Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, January 26, 2007

WaPo: Boswell - An Embarrassment Of Pitches (RR)

Right now, the Nats’ rotation is John Patterson plus Nobody Else. That is, unless you consider Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann, Beltran Perez, Billy Traber and Mike O’Connor a staff. They won 10 games combined last year. If the often-injured Patterson can’t stay healthy—and he’s never won more than nine games—there’s almost no limit to how bad this team could be.
...
On Feb. 13, when pitchers (loosely defined) and catchers report, Washington will welcome 37—count them, 37—pitching vagabonds, orthopedic anomalies and surgical experiments to their training camp in Viera, Fla. If you don’t immediately recognize some prime rotation “candidates” like Tim Redding, Jerome Williams, Joel Hanrahan and Brandon Claussen, there are reasons. Some have been out of the majors for years. Some just never arrived. Don’t fault General Manager Jim Bowden. Within budget restraints, he’s tried, though sending a contract to Satchel Paige’s last known address may have been desperate.

Boswell on the Nationals’ rotation situation…

NTNgod Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:17 AM | 72 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:38 AM (#2286618)
How bad have things gotten for Washington? Don't look now.

It's an interesting column by Boswell. The franchise is on the right track, but there've been a number of odd comments, including the one that Boz leads with where the new owner complains about those high-priced free agents playing on his lawn, that could reasonably put some doubt into the average fan. Even some of the diehards are getting restless with what they're doing.
   2. MSI Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:41 AM (#2286622)
Even with the winning of several trades last year: Kearns + Lopez, the original Soriano one, and the Chris Snelling for Jose Vidro trade, the team is in a sorry sorry state. Trading Soriano would have helped; why hold onto him as they surged to 60-something wins? Their pitching is just absolutely absymal. They are the only team that can't even fake a rotation.
   3. MSI Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:43 AM (#2286623)
Oh I just had an idea. WHy don't the Jays trade Josh Towers to them? He might actaully be pretty good in the NL in a pitcher's park and rebound. They could use him, we could dump salary. I really think it wouldn't be a bad idea for the Nats.
   4. MSI Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:46 AM (#2286624)
Oh I just had an idea. WHy don't the Jays trade Josh Towers to them? He might actaully be pretty good in the NL in a pitcher's park and rebound. They could use him, we could dump salary. I really think it wouldn't be a bad idea for the Nats.
   5. NTNgod Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:46 AM (#2286625)
WHy don't the Jays trade Josh Towers to them?

They're trying to find pitchers that'll accept $2mil or less.

Maybe if Bowden asks for 'the Koskie Special', though, it might fit in the budget...
   6. Raskolnikov Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:46 AM (#2286626)
The Nats are going to need the full 25 man roster to cobble together a pitching staff. No sense wasting a spot on part-time rookies who won't contribute.
   7. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:46 AM (#2286627)
It's not clear that trading Soriano would've helped.

One of the other Nats Blogs interviewed Stan Kasten last week, and he said (unfortunately without naming names) that the offers for Soriano were much lower than was being reported. I know that a few of the lukewarm deals that BPro had suggested were out there were completely denied by the team.

Holding out for the two picks wasn't a terrible strategy, even as the protection of the Cubs first pick and the 799-pick sandwich round pushes the second pick to what would've been the old 4th round.
   8. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:50 AM (#2286629)
The Nats are going to need the full 25 man roster to cobble together a pitching staff. No sense wasting a spot on part-time rookies who won't contribute.

Wishful thinking, huh? This is the team that carried Matt LeCroy most of the season last year.

And the same team that carried worthless Rule-5er Tony effing Blanco all year in 2005, despite being in a pennant race -- and that was even before the professionals put a leash on Bodes, getting him to think about tomorrow, and not today.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:58 AM (#2286631)
Man, that is awful.

I wouldn't be surprised to see teams trade a few AAAA starters to the Nats for practically nothing at the end of the spring.

But why are the Nats so low-budget? They drew 2.1 million (11th), shouldn't really have much trouble selling corporate boxes in that market, have only the humorless and colorless O's for competition and league revenues are going through the roof.

Are the owners overcommitted? cheap? DC market failing for the 3rd time? Right now I think they're at about $30 M in payroll ... I see no reason this team shouldn't be at least in the $60-70 range.
   10. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:05 AM (#2286633)
They've decided to punt the season. Their argument is that no amount of (reasonable) investment is going to make them a playoff team this year, so they're paring back, getting ready for the new stadium.

In their defense, they're basically building a franchise from scratch. They've had to double their scouting department, and operation expenses, which were bare bones under MLB, have probably doubled as well.

So they're waiting for the new stadium's revenue streams to kick in in a year.

That makes sense, but what I've been worried about is that they're going to run it in that 70-75 million range, when there's no reason they can't be roughly Philly's equal in terms of revenue and payroll.

As far as the team needing AAAA starters, I can't see the Nats really doing that. They have about 10 guys or so (Jerome Williams, Tim Redding, Colby Lewis, Jason Simontacchi, etc) competing for the four spots behind John Patterson. It isn't quantity they need. They've got plenty of that!
   11. Tom Poquette Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:14 AM (#2286636)
Just sign Mark Redman and Bruce Chen. Those guys might be able to survive pitching in that stadium.
   12. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:24 AM (#2286638)
There was an article early in the offseason suggesting (and I'm not making this up) that Bruce Chen would be out of their price range.

