Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nationals Insider On WFED

Heading home from covering Barack Obama's appearance in Leesburg this afternoon, I received a text message from a friend of mine pondering whether I was listening to Jim Bowden on the radio? Having no idea what he was talking about, I replied where?

Apparently tonight on WFED, 1500 AM beginning at 7PM, Byron Kerr hosted a Special World Series Edition of Nationals Insider. Our General Manager Jim Bowden was on the program for the full hour answering questions. Also, Radio Broadcaster Charlie Slowes, Assistant General Manager Bob Boone and Reliever Joel Hanrahan joined them for parts of the program for interviews.

Picking up the conversation 15 minutes into the broadcast, I quickly wrote down and paraphrased some of the more interesting comments I heard. If you happened to listen to the first 15 minutes, please chime in with some additional comments. I would love to know what else was said.

Here are some of Jim Bowden's comments:

He said he's recovering fine from his recent cancer scare.

JimBo also said that agreements are in place for most of the 2009 Coaching Staff, but no official announcement will take place until everyone's contracts and deals are completed.

John Lannan and Jordan Zimmermann advanced the most this past season in growing as Professional Pitchers.

If you are trying to win--you can't have untouchables (on your roster)--if you want to win. Anytime you have a chance to add a number one or number two starter via trade--you have to do it (make a trade--even if it means giving up someone special in your system).

On Elijah Dukes--had one of the best RBI's Per At-Bat Stats in the game. Came along way at the plate this past season. Has tremendous potential and is improving off the field as well. A lot of people are rooting for him to succeed.

Are you in the market for a Power Hitting First Baseman or Outfielder? We are looking for a four hole hitter, preferably lefthanded, but we are not going to be picky about position. Talking to Cubs Manager Lou Piniella earlier in the day, Lou mentioned to Jim how Chicago is also looking for a left handed power bat this off season because The Cubs were exposed this off season with their right handed dominated batting order. So getting a power lefty is important, more so than position.

We are open to all types of discussions this winter. We have already started trade discussions. Normally all this comes to a head, ending up at The Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. We will be active.

On Joel Hanrahan--Joel did a terrific job this year. He has a 97 MPH Fastball and unhittable slider. He just blew some batters away. When you have that dominating stuff, there is no reason to not develop into an outstanding closer. You are going to see this pitcher get better and better. No one has the raw stuff this guy has. He's going to be good for a long, long time.

On Ryan Zimmerman's Contract Extension--We will work together to get a long term deal with his agents. It’s going to happen. There is no doubt about that from both sides. Zimmerman is here for the long term. We are going to continue to work hard for a long term deal and we will get it done, count on it.

On first base with Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young: Doctors feel NJ will be healthy come spring and will be 100% ready to take the field. Dmitri is on a mission to fight diabetes. You are going to see a ready to play and proud man. One who can play to his potential. Same for Nick Johnson.

Assistant GM Bob Boone on Washington's Players in The Arizona Fall League

Ross Detwiler made some adjustments and has done extremely well. Looks more like the pitcher he was in College at Missouri State. Randy St.Claire has personally worked with him.

Adam Carr and Zech Zinicola have done well in Arizona. Both have also made some adjustments and look to compete for roles next spring in Viera.

Corey Van Allen is pitching in the Futures Game Friday Night.

Bill Rhinehart and Ian Desmond still have futures in Washington.

Leonard Davis was moved to AAA so he would see pitches other than fastballs. And proved he has the ability.

Best Quote Of The Program from Bob Boone: All players usually have basically the same talents and abilities. The Difference: Youngsters have the ability but can’t repeat it on a consistent basis. That’s the difference between talents on The Major League Level and The Minors. When they start to repeat that success then they realize their potential and become quality players.

During his time on the air, Charlie Slowes mentioned that in his home in the Tampa Area for years and years, all of his neighbors parents wore the baseball caps of the teams of their youth--Yankees, Cardinals, Red Sox, etc. And their kids wouldn't support The Rays because they were so terrible. Now--everyone is wearing Rays Caps and tickets are being sold for astronomical prices.

Charlie also mentioned how Tampa Bay completely changed the makeup of their team to reach The World Series. The Rays now based on speed and pitching, less power. Jim Bowden completely agreed with him.

Finally, Joel Hanrahan on being Closer and Washington's Bullpen

Difficult Year for adjustments for many of us. Chad Cordero being lost early hurt the entire staff. Steven Shell, Marco Estrada and I switched from Starters to Relievers. We had to get use to a new situation. As a starter, I was nibbling on the corners. In the bullpen, I just threw out the pitch count and got a little extra mph on my fastball. I like the pressure on me and the adrenaline rush of being out there.

