Monday, August 21, 2006
My Take On Jimbo!!
For a few weeks now, I have been considering this post. I have never been a big fan of Nats General Manager, Jim Bowden. The Montreal Expos players had suffered through tremendous hardships in the few years leading up to the transfer to Washington, DC. They players were close knit, they just needed someone to cheer for them and a place to call home. Despite the cheapness in the MLB Ownership of this franchise, money was in place, to be creative, and build a competitive team. All they really needed was a competent GM to get the ball rolling. And, I have felt for some time, JIMBO was not the creative person needed to lead this franchise to the promised land.
Jamey Carroll, Tomo Ohka, Claudio Vargas, Brendan Harris, all serviceable baseball players the Nationals in 2006 could have used, improving the teams depth. But, Jim Bowden decided to just give these players away, receving nothing in return during his reign as Interim and now Vice-President, General Manager of the Washington Nationals.
Bowden is a flashy showoff that makes every move in dramatic fashion, drawing attention to himself. And, in putting the spotlight on himself, has personally destroyed any chemistry the Nationals orginally had when they first arrived here from Montreal for the 2005 season.
Bowden has overpaid for free agents (the god awful Cristian Guzman--who the Nats still must pay for 2 more seasons and $8 million). Traded away an aging Vinny Castilla for a potential innings eating starting pitcher in Brian Lawrence, yet, not even consider a precautionary MRI exam to make sure the goods were not damaged. Lawrence threw out his arm during the very first few pitches of spring training this season.
Benched and demoted a rising Rookie Sensation in Ryan Church--just because he got INJURED RUNNING INTO A WALL IN PITTSBURGH LAST SEASON MAKING A GAME SAVING CATCH--Church never being the same the rest of the season. And, replacing him with the very Minor League--Brandon Watson--who, except for raw speed--HAD NO TALENT!! NONE!! Messing with Ryan's Head. Since Church's promotion back to the Majors, he has shown that, despite some holes in his swing on curve balls--the guy still can hit and help.
The man who always claims we need "PITCHING, PITCHING, PITCHING" has rarely picked up any pitching--in fact, traded away the Nationals top rising lefthander prospect, Bill Bray, along with the overused Gary Majewski, and 3 others for some his "HIS BOYS" from the Cincinnati Reds--Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner. Oh Yeah--Jimbo threw in Brendan Harris just for the fun it.
This trade also set up another ugly situation in 2007, similar to the Vidro/Soriano debacle of spring training 2006. Who plays shortstop for the Nationals next season? Who plays second? You have Guz/Lopez/Vidro and Bernie Castro. Not one of these players, all 27 years old or above is going to be happy riding the pine.
And, that Cincinnati trade is killing us now that EVERYONE realizes how AWFUL Damian Jackson is. Yet, the Nats can't get rid of Jackson, because their backup 3rd baseman, Harris is now in the Reds Organization. And, we have NO BACKUP SHORTSTOP.
And the most BELOVED of all 2005 Washington Nationals, Jamey Carroll, was sold off for chump change, to Colorado to make room on the roster for--DAMIAN JACKSON!! Carroll is batting .100 points higher in batting average, and plays a smoother infield (2nd, 3rd or short). THE ULTIMATE TEAM PLAYER!! Could we have EVER used this guy, not only this past Sunday in Philadelphia, but throughout the season. You BETTER BELIEVE IT!! And, unlike Damian Jackson, Carroll would not be throwing chairs around the clubhouse. DAMIAN IS A CANCER. CARROLL AN ANGEL!! Of course, Jackson once played for Cincinnati and Bowden. If you have ever been drafted and played for the Reds, you are guaranteed a spot on a Jimbo team--whether you are deserving or not.
And, one day before selling off Carroll in February, Jim tried to sneak promising right handed power thrower, Darrell Rasner, through waivers to remove him from the 40 man roster. Even though the Nats still had 2 spaces available and were getting a 3rd spot for Jamey. The Yankees jumped all over it, picking him up, where, despite being on the injured list, has been very effective for both Columbus and the Yankees in 2006. We could have used this guy too!!
To Bowden's credit, he did trade away the WILDLY Popular, but frustratingly inconsistent, Brad Wilkerson along with Terrmel Sledge and Minor League pitcher Armando Gallaraga for Alfonso Soriano. A trade that was hated, not only by me, but just about EVERYONE that follows baseball. Only to see Soriano show what a FABULOUS PLAYER and ATHLETE he is. A game changer on many nights--despite his free swinging nature at the plate.
Despite great PUBLIC PONTIFICATING about how ON FIRE his Blackberry was, Jim did manage to NOT Trade Soriano at the trading deadline. Setting up another OFF SEASON Soap Opera with Number 12.
And he traded for Jose Guillen for Macier Izturas and Juan Rivera--I know Rivera is having a very good 2006 season, but if Jose had remained healthy and actually rehabilitated his injuries instead of playing through them, Guillen would have been a steal. Esteban Loaiza was a good signing in 2005. Esteban went for the Dinero in 2006 and that's not Jimbo's fault. Ditto Hector Carrasco. Alex Escobar, one play away from an career derailing injury, has been very impressive at times.
