Monday, August 21, 2006

My Take On Jimbo!!


Nats320

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!

4 comments:

Brandon Kriner said...

I agree with everything you're saying here. You're right, Bowden is an ass clown.

However, I think we all (bloggers) need to be careful of coming down too hard on Bowden or anyone else for signing players that he's evaluated in the past for the Reds.

Let's say you are a manager at your job and you need to hire some new employees. Would you rather get some random people off the street or would you rather hire the people you liked best at your old job?

I think there's a certain sense of the devil you know vs. the devil you don't know at play here. Bowden has only been the Nats GM for 2 years but he was with the Reds for 10. He has intimate knowledge of the entire careers of those guys he traded for. In a way, I'm more comfortable with that than I would be with him just signing randoms off the street.

However, I'm not convinced that Kearns or Lopez will ever be more than league-average guys...we'll see. Anyway, nice post.

phil dunn said...

Jim Bowden is a low life who should have been fired the day Lerner and Kasten took control of the franchise. The fact that they chose not only to keep him on but to extend his contract makes it quite obvious that Kasten and Lerner are incompetent.

Say Hey Klib said...

Man, it nust have felt good to get that out!!!!! Having heard much of this before, in our conversations at the games, I know this has been boiling for a long time. We will see how the Soriano talks go and see how much long term damage that will do to the team. It they don't seem to be up front with him and try to string things along not only will he leave but no major free agent will want to do business with them. I am afraid he is not finished yet. I still love the Nats though.

SenatorNat said...

Anyone over 15 who would have as his voice-mail recorded message: "I can't answer your calls right now - I'm making deals!" is suspect immediately in a MLB General Manager's position. I doubt very much if Joe Gibbs, should he even own a cell-phone, would record something this supercilious even as an April Fool's joke: so, by applying the Gibbs standard, which is the appropriate D.C. sports barometer, Jim Bowden comes across of lacking the requisite maturity level to remain the Nats GM into the future.

Having acknowleged that, and adding to it his personal embarrasing travails earlier this year in Miami, I still think that the jury is out on his performance and acumen for the team's benefit, at least in the relatively short term (2007-08).

Other than C. Vargas, and the surprising Jamie Carroll, no one he is released or swapped away has burned up the track. Many have been released or are back in the minors; Ohka has been very good, when healthy, but has spent much time on DL, joined there by Majewski, of course...

After distilling a lot of movement without impact either way, the four biggest tangible moves he has made thus far in his tenure are: drafting Zimmerman; trading for Soriano; trading "ace' Livo Hernandez; and the Majewski-Bray deal for Lopez-Kearns.

The first is an A, certainly; the second will be graded on the curve of whether Alf can be re-signed; and the third makes sense since the two young pitchers were drafted by incoming head of player development, Mike Rizzo, at Arizona, and Livo is an old 31, certainly.

The major trade of Majewski and young Bill Bray for F. Lopez and A. Kearns seems, at the very worst, a wash. At the best, it gives the Nats an overall good shortstop, and a power hitter in right, for years to come. Majewski seems replacable by set-up man Jon Rauch; and Bray is, as yet, unproven. Should C. Guzman return to play shortstop, Lopez could move to second base, and Vidro could be swapped for power-hitting back-up catcher or number 3 or 4 pitcher, perhaps.

The Nats probably have an in on signing Jose Guillen, should he rehabilitate well, and might get a very good deal for a right-fielder who played very well most of 2005. Kearns and Church could split time in center, and play the other positions in the outfield, too - I know Bowden is concentrating on getting a young centerfielder, but so far, all his candidates have busted out.

He may be better off concentrating on finding a solid back-up catcher (pinch-hitter)and a very good back-up third baseman (utility infielder) as Screech's Best Friend accurately points out is sorely missing.

The question is whether Bowden's impulsiveness is tempered by Stan Kasten's wealth of experience and plan, and Mark Lerner's apparent frugality - if so, then their patience could serve as a real virtue for the team's growth.

Patterson, Lawrence, Traber, signing or trading for one blue-chip starter like Jason Schmidt, and one of the other young guys we have been trying out (O'Connor; Bergmann, etc.) may be enough to platform this team in 2007.

The bullpen could be very good next year, with Bowie, Rauch, Ayala, Cordero, and perhaps Rivera, or even O'Connor, etc.

Back to Bowden: it is clear that Kasten, with Lerner Family's blessing intends to remove Frank Robinson. This should help for two reasons: Frank has managed with the same emotional, instinctual propensities exhibited by his General Manager, compounding Nats fans' roller coaster vertigo feeling. He has also deflated Church and Bryd's confidence, nearly destroying each's, and is now in the process of doing same to Kearns, all in the guise of converting them into Frank Robinson-styled hitters! His coaches, imposed on him from above, haven't helped either, as they are too often asleep at the switch.

In 2007, there will be a new manager for the Nationals to go with full-time ownership; every game television; an integrated full-fledged scouting team; a full-time, driven, and hands-on proven president; a beautiful new stadium taking shape; and professional marketing.

Question is: will all this positive infrastructure harness Bowden, so his inproprieties and immature nature are discouraged, and his "genius" accentuated?

Screech's Best Friend would not consider Bowden's attributes, demonstrated to date, as overriding his negatives under any scenario, a calculation not endorsed, at this time, by Kasten and Lerner group.

I am willing to go along with management, and see how the off-season plays out. It still seems like the team can fashion a pretty fare starting rotation, with only one major acquisition, sign Soriano to four-year $64 million deal; and pick up B. Molina-type as back-up catcher and a good utility infielder with some pop - keeping payroll under $80 million...

But, just so no one thinks of me as Polyanna, I have my axe and hammer handy, ready to help SBF build the guillotine for Monsieur Bowden...