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Looking back on a setback

I'm back this morning, still with a strange amount of energy, to sort through everything I missed, all the context I should have included, and all the insight I didn't have time to provide. Let's call this the unabridged Day-After Aaron Crow Page.

If you spot anything online today (from other media outlines, from Baseball America, etc.) that I missed, please post below in the comments section. Also, keep adding those comments. I'm fascinated to read your opinions about the Nats' final decision. Did they make a painful, but ultimately judicious, example of a kid asking for way too much? Did their own public emphasis on scouting/signing hand Crow too much leverage, which he turned against the team? Can a team stumbling through such a toxic year afford the PR hit of this decision? Will the situation with player demands be any different next year?

Anyway, let me start with this.

Last night was memorable and odd. The half-dozen or so writers and media members who stayed on at Nationals Park last night were all sitting around at about 11:57... 11:58... 11:59, just waiting. About 15 minutes after the deadline, still with no word of an outcome, a Nats PR assistant strode into the press box and said, "Let's go."

We took the elevator down to the third floor -- the team's executive offices.

We took seats in a conference room, tricked up with some jazzy memorabilia. (Stylized renderings of the stadium; a framed photo of Mayor Fenty with the Lerners; etc.)

We waited some more. Still no sign of Jim Bowden.

And I gotta admit, the tight deadlines and late hours had us all straddling the line between giddiness and insanity; it almost felt like a bunch of kids at a sleepaway camp. I'd already gotten an e-mail from Randy Hendricks, Crow's agent, explaining that the deal hadn't worked, but a part of me -- especially as the waiting built -- thought Aaron Crow would bust into the conference room, cape drawn around his back, fireworks bursting from the outdoor balcony, and the team would announce the kid as its starting pitcher for every game the rest of the season. Well, at 12:18 or so, at least according to my watch, another team publicist walked in and handed out a press release headlined by the fact that the team had signed outfielders Marcus Jones (Rd. 11) and J.P. Ramirez (Rd. 15).

And Aaron Crow?

Unmentioned.

That's how the team gave official word of its stunning stalemate with a 21-year-old pitcher.

About 20 minutes later, Bowden walked in. He kept his words stoic and soft, sucked of all energy; his manner reminded me of a medical examiner's.

We talked for less than 10 minutes. Much of what he said is included in the story I wrote for today's paper. It should be noted that, in the end, just three first-round picks this year didn't sign, but Crow was the highest of them. Six of the top 11 picks were locked up last night in frantic deals. The Nationals offered more to Crow than Baltimore gave to Brian Matusz, the fourth overall selection and the only pitcher picked higher than Crow.

[UPDATE, 9:40 a.m.]

I just received an e-mail from Randy Hendricks, one of Crow's advisors. I'll post it verbatim.

"Their final offer was not a major league contract. They had previously offered a major league contract at a much lower total number. They were the only team that let the difference of several hundred thousand dollars get in the way of signing their top pick."

By Chico Harlan  |  August 16, 2008; 9:22 AM ET
 
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Next: Thoughts on Crow, and not for the last time

Comments

Hendricks' comments are well known. Wishing the Nats hadn't drafted Crow is telling/tragic (for us). Crow's numbers and performance last year were amazing, but there is no way he was going to get his original demands from any team. I think Bowden and Nats mgmt wanted to take a stand for future draft picks to know we wont hand them a blank check.

Posted by: 756* | August 16, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Total failure by this ownership group. Their plan was to build through the draft and this is now a lost year. If Crow asked for too much money, they should have done their homework before they drafted him.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I gotta agree with JimBo here. Crow/Hendrick's were being greedy, plain and simple. Maybe (as I have read elsewhere) they really didn't want to play for the Nats and poisoned the deal from the beginning. But to a pitcher who has the potential to be really good, even great - 1 million shy here would be a drop in the bucket in 5 years.

If what Bowden said is true, that they didn't get a figure until earlier this week - I would question Hendricks' professionalism and his ability to do his job.

In business (at least in my experience) if two sides want to get a deal done, it get's done. Obviously, one of these guys didn't want a deal - and I don't suspect it was the Nats, especially after the final offer.

Posted by: CajunD | August 16, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Part me is not upset that they didn't sign crow, as I expect they'll take a pitcher and a position player with those 2 high picks next year. Only time will tell if crow is the real deal or not. But part of me also wonders why less than a million dollars was the sticking point? Cheap? Prudent? Savvy? Very mixed feelings about this.

Posted by: .390 | August 16, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Who cares about Crow or the Hendricks??? The bottom line is that the Nats had one chance to add first round level talent to this team this year and they lost that chance. Every other team except the Yanks managed to get their players signed, but the Lerners failed. No other team in the league has staked it's future on the draft as much as the Nats and the Lerners failed.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

It really stinks to lose out on a pitcher with Crow's potential, but I think he asked for too much -- WAY too much. And I think paying him what he asked would've set a horrible precedent for the Nats and all of baseball. I'd be very interested to hear why this kid wouldn't take a deal which was BETTER than Balto gave Matusz. Which was as good as any in this draft, it seems. That's frankly ridiculous. The Nats seemed to make him a very generous, more than competitive offer. Sometimes, even if you really want something, you just gotta say "no," and walk away.

Frankly, I hope Crow has an awful independent league year, and goes in the 10th round next year. Will serve him right, and serve notice to all the other kids who mandate "premium" or "out of the box" deals. Hmph.

Posted by: disappointed, but realistic | August 16, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

The Nats will once again be one of the most profitable teams in MLB next year. Even if attendance drops 25%, by keeping expenses low and prices high, operating income will continue to flow in. That was always the plan, that was the only plan.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

If you believe Bowden, the Nats offered Crow more, perhaps significantly more, than the O's gave to Brian Matusz at number four. Does the glorious fandom believe that the Nats have to sign a draftee, cost-no-object? Certainly not. But when the Nats are willing to eat the millions of dollars in contracts of FLop, PLod and Estrada, you do have to wonder why dollars measured in the hundreds of thousands keep us from signing Crow. Why does the slot matter THAT much? When we are talking about a guy who could be major league-ready next year? Sigh.

Posted by: Arlington Nats Fan | August 16, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Is there any chance, is there any shread of hope, that this team will improve in 2009? Our young players have a plan, wait out six years and then get out.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm from Philly originally, and we had a first round holdout in J.D. Drew many years ago. He's had an injury-riddled career, with only one or two really stand-out seasons. But as a draftee he demanded (and was offered) the richest contract ever (up to that point). He said no. And since then he has not had the kind of career that such demands would have expected.

Perhaps the same will happen with Crow. Some first round picks are busts, some are studs from Day One. But the kind of kid would would hold out and choose to play in Fort Worth rather than in a Big League farm system is not the kind of guy we need for our team.

Good riddance, Crow.

Posted by: Chris | August 16, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Screw the Lerners and their cheap ways. They can't fork over an extra $700,000? They are terrible owners and we have become a horrible franchise thanks to them.

What kind of plan are you building when you fail to sign top draft picks? Some kind of plan.

They are content with losing for many seasons to come.

