Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What decision do you want back?

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Was Cristian Guzman's original, four-year contract the worst move the Nats have ever made?
With the Texas Rangers in the World Series for the first time, there have been plenty of mentions of Cliff Lee and Vladimir Guerrero and the fact each once played for the Expos but departed before the franchise ever relocated to Washington. We can only imagine how the Nationals' fortunes might have been altered had Lee not been traded (along with Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips) to the Indians for Bartolo Colon in 2002 or had Guerrero not been allowed to walk as a free agent following the 2003 season.

Those decisions, of course, were made before baseball ever returned to D.C. We certainly didn't realize at the time how they would impact the Nats, because the Nats didn't yet exist.

Which got me thinking: In the six seasons now since we have had baseball in the District, what one decision has hurt the franchise the most? What one move do you wish the Nats could take back?

I came up with the following list of candidates...

-- Trading Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis to the Angels for Jose Guillen (Nov. 2004): Guillen was the best player on the inaugural 2005 team, but he was a divisive clubhouse figure and after a strong first half to the '05 season, he was either terrible or injured through the remainder of his contract. Rivera and Izturis, meanwhile, became regulars for an Angels club that made the playoffs four times in five years.

-- Signing Cristian Guzman to a four-year, $16 million contract (Nov. 2004): Jim Bowden felt his team desperately needed a veteran shortstop, and Guzman was really the only one available. So the new Nats GM overpaid the former Twin and gave him more years than anyone else out there was willing to offer. Guzman proceed to hit .219 in 2005 and missed all of 2006 and most of 2007 with injuries before finally returning strong as an All-Star in 2008 ... and convincing Bowden to give him a two-year, $16 million extension.

-- Giving up on Marlon Byrd (July 2006): Byrd was picked up in 2005 from the Phillies in a trade for Endy Chavez and had a few shining moments for the Nats. Overall, though, the outfielder was inconsistent, so he was sent down to Class AAA in the summer of 2006 and allowed to walk as a free agent at season's end. Texas picked him up after that, and Byrd proceeded to resurrect his career. Over the last four years with the Rangers and the Cubs, he's hit .294 with an average of 13 homers, 70 RBI and 32 doubles. He made his first All-Star team this year with Chicago.

-- Retaining Jim Bowden as GM (July 2006): While MLB still owned the franchise, Bowden was strictly interim, renewed three separate times on six-month contracts. Many figured new owners would want to bring in their own GM, but upon taking complete control of the club in the summer of 2006, the Lerner family decided to retain Bowden and make him the permanent GM. He remained in that position until March 2009, when he resigned after the Esmailyn Gonzalez scandal became public.

-- Signing Esmailyn Gonzalez for $1.4 million (July 2006): Speaking of the player who claimed to be named "Smiley," his signing out of the Dominican Republic for what at the time was a franchise record for an international player still looms as a major mistake. Not only did Gonzalez turn out to be named Carlos Alvarez, be four years older than he claimed and not be nearly as good a player as anyone was led to believe, but the ensuing scandal derailed the Nationals' Latin American program. They're still trying to recover from it today.

-- Trading Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Royce Clayton, Brendan Harris and Daryl Thompson to the Reds for Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner (July 2006): Man, what a busy month that turned out to be. This felt like a blockbuster trade at the time, though in hindsight, not one of those eight players proved to be anything special. Bray did pitch for the Reds in the NLDS this month, and Harris did become a semi-regular for the Rays and Twins, but Majewski's career fell apart, Clayton retired and Thompson never panned out. Kearns, Lopez and Wagner, meanwhile, were all busts in D.C. and none remains with the Nats.

-- Hiring Manny Acta as manager (Nov. 2006): The former Expos and Mets third base coach came highly touted, and he won over plenty of people in his first season as Nats skipper. But his team lost 102 games in 2008 and was on pace to lose 114 at the All-Star break in 2009 when he was fired. Would another manager have made a difference? We'll never know. But it never did work out for Manny in D.C.

-- Drafting Ross Detwiler over Madison Bumgarner and Jason Heyward (June 2007): Though they wouldn't admit it at the time, the Nats drafted Detwiler sixth overall as a fallback option after missing out on a couple of guys they really wanted but went earlier (Mike Moustakas, Josh Vitters and Matt Wieters). So they took what they believed to be the best pitcher in the class besides No. 1 pick David Price. In doing so, they passed over a couple of other guys who reached the majors this year and were significant contributors to playoff participants. Bumgarner, who will start Game 4 of the World Series, went 10th overall to the Giants. Heyward, who will finish either first or second for NL Rookie of the Year, went 14th overall to the Braves. Think the Nats wish they had either of those guys now?

