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The (Quiet) International Signing Period

With the international signing period for 2008 now in the past -- and in full focus for perspective -- Baseball America has done the good deed of sorting through the final spending totals for each ballclub. As we know, the Nationals stayed very quiet with player-signing in Latin America this year. When I spoke to him once in late August about it, President Stan Kasten told me that the ongoing federal investigation into scouting practices there -- a probe that thickly involves the Nationals -- had complicated the team's focus down there. The results speak for themselves.

Through mid-September, according to Baseball America, MLB teams had signed 97 Latin American players to bonuses of six figures or more. This year alone, the Reds spent $5.7 million on international bonuses. Oakland, which famously signed pitcher Michael Inoa to a record $4.25 million bonus, shelled out a total of $4.88 million. The Nats were one of six teams with no six-figure signings. (The others: Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Florida, Baltimore and Minnesota.)

Here is BA's summary of Washington's international signing season:

---

Since signing Dominican shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez in 2006 for $1.4 million (the period's third-highest signing bonus), the Nationals have been relatively quiet in Latin America. The Nationals had agreed to terms with Dominican shortstop Elvin Cuello for $150,000 in May, but the deal was never made official after it was revealed that Cuello was using a false identity. The Nationals did sign righthander Victor Baez for $95,000 [last] November, though the 17-year-old didn't play much this year in the DSL due to injury. The Nationals picked up 18-year-old Dominican third baseman Alexander Romero for $20,000 in May, and he hit .247/.410/.407 to help lead the DSL Nationals to their second straight league championship.

By Chico Harlan  |  October 10, 2008; 6:37 PM ET
 
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Comments

do the BA figures include the buscones' gratuities?

Posted by: natsscribe | October 10, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

"When I spoke to him once in late August about it, President Stan Kasten told me that the ongoing federal investigation into scouting practices there -- a probe that thickly involves the Nationals -- had complicated the team's focus down there. The results speak for themselves."

This should be a firable offense. I'll sign the petition if JimBo's responsible.

Posted by: gal revels in pee | October 10, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

We WILL spend money in the international market.

Next year.

Or the year after.

Posted by: Carl Williams | October 10, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

"This is an important signing," Kasten said via telephone. "We can now compete for the best talent in Latin America. We will have a presence there."

--Stan Kasten, July, 2006

Posted by: All Hail Stan The Plan Man | October 10, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

"Kasten also said that Latin America isn't the only place the Nationals will be looking for baseball talent. They will also be eyeing talent in Japan and Korea."

--Bill Ladson reporting, July, 2006

Posted by: And How's That Working Out For Ya, Stan? | October 10, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

"We inherited a last-place club. Now you can’t flick the switch and fix something like that overnight. But in the last six months, we pretty much did just that. By signing Smiley Gonzalez and hiring Manny Acta, we have become a player in the Dominican Republic."

--Stan Kasten, April, 2007

Posted by: Yeah, Sure You Have, Stan | October 10, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

"While their scouts rack up frequent-flier miles, Bowden and Kasten are slipping into embassy parties and networking with ambassadors from such baseball-rich countries as the Dominican Republic, Korea, and Venezuela.

"'That W on our ball cap now stands for world,' Bowden says, 'in addition to Washington.'"

* * *

"Against such a backdrop, Kasten makes his pitch to international leaders in DC. While embassy officials may not know a leadoff hitter from the cutoff man, Kasten maintains that such contacts are crucial. 'I tell them, "You have a great ballplayer from your country. What good does it do you to have them play in Cleveland or Dallas or Seattle? Why not here? Why not with us?"'"

--Washingtonian Magazine, April, 2007

Posted by: I Think I Just Threw Up In My Mouth A Little Bit | October 10, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Chico for keeping them honest.

One more reason not to renew my season tickets.

Posted by: ohplease | October 11, 2008 12:42 AM | Report abuse

The Lerner's seem to want to micromanage the team and hold spending to the bone - great for a real estate business, bad for baseball. At least they aren't flirting with the mayor of Arlington, Texas to move the team, but want about Arlington, VA?