Posted by: Section 111 (Formerly 223 @ RFK Stadium) | August 16, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I'm amazed that the Nats front office still have the gall to say they know how to handle the draft and contract signings. Kasten's recent comments should come back to haunt him now. Crow dropped to #9 for the very reason that other teams were concerned about his signability, so the Nats should have followed suit or known going in that a major league deal &/or very big # would be needed to sign him. All of the other teams signed their higher #1's this year, with several receiving major league deals and at least 3 receiving bonuses in the $6 million range. What makes the Nats think that they will be able to sign TWO top-10 picks in '09 when the price-tags for each could be even higher than Crow's with inflation? Bowden needs to be fired. I am fed up with his arrogance and increasingly frequent mishandling of contracts - how 'bout those great free agent signings of LoDuca & Estrada?? - Cordero is virtually certain to be gone in the off-season - when oh when will they finally sign Zimmerman to a long-term deal - & I bet his recent comment "there's nothing more to talk about" earlier this week really helped close the deal w/ Crow, right??

Posted by: RestonFan | August 16, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

The Nats were eventually going to have to hanky-slap a draft pick across the cheek at some point to stifle their burgeoning over-slot reputation.

Though unfortunate to lose out on a high draft pick, hopefully this duel will have restored a bit of their negotiating posture for the next time they need to throw hands.

Posted by: 1 of 9,000 | August 16, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I don't care about Crow. I care that the Nats have an unprofessional, amaturish major league team on the field and the management of the team is telling the fan base that the team is this bad because they are building the farm system, and yet were the ONLY TEAM with a top ten pick that did not sign.

If Crow was unreasonable (and it appears that he was), Bowden and Kasten should have done their research on his contract demands prior to drafting him, and chosen someone else with that number nine pick.

For this team to not sign its number one draft pick given the Snake Oil sold here is absolutely devastating and unforgivable.

Posted by: Ray | August 16, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Is there any chance, is there any shread of hope, that this team will improve in 2009? Our young players have a plan, wait out six years and then get out.


No, and our young players aren't really all that good other than Lannan. We will start from scratch next year with a new GM.

Posted by: Rick.Felt | August 16, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

It may surprise some but I do not see blame for Jimbo or Hendricks Bros. Hendricks are not stupid, I believe they listened to their client who told them just how he felt about being part of this organization. Jimbo had his hands tied and really does not have the skills to be anything but a bottom feeding GM. Going forward he or next GM will be facing a pitches like Crow who does not want to be a Nats. Look at the team and the System, where are your wins coming from? Can you blame crow, what is your future like if you get drafted by the Nats? How much of an upfront guarantee would you need to sign your career (at least many years of it) away to this organization failed execution? They can not even hire a MLB level hitting coach or fire a failed hitting coach ….it is just going to get worse from here, the tide is too great to swim against.

The problem is bigger than this Crow subset case. Nats have created a culture of losing and nobody wants to be a part of it. They have made bad move after bad move for going on 3 years of Lerner ownership. Tom L of the Times wrote about this ahead of time. Look at this team, if Crow was going to be part of this mess for what 5-7 years he was only going to do it for outrageous amounts of money up front.

I think Hendricks said it all....................I really wish Nats had not drafted Crow.

Posted by: JayB | August 16, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

JayB is 100% correct. It will take a decade to get rid of this perception of our organization. I wouldn't be surprised if Strasburg asks for double what Beckham received this year. And we won't give it to him. (But then we'll have 3 top 15's in 2010!!!!!!!!!!!!111!!!)

Posted by: Rick.Felt | August 16, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The team played games with their top pick and lost him. Just as there are agents that no team wants to deal with, Lerner has become an owner that no agent wants to deal with.

Hopes for improvement over the next 2-3 years have been all but extinguished.

Enjoy the Tuesday t-shirts, Friday parties, Saturday movies, and Sunday kids days. Enjoy visiting teams taking over our ballpark. Enjoy Build-a-Bear, video games, and batting cages. Enjoy the cherry trees and what's left of the view of the city. Enjoy smiling past the smirks when wearing Nats gear around DC or out of town.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"The Nats have created a culture of losing and nobody wants to be a part of it."

Posted by: The Bottom Line | August 16, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I'll be there tonight with bags on

Posted by: Rick.Felt | August 16, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I get such enjoyment out of reading some of these posts. The Nats said they would put an emphasis on the draft, they never said they would make stupid decisions. There's two things I'd really like to know: why would you pay the #9 player more than the #4 draftee? Second, can I come house hunting with some of you sometime? I'd really love to listen to your discussion with the real estate agent. You're willing to pay any price. It doesn't matter what the neighborhood, what the other houses are selling for, or the condition of the property. Whatever the owner asks for, that's what you'll pay. Not only that, you'll deliberately pay more than you think the property is worth. Forgive me, I fail to see the logic. Then again, it's always easy to spend someone else's money, which is what the naysayers are doing. They'll waste 700k or 5 million because the Lerners can afford it. Isn't that special? The day you buy a house or a car you cannot afford, please let me know so I can come laugh at you for a change.

Posted by: grf15 | August 16, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

@grf15

You have this backwards....The Nats are trying to sell a house here in the big picture......and if your looking for a house, I want to sell to you....

Posted by: JayB | August 16, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Let me put this in a context that the Lerners can understand.

We expected, you promised White Flint

What we have, you have delivered Landover Mall

(In the current condition)
http://groups.msn.com/dcgrocery/landovermall.msnw


Jim Bowden is to blame for this end result. He established the dynamics that told Crow and his agents that the National were so desperate and needed something so big to erase such monumental mistakes that they could play hardball chicken. So far everything that Jim has touched, has blown up in our faces and he tells us don’t worry its part of the PLAN.

BTW Crow you are not off the hook. Just to get to the point quickly, in this town you will be thought of when ever one smells something funky in the air.

WE the FANS, are being treated by Bowden, Kasten and the Lerners with the same respect that a carny has for their customer/mark.

Posted by: CBinDC | August 16, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Free agents are too expensive for the Lerners, draft picks are too expensive for the Lerners, foreign based prospects are no longer an option now that the FBI has stopped the kick-backs. 28 other teams made deals with their picks, are the Lerners going to start following the Steinbrenner model?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Which contender is Zimmerman going to eventually sign with? Most contenders have better hitting 3B than him so he might actually stick around.

Posted by: Rick.Felt | August 16, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Cool...

On STUBHUB I can buy seats in my section, first row no less, well in front of my season ticket seats for less than half the price paid......It seems I am the stupid one here....

Well played Stan!

Posted by: JayB | August 16, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

>Free agents are too expensive for the Lerners, draft picks are too expensive for the Lerners, foreign based prospects are no longer an option now that the FBI has stopped the kick-backs.<

I appreciate you doing all my typing today, Anonymous Source. I really do. Nobody wants to play here. The word's out. It's a real drag when multi-billionaires reach for excuses not to spend money. I heard Buster Posey (6.2 million) got almost twice what we offered from the Giants. And Magowan paid for his own stadium.

Posted by: Brue | August 16, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

From Baseball America....

Nats No Go On Crow, Sign Ramirez Instead

Posted Aug. 15, 2008 11:19 pm by John Manuel
Filed under: Signings

The Nationals signed 15th round pick J.P. Ramirez, a lefthanded-hitting outfielder with a smooth stroke and a Tulane commitment, for $1 million.

