Kasten's grade: Incomplete
By Ryan Korby
Stan Kasten’s greatest skill is what is keeping me from deciding whether his resignation as Washington Nationals President is ultimately good or bad for the team. Kasten is a master at playing things close to the vest. The Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore says,“Kasten reached his decision at the end of the 2009 season and informed Principal Owner Ted Lerner.” Wait, and we’re hearing about this today? In this time of national obsession and analysis of sports I find this an absolutely amazing feat by Kasten and the Nationals organization.
This skill of Kasten’s has lead to his greatest accomplishments as part of the Nationals organization. At the top of this list was the hiring of a GM in his image, Mike Rizzo, who is another guy I wouldn’t want to sit across from at a poker table. The way the Nationals front office handled the signings of all-world prospects Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, by not negotiating through the media and keeping the back-and-forth in house kept any bad publicity from taking control. This ultimately led to what everybody wanted, Strasburg and Harper under the Nationals control.
I think it’s events like these that have Nats fans in early exit polling thinking of Kasten in such a positive light.
The support for Kasten is almost unbelievable considering the man has presided over a Nationals team that hasn’t had a winning season during his tenure which began in 2006. He’ll be remembered fondly by some and derisively by others for “The Plan,” an attempt to rebuild a Nationals organization that was strip-mined by Major League Baseball before the team sale to the Lerners. The Plan has helped field a major league team increasingly built on the talent developed in house: Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, and Danny Espinosa, to name a few. The cynics will say this is the only way a team can be fielded given the shoestring budget the Nationals are supposedly forced to operate on by the ownership.
Kasten’s reign also hasn’t been controversy free. He was in charge when we found out Esmailyn Gonzalez was really Carlos Alvarez. He also spent way too much time with the free-wheeling, man-without-a-plan, Jim Bowden as his General Manager.
Kasten has been so good at keeping the team’s trade secrets that it’s impossible to decide how much blame to give him for the Nationals failures. Reading the news today, there were some stories that alluded to the fact that Kasten was hamstrung by the ownership’s desire for a small budget. True to form, Kasten hasn’t said a word about this and I doubt he will once he and the Nationals have severed ties. There won’t be any tell-all memoir describing Kasten’s time in Washington, that’s just not his style.
Box Seats blogger
| September 24, 2010; 9:08 AM ET
Categories: Nationals, Ryan Korby | Tags: Nationals, Ryan Korby
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