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D.C. Approval Rating: Jim Bowden

(2007 photo by Jonathan Newton)

Taking another one-day breather from sports media approval ratings, while trying to make sure that we don't run out of D.C. sports media people before the end of the summer, we will instead cast our votes in the direction of yet another D.C. sports non-media figure. The focus this week has been on Ernie Grunfeld and George McPhee, whose names and initials have been widely invoked and praised within the past 24 hours, although GMGM certainly has a better ring to it than GMEG. But those guys are busy, so let's instead take a look at Nats Senior VP and GM Jim Bowden, also known as SVPGMJB, or, more likely, Trader Jim.

Bowden took over on an interim basis in November of 2004, and lost the interim tag in June of 2006. The team's minor-league system has been oft-praised in recent months, and the team's preseason media guide gives Bowden credit for drafting Ryan Zimmerman, Chris Marrero, Ross Detwiler, Josh Smoker and Jack McGeary, among others. He has also traded for or signed Wily Mo Pena, Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, Cristian Guzman, Dmitri Young and Paul Lo Duca, among many others currently on the roster.

Of course, injuries have made it tricky to judge this year's Nats. Last week, Bowden said that this season has been a "Major League nightmare; [at the] Minor League level, [it's been] a dream."Still, just today, listed Bowden as one of four MLB GM's on the hot seat, writing that "The Nats' new ballpark may help spike attendance, but soon the honeymoon will be over and fans will start expecting a better product on the field." And, of course, he's inspired a blog in his honor.

Before joining the Nats, Bowden spent more than a decade with the Reds, who made him, at the time, the youngest GM in MLB history. He guided the Reds into the NL championship series in 1995, but they lost that series and never returned to the playoffs before he was fired in 2003.

Bearing in mind that you have just two options, here's your chance to judge Jim Bowden as of early July, 2008. Choose carefully, and offer explanation below.

Previously: Ernie Grunfeld (93 percent approval), Daniel Snyder (42 percent approval).

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 1, 2008; 11:59 AM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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Unless Jim ends up over here and votes for himself, I can't see a single "Approve" vote being cast.

Posted by: GTB | July 1, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Problem is the current ownership which needs to go! You cant run a MLB team like you do a shopping mall. Bowden and Acta need to go. I used to wish for a MLB team in Dc after the Seantors left. Now I just wish the current Nats would they are pathetic. Lerners and Kasten take your team and get out of here. Just go! Telling us you have a grea prospects in the minors and you have a five year plan or whatever is like the management of a strip club telling you when you visit in the afternoon that the quality of the talent improves in the evening.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Too much love for "toolsy" outfielders and ex-Reds. Disapprove!

Posted by: Chimpanzee Rage | July 1, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully we're collecting the IP Addresses of those who click approve, so we can hunt them down and sterilize them.

Posted by: Chris | July 1, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

His smarmy love of self-promoting make this an easy disapprove, but his performance as a GM has been no worse than marginal.

Posted by: Brian | July 1, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Once again the collective baseball IQ of DC rears its ugly head. Bowden had nothing to work with in 2005 or 2006. Its far too early to judge a team that is building for 2010. This isn't football, where teams can be built and destroyed in a single offseason. For what he's been dealt, I don't think anyone else could do much better. If you don't like the team and its owners, go back up 95 and root for the Orioles. And we'll see you in a few year when the Nats are winning and you're on the bandwagon.

Posted by: Rob | July 1, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I disapprove of Rob.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Another vote of disapproval for Rob.

Posted by: Chris | July 1, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the minor league system has made impressive progress, but how much can we credit Bowden for that? The direction is set by Kasten and the work is done by Rizzo.

Even more so than Bowden's moves, it's been his non-moves that have been dissapointing.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Rob => Robert => Bob => Bob Boone

That explains everything

Posted by: I've solved it | July 1, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

While this may be unfair since Lerner has given him no budget for players or a coaching staff, I vote disapprove because Jimbo hasn't been able to maximize the little he has been given.

Posted by: PB | July 1, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

As of this writing, his approval rating is even lower than Snyder's. Pretty incredible.

Stay the course, change the helmsman.

Posted by: Vincent | July 1, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Horrible, just horrible. Look at the team's record. It's all on his watch. Disapprove.

Posted by: Jack | July 1, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The collective baseball IQ of DC > Rob's post.
You can't judge a GM on some bizarre 10-year plan that builds up the minor leagues. GMs are about putting big league ball clubs together. And Jimmy Last Place has failed spectacularly at that every single year that he's been here. You can place the blame on a lot of people--like the cheap owners--but that shouldn't help Jimmy Last Place's approval rating.

Posted by: UMD's Burning Couch | July 1, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Haters. I hope all of them who wish the Nats signed over-priced free agents to bloat the payroll before this season are card-carrying Snyder supporters.
For all the FLops and WMP's Bowden brought in, he's also the guy who signed Guzman, drafted Flores/Zimmerman, brought in the dependable Boone this year, re-signed Belliard, took a chance on Dukes, and last year brought in the league's comeback player of the year.
He's ultimately judged by Wins/Losses - but he's essentially been given a rock and told to squeeze water from it; he's done alright. Let's reserve judgment for ~2 years when the young talent they've put together is ready to play and he's given some cash to spend.

Posted by: laxbigj | July 1, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

You are actually going to cite the Guzman contract as a positive. He has got roughly one season of production out of a four year investment. $16M for roughly 200 games worth of playing.

He gets kudos for a bench player in Boone? Where are the knocks for guys like Carlos Baerga? Robert Fick? Nook Logan? Damian Jackson?