Ramirez is a solid consolation prize, but the Nats missed on their top pick. Washington failed to sign Missouri righthander Aaron Crow, according to industry sources. One source indicated the Crow camp, led by his agents the Hendricks Brothers, dropped their demands to $4 million from the $8-$10 million range, and that the Nationals came up from slot to $3.3 million, but that the two sides ran out of time and wiggle room and couldn’t work out a compromise.

Posted by: leetee1955 | August 16, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

grf15 lets take your house analogy one step further. If you only have a chance to bid on one house, do you make that bid on a house whose owners are going to demand three times market value?

JayB I think you may be right. Crow didn't want to play here because we are the laughing stock of the league. Sad, but true.

Posted by: Ray | August 16, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Where are all the critics of Crow's "inverted M" delivery? It seems that some of the people who were upset when we drafted him are now upset that we didn't sign him.

Do you really pay $4 million bonus to a kid who has never retired a major league hitter (the Big 12 ain't that great of a baseball conference anymore either)? If so, what do you pay a Sabbathia or Santana?

Asking for $9 million originally? Sounds like his arm is hurting already.

Posted by: lowcountry | August 16, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Hendricks is the only agent that was not competent enough to get the job done and close the deal for a top 10 pick. He is obviously in over his head. His poor counseling to his client resulting in the following.

His 20-year old client:
Walks away from $3.5 million
Risks possibly injury over the next year with his mechanically flawed delivery
Risks being drafted lower/later
Risks being drafted by a team holding to the MLB slot (at at lower draft position)
Delays entry to ML by another year - where the real money is
Removes the holdout leverage for next year - not too likely someone would be foolish enough to pass on a deal two years in a row and totally set back their career - negotiation advantage to the drafting team

The Nats played the negotiation effectively from a strict financial perspective. However, they are not marketing minded. Their mindset is a result of their business success. Real Estate development is a product-driven endeavor (supply-side). Keep costs low and squeeze out the revenue.

However, running a baseball business is a marketing endeavor. You need to build interest in your product (demand-side). This appears to be a foreign concept as evidenced by their actions:
Put an accountant in charge from the start - resulting in paychecks held from scouts
Not adding the minor league roving batting instructor
Not marketing aggressively to the one of the richest counties in the country (Fairfax)
Overpricing their seating pricing, instead of building a following then raising prices in subsequent years when demand will support the pricing
Failing to fill the seats behind home plate, which gives the TV viewer the impression that no one is attending the game
Suing the City - biting the hand that feed them - technically correct from a construction contract perspective (maybe) but a public relations nightmare

Now they fail to close the deal on a number one draft choice - high visibility - and a shortcoming understood by even the marginal fan - they just lost another segment of their market. Their credibility has certainly taken a hit. Stan Kasten can no longer refer to the "Build through the minor league Plan" with the same acceptance by the public. His words will ring hollow with many fans. The $800,000 they saved in salary will cost millions in marketing dollars (or loss in attendance) to gain back the trust and following they just lost.

The problem is that they still don't get it. They don't think in marketing terms. They are supply-minded, not demand-minded. They see marketing efforts as an expense rather than a means to generate income.

Unless they reevaluate their strengths and weaknesses; hire, give power and budget to a qualified marketing manager; they will bump along the same way as Angelos and the Orioles.

Posted by: Scott | August 16, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Kudos to Scott -- your assessments are accurate. As loathesome as I occasionally find Larry Lucchino, he would be just right for D.C.; he knows the area and how to market his brand.

Posted by: Vincent | August 16, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Hendricks Bros have been doing business successfully and with honor (for the nature of their business at least) for a long time. I spent years in Houston a long time ago watching them work (as did both Ray Knight and Sutton who seemed to back up my opinion on TV last night).

Crow did not want to get involved with Nationals organization unless he was overpaid upfront. Hendricks just did their job and listened to their client. Fault lays with the culture created by poor execution of a plan. The plan did not need to produce a culture of failure at the MLB level, but the execution of the plan did lead to what Tom L. of the times wrote about before this latest failure. It is much bigger than Lenny Harris and D. Young, or Jimbo and Stan....it is everywhere at all times......It is "your Washington Nationals'!

Posted by: JayB | August 16, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Chico - one for you since you are trading email w/ the Hendricks brothers - is it a fact that the Hendricks didn't send the Nats an offer until the middle of this week?

And 2 - Crow CANNOT go back to NCAA baseball. Right? He signed a contract to play professional baseball with the Ft. Worth Cats that kills his senior year of NCAA Baseball eligibility.

And 3 - can you ask the Hendricks what 10% of an independent league contract works out to be? Is it over $150?

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | August 16, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Draft his ass again next year. Then offer him less than half.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Such panic, such froth!! The NATS future was not, is not, and will not be tied to signing any one player. I guess I am not reading the same NFA Reports for Across the Affiliates that some posters on this are. The reports I read suggest that our bats and pitchers are coming along well. As for the future, I do not presume to know it, again as others seem to. You all should play Power Ball, you will be rich. As for Crow, only time will tell. But a question, why did Crow and his vaunted "honerable" agents think he was ever going to get 8 million in the first place?

Posted by: Sec 204 Row K Seat 11 | August 16, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Sec 204 - There is not one (deserving) future all star in our minor leagues. There are a ton of decent pitchers but nothing that wows you. The position players in the system are overhyped by the nats' spin team.

Posted by: Rick.Felt | August 16, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad that Jimbo said no. I don't want Crow's or Drew's et. al. on this team. I am sure he'll do something this fall to redeem himself.

Stay the course. At age 52, this waiting for the future has more of an effect on me than you nubile babies. Still, it's the right thing to do.

Posted by: The Beltway Boy | August 16, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

ok -- we've had the trade deadline, gotten rid of some dead weight and brought up some new guys. The draft signing deadline is past also. We have used the disabled list more than any team in baseball should ever even have to think about.We have lost a laughable number of games.What's left? A spoiler role at the end of the season AGAIN, more rookies? Is there a mercy rule? Even though things are pretty dark right now for the natties, I am still glad we dumped the dead weight, I like the young guys, I love the new park and I am thrilled that I have the option of attending major league baseball games in the summer. Hope springs eternal. Go Nats - let's win a few more, give the rookies some experience and start climbing out of the abyss for 2009!

Posted by: masnstinks | August 16, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

grf15 lets take your house analogy one step further. If you only have a chance to bid on one house, do you make that bid on a house whose owners are going to demand three times market value?

Posted by: does the term "foreclosure" ring a bell? | August 16, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

From the previous thread -

Jeb wrote:

"The Lerner's and Nats management are missing the BIG PICTURE. The failure to sign Crow, the only top-ten first round pick not to sign, is a sign that ownership is not willing to spend the money to put a decent team on the field. With the grossly inept team they fielded this season, the Nats owe the fans something to feel good about, to give us hope for 2009. The Lerner's are, as Kasten once prophesized, "cheap bastards"."


---

I think you have it exactly backwards. The outcome of one contract negotiation is not indicative of the 'big picture'. I think everyone can agree that Crow's demands were outliers among this year's (and every year's) first round draft choices. He wanted more than EVERYONE ELSE, yet he wasn't even the first chosen or the most highly regarded. He made no effort to show that he actually wanted to play in DC. The Nats made him a generous (probably too generous, by my standards, but as many have pointed out, the difference is chump change) offer. By your logic, the Nats should have just signed him, regardless of price.

