job I say keep him.

I'd like to see Acta gone at this point. Be it Riggleman or someone from the minors any sort of shake-up would be welcome. I also still think it happens by the end of this month unless the Nats get on a real hot streak.

flippin said...

Nats=GM? The Nats actually make money even if the product is the Pontiac Aztec of MLB. Kasten has been eerily quiet that past few days. I think he has tossed Rizzo the keys... Unfortunately, it's still an Aztec. Speaking of Aztecs, what happened to the Strasburg Screed?

Steven said...

I have no love for the UAW bosses. My point is that the guys on the assembly line have been getting the shaft.

My post this morning on "If the Nationals don't sign Strasburg" was intended as a draft. I didn't realize I had scheduled it to post. I still may make a point along those lines later, but I think it's premature to go there now.

dcusimano123 said...

If the Nationals don't sign Strasburg, the guys in my ticket plan - who between us have given the Nats close to $100K in ticket money since 2005 - will bail. It is as simple as that.

phil dunn said...

Kasten came here with a huge reputation as a genius which was not warranted. The Braves success was mostly due to John Schererholtz and Bobby Cox. Further, Kasten destroyed the Atlanta Hawks and Flames. We have discovered over four plus seasons that Stan Kasten is an empty suit and nothing but BS flows out his mouth. He needs to go too.

Mr. Mustache said...

Lets start a campaign! Valentine/Mazzone '09

Jon said...

I have an entirely different angle on this... for four years there was no accountability with Bowden in place, now there is some. Is firing St. Claire really going to solve all of this teams problems, of course not. But we can't pretend he was doing his job well either. And its not like he didn't get a fair chance. To me, this is the first sign that there actually is accountability within this organization.

Anonymous said...

After yet ANOTHER rain delay debacle last night, I'm starting to wonder if Stan Kasten isn't more of a problem than I thought. This kind of thing is what makes the organization a joke throughout the league, with the media, with players, etc. How fan-unfriendly is it to keep people waiting for 4 hours? This is Stan's decision and he's failed on this front more than once this year.

DMan said...

The only firing that will really make a difference is somehow forcing the Lerners out as owners. A fish rots from the head down.