Losing seasons seem certain as far as the eye can see...and it could've been so much better...

Posted by: steve | October 11, 2008 5:55 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who still believes anything Kasten or Lerner says either hasn't been paying attention or is a fool.

Based on Boswell's numbers, these guys made over $100 million profit this year with an over 100 loss team. Why would they change a single thing about their operation?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 11, 2008 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to the commenter who provided the quotes. 2 1/2 seasons of lies from Lerner and Kasten.

Boswell puts the Lerner's profits for this season at over $100 million despite the over 100 losses. Why would they change a single thing?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 11, 2008 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Refresh issue, I came back to see if there were any new comments and didn't see my previous one, so I reposted.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 11, 2008 8:07 AM | Report abuse

All Hail "The PLAN!"

I'm just relieved that the owners aren't taking one dime of profit. Not ONE DIME. They're honorable men who aren't being personally enriched by the team in this tough business climate.

Posted by: Chris | October 11, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Do Stan and JB really think we're not watching? I missed that part of the plan that covered bungling the 08 draft and ignoring international talent. Maybe I'm missing something. Do we have rights to the players on the two DSL teams or are they available for anyone to sign. Since Baez and Romero are mentioned as having played on the DSL teams and are listed as signees does that mean that all the other players on the two DSL teams are not under contract?

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | October 11, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Another sign that the Lerners are running this civic institution into the ground. I wish they had never bought this team.

Posted by: Lerners Stink | October 11, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Where is ABM to make up some stuff in an attempt to defend the Lerners?

Posted by: Playing with his little Irish cookie | October 11, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"Boswell puts the Lerner's profits for this season at over $100 million despite the over 100 losses."

How would Boswell know how much the Lerners' profits are?

Posted by: he doesn't even know who their Single A affiliate is, remember? | October 11, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"Based on Boswell's numbers, these guys made over $100 million profit this year with an over 100 loss team."

How would Boswell even know how much profit the Lerners make on the team? He's still trying to figure out who their single A affiliate is!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 11, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"Where is ABM to make up some stuff in an attempt to defend the Lerners?"

ABM is over at Boswell's house learning to make stuff up from the master.

Posted by: LAC is next in line | October 11, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Words are flying out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

Posted by: ... | October 11, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Good article by Chico. A successful fact-finding mission.

This whole situation makes me wonder what Acta is doing in the offseason. He should be working the phones and recruiting the Dominicans as if he were a college coach. Rijo's got that academy down there that he SPENT HIS OWN MONEY TO BUILD and the Nats aren't using it?

I don't understand what's going on. It's like nobody talks to one another. At all. Or about anything of substance. The whole thing is getting disturbing. Somebody is going to have to leave in order to change the dynamic.

Posted by: Brue | October 11, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"That w on our ball cap now stands for weasel," said Bowden.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 11, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

"That w on our ball cap now stands for woeful," said Bowden.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 11, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

"That w on our ball cap now stands for whipped," Bowden's fiancee said.

Posted by: Brue | October 11, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

"That w on our ball cap now stands for whipped," Bowden's fiancee said.

Posted by: Brue | October 11, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

"That w on our ball cap now stands for whipped," said Bowden's fiancee.

Posted by: Brue | October 11, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

"That w on our ball cap now stands for worst," said Bowden.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 11, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

"That w on our ball cap now stands for white punks on dope," said Bowden.

Posted by: Brue | October 11, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

"That W on our ball cap now stands for Wily Mo," said Bowden. "We're looking to add an A for Adam Dunn soon."

"A and W?" said the Lerners. "We can milk even more money out of the team with an A&W sponsorship!"

"GRAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" said Stan Kasten. "I CAN'T STAND THESE IDIOTS ANYMORE!!!"