Every other significant player with whom the Nats have negotiated was signed, many for above-slot money. The Nats made an above-slot offer to Crow. Seems to me that Crow's negotiations were so far out of the box that they wouldn't be in anyone's 'big picture'.

The real test of the Nats will be when they enter into negotiations for a "Must Have" free agent or draft pick. Finishing 30th this year will insure that event happens no later than next August.

Talk to me then about cheap.

Posted by: Wigi | August 16, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

So let me get this straight: Bowden makes Crow an offer that is the HIGHEST made to any pitcher in this year's draft. The Highest. Market leading. More than anyone. And because the greedy little snowflake with the suspect arm on the receiving end of the offer believes he is entitled to get more and says no, this is somehow the Nats fault.

It sounds like Crow's agents told Bowden before the draft that it'd take a major league deal. Well the Nats offered that. If they'd paid Crow as much as he'd been asking for, though, it would have been a sign to everyone the Nats draft next season that this is an organization that can be bullied. It would have also been a sign to prospects that the sky's the limit when getting the Nats to go over slot. If they want to keep building through the draft -- something they've done really well at since they've come to Washington -- they COULDN'T give in to Crow's demands without giving up the future.

Ask yourselves: Do you want Crow this year, or do you want Strasburg and a bunch of additional prospects next year? The one was directly linked to the other. I think the call Jimbo made was 100% correct, as the best move for the future of this organization.

Posted by: Deep Fried Screech | August 16, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Look at the bright side. Bonafacio has whiffed 21 times in 61 at-bats. He also has no business hitting right-handed in the major leagues.
Seriously, if the Lerners are going to demand that injured players stay on the active roster just so they don't have to call up another player and pay him a major league salary, then why would they be prone to investing in the second-best pitcher in the draft?

I mean - not calling players up to save money? I couldn't even imagine doing that. Maybe in the old days when owners didn't have any revenue sharing or TV money, but not when you're a multi-billionaire.

Posted by: Brue | August 16, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

please stop beating me -- you have nothing more to add that has not been said "ad nauseum" a thousand times. It's over - get over it. Somebody, please, a new subject. How about a superlative contest:
Who is the worst pitcher on the team?
Who is the worst hitter?
Who is the slowest runner?

My answers -- Colome, Bonifacio, one of the pitchers, we're not too slow anymore without DY and plod.

Posted by: deadhorse | August 16, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

It ain't even close to being over, it's only just begun. The Lerners failure to sign their top pick will haunt this team for years.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Looking at Hendricks' comments to Chico: First, I don't know if I believe him, based on how the negotiations apparently went. Second, if it is true that the Nats big money number wasn't made in conjunction with a ML deal, I feel like if the Nats had agreed to Crow's number, he probably would have balked and tried to force an ML deal also. I just don't think there was anything that anyone in the organization could have done, without being exceedingly stupid, to get Crow here.

Posted by: Cavalier | August 16, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

A year or two ago in this blog I was accused of hating the Lerners. I replied that I have no hatred for them, I just want them to spend more money on this team. Now I hate them. I absolutely despise the cheap bstards.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Two things: 1) If both sides are telling the truth, the Nats were right. Crow was simply asking for way too much.

2) A historical note: in 1990 the Braves had the first overall pick in the draft and wanted Todd Van Poppel, but he made it clear he wouldn't sign. Instead, they went to their second option: Chipper Jones.

Moral of the story: maybe the final decision you make is the best one. Let's hope the other picks turn out to be good ones, and fast.

Posted by: baltova | August 16, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Man, a lot of you are just moonlighting Redskins fans who really don't understand how baseball works and think the draft is as important as it is in the NFL. Sorry, doesn't work that way. The MLB draft is basically a crapshoot and a lot of first-rounders never pan out (and a lot of extreme late-rounders become stars). Losing Crowe doesn't make a whole lot of difference.

And he's hardly a referendum on Bowden (I'm no fan, btw) or the Lerners; he clearly is pretty much just a greedy jerk who just torpedoed his professional career. There aren't a whole lot of examples of kids who used this negotiating tactic, went to an independent league team, and eventually turned into major leaguers. The odds that he hurts his arm are far higher.

Please don't loose sight of the bigger picture: This team was stripped bare by MLB and has basically been an expansion team, left with so-so players and a gutted minor league system until the past couple of years. It's going to take time--and PATIENCE--to rebuild it, and that's going to include some pain until all the pieces are in place (and Crowe was hardly the key piece).

All you angry fair-weather fans who are talking about canceling your season tickets? Please do, so the rest of us can move up to better seats and be in them when this team becomes a strong contender in 2011--right on schedule with the much-maligned Plan.

Posted by: Eyewitness | August 16, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Boy there is a lot of venom here especially from anon posters.

The Nats offered the guy more than any other pitcher taken in the draft. They apparently offered him his major league contract. They were willing to pay well over slot. All this for a kid who has never pitched in a professional game.

And somehow they are cheap? The mistake they made was drafting Crow. This guy obviously was unreasonable. His agents failed him miserably. He either didn't want to play here or just thought the Nats would cave to their demands.

I am glad we didn't. If you want to much money and are unreasonable I am glad you are gone. If you didn't want to be here in the 1st place glad you are gone.

We get two 1st round draft picks. My only worry is that we have little leverage on the replacement pick for Crow sincewe lose it if we don't sign the person.

My take is good riddance to Crow. It is a shame, but if he is stupid enough to put his future at risk over unreasonable demands then so be it. It can be argued that the Nats shouldn't have drafted him, but they made him a more than fair offer.

Good luck in the Independent league kid. Enjoy the big show

Posted by: NatsVerse | August 16, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Scott - you made your case well. Nice post, even if I'm less down on what transpired.

I was one of the "inverted W" posters skeptical about Crow. I find it hard to be too upset if they did offer more than what Matusz received. I don't know of anyone who said this guy was better than Matusz.

The failure to sign the #1 pick does not mean the team has failed to have a successful draft and failed to commit to building a deep organization. How many of the top 20 did they sign? This is not the NBA, where 2d round picks seldom are stars, or even the NFL, where I think the last 8th round pick to make a pro bowl, Troy Brown, has just not had his contract picked up again. We've been ignoring the good news of their two other signings yesterday. They have not deviated from trying to build a deep system.

The Hendricks brothers are high stakes players and have gotten incredible deals for some of their clients, like Roger Clemens. I don't see how the kid makes up the lost year financially. A year earlier to arbitration, a year earlier to free agency. Does he get a major league contract next year? What leverage will he have? (That's not a rhetorical - I really don't know what he does if he does not like his contract next year). Does he go to a team where he could realistically be in the majors the year after being drafted? (most likely yes if he is still a high pick and goes to a team without a stacked rotation). If he can't get a major league contract and goes to a less needy team, then he has lost a lot of money. The $700 - 900 K difference in the offer and asking price is coming out of his pocket in multiples in the long run.

I feel so - what is the word? - Flynnie.