-- Giving Dmitri Young a two-year, $10 million extension (July 2007): There were few more-inspiring stories in baseball in 2007 than Young's return from health and legal problems to become an All-Star, NL Comeback Player of the Year and a clubhouse leader for the Nationals. But when Bowden rewarded Dmitri with a two-year extension, heads were scratched everywhere. It wasn't so much that he didn't deserve to be brought back. It was the fact he was given a two-year contract when no one else in baseball would have made that offer for an aging first baseman with diabetes who was unlikely to duplicate his fantastic comeback season. Young wound up playing in only 50 games in 2008 and didn't play at all in 2009. Thus, he earned $200,000 for every game played under that contract extension.

-- Signing Paul Lo Duca for $5 million three days before he appeared in the Mitchell Report (Dec. 2007): After trading Brian Schneider to the Mets in the Lastings Milledge deal, Bowden needed a veteran catcher to work alongside Jesus Flores. So he signed Lo Duca and touted the 35-year-old as a leader who had never played for a losing team. Three days later, Lo Duca was among the players outed in the Mitchell Report for having bought HGH from Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, shattering his reputation. On the field, he was terrible, hitting .230 with a .281 slugging percentage in 43 games before getting unceremoniously released after Bowden was unable to trade him in July 2008.

-- Going into the 2009 season with no bullpen (Feb. 2009): I still remember Manny Acta being asked on one of the first days of spring training about the fallback plan in case Joel Hanrahan didn't work out as closer. There was no fallback plan, Acta said with a look that suggested he knew disaster awaited. Sure enough, Hanrahan couldn't handle the closer's role and had to be replaced in April. Unfortunately, the only relievers available to take over were Kip Wells and Julian Tavarez. That didn't exactly work out, and the Nats' season spiraled out of control before the calendar ever reached May.

-- Signing Jason Marquis to a two-year, $15 million contract (Dec. 2009): The Nats desperately needed a reliable, veteran starter who could be counted on to deliver 200 innings. Unfortunately, Marquis didn't prove to be that guy. He didn't look right in spring training, posted a 20.52 ERA in his first three starts, wound up on the DL with bone chips in his elbow and despite better results after returning, still wound up 2-9 with a 6.60 ERA. Worse, the Nats are stuck with the right-hander going into 2010. He may yet prove to be reliable and help this team in 2011, but it's hard to imagine he'll be worth that money in the end.

So there you have it, 12 decisions made by the Nationals over the last six years that didn't exactly pan out as hoped. Which one do you think was the worst, the one you wish they could take back and never have allowed to happen? Or do you have another one in mind?

Let me know what you think.

71 comments:

NatsJack in Florida said...

Clearly, retaining Jim Bowden in 2006 rather than letting Kasten search for fresh face (who knows, maybe Rizzo would have been the guy), to lead the franchise.

All Bowden's moves from 2006 to 2009 are reasons the club has been slow to achieve respectability.

Feel Wood said...

Clearly the Bowden decision was the worst, because practically all of the other decisions you named came about directly because of him.

Doc said...

You've given us a rogue's gallery here MarkMeister. When your looking at 10 pygmies, which one is the smallest??

Keeping it somewhat current, I think that Rizzo needs to be held accountable for signing Marquis, particularly for $15 mill. If he didn't know about his physical status, he should have.

Slidell said...

The Young and Lo Duca deals were 2 occasions where there wasn't much guesswork involved as to "what might happen" and provoked head-scratching from the get-go. Guzman, no bullpen, and keeping Bowden were close. The others fall into the categories of either "it didn't work out" or "who would've thunk it?".

Steve M. said...

Almost all of Bowden's mistakes are gone and some clearly didn't turn out well and now you hope that ownership (especially Mark Lerner) has learned a lesson.

Paul LoDuca being masqueraded as a Pro ballplayer and paid that type of money and showcased was really bad and then showing up on the Mitchell report was a further embarassment.

I think the $8 mill extension to Austin Kearns with the $1 million buyout which wasn't on your list was money that could have been spent much better.

Those are all really bad decisions but my "Decision I Want Back": is the decision to allow Adam Dunn to go into Free Agency is just mind boggling when this team was an offensive joke in 2008 before he arrived. Trust me, it is no coincidence that Ryan Zimmerman put up 2 great offensive seasons with Adam Dunn tucked in the lineup behind him.