Posted by: DCSportsPlus | October 12, 2008 2:17 AM | Report abuse

It is time to change the Nats uniforms. Curly W on the breast. Blue Hats. Let's dump the red hats. Let's get the hat to match the font on the jersey. Red is for losers.

Posted by: 6th and D | October 12, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

You know, it really irks me when people on either side of the aisle attempt to use our national pastime (particularly my beloved Nats) to score political points. I suppose it comes with the territory in this part of the country, but I'm exposed to enough political noise at this time of year via television, radio, direct mail, and robocalls that I'd rather not be exposed to it here on NJ as well. Sometimes a hat is just a hat, believe it or not.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

And I embrace neither side of that aisle, BTW.

Re. the international signings, perhaps it's just me, but I would not expect to see a lot of Nats action in the Dominican until the investigation (into more than one team, as I understand it) is resolved. But please carry on with the torch-lighting and pitchfork-waving, anonymous hordes (or one very busy anonymous poster, as the case may be).

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

1a, those quotes from 2006 and 2007 are illuminating. There can always be an excuse like the investigation. But was the investigation going on in 2007? Nope, yet no significant signings last year either. Have the Nats been "competing for the best players in Lating America"? No. Have they become a "player in the Dominican Republic"? No. Were these things all aspects of implementing "The Plan"? Yes.

Also, it's not as if the "investigation" is something that simply "happened" to the Nats. They brought it on themselves. And if it truly does involve many teams as you understand, why hasn't it also stopped those other teams from making signings too?

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | October 12, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

DC got itself together to give the Lerners and MLB an essentially free stadium. The gross receipts tax was not just on the big boys--a lot of midlevel and small DC firms are paying for the stadium.

Now it is time for the rest of the region to step up to the plate, and raise tax money so that the Nats can sign the international kids, tax money so that the Lerners can make trades for players who have decent major league contracts (the trades have been just for bargain contracts under the Lerners), tax money to sign the core young players to long term contracts, and tax money so that the Nats can bring in some free agents this winter.

If you are looking for an alternative to the suburban tax approach, what else could it be? What else will work with this management?

Posted by: EdDC | October 12, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

LAC, this article, among others, was the basis for my understanding that more than one team is being investigated:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/otl/news/story?id=3609833

Speaking for myself (or whoever the anonymous poster is) I find it more useful to see links to full articles as opposed to out-of-context quotes or vague references to what "everybody" thinks about the Nats.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

As for the other teams, I can't speak to why they have or haven't made signings (nor can I speak to that re. the Lerners; I can only speculate, as I did). I have more data points on the Lerners because I've read more about them and the Nats than any other team, but IMO none of us is in a position to evaluate their decision-making process (unless some NJ posters are privy to background info that the rest of us aren't).

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

1a, I'm not sure what "vague references" about what "everybody" thinks about the Nats you are referring to. But the quotes from earlier in this thread are right from the horses' mouths--i.e., Bowden and Kasten--and they are not out of context. The Nats are not doing what they said they would do in the international arena. Quite frankly, the reason doesn't matter to me, and I think we can evaluate them on the fact that they are not doing what they said they would do as part of The Plan. In what area are they making extraordinary efforts to improve the team? I don't see it.

Also, does Kasten's comment as related by Chico put to rest Bowden's nonsensical spin that he and the Nats are not a focus of the FBI's investigation, and that their interview of him was routine?

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | October 12, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Nothing's gonna change my mind ...

*********************
Words are flying out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

Posted by: ... | October 11, 2008 3:47 PM

Posted by: Slide, Guru Davey, Home. | October 12, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone here recommend a good baseball blog? One where they discuss baseball, as opposed to owning a team, general managing a team, or sportswriting about it?

Posted by: Just asking, Sr. | October 12, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

or windging about the contents of the posts ...

Posted by: while you're at it | October 12, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this post by Harlan about owning/general managing a team? So what's the problem? The Nats aren't playing baseball right now in case you haven't noticed. They are currently talking baseball over at the Post's other baseball blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 12, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"But the quotes from earlier in this thread are right from the horses' mouths--i.e., Bowden and Kasten--and they are not out of context."