They had targeted Tomo Ohka, and what did the Jays pay him? $1.5?

Chad Cordero's going to get ~$4 million in arbitration. That will be more than the entire rest of the pitching staff.

Cristian Guzman is their second highest-paid player.
   13. Rich Rifkin I Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:27 AM (#2286639)
"They have about 10 guys or so (Jerome Williams, Tim Redding, Colby Lewis, Jason Simontacchi, etc) competing for the four spots behind John Patterson."

If his health is good, it would not surprise me if Jerome Williams is an above average NL pitcher next year. I know he only tossed 12 major league innings, last year. But I don't think he's already washed up at age 24-25.

Tim Redding had one good season in the majors in 2003. I don't expect he'll do much for the Nats. But he might be a 90 ERA+ over 20 starts guy if all goes right.

Colby Lewis has barely pitched in the majors since 2003. He's not old, but I don't know of any reason to be optimistic about him.

Guys who break into the majors at a late age (28) and then fade quickly after a mediocre start seem a bit questionable. Jason Simontacchi, alas, fits that mold. But at least he was a San Jose State Spartan, alma mater of Ken Caminiti!
   14. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:36 AM (#2286641)
I don't expect he'll do much for the Nats. But he might be a 90 ERA+ over 20 starts guy if all goes right.

Look at last year's rotation. We'd have killed for that! ;)

I think the pitching will be 'better' this year because they have made some efforts to tighten up the defense. Jose Vidro was about as terrible a second baseman as you could have. They're committed (wrongly) to Nook Logan in center. He can't hit, but he's a better fielder than Church. Cristian Guzman isn't a great shortstop, but he's likely better than Felipe Lopez was (if only in error prevention).

Still, Boswell's line about the umps at RFK wanting a 10-run mercy rule is going to prove to be right far too often.

The guy I'd watch out for in the rotation is Shawn Hill. He was quite effective last year, coming back from arm problems. They shut him down late in the year, but he pitched well when he was upright. If the time off enabled him to heal, he could be a really pleasant surprise.
   15. Gainsay Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:57 AM (#2286644)
Has Bowden ever actually put together a good pitching staff? The trades he made for Soriano, Kearns, and Lopez may have been good in a vacuum, but they don't make much sense given the state of the team.
   16. fra paolo Posted: January 26, 2007 at 09:05 AM (#2286655)
Their argument is that no amount of (reasonable) investment is going to make them a playoff team this year, so they're paring back, getting ready for the new stadium....In their defense, they're basically building a franchise from scratch. They've had to double their scouting department, and operation expenses, which were bare bones under MLB, have probably doubled as well....So they're waiting for the new stadium's revenue streams to kick in in a year.

That makes sense...


I'm not convinced that it does.

The Expos/Nationals were run by MLB for 4 1/2 years, during which time they spent the absolute minimum on scouting and development. In spite of being sold damaged goods, and having to pay higher operational costs <u>because</u> of being in a market where it is more expensive to operate than relatively economical Montréal, MLB still demanded not just the $120 million or so which the franchise was ostensibly worth in its damaged state in Canada, but a premium on top of that.

So does it really make sense to continue to run a AAAA operation at its most visible level a time when the key is to build up local fan support? A couple of recognizable names might help a little. It would be a shame if the subsequent lack of revenue hamstrung the development of the team, since it's likely to take a few years for the current spending to have its effects. There could be another Capitals' situation developing here, with an interesting young player largely ignored by fans who can't bear the losing.

I think this is just another proof of how right the argument I have made on this site repeatedly is correct - MLB should have left the Expos in the hands of Loria and the Canadian Partners, for them to dispose of as they saw fit. They could have sold it, or they could have moved it to Washington themselves. (Although probably without the stadium deal.) Nats' fans would more than likely have a more inspiring future to look to than the current crypto-expansion franchise, which is largely a result of its financial situation created by you-know-who.

The Bewigged Satan - the thief who keeps on taking.
   17. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 02:00 PM (#2286674)
The trades he made for Soriano, Kearns, and Lopez may have been good in a vacuum, but they don't make much sense given the state of the team.

Actually, they made perfect sense. Go back to BPro's old, tired "Success Cycle" crap, and those are the kinds of trades teams should be making when they're in the Nats position.

Kearns and Lopez are youngish, established major league players. All he gave up was some relief pitching.

If you're howling against the Soriano trade at this point, you haven't been paying attention. Absolute worst case scenario is that it moved up the draft compensation the team would've received for losing Brad Wilkerson by a year -- and it's not entirely clear that Wilk is going to be a Type A anyway.

Did Bowden plan it that way? Probably not. But it certainly worked out pretty well for the Nats.
   18. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 02:08 PM (#2286677)
So does it really make sense to continue to run a AAAA operation at its most visible level a time when the key is to build up local fan support? A couple of recognizable names might help a little.

FWIW, I'm pissed off that they're ignoring '07. I dropped my season tickets because I don't want to see AAA pitching get clubbed. If I see another Carlos Delgado moon shot...

BUT, it's the transient nature of DC that might make this the right strategy. DC is such that it's going to be a bandwagon city. If they're winning, the fans will come out. When the team went 20-6 in June of '05, the yard was packed every night. When they trailed off in the second half, the crowds went down.

The team has decided that an extra $15 million in payroll still won't get them to .500 (or beyond). They claim they're throwing it all into player development, and they have built a training facility in the Dominican already. They've also chipped in $30 million or so to the stadium construction for upgrades, so money IS going somewhere.