Unless Rizzo has some master plan in replacing Adam Dunn's 100 RBIs, 40 HRs, .360 OBP, and 3.6 WAR then I want to hear about it.

Evan S said...

Retaining Jim Bowden obviously. With several of the trades made, obviously they were disasters for the Nationals, but not many of the players sent away were exactly shining stars for their teams. Besides, most trades in the MLB are one-sided anyways. I still wouldn't call Detwiler a bust, the kid still has tons of potential, but he MUST make the team next year OUT of Spring Training, otherwise not drafting Madison Bumgarner is going to look real stupid.

Anonymous said...

A very depressing read. Perhaps soon you can post a list of the good moves that the Nats have made? I need a morale booster after watching the great talent that the Playoff teams have compared to my Nats.

Anonymous said...

"Unless Rizzo has some master plan in replacing Adam Dunn's 100 RBIs, 40 HRs, .360 OBP, and 3.6 WAR then I want to hear about it."

Do you also want to hear about Rizzo's plan for replacing Dunn's 199 Ks?

Sec4LookingforaSofa said...

Yeah, that's a pretty ugly group that I'm not going to try to prioritize or top, but my own personal view is that trading productive vets in mid season for prospects that have so far flopped should be listed somewhere. For example, Nic Johnson during his most productive season and Ronnie Belliard, who brought a lot to the team, IMHO, much more than Adam I-don't-feel-like-hustling Kennedy, though maybe these should be listed under "retaining Jim Bowden."

CoverageisLacking said...

Retaining Bowden as GM is the clear #1.

Mark, regarding this quote on Detwiler though: "So they took what they believed to be the best pitcher in the class besides No. 1 pick David Price."

That is not what was reported by some at the time. I'm not certain what you reported then, but Svrluga, at least, reported that the Nats at least believed Porcello was better than Detwiler, but that Detwiler would reach the majors faster (shows how that kind of thinking can backfire in the MLB draft) and would be easier to sign (ugh). Even with his struggles this season, I would take Porcello over Detwiler today in a second.

On Heyward, Goessling interviewed Rizzo this summer, and Rizzo said that the decision not to scout Heyward was made "above him"--Rizzo was VP of Player Personnel at the time--because the Nats weren't going to pick him and Rizzo shouldn't "waste his time" scouting him.

Bumgarner seems more like a hindsight thing, and there are too many of those in the baseball draft to kick yourself over. (Gee, do you think the Royals would rather have drafted Zimmerman over Gordon?) But anyway, Bumgarner is a good example of a real pitching prospect, and how the Nats by contrast still don't have many of them. His minor league stats showed incredible domination. Meanwhile, Detwiler has never dominated anywhere. And yet the Nats continue to promote these guys and pretend that they are something special.

Anonymous said...

BowdenBowdenBowden Let me punctuate that statement - Bowden. Bowden. Bowden.

Anonymous said...

i'm now depressed. thanks.

The one that will be the worst is how Dunn was handled this year. Trade for a solid starting pitcher? nope. Possibility of signing him? slim. At best we may only get a weak compensatory pick when he walks. One of the best players signed in the last 6 years and they will get nothing when it's all done except memories. (oh sure, they COULD sign him, how much you wanna place on that?)

CoverageisLacking said...

"Young wound up playing in only 50 games in 2008 and didn't play at all in 2009. Thus, he earned $200,000 for every game played under that contract extension."

That surely bought him a lot of Mint and Gem Mint HOF rookie cards (not to mention weed).

http://www.sportscollectorsdaily.com/dmitri-young-talks-baseball-cards/

Mark Zuckerman said...

CoverageisLacking: You are correct about Porcello. The Nats did consider him better than Detwiler, maybe even better than Price. But since he was represented by Scott Boras and had exorbitant demands, they (along with about 20 other clubs) weren't going to draft him. I should have said the Nats considered Detwiler the best pitcher who they knew would sign and could reach the majors quickly.

My real point was that they really wanted one of those three position players (Moustakas, Vitters, Wieters) and hoped one would fall to them at No. 6. When that didn't happen, they were left with Detwiler.

Todd Boss said...

Pretty clear to me; the decision to keep Bowden lead to half the other decisions on this list.

You can lay the Smiley Gonzalez signing, the Kearns/FLOP trade, Dmitry signing, the LoDuca signing, the Guzman extension and the 2009 bullpen debacle squarely on Bowden's head.