A one sentence quote from someone extracted and printed two years after the fact is the definition of out of context, LAC.

Posted by: but hey, at least you're not making stuff up, eh? | October 12, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I guess accountability means nothing to some of you. Too bad, but good for the Lerners' pocketbooks that some of their fans don't expect them to live up to their own promises.

By the way, the true definition of "out of context" is providing a small snippet of what someone said, and *distorting* its meaning by not providing more of what was said. There's nothing "out of context" in this instance with the quotes and witty commentary an anonymous poster provided in response to Chico's story, because nothing was distorted. The fact that the comments were made a year or two ago hardly takes them "out of context"--in fact, it makes them more salient, because the Nats have had plenty of time to live up to them--or not. Have they become "players" on the international scene? Hardly. Except with respect to DOJ's target list, that is.

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | October 12, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

As a somewhat interested observer of the Nats and the discussions on this blog, let me just say: Man, I would love to have bozos like some of you "fans" as witnesses for cross examination: [Whine on] "But you're taking what I said out of context. I said that two years ago, it's not fair for you to hold it against me. That was just one sentence of what I said" [Whine off].

What a bunch of mealymouthed losers you are. You deserve the pathetic excuse of a baseball team you've got. You should be expecting and demanding so much more from your team's owners. As long as you accept losing as a fan base, that's what you'll get. Maybe it's all you deserve, if you even deserve a baseball team at all.

Posted by: Washington: last in war, last in peace, and last in the NL East | October 12, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

"By the way, the true definition of "out of context" is providing a small snippet of what someone said, and *distorting* its meaning by not providing more of what was said."

To take a statement out of context is to consider it in the absence of any of the accompanying verbiage in which it was originally uttered. No commentary on its meaning is required for a statement to be taken out of context, nor is any distortion of its meaning implied when a statement is taken out of context. A statement taken out of context stands alone, thereby allowing it to be distorted, but the distortion is a totally separate thing from taking the statement out of context. Statements can be distorted when taken in context, too, although admittedly it's harder to do that way.

Posted by: who's making stuff up now, LAC? | October 12, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to continue to have a "discussion" on this blog with someone who refuses to use a regular screen name while taking shots at me for making stuff up.

Let me just point out that as to the substance of this construction of "out of context," it is simply absurd. By that construction, every time a newspaper writer quotes someone, the writer is taking the person's statements "out of context" unless the entire transcript is published. That is obviously not the colloquial understanding of "out of context," whatever some book might say.

Anyway, rather than getting bogged down in silly semantics, I think the bigger issue is whether anyone cares about whether the Nats are living up to their stated goals for international player development. Apparently, only a few here do. That's too bad.

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | October 12, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

"but hey..." and "Who's making stuff up" (assuming that they are different people) are correct as to the definition of out of context.


Re. the question about other baseball blogs, there are many of them around. It depends on what you're looking for. Although, as anon noted, the subject of this post was not a baseball game (nor, accordingly, were the subsequent comments), because Washington is not currently playing baseball games. On the Post site at present, the games that are being played are discussed on the baseball insider blog.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

"Anyway, rather than getting bogged down in silly semantics, I think the bigger issue is whether anyone cares about whether the Nats are living up to their stated goals for international player development."

LAC, do you understand the difference between tactics and strategy? Apparently not. Just because the Nationals make a tactical decision that you neither know any of the details behind nor understand does not mean they have abandoned any of the strategic goals they set for themselves a couple of years ago. No, it does not. No matter how much you really, really want it to mean that or how many times you repeat it ad nauseum. We won't know whether or not the Nats have met their strategic goals for several years yet. Why? Because that's the timeframe they set when they established those goals. When that time comes, then and only then will it make any sense for the likes of you to be second-guessing their specific tactical choices.