Getting "name" players didn't really work for the Orioles. And I don't think that anyone that would've reasonably come to the Nats would've been a big enough name to draw many more fans anyway. Who really gets excited about Miguel Batista?
   19. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 26, 2007 at 02:19 PM (#2286679)
18 posts and no "Major League" references?
   20. karlmagnus Posted: January 26, 2007 at 02:21 PM (#2286682)
I think it's something about DC, the transience, the obsession with politics, that makes its baseball franchises lousy. As I'm possibly the only BBTF regular who was in town for the 1971 Senators, this team has a strong echo of that one, though the '71 Senators didn't fire Ted Williams, and do so in such a way that he stormed out the door, as this lot did to Robinson. All they need is Denny McLain and it would be a perfect match.

It's a damn shame, because the '02 Expos were a very good team in difficult circumstances and even the '05 Nats weren't bad, so with competent management (obviously not incluidng Bowden) they should have been able to put together a team that was a good match for the Mets -- the revenue base is clealry here -- the DC region is HUGELY larger than in '71. VA suburbs may have been a better location, though.
   21. TerpNats Posted: January 26, 2007 at 02:38 PM (#2286690)
The difference between '07 and '71 is that at least Lerner has a long-range plan, unlike Bob Short, whose only plan was high-tailing the team out of town. My beef with Lerner is that we know things are going to get worse before they get better and that you're dealing with a quasi-expansion franchise, but in the meantime do something to make the team semi-palatable to the casual fan. Don't put all your eggs in the new ballpark's basket.
   22. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 26, 2007 at 02:39 PM (#2286691)
18 posts and no "Major League" references?
This guy here is dead!

Seriously, although I've obviously not thought about it as much as Chris, I'm in agreement with him. There's no loyal hardcore base of fans in DC--there may never be, sadly--and short of going absolutely stone crazy on the free agent market this year (Dice-K! Soriano! Zito! All Nats!) there was no way this team was going to be better than .500, and that's best case scenario.

The difference between 78-81 wins and 68-71 just isn't going to make that much difference in creating a fan base, people aren't coming out either way. I don't see how "One step back, two steps forward" isn't the best idea in the end
   23. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 02:40 PM (#2286693)
You're looking at the present and not the future though.

The Nationals literally had half the number of scouts of the typical MLB team. They never made any international signings, and they've already committed to at least 10. The front office operations was at about the minimum level of staffing necessary -- as anyone who's tried to ever call the ticket office can attest.

All those things HAVE been improved, and they do cost money, so they're not completely milking the system.

I've argued that they should've been a player for some FA pitching just to get the team to the .500ish range, but there's a somewhat decent argument that they're fine doing it that way. The only thing that ticks me off about that, though, is the deference to Stan Kasten. To hear most fans tell it, Kasten alone is the reason the Braves are the Braves.
   24. Famous Original Joe C Posted: January 26, 2007 at 03:10 PM (#2286710)
"This guy is dead!"
   25. Rick Vaughn Posted: January 26, 2007 at 03:28 PM (#2286715)
...if the Nats called, I'd listen.
   26. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 26, 2007 at 03:52 PM (#2286737)
16 is a good comment. I never thought of them as a "crypto-expansion franchise" before, but it makes a lot of sense given the conscious trashing of the Expos' minor-league system and the stealing of all their office supplies and scouting reports by the Marlins back in 2002 or whenever it was. At one point in that period I actually decided not to go to a Williamsport Crosscutters game just because they were playing the Vermont Expos and I didn't want to be depressed by the sight of the 4-27 (or something like that) Vermont Expos.
   27. Answer Guy, outhacking you by a mile. Posted: January 26, 2007 at 04:20 PM (#2286749)
I think it's something about DC, the transience, the obsession with politics, that makes its baseball franchises lousy.

The transience doesn't help as far as building a fan base, but the politics, if anything, will help. The new stadium will be a frequent haunt for K Street lobbyists and their families. It's a relatively cheap ticket for government employees, and the town is more or less recession proof. Both the old and new stadiums are relatively close to Metro stations.
   28. Gainsay Posted: January 26, 2007 at 04:47 PM (#2286762)
Actually, they made perfect sense. Go back to BPro's old, tired "Success Cycle" crap, and those are the kinds of trades teams should be making when they're in the Nats position.

Kearns and Lopez are youngish, established major league players. All he gave up was some relief pitching.


I basically agree with the "Success Cycle" idea, but I think this trade is the exact opposite of it. The trade made them older. When they got Kearns and Lopez, each was 2 1/2 years away from free agency. They clearly weren't going to help the team in 2006, and without any pitching the team is going nowhere in 2007. That means they are either helping in 2008, or they are trade bait. If the plan is to trade them, it should be done sooner rather than later to maximize there value, but that doesn't seem to be how Bowden works.

If you're howling against the Soriano trade at this point, you haven't been paying attention. Absolute worst case scenario is that it moved up the draft compensation the team would've received for losing Brad Wilkerson by a year -- and it's not entirely clear that Wilk is going to be a Type A anyway.