You can't fault the Detwiler second guess draft pick; you can go back and see clearly that he was drafted in the exact position most scouting pundits had him ranked. I thought the same thing (especially as Heyward was tearing up the league in April).

Here's some more "decisions" that had lingering effects on this franchise:
- Trading for Dukes. Another in a long line of Bowden transactions designed to bring in 5-tool guys with 5-cent heads. Incredibly divisive in the clubhouse, couldn't stay out of the limelight, eventually released and not one other team even offered him a minor league deal.

- Toolsy player draft strategy. Look at our 2007 and 2008 drafts. the Crow debacle, Hood's mediocre numbers, Smoker's non-performance, McGeary's wasted draft dollars. Burgess may never produce. I think our franchise has been held back by the sheer incompetence of those two drafts, which should be producing near major leaguers by now.

- NOT trading Soriano at the deadline. Yes we got Zimmermann and Smoker with the pick. But so far is that worth the trade value he had? Zimmermann has yet to really produce and his value lies in his potential. Smoker is a disaster.

Sam said...

I actually think the original Guzman contract was very well worth it. Looking back on it, the Nats didn't get the value they expected. But, at that point, I would be glad to do that deal over again. $4 million for Guzman at age 27? You're asking for average to above average production from him. Definitely a good deal. Credit Bowden for that one. He didn't foresee Guzman's -1 WAR (an anomaly) and then missing a year. But he came back strong after that.

The two-year extension after that was ill-advised and definitely one of the reasons Bowden was fired.

I never criticize anyone for any draft decision ever. The draft is a crapshoot. At the time, the Nats probably thought Detwiler was better than Bumgarner. I'm sure the Royals and Mariners thought Alex Gordon and Jeff Clement, respectively, would be better than Ryan Zimmerman. In fact, Zimm's bat was never really touted. He was drafted solely for defense, and look, he's now the best third baseman in the National League.

N. Cognito said...

1. Jose Guillen trade - baseball-wise: bad; marketing-wise: okay. It's not a trade I would have made, but if Bowden was doing it to at least get something exciting on the field that first year here, then maybe not so bad.

2. Guzman signing - Simply bad. The guy already had no range and no patience at the plate. Not the way to build a winner.

3. Giving up on Marlon Byrd - Nothing wrong with that decision at the time.

4. Retaining Jim Bowden - VERY BAD. For every good deal he makes, there's 2 or 3 bad ones. The guy just lives to wheel and deal. He'll take an average team, make a bunch of moves to make it decent, then because he can't stop tinkering with it, will have it back to mediocre before another season is up.

5. Smiley - the risk of delving into the foreign market.

6. Huge Nats/Reds deal - a great deal that simply imploded upon the Nats? The potential of Kearns, Lopez and Wagner were much greater than what we sent the Reds. Pitchers blow out their arms, but perhaps the Nats should have had a better idea of what to expect from Felipe "I'm a lazy a$$ POS" Lopez and Austin "I'm never gonna change my approach at the plate" Kearns. A better major league scouting department and not having a GM totally infatuated with players he drafted, would have avoided this blunder.

"Dad. You're rambling."

7. Manny Acta - a managerial signing that just didn't work.

8. Detwiler - It's a draft. It's full of uncertainty. I don't remember anyone saying after the draft, "Oh, we could have had Bumgarner or Heyward or FILL IN THE BLANK."

9. Dmitri Young - Some people saw this coming but I recall a lot of Nats fans saying this was a great signing, saying he had regained his form, yada, yada. That sentiment quickly changed in Spring Training.

10. LoDuca - Bad timing. Take a look at the stats of free agent catchers. There are one or two good ones, the rest are crap, and there's about 10 openings each year for backup catchers.

11. 2009 Bullpen - major cluster.... Well, you know.

12. Jason Marquis signing - What were we thinking? Wasn't Ben Sheets available?

Rambling Done.

Sec3MySofa said...

Sec4LookingforaSofa

now that's funny...

Sec3MS said...

"which one I'd like back" is not the same as "should have seen that coming." Just sayin.

But I'm with FeelWood--most of these probably don't happen without Bowden here. We'd have a whole different list of somebody else's [mess]-ups, probably, but I'm going with hiring Bowden long-term.

Sec3StretchingOutWithCushions said...

Now, if you add "Picking the Lerners to buy the team", I might change my mind.

Jonathan said...

Clearly the answer is retaining Jim Bowden. He's responsible for ten(!) of those decisions. Each one looks so short-sighted and pathetic in retrospect. I'll never forgive the Lerners for keeping him on as long as he did. He set us all back as fans at LEAST four seasons. We'll never get those years back.