He made a good Rule 5 selection in Jesus Flores. But what about Ty Godwin, Tony Blanco or Levale Speigner?

Posted by: Really? | July 1, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Any GM that lets Jamie Carroll go earns a thumbs way down.

Posted by: Screech's Worst Enemy | July 1, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

He's also the guy who lost Darrell Rasner and Claudio Vargas, two starting pitchers the Nationals could use right now, for absolutely nothing.

He made a find in Dmitri Young but immediately counteracted it by signing him to a two-year extension making him virtually untradable in 2008.

Posted by: Bowden's Foibles | July 1, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

That's a freeze frame from Dr. Strangelove right

Posted by: Skin Patrol | July 1, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Chris needs to take his meds. Kasten told everyone and anyone that was listening that the team would rebuild the non-existent Expo/NATS farm system and that the Lerners would be called cheap. Both promises have been kept! Bowden has fufilled his part of the plan. Flores is a find, Milledge and Dukes are performing. As I have said before on Plantet NJ, anybody who thought this team would be a contender this season needs to take their meds (like Chris).

Posted by: Section 204 Row K Seat 11 | July 1, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

@ Section 204 Row K Seat 11 - Can Chris borrow some of your Kool-Aid to drink with his meds? You seem to have a few gallons.

Posted by: Steve | July 1, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Jimbo has been given very little money to work with here. How many times have we heard he has been on a limited budget - What? I find that hard to swallow when we have a new stadium with all sorts of new revenues. He's done the best he can with scrap pile picking and making low risk, low money deals to get some semblance of a team put together. He's about 50-50 between screwups and successes but he's operating at such a different level then other GMs his errors are magnified because there is basically no room for failure.

When does the Lerners approval poll come out? I think people are gonna finnally see what this outfit is really about come this offseason.

Posted by: Cheep | July 1, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Other GMs detest Bowden, why shouldn't we?

Posted by: Andrew Z. Stebbins | July 1, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks again for the shout out. There are so many reasons... But, the basic case for firing Bowden is...

1. Inheriting a barren franchise that was desperate for a full-on rebuilding project, Bowden chose instead to spend whatever limited resources he had mortgaging the future to keep the team over 70 wins. For his first 2 years, virtually every move he made was young for old, cheap for expensive, improving for declining, giving away the few prospects and draft picks we had like there was no tomorrow. Unfortunately for Nats fans, there was a tomorrow.

2. Now forced into rebuilding, Bowden is the wrong guy for the job. A notoriously impatient, hyperactive GM and a terrible drafter, he has shown no ability to build a long-term winner. Just one Bowden team has made the playoffs in 16 years as a GM, and he's currently working on a streak of 7 straight non-winning seasons.

3. MLB is loaded with talented young executives from Chris Antonetti to Kim Ng to our own Mike Rizzo who deserve a chance to show if they can do better.

Posted by: | July 1, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

My top ten worst Bowden moves ever (in no particular order, feel free to add your own):

1. Vinny Castilla--$6.2m for 2 years and he gave up the 32nd pick overall in the draft for a 37-year-old, Coors inflated bum.

2. Left Trevor Hoffman unprotected in the 1992 expansion draft.

3. Traded OF Paul O'Neill to Yankees for OF Roberto Kelly in 1992.

4. Ryan Drese. OK, that move wasn't that consequential, but he's here to symbolize the dozens of scrap heap starting pitchers he's thought weren't crapola.

5. Cristian Guzman--4 years and $16m and a draft pick.

6. Traded B.J. Ryan for a 2-month rental of Juan Guzman.

7. Lying. Lying to Cincy hometown boy Jeff Shaw that he woulnd't get traded if he signed there for less (then trading him), lying to Wayne Krivsky that he believed Gary Majewski and Daryl Thompson were healthy, offering Ron Oester the job as manager of the Reds then hiring Bob Boone. Lying is bad.

8. Hiring Bob Boone as manager of the Reds. (And a bunch of other terrible managers.)

9. Hiring Lenny Harris as hitting instructor for the Nationals.

10. Signing bad, old, hurt, drug-dealing, cradle-robbing, degenerate gambler Paul LoDuca to block Jesus Flores and to be a leader in the clubhouse.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

We really need to take FJB's Baseball Prospectus subscription away from him.

Posted by: Chris | July 1, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

You suck Jim Bowden. Read why here:

Posted by: Bergmann on Man | July 1, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Actually Chris I steal most of my content from your archives.

Posted by: | July 1, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Bowden's a company man who's played enough politics within the org. to keep his job. If either Stan or the Lerners had any pride, which they don't, they'd actually ask employees to do their jobs or face consequences. Instead they guard their checkbook zealously, making sure no player dares to expense a pack of sunflower seeds, but taking no action if that player hits .178.

Posted by: Baseline Brews | July 1, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Apparently I'm not the only one with too much time on my hands.

I realize my "IQ" comments were out of line and quite pompous. Sorry 'bout that.

Anyway, my larger point is this: Do I think Bowden is the best GM in the league? No. Will I be upset if he's canned? No. But he's not been given the free-ist of hands and we'll see what happens when/if the Lerners' loosen the pursestrings. He's basically had to scratch and claw his way to fielding this team and the results have been mixed at best. Still, the farm system is light years better than it was just two years ago, and we've finally got some young talent to build around.

So I won't be shedding any tears if he's dismissed, but I don't for one second think he's done a lousy job.

Posted by: Rob | July 2, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

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