Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Risk Of Reward

He's daring, creative, never boring and some would say--very dangerous. He is Our General Manager Jim Bowden. For all the good--and all the bad--anyone can spill out about him--never can I say this particular man is not interesting. He's actually quite fascinating to converse with. He gives a good give and take--that any debater would love. No, I don't always agree with him--but Bowden always catches my attention when it comes to Our Washington Nationals.

After this past Friday's unexpected deal with The New York Mets--Jimbo has me seriously wondering about this coming week in Nashville, Tennessee. If, as he explained yesterday--The Swap of Brian Schneider and My Main Man!! Ryan Church to get Lastings Milledge, in return, was for Future Gain and Glory--how is it that Pitchers like Chad Cordero or Big Jon Rauch can survive This Christmas Season as members of Our Washington Nationals? Or, many of our established players as well? Already, Bowden explains that Jesus Flores MAY NOT be the Number One Catcher come 2008. "We are building blocks," as he explained yesterday. And even Our Manager Manny Acta admitted, he's expecting many more moves this off season.

So--if Our General Manager truly believes the determination of our starting catcher for next season is temporarily on hold and a work in progress--how can he possibly keep so many others currently on Our Team's Roster for 2008? Really. Who exactly are Our Building Blocks? What direction are we currently heading? Both are legitimate questions. Which players does Jim Bowden believe are in Washington for the long haul? Unsurprisingly, most all that might be included on his list--are HIS GUYS. Ballplayers that he personally one time drafted, scouted or played for him in Cincinnati. Not many others might survive his list--players whom arrived before Jim's Fall 2004 appearance in The Nation's Capital, as our then Interim General Manager for Major League Baseball.

Look at some of his moves since that date. Most all--are HIGH RISK OF REWARD. Never is he afraid to bring in a troubled soul with past problems. Jose Guillen, Damian Jackson, Felipe Lopez, Dmitri Young, and now Milledge all come to mind. Our Former Number 6 (Guillen) worked out, and paid off for Washington with an additional high draft pick in the 2007 Draft. Jackson fell on his face, and was released. FLop has been one of the most frustrating players to play for Our Washington Nationals since the team moved here from Montreal in 2005. Young became the 2007 Comeback Player of The Year and Team Clubhouse Leader. Milledge--a talented, but not a Five Tool Player--never found his game in New York--as a youngster in The Big Apple.

Of course--Jim Bowden's Risk For Reward includes the famous trade of Brad Wilkerson, and a few others from Our Inaugural 2005 Washington Nationals, for Alfonso Soriano. Never afraid to make the Big Splash, Jimbo willingly rides out any storm that may come from acquiring a Top Player in his contract walk year. Soriano provided Our Fans with a FABULOUS 2006 Season. And, caught The African Queen's Heart. No one quite got her fanny into her customary seat in Section 320 quite like Our Former Number 12. Alfonso Soriano made Sohna a Fan of Baseball. I can't thank him enough. Then, he left for The Big Bucks--provided thankfully by The Tribune Company--Owner of The Chicago Cubs. Bowden took the heat for losing Alfonso for nothing. And, was rewarded with two more fine early round 2007 Draft Picks.

Ryan Zimmerman, Austin Kearns, Wily Mo Pena, Jesus Flores and most likely--Lastings Milledge. Who else--can possibly be safe and become future Franchise Players for Our Washington Nationals. Does Jimbo feel "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" is a long term staple? Could Big Jon Rauch fill The Chief's Closer role. And, if not--will Bowden ship both of them off to other teams? For some time now--my gut feeling has told me that Our Number 32 would not be traded for anything other than a Starting Pitcher, maybe even two (youngsters). I am not sure now. More than anything else--Our Washington Nationals need Starting Pitching. But, after yesterday's trade--Our Team that will take the field on South Capitol Street come late March, 2008--will be far younger and much farther away from a championship team than just last week. For the short term, that I have no doubt. But, that being said, Our Washington Nationals do have some good talent to expand. 16 players on the current 40-Man Roster are 25 Years Old or under.

All because, Jim Bowden plays poker each and every day with every other team in Major League Baseball--in an effort to improve Our Team. On most of those days, the resulting work is a wash. A Draw--nothing significant happens. But, sometimes he wins--and relishes in that fact. Who wouldn't. Success on the job is always enlightening. Of course, sometimes Bowden also loses. But--despite despair-- one feeling always seemingly brings him back to the poker table. Win or Lose--Jimbo is a Professional Gambler who holds his cards close to his chest. His chest, and that of Team President Stan Kasten's. With Las Vegas being our second home--I can appreciate that.

For Bowden, The Risk of Reward far outdistances any chance of failure. The Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee--may lay the groundwork for A Washington Nationals Team completely reshaped for New Nationals Park. You can bet--I am bracing myself--because Sohna and I--LOVE CHAD CORDERO!! Schneider, Church and Cordero being lost over a seven day period will be tough for our now palpitating hearts to handle. Fluttering Hearts that have nothing to do with The Chief Cardiologist's latest save opportunity.

Will the upcoming Risk For Reward Pay Off handsomely for, not only Jim Bowden and Our Washington Nationals--but Our Fans--as well. The Winter has just begun, but The Hot Stove League, for Washington, is SMOKING HOT!!