I'm fully behind the Rizzo regime, but man, it took way too long for the Lerners to put a professional in charge. They better make it up to us with a legitimate payroll next year. When a team like Philly, with a far worse local economy, has twice your payroll, you know your owners are cheap. Step it up, Lerners!!! Make us forget the Bowden era!!!

N. Cognito said...

Anonymous said...
"Steve M. said: Unless Rizzo has some master plan in replacing Adam Dunn's 100 RBIs, 40 HRs, .360 OBP, and 3.6 WAR then I want to hear about it."

"Do you also want to hear about Rizzo's plan for replacing Dunn's 199 Ks?"

Dunn whiffs so much because he doesn't shorten his swing and/or try to go to left when he has 2 strikes and is behind or even in the count (0-2, 1-2 and 2-2). In those situations he is 31 for 231 (.134) with 8 homeruns and 153 Ks.
Eight homeruns does not counter that level of ineptitude at the plate.

Anonymous said...

"Eight homeruns does not counter that level of ineptitude at the plate."

But you ducked the question. How you gonna replace that?

Anonymous said...

One poster mentioned it, but I'll repeat it as well. Not trading Soriano and getting draft picks instead of decent mlb ready prospects was an idotic decision that still bothers me to this day.I like Jordan Zimmerman, but let's face it, during all the time it took to draft, develop, and rehab him, we could have used the trade to plug more holes over those years.

N. Cognito said...

Anonymous said...
"Eight homeruns does not counter that level of ineptitude at the plate."

But you ducked the question. How you gonna replace that?

Maybe you don't replace it next season. Maybe it gets replaced the season after that.
We fans tend to think short term (next year). Team management thinks long term. There just might be a gap between Dunn in 2010 and several someone elses they have penciled in for 2012 (Burgess, Marrero, Adrian Gonzalez???).

I'd take a year of Mike Morse at first if it meant we were able to get Gonzalez for 5 years beginning in 2012.

N. Cognito said...

Anonymous said...
"One poster mentioned it, but I'll repeat it as well. Not trading Soriano and getting draft picks instead of decent mlb ready prospects was an idotic decision that still bothers me to this day."

What were the Nats offered?

Anonymous said...

But...but...the number of season ticket holders who will cancel because they won't be able to see Dunn strike out those 199 times will positively CRIPPLE this franchise! Don't you understand that?

Steveospeak said...

I'd add the drafting and failure to sign Aaron Crow. Yes I know we got Storen, but with guy like Smoak, Wallace, Hicks, Ike Davis among others available the Nats would be in a better place now. Also that doesn't include all the public and press backlash from the decision.

nationals anthems said...

"How you gonna replace all those strikeouts?" I suppose we could ask certain players to swing and miss more. Zim and Willingham could swing over the first pitch on every at bat and over the course of the season they could make up the strikeout deficit left by Dunn's absence.

Anonymous said...

The fanbase won't support making up for Dunn's strikeouts with existing players. That's cheaping out. They need to spend big bucks on a new guy to strike out.

natsfan1a said...

What is retaining Jim Bowden? (See now, I win, because the rest of y'all didn't phrase it as a question.)

natsfan1a said...

sec4lookingyadayadayada, it's been done. Maybe try a La-Z-Boy? ;-)

JayB said...

Bowden is the worst by far because he personally is responsible for most everything else on the list.....And why did they keep him.....Lerner cheapness and Lerner stupidity.....not much has changed.

Gusto said...

The chorus agrees with the "Fire Jim Bowden" site. In addition to the bad baseball decisions there is the lack of class with which he represented the Nationals. I was still trying not to kick him when he was down until he booted Chad Cordero off the team in a radio interview.

JayB said...

Any you people wonder why I see the negative side of Nats moves....simple because that is the dominate trend....just read Mark's list.....It did not need to be like this.

JayB said...

This is not a story of how MLB ruined the farm system, it a story of how MLB picked the wrong ownership group based on good old boy criteria, not sound management principles.

Michael J. Hayde said...

Boz said at the start: "Sign Dunn now." That opinion takes precedence over the rest of you sarcastic numbnutz.

This team's gonna suffer a big time bite at the box office if/when Dunn walks away. I don't care if Rizzo digs up Ruth, Mantle, Williams or DiMaggio, or creates some kind of Aaron-Musial-Mays clone. The fan base that, you know, actually GOES TO GAMES loves Adam Dunn.

JayB said...