Posted by: do y'all think it's ExLax that keeps LAC's screen name regular? | October 12, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

As I said previously, I'm not going to continue a discussion on a blog with someone who keeps taking personal shots at me but won't even use a consistent screen name (even though I think we all know who you are). You seem to have a lot of anger in you, dude. This is not personal, don't make it personal. If you want to discuss the substantive issues and explain how abandoning the tactic of becoming a player on the international scene is not cause for concern, by all means, do so (and try to give us a little bit more than the ridiculous suggestion that nothing the Lerners do can be judged for several years). Otherwise, stop trying to distract attention from the issues by attacking posters who try to talk about them.

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | October 12, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

"As I said previously, I'm not going to continue a discussion on a blog"

She says, as she continues the discussion on the blog.

"If you want to discuss the substantive issues and explain how abandoning the tactic of becoming a player on the international scene is not cause for concern, by all means, do so (and try to give us a little bit more than the ridiculous suggestion that nothing the Lerners do can be judged for several years). "

Well, becoming a player on the international scene would be the strategy, not a tactic. Strategies don't succeed or fail in an instant, as tactics sometimes do. It takes time for a strategy to succeed or not succeed. There may be peaks or valleys along the way, and making a final judgement at any particular point is as likely to be wrong as it is to be right. Judgment must wait until the full strategy is realized.

But if it's this issue of not signing any six-figure Latin players this year you want to discuss, then have at it. But remember, this is but a short-term tactical milestone along the way toward the goal of becoming a player on the international market. All we know is that the Nats didn't sign anyone. Do we know why? No, because Chico didn't ask that question. So if we wanted to discuss it, then we'd have to make stuff up ourselves, wouldn't we? And we all thought you hated that, LAC. But if you don't, why then have at it. Make some stuff up and tell us all about it.

Posted by: maybe fiber would help me get a regular screen name. do ya think? | October 12, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Please don't respond, LAC. Everyone else just wants him to go away, he's an idiot and an assho1e.

Posted by: and let him play with his little Irish cookie | October 12, 2008 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Rebaselining:
I agree with natsfan1a. This is not the place for political jabs. I am very partisan but I hope to keep it out of my postings.
I do not deal in personal attacks.
I do not enjoy reading personal attacks here.
Please stop.
If you must attack then each side can take one free shot at SP63 and then move on. In almost any discussion here I enjoy the beginning. It's OK to disagree without being disagreeable. There is so much knowledge here and so many interesting opinions. I just don't like the food fights.
Attacking each other's thoughts with alternatives is joyous. Inventing personal characteristics and then attacking them makes me uncomfortable. I want to come to the defense of EACH side. Other times I'd like to send each to his/her room.
That's my preaching - attack away.

Strategy is about setting priorities. Tactics is about accomplishing those priorities. I view the plan of stocking the farm system with MANY TALEMTED prospects and the Nats with young talent at the MLB level as the strategy. I view the signing of MLB FAs, Rule 5 acquisitions, the draft, and international acquisitions as the tactics necessary to achieve the strategy.
The results of the Nats efforts are the only evidence we have of their progress and should be open for discussion.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | October 13, 2008 7:13 AM | Report abuse

"Strategy is about setting priorities. Tactics is about accomplishing those priorities. I view the plan of stocking the farm system with MANY TALEMTED prospects and the Nats with young talent at the MLB level as the strategy. I view the signing of MLB FAs, Rule 5 acquisitions, the draft, and international acquisitions as the tactics necessary to achieve the strategy.
The results of the Nats efforts are the only evidence we have of their progress and should be open for discussion."