That pretty much sums up the 45 minutes of Nationals Insider which I heard. If you heard more than I paraphrased, please chime in. Interestingly, throughout the entire program, Byron Kerr kept giving a toll free number to call for fans to ask questions. No one called, not a single person while I was listening. Maybe it would have helped if Our Washington Nationals had sent out an Email to ALL SEASON TICKET HOLDERS--to let them know about the program. Even I didn't know about it, if not for a friend letting me know. Since Washington was pitching Season Ticket Sales for 2009, maybe they could have promoted this event a little more.

I made the effort to listen, although finding out at the last second. I am sure many others would have tuned in to the program as well--if they knew about the airing. The Entire Broadcast could also be heard on the 1500AM Website Live. Not sure if this program will be repeated.


Anonymous said...

Thanks once again for the scoop, SBF.

It would be nice to learn about these things in advance ... I know I would have tried to tune in.

Anonymous said...

This is for the Nats Execs who I am sure read this blog (but maybe not the comments).


Edward J. Cunningham said...

I'm sure they would have gotten more calls---and certainly more listeners---if Nats fans in the area were given the heads up. Why on earth would ANY Nats fan listen to 1500 AM in the off-season? Perhaps they were trying to reach out to Capitals fans?

JayB said...

Man this team is awesome in Jimbo's mind. Love his unmade trades and signings that we can count on.......wake me when reality hits......

Yes, not many of us call the post game show but if I had to ST base.....what a concept....I would have called.

Anonymous said...

I would have listened as well had I known about the broadcast in advance. Notice to STH is a good idea, but I'd say go beyond that and give notice to all of those with MLB accounts and thus whose email addresses the team has. The broadcast could also be promoted in the local media (I missed it if that was the case). They need to think expansion not only retention as regards the fan base, IMO.

Senators Fans Unite said...

Thanks for sharing. Good read.


An Briosca Mor said...

I hope this radio interview and all the attendant publicity that didn't surround it was something that was arranged and set up by the recently departed VP of marketing. Because, you know, while they didn't manage to tell even their increasingly-dirty mascot's best friend about this extended marketing communication, they did manage to let ticket holders know about the official Nationals Pumpkin Decorating Contest currently underway. Clearly there is room for improvement in the marketing end of the front office. Perhaps the Lerners (who are no slouches in marketing their shopping malls) can adopt this as the next area for micromanagement now that the stadium completion campaign has been successfully resolved. Nationals marketing is not substantially complete. Not even close.

Anonymous said...

Jeff- Happy Autumn. Hopefully as Nat fans we will have our October booked in the future.

I don't remember seeing a photo of Lefty Grove at Nationals Park. He is a native of Lonaconing Md, which is near Cumberland. That makes him a local boy to me. I am a native of Cumberland, although left many years ago.
Lefty was one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and a Hall of Famer. He won 300 games, and I met him many years ago as a child when Cumberland celeberated it's bicentennial. I know you and the African Queen know Nationals Park, so I thought I would inquire.

Can't wait to see you in the spring. Will the Nats be the Rays of '09? Stay tuned.

Oxhead said...

I like the comment about Detwiler.

JayB said...

Stan just did 20 mins on WTEM.......If anyone else heard it please comment...Stan would not even answer the question from Coach T about if he was sticking with the Team directly....he basically said that it did not matter who was the President of the Team in Baseball but rather that the whole player development piece is functioning.....he said that that piece is now complete.....My read on this 2 1/2 years of following Stan's comments closely is that he is out very soon. He used a great deal of on committal language about who is committed to the Plan and who is supportive of the Plan....he even said he "hoped" and then corrected himself to say he was sure that ownership is on board.

I was driving and could have missed parts….Podcast would indeed be good on this one too……What did you all hear?

An Briosca Mor said...

My read on this 2 1/2 years of following JayB's comments closely is that Stan is not going anywhere. I don't even need a podcast of Stan's comments to know that.

An Briosca Mor said...

And let me caveat and amplify my previous comment. Stan would leave to become commisioner if Selig retires. Otherwise, though, why would he leave? The so-called Plan that the Lerners are implementing is Stan's plan. He told them that they would be called cheap bastards, and that wasn't because he secretly thought they'd overspend. Stan's well-known modus operandi of everyone doing their own job is reflected precisely in his comment that "it doesn't matter who the president is". He is doing his job, and everyone else needs to do theirs. If they don't, he'll find someone else who will. He wouldn't quit now, after laying so much of the groundwork, because if the plan fails without him he'll still get all the blame, but if he leaves and the team succeeds he'll get none of the credit. The only way he looks good is to see the job through, and that's what he'll do.

Sometimes it's better to just drink the tea rather than wasting your time trying to read the tea leaves, because in the end you'll still be wrong and your tea will be cold to boot.

Anonymous said...

I found some audio archives here, including an interview with Ryan Zimmerman on 10/22 (The Locker Room) and the Kasten interview on 10/23 (John Thompson Show):

Screech's Best Friend said...

natsfan1a--thanks for the links.