I think Bowden could have done better just trading Wilkerson for prospects last off-season and signing a mid-range free agent with the money saved. Letting your good players hit free agency and getting the comp picks only makes sense if they are playing meaningful games for you. Soriano worked out about as well as he possibly could have, and the Nats are still a long way away from getting any lasting value out of it.
   29. Swedish Chef Posted: January 26, 2007 at 04:57 PM (#2286764)
Hasn't Detroit pretty much proven that no team is more than two seasons from contending?
   30. Gainsay Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:09 PM (#2286766)
It's more like Detroit has proven no team with a wealth of young pitching and a large checkbook is more than two seasons from contending.
   31. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:10 PM (#2286767)
The trade made them older. When they got Kearns and Lopez, each was 2 1/2 years away from free agency.

Older, sure, but not old. They're both on this side of 30 and under team control. Sure, it's not like Alex Gordon, but getting young established major leaguers is never a problem. They've got time to fish or cut bait with them. If they're part of the plan, they can buy out some of those arb years or let them walk for draft picks. They got Major League talent for a bunch of relievers; it's a GREAT deal.

Soriano worked out about as well as he possibly could have, and the Nats are still a long way away from getting any lasting value out of it.

I suppose that they could've just traded Wilkerson, but if they couldn't get anything of meaningful value for Soriano with the season he was having, what were they going to get for Wilkerson? There were some deals thrown around last offseason that might've made sense, but it's not like teams were lining up to pay Wilk.

Sure, the value might be a long way away, but that's precisely the point. They're taking the long view of the franchise, banking on those Soriano picks helping them in 2011.
   32. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:20 PM (#2286774)
Hasn't Detroit pretty much proven that no team is more than two seasons from contending?

Three, perhaps.
   33. Gainsay Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:25 PM (#2286777)
They've got time to fish or cut bait with them. If they're part of the plan, they can buy out some of those arb years or let them walk for draft picks. They got Major League talent for a bunch of relievers; it's a GREAT deal.

If the Nats had a different GM, I'd be more inclined to agree with this. In order for this to be a GREAT DEAL, these guys need to be flipped again for younger players the Nats are going to use to contend. I don't think that is how Bowden will approach things.

I suppose that they could've just traded Wilkerson, but if they couldn't get anything of meaningful value for Soriano with the season he was having, what were they going to get for Wilkerson?

The fact that Wilkerson would have been 2 full seasons away from free agency instead of a couple of months gives him added value. Also, I don't think the prospects would need to be particularly great to be worth more than 2 compensation picks. Sandwich round picks and lower are far from sure things.
   34. Mike Green Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:34 PM (#2286785)
I think that the Nats have made the right decision. They've done a very nice job with the position players, and they will bide their time in 2007 sifting through the pitchers hoping to identify one or two who can help them down the road. My money's on Redding, but Mike Emeigh and me might be the only ones who think so. Their minor league system is very weak, so 2011 looks to be about right. It's very hard to build a pitching staff out of free agents.

Nook Logan seems to hit much better right-handed. Has there been talk of using him as a platoon partner/late-in defensive sub for Church?
   35. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:39 PM (#2286789)
If the Nats had a different GM, I'd be more inclined to agree with this. In order for this to be a GREAT DEAL, these guys need to be flipped again for younger players the Nats are going to use to contend. I don't think that is how Bowden will approach things.

Then you haven't been paying attention to Bowden too much in the past year. Since the new ownership took over, he's a changed man. If you cut through all the leather pants, the Dawgs and the fist bumps, he's done a pretty damn good job.

And I'd take issue with your belief that they'd need to be flipped for younger players. They could take the picks. It's the same thing.

The fact that Wilkerson would have been 2 full seasons away from free agency instead of a couple of months gives him added value. Also, I don't think the prospects would need to be particularly great to be worth more than 2 compensation picks. Sandwich round picks and lower are far from sure things.

Added value? Sure, I guess. But for the Nats, he wasn't going to be someone who was long term because of his skill set and age. By dumping him early, they did move up the return they would get -- and likely an extra pick since Wilkerson is going to have a hard time being a Type-A like Soriano was.

Sandwich rounds aren't valuable? Sure, but it's a lottery ticket. The obnoxious thing to do would be to say "David Wright says Hi!"

But this team believes, for whatever its worth, that with their scouting system (modeled on the Braves, and it's hard to argue with their results) and with Mike Rizzo, who ran the D-Backs farm system, in charge that a draft pick has MORE value to them than the average team. They're confident that they'll have a higher rate of return on these things than the Pirates or Devil Rays.
   36. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:42 PM (#2286791)
Nook Logan seems to hit much better right-handed. Has there been talk of using him as a platoon partner/late-in defensive sub for Church?

They've penciled him, unfortunately, as the starter in center. Church is the presumed favorite for the LF job, which screws over Chris Snelling.

Alex Escobar is on the roster too, and he looked impressive for the 10 ABs or so he was actually healthy for.

The OF is actually quite a logjam, and I'm not confident that they're going to put the best lineup they can out there.
   37. 3Com Park Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:57 PM (#2286798)
I hope they'll give Jon Rauch an opportunity to make the rotation. He's got some nasty stuff, and his flyball tendencies make him a natural for this park.
   38. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: January 26, 2007 at 05:58 PM (#2286803)
I think Bowden could have done better just trading Wilkerson for prospects last off-season and signing a mid-range free agent with the money saved.


