Thursday, June 19, 2008

About that Jim Bowden character

I've been working on this story today about how the board of the MTA (for non-New York types that's the board that oversees all the bridges, tunnels, railroads, subways, etc in the area) has been getting free EZ pass access. This is kind of a big deal because the MTA has been raising prices for customers across the board and most of these board members are gazillionaires who aren't supposed to get paid for being on the board.

But in doing research for this, it got me thinking about another character in my life who has been getting a free pass for quite a few years. He goes by the name of Jim Bowden and he's the general manager of the Nationals. I wrote about this a year ago on this blog, saying:

I hope Bowden knows what he's doing. He's gotten a free pass so far, but if the results don't start showing up soon, his time could very well run out a lot quicker than you would think.

Well, it's the middle of June and talking about the playoffs cannot be allowed considering the team is again in last place in the NL East with a sporty 29-44 record. To be fair, Bowden hasn't gotten much money to work with in building a team, but the decisions he's made with limited resources leads me to believe he isn't capable of being competent when he actually does get the money.

.The crux of the team's problems — and this is well documented — is hitting. Only one player is batting above .300 right now (for the record, it's the much-maligned Christian Guzman) and every young player the Nationals have gotten in trades or over the past couple seasons have performed inadequately. Look down the list and it's just frightening how badly some of these decisions have backfired so far: Lastings Milledge is hitting .254, Felipe Lopez is hitting .252, Elijah Dukes is hitting .243, Wily Mo Pena is hitting .205. Throw in Kearns's .187 average before getting injured and the awful play of Paul Lo Duca so far (.194 average), and you've basically got two-thirds of your starting lineup hitting atrociously.

Jimbo's mug shot from a DUI arrest in 2006.

All of these guys are Bowden acquisitions. The pitching staff is doing much better, but still lacks a front of the rotation starter. Rauch and Cordero were guys already in the system before Bowden arrived, so he can't take credit for that. This shouldn't be happening, though. Remember when the Nats brought Stan Kasten, the legendary architect of all those great Braves teams from the '90s on board, and he was supposed to mold the team in much the same way?

Well, I'm not completely off his bandwagon just yet, but I think it's about time he made the decision to fire Jimmy boy. I'm currently in the middle of reading this book by John Feinstein, Living on the Black. And while reading the other night, I stumbled upon this interesting passage talking about the near-players' union strike in 2002 that just made me go nuts:

As the deadline neared, tempers got short. Jim Bowden, then the General Manager of the Cincinnati Reds, went on a radio show and accused the players of 'steering Major League Baseball right into the World Trade Center,' as if a threatened strike could somehow be akin to the events of 9/11.

Kasten's phone rang that day. 'Who is the stupidest person on the face of the earth?' he heard Glavine's voice say.

Kasten had to laugh. 'Okay, Tommy, you win,' he said. 'Today you are no better than number two when it comes to stupidity.'

I'll make this succinct because I have to go to a press conference soon: If you thought he was stupid in 2002, why has he been allowed to make stupid move after stupid move the past 4+ seasons? The Nationals need a new GM, especially if they plan on actually making a splash in the free agent market.

Here's the book. It's by John Feinstein and chronicles the careers (and more specifically last season) of Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina.

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