Posted by: PTBNL | August 16, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

>We get two 1st round draft picks. My only worry is that we have little leverage on the replacement pick for Crow since we lose it if we don't sign the person.<

Ya think?? Wait until Strasburg asks for $20 million, and has Lloyd's of London insure his arm for $5 million, how much leverage do you think the Nats will have then? Will Strasburg have 'asked too much'? They all ask too much, problem is, there wasn't any reasonable dialogue until 11:40 pm last night. Who's fault is that?


Posted by: Brue | August 16, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Chris - it's funny, but JD Drew's 5 year, $14 million a year contract looks very reasonable now. Wish I coudl say the same about Julio Lugo.

Posted by: PTBNL | August 16, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

It's strange I'm not angry about this, just sad I guess. There are no winners, only losers. We lose a talented pitcher and a year of devlopment, Crow will likely big the biggest loser, but time will tell how smart he was to refuse to sign.

The biggest mistake I see was the negotiation not starting until 11:40pm (according to JimBow) not leaving enough time for a deal to be worked out.

I think Crow signing with Ft. Worth and the comments by his agents about knowing what Crow's demands are were meant to try to shame or bully the Nats into signing a deal that wasn't in line with the draft.

The biggest thing that sticks in my mind is the agents comments that if the Nats weren't going to meet his demands they shouldn't have drafted him. What is the point of awarding draft picks based on performance if the draftees have the ability to defy MLB's intent and force lower revenue clubs to pass on the best players?

I had hoped we'd have 4-5 unsigned first rounders so maybe MLB would get serious about reforming the MLB draft process so that it worked to promote competitiveness. Otherwise they should scrap the draft and make all amateur players FA and let the Yankees buy 23 more championships...of course we'll probably have to contract 10-15 ballclubs, but they wouldn't be worth watching anyway!

Posted by: estuartj | August 16, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Estuartj - the Hendricks comment reflects agents' desire to have the top talent drafted only by "Evil Empires." If Hendricks and Boras can get teams to pass on the high level talent, then those players fall to NYY, Detroit, NYM, Boston, etc. . . The Craig Hansen phenomena.

There is a legit question whether a team in this market should deploy the area's financial strength more aggressively. Not necessarily market leaders but top third. Where I differ a bit from the LAC / JayB / Brue crowd is I'm not yet ready to make the judgment that the team in long run will be cheap. I look at the payroll cycle of teams building from the bottom and building on youth and I do not see the Republic of LernerStan as being that far out of line in their spending at this stage. I will be disappointed if they fail to expand payroll up to the $65 / $70 million range next year and do not buy out some of their younger player's arbitration years, but I am not there yet.

Posted by: PTBNL | August 16, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Who's fault is that?

Posted by: whose | August 16, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

on first

Posted by: who's | August 16, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Did the Nationals sign Ramirez & Jones as a direct result of the failed Crow negotiations? Or were their signings ($1 mil to Ramirez, guessing $500K for Jones) part of the original Nationals draft budget?

Based on Bowden's comments regarding the $3.5 mil offered Crow, the Nats should have anywhere between $2-$3.5 mil available to acquire more young talent. Will the team use it now on international free agents? Or will the Nationals use the budgeted Crow money on next years compensation pick and choose not to adjust the 2009 draft budget?


I'm disheartened. Crow could have been the staff ace or he may well never reach the majors. Crow negotiations may have been fair or unfair. Doesn't really to matter to me either way. I don't really care if the Hendricks' or the Nats were to blame for Ft Worths newest player.

Signing Crow would have offered hope. Not on a grand scale, but still a small glimmer of future promise during a moribund season. Right now, future promise is all the Nationals have to offer. As the Nationals, for whatever reason, continue to fall short of realizing their future promise, I continue to lose hope in the team.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | August 16, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"The Nats have created a culture of losing and nobody wants to be a part of it."

That's exactly on point. Crow was asking for a loser's premium. I do not blame Bowden for not signing him; I do question why he was drafted by the Nats in the first place. If they truly had a member of the organization at every one of his games, did any of them ever talk to him?? Between the mechanical flaw, and his over-inflated sense of his worth, this seems like a truly dumb choice.

Well folks, we better prepare for a real blood bath at draft time next year. Because Stephan Strasburg has said that he'd love to pitch for his hometown Padres, and he is being "advised" at this point by Scott Boras.....

Posted by: NovaNat | August 16, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Deep Fried Screech is 100% right on it. For all of you fools screaming the Lerners are cheap bastards, they are . . . but they damn sure haven't been in signing picks for the plan. They went over slot a lot.

When I read that stupid quote from Hendricks that the Nats lost Crow for a few hundred thou, my thoughts were exactly opposite. It's Hendricks that put Crow in Ft Worth delaying his FA timing by another year, keeping him off a MLB team and away from MLB level pitching instruction all for a few hundred thou. And if Crow was behind that, then he's got a lot of growing up to do. And he just got his first lesson. Instead of having $3.5 mil in the bank, he's headed to Ft. Worth where he'd better be a LOT better than he was in college. Status quo for him is not getting it done re: getting picked higher than 9th next year. In fact he's ALREADY the second pitcher taken next year, at best!

Lerners (read Lerners, not Jimbo) had a limit. It was $3.5 mil and a roster spot for the SECOND pitcher in the draft. That money would have put him in the 4th spot in draft bonuses, not 9th. That would have put him ahead of Matusz. That is more than enough for Crows college talent. The Nats did more than enough to get this done. If true, Hendricks comes in in the last 1/2hr down from a fantasy $8-9 mil down to a wet dream $4.4 he's disingenuous about what the Nats didn't do. Contrary to a lot of anonymous posts on this board the Lerners are looking at the big picture.

I'm no Jimbo backer but to say he blew this is nonsense. You really think Jimbo didn't want to hand Crow the nonsensical $4.4 and come out today like the popinjay he really is? Hell no, he takes orders from his boss like everyone else.

It's tough to swallow but the Nats did the right thing last night.

Posted by: Johnny Baconbitz | August 16, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Jon Heyman on Mitchell Report losers:

2. Clemens' agents, the Hendricks brothers. They don't have a massive stable anymore, but clients Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton all made the report. The Hendricks brothers also issued Clemens' most recent impossible denial.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/jon_heyman/12/19/scoop.wednesday/index.html

Posted by: fun fact | August 16, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I am not so much a "Lerners are cheap" person as I am Lerners do not know what they are doing with respect to baseball.

The combination of the Lerners lack of knowledge of the business and the just plain stupidity of keeping your GM because little Lerner likes him is much of the problem.....Teams win on the cheap every year...it might be much harder but if you are smart about how you spend, it is done every year.

Nats are not smart about running the team, not so much they are soooooo cheap. Keeping Jimbo over 2 years ago because new to baseball ownership likes him is all you need to know here.

Posted by: JayB | August 16, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Two things:

1) A similar group of venom was spit a few yrs ago on this board bemoaning the fact that we didnt re-sign ALFONSO SORIANO. Result? We got the pick and eventually drafted our top prospect (J. Zimmermann - who will be called up Sept 1).

2) Lets go back to the draft: Bowden had a list of players he thought he could draft in the Top 9 or whatever... 8 of them were gone... the only guy left was CROW. What are you gonna do, draft a "lesser" talent? Pass up on the kid they think can be dominant? He is a talent evaluator...he took the best kid.