Soriano-for-Wilkerson (and Sledge and Galarraga) was in large part a PR trade. The situation was exceedingly not-good directly prior to the trade. Some DC Council members were getting feisty, MLB was acting like a big jerk, there was still no permanent owner in the foreseeable future, and MASN and Comcast couldn't be further from an agreement. It was a down time. Then the Soriano trade happened. Boz changed in tone from gloomy to Hey hey! We've got a star! The position battle came soon after, but I'm convinced the trade was in large part a measure to divert attention from some really bad press. Boz's reaction was pretty representative (to all but us idiot statheads here).

A mid-range free agent wouldn't have brought about this effect, and Bowden probably didn't care about the money used to pay for Soriano, since it wasn't going to be used for a decent starting pitcher anyway. Only down-on-their-luckers were interested in the Nats at that point.
   39. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:02 PM (#2286807)
Good point about the perspective. It's also important to remember that this was right before Bowden started publicly campaigning for the Red Sox job. Perhaps he felt extra motivation to make a splash?

I hope they'll give Jon Rauch an opportunity to make the rotation.

They brought it up to him last year, and he said he wanted to stay in the pen. Go figure! He was quite successful in that role and with the cavalcade of starters (and the likely 5-inning appearances) there's a chance that he could actually be more valuable as a durable middle-innings guy.

The team's offense is decent (if Church/Snelling win out). If their starter goes 5 innings with 4 or fewer wins, the pen (with Rauch) is decent enough where they can steal some games.
   40. Gainsay Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:07 PM (#2286809)
Then you haven't been paying attention to Bowden too much in the past year. Since the new ownership took over, he's a changed man. If you cut through all the leather pants, the Dawgs and the fist bumps, he's done a pretty damn good job.

Other than the 2 trades we've been discussing, what moves has he made? The Vidro trade was fine as a salary dump where they get a little upside back. In all 3 moves he basically followed his standard procedure of getting toolsy outfielders.
   41. Gainsay Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:11 PM (#2286811)
The PR point is a fair one, but I think you also need to consider the negative effect of having him leave this off-season. People aren't exactly enthusiastic about the Nats at this point. Building a winner is the only thing that will really do that.
   42. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:13 PM (#2286812)
There've been a boatload of international signings, which, while par for the course of most teams, are something new to the franchise.

The draft went really well and most people gave it high marks.

He didn't sign Gil Meche! ;)

The Kearns/Lopez trade was a freakin' steal. As was the Vidro one.

He traded a broken-down Livan Hernandez for some passable pitching prospects.

He turned Marlon Anderson and Daryle Ward into minor league pitchers.

He signed a slew of minor league free agents at a low cost, getting most of the "big" names that were out there, including Tim Redding.

What has he done poorly?
   43. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:16 PM (#2286813)
Other than the 2 trades we've been discussing, what moves has he made? The Vidro trade was fine as a salary dump where they get a little upside back. In all 3 moves he basically followed his standard procedure of getting toolsy outfielders.

That's a little harsh. Kearns and Snelling both have the ability to get on base. They seem indicative of at least a small change in philosophy for Bowden.
   44. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:17 PM (#2286814)
People aren't exactly enthusiastic about the Nats at this point. Building a winner is the only thing that will really do that.

Exactly. And short of spending $40 million more to buy up lots of talent (and it's not clear that they'd actually be able to do that anyway -- Philadelphia couldn't get anyone meaningful), they weren't going to be a winner next season. The best they could hope for was a .500 team. The Cardinals last year were an exception.

Enthusiasm will be there next year for the new stadium. In the meantime, the improvements to the administration of the team and the development process will have had a number of months to start working, and the accompanying revenue increase will allow them to take another step forward.

It's delayed gratification, basically. Let's get the hard stuff out of the way before the fan base really develops and has a chance to get angry. When we're winning, and things are the way we'd entirely like them to be, the fans will be there.
   45. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:19 PM (#2286817)
Other than the 2 trades we've been discussing, what moves has he made?


Stanton for Shairon Martis.

Livan for Chico and Mock (obviously endorsed by Rizzo).

Marlon Anderson for Jhonny Nunez.

Darlye Ward for some guy with arm problems.

Vidro also brought in Fruto.

All pitchers, which is a particular area of weakness in the Nats' system.

No one here is saying Bowden's stellar. But he's clearly part of a team and knows his role, which is essentially set forth by Stan Kasten. He's on a leash, and he's shown no indication he can't work with one. He's probably not the best GM to have when the team eventually (hopefully) gets good, but for our purposes right now he's been fine.
   46. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:32 PM (#2286821)
That's a little harsh


Isn't it?

Every article I've seen about the Nats at the usual (and good) sites like Hardball Times or BPro focuses far too much on Bowden. It's normally quite reasonable to focus on a team's GM, but the focus is rather misplaced now. Bowden is employed by an ownership group that has come to call it's organizational plan "The Plan," and Bowden's job is to fit within it. Which, for the GM, even one of Bart Simpson's promised helper monkeys could do capably enough, since Stan Kasten hasn't allowed his GM to do much of </i>anything</i>, especially if it involves anything more than bus fare. It's the minor leagues, the international guys, the draft that have become the focus (focusi?). Bowden's job is to look for scraps of pitching and not screw anything up. Under those constraints, he's done that well enough, and in the process he's added a bit of talent to an organization badly in need of any of that stuff.

Basically, read Kasten's quotes (and Pa and Junior Lerner's quotes) and view Bowden's recent performance in light of those.
   47. Gainsay Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:39 PM (#2286824)
I understand the Nats needed minor league pitching, and that's what they've been attempting to do. Whether or not these moves are ultimately fruitful remains to be seen. I'm dubious of them because of Bowden track record with the Reds and first 2 years with the Nats. He seemed to display a general disregard for getting pitchers.