Good point. The issue that started this thread should be open for discussion. So why didn't the Nats sign anyone for six figures or more in Latin America this time around? Gosh, there could be many reasons for that. Maybe it's as simple as they didn't find anyone they thought was worth signing. Maybe there are some implications of the FBI investigation involved. If nothing else, patterns of operation in Latin America may have been disrupted from what they were when the goal of being a "player" there was set, necessitating some retrenching and rebuilding of the operation there. We just don't know, because that's not been reported to us by Chico Harlan or anyone else. Yet, in the face of that uncertainty, LAC clamors for discussion of the topic, but all he can offer is to make up his same old same old "cheap" attacks against the Lerners. Seems that's all he's got, and we've heard it all before and are getting real, real tired of it, doesn't it?

Posted by: Talk IS Cheap | October 13, 2008 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Should be TALENTED.

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | October 13, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse

It's funny, I don't see LAC having said anything in this thread about the Lerners not signing international free agents because they are cheap. In fact, I see him having said "Quite frankly, the reason doesn't matter to me." Calm down man, it's just baseball. Why are you so obsessed with another poster?

On the merits, I think it's fair to talk about how this aspect of the "Plan" is progressing. I don't see that it is progressing as the Lerners and Kasten hoped. Nor do I see them stepping things up on another front of player development in the stead of international player development. For me, the reasons why don't really matter; results count.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | October 13, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse

"It's funny, I don't see LAC having said anything in this thread about the Lerners not signing international free agents because they are cheap."

Isn't that the reason he gives for everything he signs with that highly regular name of his? Seems like that's all he's got, doesn't it?

"On the merits, I think it's fair to talk about how this aspect of the "Plan" is progressing. I don't see that it is progressing as the Lerners and Kasten hoped. Nor do I see them stepping things up on another front of player development in the stead of international player development. For me, the reasons why don't really matter; results count."

Okay, so you want to talk about it, but you don't care to discuss the reasons behind it. You've already made up your mind, then, it seems. You don't like the results, no matter the reason behind them. Okay, you've said that. What else do you have to talk about, fair or unfair?

Posted by: Talk IS Cheap | October 13, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

ABM p0wn3 this blog!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 13, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

...crickets...

Posted by: Anonymous | October 13, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

From Ladson Today....."Acta has a contract for the 2009 season and a team option for the following season. Is he safe after 2009? I don't know. I think it will depend on how well the team is playing next year. I believe the Nationals have to improve dramatically for him to manage the team past 2009."

Slowly but surely MSM types are starting to learn the game of baseball.....Managers are accountable for poor base running, failed fundamentals on defense, poor Bunting, situational Hitting and lack of Hustle in general and most importantly......wins........tick tock Manny.....

Posted by: JayB | October 13, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

From Ladson today...."Here's another thing the fans don't talk about: The base running was awful, especially during the second half."

This is something I have talked about for months......and I blame Acta, Bowden and Player Development staff for not insisting players learn the game in the minor leagues and not holding them accountable when they get to the Major Leagues.

Posted by: JayB | October 13, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Jai guru deva om.

Posted by: John in Mpls | October 13, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

You all notice the "...crickets... by anonymous"? We seem to be in a baseball blackout here in Washington. I enjoy BASEBALL. I laugh and enjoy the comments and discussion that goes on here! You all are smart, funny and take your baseball seriously (but not too seriously). You want a winner here, a successful franchise. I read about the Orioles, and there are all sorts of articles regarding organization meetings, Arizona League goings-on, last year stuff, and thoughts for next year. We seem to be in a time warp where the Nationals TEAM doesn't want any thought or discussion or information put out... Come on Stan and Jim, it's OK to talk about the team...generate some goodwill! To the NJ'ers... keep it coming!

Posted by: Crofton, Md. | October 13, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

"From Ladson today...."Here's another thing the fans don't talk about: The base running was awful, especially during the second half."

That's odd. I would agree that the team's baserunning in 2008 left a lot to be desired, but I'd have to say that for the most part it was better during the second half than it was in the first half. Another example of how Ladson is pretty much out of touch for someone with such a high degree of access to the team. How does Ladson know what "the fans" are talking about anyway? Is his concept of a "fan" someone who writes the same old same old questions into his mailbag each week?