This has little to do w/ the Lerners...they are businessmen who are building a franchise on the advice of a GM and a voiceless president... Pick on Jim/Dana/Rizzo...not the Lerners

Posted by: Matt | August 16, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Who the heck does crow think he is? Catfish Hunter – ok I am dating myself here. Wanting to break signing bonuses way above slot and way above higher draft picks. The Nats and JimBo did the right thing. If you are held hostage, you don’t negotiate – you pull the trigger. Shoot – bum – gone. Crowe – or his handlers did themselves a disservice: less money next year!

Posted by: johnbear948 | August 16, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Keep Bowden and I am through for good. Now? I just don't care anymore. I couldn't care less about watching three or four 23 year olds plus deadweight and career minor leaguers.

Wake me up when they succesfully field a talented team.

Posted by: Andrew Stebbins | August 16, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Johnbear, you don't just walk away from your FIRST OVERALL PICK because of a 700k-900k difference. You try to meet in the middle even more...and then more, until you SIGN THE PLAYER.

The Nationals let their FIRST PICK get away because they are...cheap. I said it. I don't care they gave their 15th rounder $1 million (couldn't that have gone to Crow? What happened to slotting in the 15th round?!?) I care they were too late to sign their #1 SELECTION.

Posted by: Andrew Stebbins | August 16, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I stopped visiting extremeskins.com to talk about the 'Skins because of a pervasive, the-sky-is-falling take on things; now I'm seeing the trend here, too. I've stuck by the 'Skins for the bad years, and I'll be there for the good ones.

I feel much the same about this team. They're awful, yes. But they're our awful. I'm not saying that folks shouldn't demand good teams, nor am I saying that we should be happy about what we're seeing. However, one unsigned draft pick, or one (several) free agent flops doesn't set the team back decades.

The team has accepted some of its mistakes (LoDuca, Lopez, Estrada), called up some youngsters and is working for the future. I think that if the team could have stayed healthy and ended up with this lineup for most of the year

Guzman
Belliard
Zimmerman
Johnson
Dukes
Milledge
Flores
Kearns

they would be in a much better place. However, the injury bug bit hard and it wasn't to be.

I'll keep watching, and keep cringing when Bonifacio can't get a bat on the ball, or Kearns looks at a called third strike or Zimmerman swings through a fastball on 3-2. But I'm also going to think about the future when I see Bonifacio leg out a double on a bloop hit behind third, or Kearns makes a great read on a would-be double down the line and guns out a runner at second, or Zimmerman makes an unbelieveable glove play and slings one across the diamond to get a runner by a half step.

There are flashes from this team. They aren't necessarily frequent, but they're there if you chose to see them. If not, you're going to be a rather miserable Nats fan for the rest of this season.

Posted by: Cavalier | August 16, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

First and foremost a single draft choice does not make or break a draft. The Nats are one of the few teams that signed all their picks except Crow in the first 13 rounds. The Yankees could not sign their top pick either. Pitchers are also the worst investment in drafting.....Look at the following years 1st Round picks and where those pitchers can end up and the outcome of each....

2000....Justin Wayne (RHP)...Out of baseball
2001....Joshua Karp (RHP)....Out of baseball
2002....Clint Everts (RHP)....Potomac Nationals....stuck in minors.
2003....Chad Codero (RHP)....Couple of fun years, but may never play ball again.
2004....Billy Bray (LHP)....Will never be more then a good middle reliever.
2005....No pitcher until the 6th Round...but in 11th round came John Lannan.
2006....Colton Willems (RHP)....Great potential, ok season this year at Low-A Hagerstown. Also that year Nats failed to sign 2nd round pick Sean Black no one said much.
2007....Ross Detwiler (RHP)....Poor showing this year at High-A Potomac.Josh Smoker....Poor showing all around this year in the minors.
2008....Aaron Crow....please consider several factors, he will be 22 in Nov., his mechanics need alot of work, which he will not get in Ft. Worth. He loses a year of development which is crucial to developing pitchers. So his chances of being a top level starter was really 33% barring injury, development, mechanics, his willingness to work hard. If the Nats had signed him to a ML contract with lots of money...If he turns out to be a dud everyone here would be going crazy for his taking a spot on the MLB roster and spending all that cash on an untested kid.

The people who want to hate Bowden for everything would have gone just as crazy if he had given in to those demands.

The same is for Bonifacio. Complaining about his lack of hitting. But the Nats got faster and better defensively because of him and became the youngest team in the majors. We don't have to watch FLo run through the motions and not try.

Posted by: sazzwho | August 16, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

So now it's a he said/he said kind of thing. I really don't care. The odds of this kid turning out to be an Ace were no better than 50/50 anyway, I don't care how good his stuff was in college. The mlb aint college. Spend the money on a quality FA and put this bad taste behind. It does no good to mull this over any longer, its over. Move forward. Onward and upward I say, there is no more room to fall anyway.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 16, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

First, this has not been a good year for the Hendricks Bros. This failure to get their client signed will have more affect on them than the Nats.
Second, I am surprised I haven't seen the word ego in any of the comments.
Third, baseball people outside of DC are applauding the Nats for holding firm.
Fourth, you can bet signability will be a primary criteria in next year's draft for the Nats. That will be the only affect on the Nats in future drafts. There are plenty of outstanding players that want to sign.
Finally, Brian at NFA is right the draft process is broken. This is just one more example on a long list of problems.

Posted by: Tom | August 16, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I believe the inability to sign Crow makes it imperative that the Nats sign a free agent that can help the team next year. The team has taken a PR hit and taken a hit to the plan to add to their talent base. Signing a quality player in the off season will go a along in addressing both of those "hits".

Posted by: Cabraman | August 16, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"The people who want to hate Bowden for everything would have gone just as crazy if he had given in to those demands"

Highly doubtful. If anything, agreement to Crow's terms would have further supported the Nationals claim to invest in player development and build from within.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | August 16, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

This is truly an embarrassment. The only selling point this team has is its future, and not signing Crow signals to fans and players that the team doesn't care about that either. I'm sure there is plenty of blame on both sides in the negotiations, but the bottom line is that the Nationals must be willing to overpay to send a signal to the market that things will get better. It's what the Tigers had to do, and it's what the Royals are doing now (e.g., Meche, Hosmer, Melville). The Nats will never have the luxury of paying market price until this place is a desirable place to play.

If you think the Nats are being cheap, then return the favor....don't go to games, or if you've already purchased tickets, don't spend money in the ballpark. ...and let them know what you're doing.

Posted by: vaclipper | August 16, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

A line-up of:
Guzman
Belliard
Zimmerman
Johnson
Dukes
Milledge
Flores
Kearns

...is not what we want. Granted we'd have a few more wins, two of those guys aren't deserving of starting roles, and two more of them have never stayed healthy.

The Lerners have cut payroll ... failed to sign the main ingredient to the plan ... have said they aren't going after any free agent bats ... we have no legitimate hitting prospects that are close to being ready ...

WE ARE SCREWED!!! Expect more 100 loss seasons, high ticket prices, and more of the racing presidents/clint. Hey the mallmakers of america - the lerners - are happy, as we fans keep coughing up cash to them.

It's not a good time to be a Nats fan. I'm sorry to say but I can't forsee when it will be.