I also have to say most of these moves are extremely minor in the scheme of things. A good GM coud have used Wilkerson to get better pitchers and start this process sooner, or they would have flipped Kearns/Lopez this off-season. Look at what Dombrowski did last off-season with the Marlins. Adding only NRI pitchers to this roster is just wasting a year of service time with Zimmerman and Johnson. It would have been better to really try to blow things up. Decent ML talent is going to help restocking the minors a lot more than Daryl Ward and Marlon Anderson did.

This rebuilding process has to happen, but I don't think Bowden is the right man to do it, and I also don't think he going to be around to see it through to the end. It's going to last long enough that I think Kasten will wind up sacrficing him in an attempt to appease the fans.
   48. Khrushin it bro Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:47 PM (#2286827)
Why pay for pitchers now? Just wait for Santana to become a free agent...
   49. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:49 PM (#2286829)
I would love to hear some rumors about the offers the Nats received for Soriano over the summer. Even if they were offered two C+ propsects, they should have taken the deal. It's a terrible booty for him for a July trading deadline deal but it's better than getting what 1 sandwich pick (?).
   50. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 26, 2007 at 06:55 PM (#2286831)
I think Soriano may have been actually putting fannies in the seats for the Nats last season. As was already pointed out, trading for him was a good PR move. Trading him for a couple of C+ prospects would have been a PR disaster. For better or worse, this franchise seems to have a five year plan. Most of the criticisms here would seem to amount to saying that they should have a four year plan. Big freakin' whoop.
   51. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 07:04 PM (#2286832)
It's a terrible booty for him for a July trading deadline deal but it's better than getting what 1 sandwich pick (?).

Two C prospects -- fourth starters, if everything breaks right -- is a better option than a sandwich and a second-round (could've been a first rounder)?

I'd disagree on that, especially with the PR benefits of keeping A-Sor around.
   52. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 26, 2007 at 07:06 PM (#2286834)
"A good GM coud have used Wilkerson to get better pitchers and start this process sooner"

Pure speculation.

"they would have flipped Kearns/Lopez this off-season."

Probably not.

"Adding only NRI pitchers to this roster is just wasting a year of service time with Zimmerman and Johnson. It would have been better to really try to blow things up. Decent ML talent is going to help restocking the minors a lot more than Daryl Ward and Marlon Anderson did."

Holy Cow, the guy got useful stuff for Daryl Ward and Marlon Anderson and you're actually ripping him for it.

"This rebuilding process has to happen, but I don't think Bowden is the right man to do it, and I also don't think he going to be around to see it through to the end. It's going to last long enough that I think Kasten will wind up sacrficing him in an attempt to appease the fans."

That might be true, but your analysis of his moves reeks of a decision you already made and now you're just adjusting the evidence to fit your preconceived notions. Some of the stuff you say is, IMO, ridiculous and you seem to have expectations for Bowden that no GM would likely match. Your criticizing a GM who in the last year, has made two of the best trades in the league and a bunch smart small moves because he hasn't revived a franchise that was on the brink of death two years ago. C'mon, I don't like Bowden either, but you are not being objective here.
   53. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: January 26, 2007 at 07:16 PM (#2286842)
The PR point is a fair one, but I think you also need to consider the negative effect of having him leave this off-season.

With the contract that Soriano signed with the Cubs, they won't take much of a PR hit for Soriano leaving this off-season. I think most people will look at it and say "Well, the Nats sucked with him last year and he's getting paid eleventy billion dollars from the Cubs". The eleventy billion dollar contract makes the Soriano pill easier to swallow.

Now if they would have traded him last for a couple of marginal prospects, I think most fans would have thought "Man, the only reason I go to the yard is to see Soriano and you trade him for a couple of stiffs that aren't going to pan out?" In reality, the C+ prospects may have helped the Nats more than a couple of draft picks would have (you never know), but the average fan doesn't see it that way.
   54. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 26, 2007 at 07:21 PM (#2286844)
"Now if they would have traded him last for a couple of marginal prospects, I think most fans would have thought "Man, the only reason I go to the yard is to see Soriano and you trade him for a couple of stiffs that aren't going to pan out?""

Exactly. Soriano was a 40/40 guy last year. That's kind of a big deal. Maybe it's not really valued around here for various reasons, but alot of people will go to the ballpark to see a guy like Soriano, who is now one of 4 major leaguers to do what he did last year. Keeping him around and getting that kind of season out of him will do a lot more for the future of the franchise then getting some long shot prospects and some payroll relief.
   55. Gainsay Posted: January 26, 2007 at 07:26 PM (#2286848)
"Your criticizing a GM who in the last year, has made two of the best trades in the league and a bunch smart small moves because he hasn't revived a franchise that was on the brink of death two years ago. C'mon, I don't like Bowden either, but you are not being objective here."