PS--Yeah, I am still hurting about yesterday's trade with The New York Mets. But, I understand what Our General Manager is up to. But, My Main Man!! may yet ROCK at Shea Stadium. As well documented--I am not much into stats, but I certainly recall Ryan Church producing some nice power numbers at Shea Stadium in Queens. Time and time again--Our Former Number 19 slugged Our Washington Nationals to victory on The Mets Home Field. For the last season of Shea--as a Major League Ballpark--I expect Ryan Church will have a fine season as the everyday starting rightfielder for The Mets. But, The Mets--I just can't get use to that fact yet.

For Brian Schneider--its nice to know that he will have a chance to legitimately compete for a title. He is deserving. No matter who you play for--winning a World Series Championship is always THE TOP GOAL. Anybody that loves The Great Game will tell you that. I hope he gets that ring in New York. For on that day--Sohna and I will cheer for him--despite The Mets.


Brandon said...

I can't agree that the Nats are "farther away from a championship than they were last week."

It's not like Church or Schneider were carrying this team somehow. Neither of those guys were world beaters.

Schneider is a replacement-quality offensive player and a decent catcher, however, catchers are pretty easy to come up with.

Church was okay, and provided some excitement at times, but for whatever reason he never truly broke out. You could argue that the team brass never gave him a shot, but either way, the Church experiment had run its course.

I HOPE they continue to shake things up. If we can get decent pitching for Cordero we should ship him off forthwith. Same goes for virtually any player on the team not named Zimmerman.

And getting rid of those guys frees up more cash that can hopefully be used to get some veteran pitching help this year. I am going to be ripshit if Bowden and Acta trot out another Island of Misfit Toys pitching staff in this, the first year in the new park.

Anonymous said...

I also like Cordero, and the sight of Chief in another uniform is not something I'd want to see. I also think it's sort of a conundrum--if we trade a closer and the team gets better, then we have more need for a quality closer.

Since Rauch is older and Ayala has an injury history, I think either could be a possible option for closer, but something of a gamble. And of course, there's the ongoing discussion of whether another team thinks Cordero would be a closer (and valued as such) or a set up man (of which there are more possibilities around the league, perhaps younger and/or lower in price.) (I rather enjoy those discussions -- hard to make a trade when the two sides don't agree on what's being traded.)

But listening to Chad talk about the possibility of being traded helps put it in perspective. (He was interviewed for Players Talk on August 11). Basically, he said it's something he has no control over, but it is kind of a compliment that another team thinks he could help them. But he started laughing when the question was asked--more so than the rest of the interview.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think every team in MLB is willing to trade with JimBo.
Only on their terms. I rate Met trade a win for the Mets. JimBo wanted the deal more than Omar, thus Omar got two very serviceable ML players for a still unproven prospect. If Lastings only plays as well as Church (which is highly probably), then getting Schnieder too makes the deal a steal for Omar.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see Church gone he was too inconsistent to be a full time and I am sad to see Schneider go BUT I am hopeful that we will see Flores catch for the Nats for about 10 years or so!

Anonymous said...

Here's reality: Schneid is on the downside of a very mediocre career. He hit .041 with RISP with two hour, just a rally-killer. Church is an injury-prone fourth outfielder who hasn't hit an offspeed breaking pitch in three years. Trading him at his "peak" of value is a very shrewd move by Diamond Jim. In exchange, he gets a future superstar with an unlimited upside. Flores is all the defensive catcher overrated Schneider was, with a huge upside at 21. Already this team is younger and faster than the lot which won 73 games last year. Anybody who can't see that is delusional. Chief will be next to go, good riddance, and Rauch will get 45 saves next season. Book it.

Anonymous said...


Like Brandon, I can't agree that this team is any "further" away from a championship than it was a week ago. Last year's roster outperformed expectations and produced 73 wins. There is no reason to think those 25 guys (plus or minus Robert Fick) were ever going to do much more than make a run at 81. The problem has been too many "average" guys at too many spots for the Nats - Flores can't develop if he's stuck behind "average" Schneider.

Also, I completely disagree that Lopez and Milledge are "Lost Souls" in the category of Young or Guillen, neither of whom is in the category of Dukes. Lopez and Milledge are young guys who don't seem to handle media attention very well. Surely, in your "day" job you must have seen other folks like that. If Manny says Milledge is a good guy, I'm willing to believe him. It really bothers me to see folks, hurting about the trade of a guy they liked, go after the personal attributes of the guy who was just brought in. There's much the same things going on now with Church on Mets blogs, as guys who really liked Milledge are going after some of the less-than-thoughtful comments Church made on religion in '05. It's unseemly. If you miss your guy, fine, there's no reason to come to a decision that a 22-y.o. kid is a "lost soul." How about we see how he reacts to playing in front of something other than a New York crowd, first?

Screech's Best Friend said...

anonymous 8:22AM: I am not bashing Milledge at the the expense of other players whom I like. You are reading too much into the comment. The point is the Bowden is willing to take risks for players that have a strike against them. Sometimes he wins, and sometimes he loses. Nothing more, nothing less.

Flop has issues that need to be worked out.

Anonymous said...

Looks like DY is going to earn most of his salary outside the lines next year.