Posted by: Section 111 | August 16, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I have mixed feelings about all of this. Last year at this time we were all virtually high-5ing each other because the same group of people signed all of their first 20 picks including over slot signings and some creative solutions (McGeary). Seems to me that the same group of people are not suddenly unable to be creative. Crow and his agents were asking for more than the 1st pick in the draft and claiming not to be willing to negotiate from that until just before deadline. I am a contract negotiator for a living. That is the tactic I would use if I wanted to put someone off until I signed with someone else or in this case until I avoid a media meltdown.

It seems that they never wanted to sign here and that does not bode well for the future. On the other hand, the Nats seem to have negotiated in good faith. They offered him 10% more than Matusz (who EVERY evaluator had ranked higher than Crowe) and who was drafted 5 slots higher.

Those of you who said that we should have known better since his demands were high from day one are not taking a global view. Smoak, Alonzo, Beckham, Posey and Crow ALL said that they wanted the moon. We were unlucky enough to sign the guy who was willing to walk away from the stars to keep hoping for the moon.

I'm glad we get 2 top 10s next year, but Stasburg will be very expensive. The LernerStans better start saving their pennies...

For now, we are in first place in the Strasburg sweepstakes. I love the koolaid...

Posted by: NatsWin! | August 16, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad we get 2 top 10s next year, but Stasburg will be very expensive. The LernerStans better start saving their pennies...

For now, we are in first place in the Strasburg sweepstakes. I love the koolaid...

Posted by: NatsWin! | August 16, 2008 3:11 PM

==============

Solid post, but what makes you think the Lerners will fork over the cash needed? Just because they have signed a few prospects/draft picks overslot, still doesn't change my opinion of them as cheap.

Posted by: Dagger | August 16, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

And now for something completely different (congrats for former Nat Marlon!):

Texas Rangers outfielder Marlon Byrd, who had multi-hit performances in six of his seven games played last week, has been named the Bank of America Presents the American League Player of the Week for the period ending August 10th. Bank of America, the Official Bank of Major League Baseball, is the presenting sponsor of the American League and National League Player of the Week Awards, which reflect the company's long-standing tradition of recognizing achievements that inspire us all to seize opportunities to perform at our very best.

4th. The next night, Byrd went 3-for-4 with three runs and two stolen bases in an 8-6 win over New York. Byrd continued his hot hitting at Baltimore over the weekend, going 8-for-13, including Sunday's 4-for-6 performance, featuring a double, a three-run homer and four RBI. Byrd, who is in his seventh Major League season, is batting .286 with eight home runs and 31 RBI on the season. This marks the first career weekly award for Marlon Byrd.

Last week, Byrd hit .571 (16-28) with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. The 30-year-old outfielder posted a .929 slugging percentage along with a .625 on-base percentage. During a four-game home series against the New York Yankees, Marlon went 8-for-15, which included a two-out, bottom of the ninth, walk-off grand slam on August Other nominees considered were Raul Ibañez (.355, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 12 RBI) of the Seattle Mariners, Carlos Quentin (.391, .957 SLG, 1 2B, 4 HR, 6 RBI) of the Chicago White Sox, Melvin Mora (.500, .909 SLG, 3 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI) of the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians pitcher Cliff Lee (2-0, 1.20 ERA, 15.0 IP).

Tourneau, the world's largest watch store, will supply Marlon Byrd with a luxury Swiss Tourneau timepiece, suitably engraved, in recognition of his achievement as player of the week.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 16, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I am not saying...I am HOPING!

Posted by: NatsWin! | August 16, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

111--

I wasn't in any way saying that lineup was the ideal. What I was saying is that lineup would have produced more wins, had they been playing together from day one, than the patchwork quilt of a lineup Manny has had to throw out there every night.

Posted by: Cavalier | August 16, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Dang! I meant "congrats to," of course. Anyway, he always seemed like a good guy and I am happy for Byrd.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 16, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Natsfan1a - In the spirit of many posts today, I'll point out that Byrd injured himself trying to catch Willy Aybar's homer last night. My guess is he's day to day.

Posted by: PTBNL | August 16, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

No Cavalier I wasn't trying to offend you and I know what you were saying. I'm just looking at that line-up knowing yeah we should a few more wins than we have this year, but we can't rely (and shouldn't) on that type of line-up.

Posted by: Section 111 | August 16, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I don't frequent extremeskins.com, Cavalier, but I understand where you're coming from, as I've observed the same phenomenon in baseball forums (as well as the associated degeneration into sniping and ad hominem attacks). I'm with you in spirit - go Nats!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 16, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

" Rangers OF Marlon Byrd left Friday's game against the Rays with a hyperextended left elbow. He got hurt when he slammed into the wall on Willy Aybar's homer. Byrd was hitless in two at-bats and struck out once."

CBS sportsline

Posted by: PTBNL | August 16, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what spirit you meant, PTBNL, but thanks for the update. I'm sorry to hear it and hope that Byrd recovers fully from his injury.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 16, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Both sides lost, but Crow probably will be the one one regretting this far more, for reasons already pointed out several times.

But really. They offer a million dollars MORE THAN a guy got three picks ahead of you, a guy everybody but your momma says is better than you (and she's just being kind), including a straight line to opportunity and free agency as an established veteran (assuming you turn out to be as good as your agents and frat buddies keep telling you you are), and you TURN IT DOWN??
The Nats drafted him, with his known "signability" issues, because they rightly believed in their own ability to sign difficult prospects with creative deals and above-slot money, which they did in fact offer--no one disputes that.
It's a disappointment, because he could have been their top prospect, but that's all--just a prospect: even money *at best* he ever pitches competently in MLB at all.

We'll all be thrilled if there's another Lannan in this bunch somewhere, and as was noted, he was an 11th rounder -- 11th ROUND, mind you, not 11th overall. 11th ROUND.

I'm not a Planista. I can barely listen to Charlie and Dave, anymore, even, nevermind pay to see this team. But this was not a mistake, it was a deep fly ball with the bases loaded and 2 outs, where the outfielder made a diving catch, and broke his leg doing it. Not their fault.

Posted by: cevans | August 16, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The spirit was the sort of "In front of every silver lining, there's a dark cloud" sense on many posts today.

Byrd is actually an example of a nice, cheap, serviceable signing when he was here. nice platoon for Church. Did we trade him or just let him walk?

Plenty of seats tonight as so many have sworn off the Nats. I'm going. I'll have the Lastings Milledge jersey on, sitting in 208.

Posted by: PTBNL | August 16, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Failure to sign Crow yet another misstep for Nats

Saturday, August 16, 2008 | Feedback | Print Entry

The Nationals' failure to sign Aaron Crow is yet another strike against the regime of embattled general manager Jim Bowden, whose name has popped up in the investigation into embezzlement of signing bonuses in Latin America.


In full-on spin mode, Bowden now is claiming that Crow and his advisors didn't give the Nationals any indication before the draft what it might take for Crow to sign (even though this information was common knowledge in the industry) and didn't provide a dollar figure until Aug. 12.

If the Nationals genuinely didn't know what Crow wanted, it was either willful ignorance or the worst case of a signability analysis I've ever seen. And if they weren't willing to go much over slot, they could have just taken Arizona State's Brett Wallace (taken by the Cardinals at No. 13) or Long Beach (Calif.) high school hitter Aaron Hicks (taken by the Twins at No. 14), signed either for slot at No. 9 and made the plausible argument that they took the best player available.