The reason we disagree is that I don't think you are using a good standard to judge his trades. The Soriano and Kearns/Lopez trade were both moves that have only short-term upside because of the players service time. Last year the Nats had a record of 71-91 and finished in last place. Another last place finish this season certainly seems likely. In order for a trade to be a good one, it has to have a reasonable expectation of leading to the team winning meaningful games. Either because the players you get play in those games, or they lead to other players who do. At this point it's a longshot for that to happen with the Soriano deal. Look at the compensation picks over the past 5 years. There are only a handful of quality ML players. Unless he trades Kearns or Lopez soon, this is even more of a longshot.
   56. Cowboy Popup Posted: January 26, 2007 at 07:35 PM (#2286852)
"Last year the Nats had a record of 71-91 and finished in last place. Another last place finish this season certainly seems likely. In order for a trade to be a good one, it has to have a reasonable expectation of leading to the team winning meaningful games. Either because the players you get play in those games, or they lead to other players who do. At this point it's a longshot for that to happen with the Soriano deal. Look at the compensation picks over the past 5 years. There are only a handful of quality ML players. Unless he trades Kearns or Lopez soon, this is even more of a longshot."

You seem to think that the only thing that matters to a baseball club is wins during seasons in which the team makes the playoffs. You have to do things in between playoff appearances to keep the fans interested, otherwise you get the Marlins, who have two World Series wins in a decade and no fan base because the team isn't worth following unless they're hot. You gotta get the fans in when the team is rebuilding too. Guys like Soriano absolutely bring fans into the stadium. They also keep the Nationals from becoming a joke, like the Royals are or the Tigers were, so in the future, when they're ready to compete, the Nats don't have to overpay Fernando Vina and Gil Meche's future equivalents to get the ball rolling again. Austin Kearns, a former #1 draft pick and solid all around ball player and Felipe Lopez, former All-Star help the Nats image as well. A team with Nick Jonhson and Ryan Zimmerman just isn't enough to keep any sort of fan base and Bowden has done his best to keep the team at least mildly interesting while the organization is being righted.
   57. Gainsay Posted: January 26, 2007 at 07:57 PM (#2286863)
You seem to think that the only thing that matters to a baseball club is wins during seasons in which the team makes the playoffs. You have to do things in between playoff appearances to keep the fans interested, otherwise you get the Marlins, who have two World Series wins in a decade and no fan base because the team isn't worth following unless they're hot.


You're right about my line of thought. I've been living in Pittsburgh for the past decade, and I've seen the results first hand of trying to maintain fan interest while rebuilding. The problem with this is that you're trying to keep up with other clubs who don't similarly handicap themselves, like the Marlins, or just have the resources to do a better job, like the Mets.
   58. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:04 PM (#2286867)
Trading him for a couple of C+ prospects would have been a PR disaster.

Yeah, but holding onto him for nothing hasn't been received so well either. Which scenario is "worse" in terms of PR, I'll guess you're right. But you might as well get your two C+ prospects, claim you're rebuilding the farm system and Soriano was unsignable (a claim which would have been true), and then take your PR hit. Since you're going to take a PR hit either way, you might as well get some players out of it.
   59. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:09 PM (#2286871)
They ARE getting 2 players out of it though.

Sure, they might turn out to be 2 F prospects, but they have great people in charge of the scouting operations now.

I'd rather take my chance on getting at least 1 B prospect than two potential fourth starters.
   60. Swedish Chef Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:10 PM (#2286872)
Yeah, but holding onto him for nothing hasn't been received so well either. Which scenario is "worse" in terms of PR, I'll guess you're right. But you might as well get your two C+ prospects, claim you're rebuilding the farm system and Soriano was unsignable (a claim which would have been true), and then take your PR hit. Since you're going to take a PR hit either way, you might as well get some players out of it.

Giving in is a great way to be lowballed in all negotiations in the future. Picks + reputation for not panicking is worth more than a couple of mediocre prospects.
   61. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:19 PM (#2286876)
Two C prospects -- fourth starters, if everything breaks right -- is a better option than a sandwich and a second-round (could've been a first rounder)?

I'd disagree on that, especially with the PR benefits of keeping A-Sor around.


4th starter, useable reliever... anything that results in a usable, cheap player is valuable. I didn't know that they also received a 2nd rounder although given the number sandwich picks, they're receiving a 2nd and 3rd round picks in practice. In any case, since there's an extra draft pick included that I didn't know about, IF the best offer was two C+ prospects, then I guess I'll take the 2nd and 3rd round picks but isn't the difference that huge. But don't picks that low (slots from late 20s to about 75) often never materialize... maybe just as much as C+ prospects?
   62. Gainsay Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:21 PM (#2286879)
Remember that you also have to pay signing bonuses to these extra picks. That cash isn't insignificant. I don't know that I would have traded Soriano for two C+ prospects. That ranking system seems too vaguely defined to develop an opinion. I do feel that Bowden rumored demands were insanely high, and I would have done most of the deals rumored in the press easily. Without knowing what the actual deals were, we can't really say if they were fair or not. I blame Bowden for having backed himself into that corner.
   63. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:24 PM (#2286882)
Giving in is a great way to be lowballed in all negotiations in the future.

Do you think Boras has lost his repuation as a hardblall negotiator due to the Dice-K negotiations? After he caved maybe he was even "lowballed".
   64. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:30 PM (#2286888)
Without knowing what the actual deals were, we can't really say if they were fair or not. I blame Bowden for having backed himself into that corner.

For whatever it's worth (did I mention this here or another thread?) one of the Nats Blogs did an interview with Stan Kasten. He strongly asserted that most of these rumored deals weren't reality, and that the offers they actually received were ridiculously low.

