Jim Bowden interviews Stan Kasten
Man, we live in such a weird sports market. Every Friday the Redskins' executive vice president of weather forecasting interviews various ESPN personalities on his radio show. In the playoffs, the team's all-time greatest coach will team with one of its most famous quarterbacks for the first-ever coach/qb broadcasting team. And this week, on SIRIUS XM's MLB Home Plate channel, Nats' former GM Jim Bowden interviewed his former boss, Nats President Stan Kasten, about the state of the franchise.
Which led to moments that seemed, to the casual listener, potentially awkward. Or maybe not. Heck, I write about Jason La Canfora, so maybe it's real easy-like.
Neither man mentioned their shared past, instead just jumping right into baseball talks. And you're wondering, did Bowden ask about the team's progress in the international realm? He did not. He did, however, give Kasten a very nice introduction, in his first question.
"Stan Kasten won 14 straight divisional titles overseeing John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox in Atlanta," Bowden began. "He's now with the Washington Nationals, rebuilding them. And Stan, a year ago, the Nationals, major players with Mark Teixeira, he ends up signing with the Yankees, but the Nationals were right there, both in offering terms and length. Are the Nationals chasing any free agents of that magnitude this year?"
You know, now that I'm gone?
"Well, I think first of all, I don't know that there are free agents of that magnitude," Kasten answered. "And I wouldn't say we're going after the top tier guys right now. I guess we'll listen, but I think last year we made a conscious effort to improve our offense. I think we had some success there last year. This year we look to maybe add some veteran experience to our very very young pitching staff. So I don't see us going after the very top free agents, but I do think that next tier, there are a lot of names that interest us and if we can make a deal we'd like to do it. Really don't know if those things happen this week. I'm interested to watch whether it's a quick moving market or a slow one. We have two opinions on that, but I think we're prepared either way."
"Stan, this offseason the Nationals have been very aggressive in building up the scouting and professional scouting departments," Bowden said later. "You brought in one of the key guys with the Atlanta Braves for all those years in Roy Clark. Tell us a little bit about the additions that you've made to the front office and what impact you think they'll have, short and long term?"
"Well, we, uh, you know, this was, we had the new GM and he wanted to bring in his own staff," Kasten told the old GM. "As you know, Mike [Rizzo] is very much a pure old-style scout first. I think he's getting very adept at some of the newer kinds of analyses, the sabermetric stuff, but he really relies first and foremost on eyeball scouting impressions. I'd say overall when we make decisions, we're 65-35 or 70-30 in favor of scouting rather than the additional stuff, but the additional stuff's important too, so we brought on some real good administrators in addition to that. But by and large, we focused on bringing in the very best baseball observer talent that we could find, starting with Roy Clark. But we brought in, as you said, many many other guys, all of whom have that orientation. Lots of experience, and lots of success where they've been."
As opposed to? Nah, no cheap shots here. Moving right along.
"Stan, do you think there'll be a day that the Nationals payroll will be competitive with Atlanta, Philadelphia, in the division that you're in, or do you think it'll always be somewhere between Florida and the rest of the group in that division?" Bowden asked.
"No, no, I think there will come a day," Kasten said. "I think what we've been waiting to happen--and yes, it's taken a little longer than we all wanted it to happen--was to establish our base, build our base internally. And once we get that going and once we turn the corner as a team, hopefully based on young pitching, then as that happens we can certainly supplement. And unlike a lot of cities that try to build from the ground up, we're not gonna be like a lot of those other cities who really have limitations on revenue. I think we're a big revenue market ultimately. We're not maybe New York or L.A., but I think we're on that tier right below it, certainly enough to compete with anybody, and I do foresee the day that happens."
You know, it occurs to me that Bowden began every question with "Stan," but Kasten did not reciprocate. Anyhow.
"Stan, there were some reports that you all had interest in bringing John Smoltz to Washington to try to help develop all your young pitchers, because you have so many young pitchers," Bowden said. "Is that story true, and if so, what's the likelihood of you signing John Smoltz?"
"Well, you know, at this time of year every team's been associated with every other player who's available, so we can't talk about anything until there's a deal that happens," Kasten said, already treating Bowden like a regular old media member. "We'll have to see how those things develop. Yes, I'm a longtime fan and friend of John Smoltz. He impressed me with how he was able to come back last year. I thought he did really well, especially when he got to the National League. So I think he'd be a good addition, especially to a National League team, but it's way too early to predict how any of those things might turn out."
(Kasten also said that Stephen Strasburg has about two weeks to go before he'll be back to normal, that he would anticipate him spending some time in AA or AAA next year but that it's possible he would start in the bigs, and that he doesn't think the current economic climate will force his franchise to freeze payroll.
"I don't think we're in that situation right now," he said. "I think we can and are contemplating signing some guys to add to what we already have. We have a very young crop of pitching and they're coming. We don't which ones are gonna be the most successful, so we're gonna try to hold on to as much as we can, and maybe add a veteran or two at the top of the rotation, maybe add a veteran or two somewhere in the mix in the bullpen. And if we can do that by signing guys without giving anybody up, that's probably our preference, and I think we can do that. But I agree that most teams are not in that situation, most teams are looking to make either one for one trades or even drop off some salary.")
December 7, 2009; 2:59 PM ET
Categories: Media , Nats
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