Winning is more important that Dunn....if they win they will come. I loved Dunn, said this many times, I would sign him for 5 years. Sat with him at a lunch...he is just a great person, very real.....but it is clear Rizzo does not want him and does not think he will lead the team to more wins....so it is the GM's call....now show me the wins Mike.

Anonymous said...

Wow - first off, how great is it to come to this site with real (and good) content and a great discussion to go with it. Does Zuckerman still need donations to make this work?

Second, I'm all on board with the "it's all about Bowden" votes. The majority of this started with him and Rizzo had to spend two years unwinding it.

Last - seems like it's worth some discussion on the payroll front that the Rangers are in the series with a $55M payroll (26th in MLB) and the Giants at $98M (9th in MLB). Rangers are definitely at the front of a "build it internally and add some key parts" program - should build from there and clearly it'll be a lot higher if they want to keep Lee. I was kind of shocked to see the Giants number - outside of their pitching, I had to look to see who else they were paying big $$ to - but they're still anchored by a number of homegrown guys.

Anonymous said...

"The fan base that, you know, actually GOES TO GAMES loves Adam Dunn."

Yes, but do you really want the kind of fanbase that rewards a 4K game with a standing O?

NatsJack in Florida said...

JayB... Your rants on the Lerners has grown old and stale. All of us realize that the Lerners are EXTREMELY successful real estate people and they adhere to a solid business principal that allows them to develope a property purchased at one price, extract profits from the operation of those properties while allowing them to increase in value and either continue to operate them or sell them at a favorable profit when they feel that the market will fall.

The Lerners are not selling this team. They are Metropolitan Washington area lifers and look at ownership of the Nats as a public responsability.

They are actually learning on the job and since jettisoning Bowden and Acta, are finally heading in the right direction.

Just hold your tongue till October of 2012 and if everything remains status quo, we will all praise and bow to your ability to have seen us as the Pittsburgh Pirates or the Kansas City Royals.

But if the 2012 season ends with the Nats being anywhere near 85-77 and in the hunt for a playoff spot, you can acknowledge that operating a successful professional baseball team is complicated, competitive, and full of pitfalls, and requires alot of luck with sound baseball practices mixed in.

Pedro G. said...

Bowden is the noxious odor that will permeate Nats Park for the foreseeable future. Every time I see his smug, would-be know-how jive on Twitter, I want to strangle the guy with his leather pants.

Mark--How come paying Chen Ming Wang $2 million to play the Invisible Man this year isn't even mentioned? It ain't a boatload of money but I'm sure Rizzo could have used it creatively.

bdrube said...

The Bowen retention HAS to be number 1 since he made most of those other boneheaded moves.

Retaining Dmitri in 2007 and Guzman in 2008 at the trading deadline were to me the worst of the player moves along with also not trading Chad Cordero in 2007. What was the point of stripping the team down before the '07 season if they weren't going to trade their veterans while they were at the peak of their value? That was an inexplicably inconsistent strategy.

BinM said...

The biggest "do-over" for me would be the hiring of Bowden. Too many of the problems the franchise is still fighting to recover from occured under his watch.

CoverageisLacking said...

"All of us realize that the Lerners are EXTREMELY successful real estate people..."

Most owners are, by definition, extremely successful business people. That's what enables them to purchase the team. That doesn't make them good owners.

Of course, then you have the instances of inherited wealth. Which is what the Nats will have before too long. And I don't know too many people who will point to Mark's great personal successes and keen intellect in the context of the family business. (Ever wonder why he so easily switched to spending as much time as he does on the Nats?)

And then you have a guy like Tom Hicks...whose team is in the World Series.


"Just hold your tongue till October of 2012..."

Is that the new target date, then? Back in 2008, we heard a lot about 2010/2011. But, of course the problem is not the Lerners. It's JayB. It all makes sense now.

Anonymous said...

"Most owners are, by definition, extremely successful business people. That's what enables them to purchase the team. That doesn't make them good owners."

No, what makes them good owners is that they keep their meddling hands out of the baseball operations and let the professionals handle it. Which the Lerners have done from day one. Not only that, when they realized they had made a mistake with the first GM they hired, they corrected it by getting someone else, who they are now not meddling with. If the price of that non-meddlesome ownership is having Mark Lerner suit up and innocuously shag flies during BP while his baseball people are running the club, then that's a price well worth paying.

CoverageisLacking said...

"what makes them good owners is that they keep their meddling hands out of the baseball operations and let the professionals handle it. Which the Lerners have done from day one."