The 'best' rumored offer I heard was Jason Kubel and Scott Baker. I'd be on the fence with that one. Although it's also been reported that that wasn't actually offered. Who really knows though.
   65. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:35 PM (#2286893)
I don't know that I would have traded Soriano for two C+ prospects. That ranking system seems too vaguely defined to develop an opinion.

I had John Sickel's rating system in mind. Or let's put it this way, the Yank's received 3 C+ prospects in the Johnson trade: Jackson, Gonzalez, and Ohlendorf. Would do you this trade for Soriano in July? How about for 2 out of the three? Is the sandwich pick and 2nd rounder a no brainer over either of these choices (2 or 3 C+ prospects)... I'm not sure but I would love to hear some opinions.
   66. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:40 PM (#2286895)
The 'best' rumored offer I heard was Jason Kubel and Scott Baker. I'd be on the fence with that one.

Kubal and Baker... I would have taken that. Isn't Baker considered a pretty good prospect?
   67. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:41 PM (#2286897)
Remember that you also have to pay signing bonuses to these extra picks. That cash isn't insignificant


Their history is a bit mixed in that regard. They wouldn't go above slot on Sean Black (a guy they knew was leaning strongly toward Seton Hall at draft time), but they overpaid by as much as half a mill on Smiley Gonzalez. The latter was intended as a statement that they're back on track in the Dominican, but they do claim every penny not spent on MLB payroll is being put back into the minor leagues and scouting (and toward improvements to the new ballpark not covered by the deal with the DC Council). It's their claim, anyway.
   68. Chris Needham Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:42 PM (#2286899)
Remember, too, that at the time, the Nats believed that they'd be getting a first rounder and a sandwich pick.

Well, I guess they knew the second would be a possibility, but the best case was better than the eventuality.
   69. J. Michael Neal Posted: January 26, 2007 at 08:53 PM (#2286906)
The difference between 78-81 wins and 68-71 just isn't going to make that much difference in creating a fan base, people aren't coming out either way.

Hey, some people might come to those 20 games you're cancelling! Besides, wouldn't MLB call them forfeits, and make you put them in the loss column anyway?
   70. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: January 26, 2007 at 09:07 PM (#2286918)
How about for 2 out of the three? Is the sandwich pick and 2nd rounder a no brainer over either of these choices (2 or 3 C+ prospects)... I'm not sure but I would love to hear some opinions.


According to the Kasten interview with the fan blog Needham keeps referring to, Kasten implied he put his foot down on a deal that the front office was considering. So the failure to trade Soriano---assuming for the moment there was one---might not be fairly laid at Bowden's feet.
   71. Walt Davis Posted: January 26, 2007 at 10:23 PM (#2286952)
So last year it was smart to bring in Soriano to bring some respectability and put fans in seats.

This year it's smart to tank the rotation completely and have a payroll that would have been kinda embarassing ten years ago because there's no hope of building or even maintaining the fan base anyway because you're going to be under .500.

Huh?
   72. Swedish Chef Posted: January 26, 2007 at 10:50 PM (#2286966)

This year it's smart to tank the rotation completely and have a payroll that would have been kinda embarassing ten years ago because there's no hope of building or even maintaining the fan base anyway because you're going to be under .500.

Huh?


They got the stadium funding, why keep up appearances any longer?

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogFinding the best spot for Giancarlo Stanton
(6 - 4:59am, Nov 22)
Last: stevegamer

NewsblogTaking Back the Ballparks - Phillies Voting Thread
(11 - 4:46am, Nov 22)
Last: stevegamer

NewsblogSources: MLB hammers Atlanta Braves, declaring 12 minor league players free agents
(59 - 3:42am, Nov 22)
Last: Swedish Chef

NewsblogA Discussion of WAR Wherein I Ardently Attempt to Avoid any WAR-Related Puns | Sports-Reference.com
(27 - 2:23am, Nov 22)
Last: Cooper Nielson

NewsblogOTP 20 November 2017: Sheriff’s official suspended 10 days over Cubs World Series sneak-in
(468 - 1:13am, Nov 22)
Last: Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant

NewsblogOT - November* 2017 College Football thread
(193 - 1:02am, Nov 22)
Last: Shredder

Hall of Merit2018 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion
(246 - 12:58am, Nov 22)
Last: Rob_Wood

NewsblogJoe Morgan Wants To Keep Steroid Cheats Out Of Baseball Hall Of Fame | MLB | NESN.com
(73 - 12:49am, Nov 22)
Last: Hotel Coral Esix Snead (tmutchell)

NewsblogOT: Winter Soccer Thread
(211 - 12:25am, Nov 22)
Last: Richard

NewsblogOT - NBA 2017-2018 Tip-off Thread
(1499 - 12:24am, Nov 22)
Last: LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim

NewsblogdWAR to end all WARs – Joe Blogs – Medium
(49 - 11:34pm, Nov 21)
Last: Meatwad in mourning

NewsblogGabe Kapler's only season as a manager gave hints for how he will lead Phillies
(34 - 10:10pm, Nov 21)
Last: Infinite Yost (Voxter)

NewsblogProspectus Feature: Bill James vs. The Noise - Baseball Prospectus
(9 - 9:26pm, Nov 21)
Last: The Duke

NewsblogOT: Wrestling Thread November 2014
(2114 - 9:23pm, Nov 21)
Last: Chokeland Bill

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-21-2017
(3 - 8:45pm, Nov 21)
Last: Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama

Page rendered in 0.8989 seconds
47 querie(s) executed