But some good, does not even out the many, many, inconsistencies in his player management of this franchise.
Out of spite, for showing up Frank Robinson for taking him out of a game at RFK last season, Bowden gave Ohka away to Milwaukee for infielder, Junior Spivey--currently batting under .200 in the Cardinals system. Designated Claudio Vargas, 3 weeks after coming back from major shoulder surgery and struggling mightily last season. Only to see Vargas picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks--has 10 wins already under his belt in 2006. 19 Win total since May, 2005. The Nationals have NO ONE on their current roster with that much success. Designated middle innings eater and spot starter, Sun Woo Kim, just so JIMBO could leave Rule 5 Draftee and Swinging Strikeout King, Tony Blanco, on the 40 man roster. Blanco is struggling this year at Single A Potomac. Blanco has no future. Of course, Tony was originally drafted by--SURPRISE--Jimbo and the Cincinnati Reds.
Sold solid hitting, poor fielding, Rick Short, THE FEEL GOOD STORY OF 2005, to a Japanese League team, even though the guy was helping out on the few nights he got the chance to play.
Then spent the 2005-2006 off season signing every available backup 2nd baseman--Jackson, Marlon Anderson and Bernie Castro while stocking the lineup with DH's more suited for the American League--Daryle Ward, Robert Fick and Matt LeCroy. And forgetting--that its important to get a decent backup catcher--because Brian Schneider can not possibly catch every single game. Anderson has been good --as a Backup/PH, Ward has been Terrific as a pinch hitter, and we are just finding out whether Castro can actually play. But the rest of the guys have not helped. Wiki Gonzalez was TERRIBLE!! as a backup catcher. Another Career Minor Leaguer, Brandon Harper, finally made it to the Big Leagues over the past two weeks at the age of 30--had a 2 homer game against the Phillies, but you can't rely on repeatedly throwing stuff on the wall just to see what sticks. But that's how Jimbo plays GM.
And now, the man who consistently has traded for, attempt to sign or signed such stellar players as Preston Wilson, Odalis Perez, Sammy Sosa, Jeff Weaver, Wil Cordero, Ryan Drese and Deivi Cruz--claims ALL ALONG that "WE NEED TO BUILD THE FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE" as per the demands of New Team President, Stan Kasten.
Are you kidding me??
This statement came just weeks before Bowden traded Washington Loving, but inconsistent, Starting Pitcher Livan Hernandez to Arizona for two fireballing pitching prospects Garrett Mock and Matt Chico. With Livan gone, the last flames of solid relationships forged among Nats Players that flourished together under MLB ownership in Montreal was basically extinquished. Only Schneider, Vidro, Armas, Chad Cordero and Nick Johnson played reguarly in Montreal. Although Rauch and Church remain, they played sparingly for the Expos.
No one knows whether the trading of Livan for those 2 prospects will be a good one for some time, but it will always bother me that the trade was made by the new Assistant GM and VP Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo--that just came over from the Diamondbacks. I really don't want us to NOW, ALSO sign or trade for every Arizona washout now!!
Jimbo's varous manuevers has left the 2006 Washington Nationals with a true Minor League Pitching Staff. Not one starter can be trusted on any given night. John Patterson has been injured all season. Luis Ayala put himself out by making a stupid decision to pitch for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, despite recovering from elbow surgery. Not Bowden's fault, but everything else is stuck decididly on his shoulders. And, the bullpen has just flamed the fire after the Bray/Majewski trade. Cordero has been fairly consistent. Rauch gives up too many home runs. Micah Bowie was decent, until pulling a muscle in his back. The rest are poor. Why Travis Hughes is still in the Big Leagues is beyond me.
If the Washington Nationals still had Jamey Carroll, Claudio Vargas, Tomo Ohka, Bill Bray and Majewski (the not OVERUSED Gary)--(I am not convinced the Kearns/Lopez trade has actually helped us yet), and subtracted Damian Jackson, we would be a much more solid team. I get a kick out of reading from Bowden that the Reds Organization SCREWED UP Ryan Wagner's pitching mechanics, and once we get him straight, he will be light outs. Only to also read that Bowden wants to CHANGE AUSTIN KEARNS BATTING STYLE. The style that got him to the big leagues and made him a decent, but not all star caliber player. Seems to me JIMBO is talking out of both sides of his mouth. As always.
The retention of these few players, certaintly would not make Washington a contender, but the Nationals would be more competitive AND still be building for the future.
And the fans would be happier, knowing we have players that TRY!! Bowden has messed all this up. I still attend every single home game, as difficult as some are to watch. I love baseball. Love the Nats. Would love to see a NEW GENERAL MANAGER!! A General Manager with a real idea of how to build a tem. With JIM BOWDEN, we may well be doomed to being terrible for years to come.
And that is SAD!