The Nationals didn't do anything later in their draft to salvage this misstep. They gave back-of-the-first-round money to outfielder J.P. Ramirez (selected in the 15th round, 451st overall), who didn't make my top 75 prospects for the draft and ranked No. 155 on Baseball America's list (roughly a fourth/fifth rounder). They signed just two prospects off my top 75, none higher than catcher Adrian Nieto at No. 40, and nobody in Baseball America's top 50. It's not a Houston 2007 disaster -- where the Astros didn't have picks in the first and second rounds, then failed to sign their third- and fourth-rounders -- but it's a significant problem for a team whose farm system was gutted under years of MLB-state ownership.

The Nationals now will have two picks in the top 10 next year, an extremely expensive proposition, and in a draft class that is no stronger than this one. (In fact, a rough cut at the top 10 prospects for next year's draft would include at least five that I expect will be advised by Scott Boras: Stephen Strasburg, Grant Green, Dustin Ackley, Andy Oliver and Donovan Tate.) It's a bad outcome for a franchise that needed another good draft to continue the farm system's comeback, which has already had unforeseen setbacks this year with the struggles of their top two picks from 2007, Ross Detwiler and Josh Smoker.

Posted by: Keith Law, ESPN | August 16, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Let me guess - Keith Law, perchance?

Posted by: Kirkie | August 16, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Scott -- well said!!!! I hope everybody reads Scott's post.

Chico -- Have you asked Nats management what percentage loss in the season ticket base they are willing to accept for next year? Is there anyone in the marketing department who is experienced with the greater DC marketplace?

Posted by: Sec 202 | August 16, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

re: losing Crow. I'm not the least bit heartbroken.

Yawn. Who's pitching tonight?

Posted by: NatsNut | August 16, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Kieth...thanks for posting here. The nationals scouting staff is telling us they had a great draft (and I and many other fans do respect Rizzo). Based on his history with Arizona, do you think Rizzo has shown the ability to find nuggets that people like you and BA miss? Or, are they just blowing more smoke?

Posted by: vaclipper | August 16, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Hey JayB - take a powder will ya?

They signed 9 of their 10 picks. Occasionally when fishing, a big one does get away. This is not that big a deal.

Posted by: AstheCrowflies | August 16, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

That's not Keith Law actually posting here, guy.

Posted by: Dude | August 16, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I told you so....

Posted by: swanni | August 16, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Great question vaclipper, but i'm sure thats not keith, that article is posted on his insiders blog on the espn website. Looks like a copy and paste. Not sure how feel about his total opinion (depressing), however i do agreee with the premise. Why draft Crow if signability was an issue? The whole time leading up to the draft i wanted the team to draft a bat with the first pick, and i'm sure they would've if G. Beckham fell to them (well maybe they would've). I couldn't care less what happens with Crow at this point. What i'm more curious about is how a switch hitting college bat like Smoak does with his career. I understand drafting the "best available", but as we can see great pitch performances be damned if you can't score runs. I'm just going with my first response to the pick when it was made (wow, good, but would've rather seen a bat picked up there), combine that with the "signability" problem and here we are today. Wondering, "what the hell?". I don't think we're doomed by this, but i'm still a bit disappointed.

Posted by: Toolsy McClutch | August 16, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

As much as I hate not having Crow pitching for Potomac tonight, I think this will at least bode well for next year's draft. We can honestly go to Strassburg and Boras the day after the draft and say "This can go one of two ways, you can work out a fair deal and sign right now and you'll be in the majors in September (like Detwiler) or we can sit here and piss on each other's shoes and you'll at best waste 3 months of playing time and an immediate shot at the majors, or worst case be playing in BFE (or back in college) gambling that's you'll do better later.

I also don't believe the Lerner's are cheap, for starters if they are keeping the profit from the team then they are in fact GREADY, not cheap. I don't think they are unwilling to spend, but they are very resitant to WASTE. I think it will be a big difference between signing the top player in the draft what he is worth than to pay the number 9 player what HE thinks he's worth.

Without being cruel I do hope Crow's "Gamble" blows up in his face. No ill will toward him personally, but it would be in baseball's interest for his obstinance (sp?) to be punished and for his foolish agents to be very publicly shamed and humiliated for ruining a promissing young man's career.

The MLB draft is broken, I'm not sure how to fix it, but having draft rights last for 3 years would be a nice start...maybe a rookie salary cap, who knows. How do the NFL and NBA keep their draft in line?

Posted by: estuartj | August 16, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I agree not signing Crow is not a big deal. I disagree that not signing the #9 pick is something that just happens to good people. They screwed up and should be held accountable.

Big picture, the problem is a whole a string a mile long of poor moves over 3 years. I have put 20 or so of them out there for you over the past few days.....I could point out another 20 without even trying hard. From selling players like Jamey Carroll for chicken feed, to offering Lopez $4.8 Million to kill the clubhouse to giving a fat drunk like D Young $10 Million over 2 years and never following up on him in the off season....come on…..what is worth defending here. Nats are the joke of baseball, but you are correct that has little to do with Crow failure. Crow is just one more nail really and a 3 year slide they created for themselves.

Posted by: JayB | August 16, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm not one to say the Crow fiasco is the end of the world, but it most surely reflects worse on the Nats than it does on Crow. So what if he wanted more than the Orioles No. 1 pick and was willing to take his chances if he didn't get it. That's his right. The Lerners have to know that they are going to need to pay premium money to get top talent to want to play for this franchise which has no history and is currently the worst in baseball. And to save $700K over five years they let him walk? Really? Is that possible? Right after they paid a million dollar bonus to a 15th round pick. That's just plain embarrassing. And inexcusable given all the money they've thrown away in the past few years on washed up veterans.

Who cares what the Orioles paid for their pick? These slot numbers have no relation to market value. None. They are just arbitrary figures. If your Plan is to build through the draft, you have to go the extra mile to sign your draft picks, even if it means shelling out a million or two, or 700K, more. Otherwise, you are just blowing smoke about having a Plan. The 9,000 will keep watching and coming to park for T-shirts and a pleasant experience, but if you want regular sellouts, you need to build a winning team. Letting your number 1 pick walk away under these circumstances is pathetic.

Posted by: Section 222 | August 16, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

222 pretty much nailed it.
they are the worst franchise in sports right now--PERIOD. so they are going to have to overpay. bfd. lets see theyre not signing veteran free agents. and now theyre not signing their top draft picks. very nice plan. keep putting the same putrid product on the field. see how long that will last.
good job.

Posted by: dk | August 16, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

whatever you do dont trade people just give them away for compensatory picks later and do the same with your draft picks. dont sign them just pick something up later. thats the new plan--LATER!!

Posted by: dk | August 16, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

i mean youve got such a good team, whats the rush to to anything. right? take your time.
si.com quoted one gm who said the nats are fielding players who shouldnt even be on a major league team.
nice.

Posted by: dk | August 16, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh, now I get it, PTBNL. I believe that the Nats released Byrd in July of 06 and he signed with the Rangers as a free agent in December of 06.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 16, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Also, new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 16, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Rather, he was designated for assignment.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 16, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

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