This is a different topic than the one I was addressing, but...really? What is the basis for your assertion that they have not meddled in baseball operations since day one?

Interestingly, if this assertion were true, it would also be inconsistent with the suggestion that Ted Lerner's success in the real estate world will somehow translate to baseball.

Sunderland said...

Hey, Anon 3:01, let's not be suckered into believeing the Rangers are in the World Series with a $55M payroll.

They opening day payroll is reported at $55M. They added, among others, Jorge CantĂș, Cliff Lee and Bengie Molina mid-season. Those three guys alone raked in about $20M in 2010.

On their playff roster, their top 9 guys in terms of salary cost $55M a year. The other 31 guys on the MLB roster are not playing for free.

They've obviously done some things well, but repeating the $55M number isn't legit.

Sunderland said...

Anon 4:05 said:
"No, what makes them good owners is that they keep their meddling hands out of the baseball operations and let the professionals handle it. Which the Lerners have done from day one."

Wow, this is bizarre.

The Lerners have not in ANY way shown themselves to be good owners.

And the Lerners have NOT let the baseball people run things. Why do you think Stan K quit?

This is just making stuff up to sound loyal.

natsfan1a said...

And now for something completely different. In watching game 6 of the NLCS, it occurred to me that the (awesome, imo) third strike call of the home plate umpire, where he almost completely turns around at the finish, seemed familiar. Specifically, it reminded me of that of the guy behind the dish for Strasburg's debut this summer. I'd been meaning to look into it when I had a moment, and I just deduced that it is indeed the same fellow, Tom Hallion (thanks, Google). That is one heck of a strikeout motion, imho.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled airing of Point-Counterpoint.

Anonymous said...

Not only that, but Ryan Howard's looking at a called third strike with the game on the line reminded me of someone else I'd seen before too. Oh yeah....Adam Dunn.

Tcostant said...

N. Cognito said...
Anonymous said...
"One poster mentioned it, but I'll repeat it as well. Not trading Soriano and getting draft picks instead of decent mlb ready prospects was an idotic decision that still bothers me to this day."

What were the Nats offered?

Me: The Nats turned down Kevin Slowey (they wanted Garza). Slowey was and is still is a solid #3 SP type for the Twins. The Nats should have taken that.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Who hired Davey Johnson last January? I do believe that was Rizzo and Rizzo only. Not the Lerners, and not Kasten.

Who drafted 2 different high schoolers well below their talent level then convinced them to sign at way above slot money? I believe that was Rizzo with the blessings of the Lerners.

This past draft is the first completely laid upon Rizzo and the scouting staff he assembled last year. Last years (the Strasburg draft) was a mix of the current scouting staff and left over information from the old staff.

It's easy to take pot shots at the owners as any move they make can be seen as meddling or cheap, which ever way you feel but the truth is this organization is now in the hands of true baseball people with a substantial budget and committed to a plan.

Rizzo sees Riggleman as a good fit for the type of team he wants to assemble over the near future, but will not tolerate another sub 80 win season.

I have not been a fan of the ownership group and their ambivalance to this small but devoted fan base, but I do not think it's because of cheapness and expect to see improvement in their approach to us this coming season. However, I have seen first hand, the baseball operation at it's base level and can tell you, the current situation is leaps and bounds better than it was 2 years ago.

Roberto said...

Retaining Bowden was by far the biggest mistake. Not were his personnel decisions disastrous, I read somewhere that he persuaded the owners that the "dumpster diving" approach could yield good results.

Re: Detweiler. I'm pretty much convinced that he's a bust. But the Nationals weren't alone in their regard for him. Baseball America shared the Nats' opinion and recall that they named the Nats the biggest "winner" of the 2007 draft and because of Jordan Zimmerman and Derek Norris.

Roberto said...

I hate typing: I meant "not only were his personnel decisions . . ." and " . . . not because of . . ."

JayB said...

NJack...I agree with you about Rizzo but if Lerner's were done with their meddling ways then Dunn would have been traded back at the July Deadline....it is well sourced that Rizzo did not want to resign him and had a trade he liked and Lerner vetoed it....check Boz Chats for supporting quotes.....I too have been to camp last spring twice and very quickly this fall.....yes big changes from two years ago....but that does not give Lerners a pass for all the mistakes they have made....Show me the wins....I have been a season ticket holder for six years and the list of self inflected Lerner errors is very, very, very long.

Anonymous said...

Great article!!! Now we know why the Nats are where they are!!

Anonymous said...