I don't see how anyone can read anything special into Mr. Kasten's Comments as leaving on the WTEM Interview. He answered like he always does telling as much as he's willing to give without telling a non-truth. I see nothing different in anything he has stated over the past two and one half years. Nothing at all.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome, SBF.

After listening to the broadcast, I found it interesting that Kasten did not directly address the question about whether he will remain here. I sure hope that he will do so.

JayB said...


What I did not hear in Stan is the optimism, the confidence that what he wants to do is what will be done. What I heard was sense of realization that team has made a number of mistakes (marketing!) and the loss of Season Ticket base coming fast. What I heard is a realization that he is not embowered to do his job and that what ever comes next he “hopes is good” but he can no longer predict success because he does not make the decisions like he did in ATL.

ABM, no matter what I say you disagree so doing bother responding unless it makes you feel better about yourself.

An Briosca Mor said...

"ABM, no matter what I say you disagree so doing bother responding unless it makes you feel better about yourself."

Well, JayB, I suppose I could say the same about you in response to whatever I say, couldn't I? Let's just see who turns out right as time goes by. My prediction for this time next year would be Stan Kasten, Jim Bowden and Manny Acta all still in place with the Nationals. That's with the presumption that they post a considerably better record in '09 than they did in '08, which given all the things that went wrong in '08 is almost a given. They can't be as bad again as they were this year. If they are, though, it would be because Bowden didn't do his job and bring in good players, so if anyone takes the fall it would be him.

As for Kasten not making the decisions as he did in ATL, that's not the case. Ted Turner ultimately was calling the shots there as the Lerners are here, and Kasten has just as much decision-making power under the Lerners as he did under Turner. The only difference is in how it plays out, since Turner was flamboyant where the Lerners are not. But in both cases the owners served as CEOs of the team with Kasten as the COO. He knew that would be his role when he came here, and I see no sign that the Lerners are crimping him in that role.

An Briosca Mor said...

Stan just did 20 mins on WTEM.......If anyone else heard it please comment...Stan would not even answer the question from Coach T about if he was sticking with the Team directly....

I just listened to the archive of this interview, and I have to say that nothing has changed from my earlier impression made after reading JayB's description of it. Thompson never even asked Stan a direct question about whether or not he's sticking with the team. He talked at the end about how Stan wouldn't answer his question. Well, it's one thing to avoid a yes-or-no question, and a whole 'nother thing to be accused of avoiding a question that was never directly asked. "I'm talking about dancing with the jockey." What the hell kind of BS is that? When Thompson broached the topic at the top of the interview, Stan immediately dismissed it by asking if Thompson was going to believe stuff he was reading in the newspapers. That threw Thompson off his game, so he danced around the question himself for the rest of the interview, never asking Stan the simple "are you leaving? yes or no?" question. Why? Because he already knew what the answer would be: No.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Nynatsnut will be interested to learn that Jimmy Foxx is prominently displayed in the Eastern Maryland Hall of Fame at the Delmarva Shorebirds' stadium in Salisbury, MD. If you are going to call Foxx a local boy, would that make Cal Ripken, Jr. of Aberdeen, MD also a local boy, too? I think Aberdeen is closer to Washington, DC than Lonaconing, MD.

The Hall of Famers profiled at Nationals Park are either well known nationally, or either played for Washington during their careers. I don't see a particular effort to highlight Hall of Famers FROM the Washington area. Although I welcome National fans from both Cumberland and Lonaconing, I think both are too far away to be considered part of the D.C. area.

There is another great baseball player who is not yet in the Hall of Fame, but may very well be inducted by the veterans' committee in the future that was born and raised in Washington, D.C. although he never played for the Senators. Might the Nationals consider putting up a poster of Maury Wills?

One last thing---although it's true Wills never wore a Senators uniform, he is a former player for the Nationals franchise. In his final year in the big leagues, Maury Wills played for the Montréal Expos their inaugural year of 1969.

JayB said...

Thanks for listening to the Podcast only after posting your view on what Stan said.....interesting approach to open minded thinking......SBF is correct in that Stan's MO is to not answer questions that he can not do so honestly and he does not want to let the truth our yet. Two months ago Stan answered the question and said he would be he is not answering the question (while it might not be clear to you, it was clear to Stan what Coach T was asking), thus a change in his thinking in my view.

Are you really saying that Ted Turner and Ted Lerner gave Stan the same power to do the same job? Man you are out of touch with how the Nats run things. If Stan had the power to do thinks his way, I am sure we would see a much more competent marketing effort at the least, and a new GM as well.

An Briosca Mor said...

while it might not be clear to you, it was clear to Stan what Coach T was asking

And you know this how? Did Stan tell you it was clear to him what Thompson was asking? Are you the new StanSpeak translator? If so, you'd better step up your output on that. You've really been slacking off since you took over the job from CP.

Hmm. Should I be insulted that I'm being called "out of touch" by someone who clearly spends most of his time hallucinating? Tough call.