Another vote for Bowden (BOWDEN!!!!!). So many of these mistakes can be laid at his doorstep. Heyward I don't blame so much, oddly enough, because the draft is such a crap shoot and any team can play the hindsight game with regret.

John C.

Sec3MySofa said...

Well, to paraphrase a former baseball owner, "Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me six years in a row, that's just a six-shooter of shame."
Talk about shooting yourself in the foot...

Sec3OnTheWaterfront said...

Again, there's apples and oranges in the handbasket here. The question was, what would you like a mulligan on, *not* what should they have known to do/not do. It makes a difference. Some of the things on Mark's list were arguably not so much mistakes as things that just didn't work out (yet). Crow, for instance, would still be on this list if they HAD signed him, and I think the whole torches and pitchforks argument is vastly over-rated--it doesn't matter if they piss off season ticket holders, IF THEY WIN. It really doesn't.
But I'm sticking with my Bowden answer, because having a competent GM from the start is the single thing that would have had the biggest impact on getting good talent and developing it. By now, they coulda been somebody. They coulda been a contenda. Instead of bums. Which is what they are, let's face it, Charlie.

Jeeves said...

Not trading Dunn for Dan Hudson is still very high on my list. The Nats need solid pitchers.

Anonymous said...

The Dmitri Young contract was the most forseeable mistake this franchise has made. It boggles my mind they would give Young $5 mil a year at that point in career but won't give Dunn %15 mil a year now. I know its a different regime but still...

The Bowden retaining was probably the worst because as others point out all roads lead to this mistake. Trading for Soriano who had no intention of staying here was a mistake. Trading Schneider and Church for Millege was a mistake. Benching Church for Wily Mo Pena in '07 was a mistake. Brandon Watson -- remember him? -- was a mistake. There's a hundred of them but they all lead back to Jim Bowden.

Anonymous said...

Far, far, far and away, without a doubt, the worst decision on this list and the the one that set the Nats back the most time was retaining Jim Bowden. It's not even close.

MAYBE if you combined the Guzman, Gonzalez, Young, LoDuca, and Marquis signings into one colossal "wasted money" mistake, then it would be close, because I think signings like those might make the Lerners hesitant to sign free agents.

Bowden was a fat, cocky disaster.

sjm105 said...

Not sure which I enjoyed more, the article by Mark or the comments. I also vote for Keeping Bowden as the worst move and for the same reasons as most, almost all of the other moves were a result of that. I also think the original Guzman signing was one of the few good things he did, even though it didn't work out. At the time he was an AL All-Star, 27 years old and had a great upside. Second on this list is resigning D. Young. Great story but what a waste of money and time.

I read so many solid comments on here and want to change my profile to some sort of couch reference but just can't come up with anything witty. It looks like we are moving from 105 to 205 next year so I will be changing my profile.

Also add me to the list of readers that tire of the constant harping about the Lerners. We are not getting new owners and your complaining on any site will not get them to change. I am willing to give Rizzo at least two more years and will be interested to see what the owners do under his leadership.

Joe Seamhead said...

I wish we had kept Jamie Carroll.

JaneB said...

Well, I came away from this LIKING the Lerners better. I'm glad they heard the fans on the Dunn issue last July. If his Ks are the price for protecting Zimm and for the production he generates, then I'm fine to see the Ks. It will be the worst decision in Nats history not to sign him if we can't somehow pull it off in the next few weeks. And I'm still holding out hope.

Joe Seamhead, I miss Carroll too...

Jim in MD said...

By far, both the hiring and the extension of Bowden were #1. Bowden's hiring led to several other disasters from which the team is still trying to recover. Wouldn't Juan Rivera have looked good in the Nats outfield these past 6 years? It took seven years, but the Reds have finally recovered from the Bowden era. I hope it doesn't take the Nats that long to recover.

FOTB said...

natsfan1a ... I had the exact same thought about the home plate umpire in game 6 of the NLCS. Thanks for confirming that he was in fact behind the plate calling The Kid's K's in his debut. And, I agree, it's a great third strike motion.

Anonymous said...

Bowden. But let's not forget trading for Nyjer Morgan. Glad to be rid of Lastings Milledge, love Sean Burnett, but Nyjer was a mistake.

Raff said...

Having Teddy be the stooge in the Presidents' race. Everybody knows that real-life Teddy would wipe the floor with those other guys. Lincoln and Washington were both fit, but they were no Teddy.

Jefferson is the fraud. That guy might've been a five-tool president (which is why Bowden liked him), but as a sprinter? No way.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Post a Comment