Might want to pick a better role model for yourself, JayB, lest you be held accountable.

Posted by: Talk IS Cheap | October 13, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

TIC,

I did think about that, but Ladson is the only one talking at all about Nats it seems in the Washington Media.......And yes he is slow to come around, but that is part of my point....even Ladson is starting to see the problems with Acta. Base running was bad all year, even though Acta made a huge point in Spring Training about how base running was his #1 focus this year......in the second half.....Zim and Dukes both forgot how many outs there were more than once. Milledge got doubled off at at least 3 times by ignoring fundamental baseball instincts. I would say in the second half the base running was no better but at least with different people being the problem.

Posted by: JayB | October 13, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

As long as we're commenting on Ladson's writing (which I've come close to despising with his stupidity, his writing about patently obviousness, and his amazing inability recognize faults in certain players like Cordero and Kearns), how about the media's utterly lazy writing about Dukes and his supposed "off field" issues?

What exactly has Dukes done "off the field" this year? Zero. Nothing. Nada. And yet, the second he does something on the field (the incident at the Mets stadium where he let his competitiveness get to him), lazy sports writers like Ladson and even Boswell write these 1000 word missives about how horrible a person he is. (for reference, see Boswell's editorial on him here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/09/11/ST2008091104054.html).

This action happened September 12th, 90% of the way through the season, with nothing else happening to him despite the huge amount of baggage that he came with. And this is how Boswell and Ladson now treat him. Constant reminding of issues that for the whole of the season remain in his past. Lazy.

Posted by: Sec131 | October 13, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

>But if it's this issue of not signing any six-figure Latin players this year you want to discuss, then have at it. But remember, this is but a short-term tactical milestone along the way toward the goal of becoming a player on the international market. All we know is that the Nats didn't sign anyone. Do we know why? No, because Chico didn't ask that question. So if we wanted to discuss it, then we'd have to make stuff up ourselves, wouldn't we? One other factor that could come into play in June is Straburg's "adviser," said to be Scott Boras. He has had a stormy relationship with Nats president Stan Kasten, and it is conceivable Washington would bypass Strasburg to avoid dealing with the agent.

But many of the other top prospects are expected to have Boras as their adviser. And the Nationals have added urgency to make a good pick after not signing their No. 1 draftee last year, Missouri pitcher Aaron Crow (represented by the Hendrick brothers, Randy and Alan). Crow, the No. 9 overall pick, now goes back into the draft.

"If they have the No. 1 pick and don't pick the best talent, there would be so much fan backlash after what happened last year," said Allan Simpson of the Web site pgcrosschecker.com, which analyzes amateur prospects. "I don't see it.<

Sure, the columnist wants them to pass on Strasburg so the Mariners can get him. But does Strasburg feel the same way? What's to stop him from taking the same stance as Crow? Nothing.

Posted by: Brue | October 13, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The previous comments about Strasburg, Kasten and Scott Boras were excerpted from the Seattle Times. The first few sentences were from an apologist on this board.

Nobody's making anything up, except the people who feel the need to rationalize 59 wins and no big talent signings in C. America. I couldn't make anything this bad up. It's ridiculous.

Posted by: Brue | October 13, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

What does signing Strasburg and/or other Boras clients have to do with signing players on the international market, Brue? Does Boras represent Dominican prospects too?

Posted by: Talk IS Cheap | October 13, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

i was perusing espn.com and came across a headline saying "bowden fired." alas, it was the clemson football coach who lost his job.

Posted by: natsscribe | October 13, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/larrystone/2008228918_stone05.html

Posted by: context is everything | October 13, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Sec131,
Like everyone and especially Dukes himself, I wish he weren't injured as much as he was.
Other than that, I am thrilled with Dukes. His off field conduct has been exemplary. I do not defend his earlier actions. You eiither believe in redemption or you don't. His earlier actions were just plain evil. The Nats gave him a second (or third or fourth) chance. I supported that decision but was very concerned that he couldn't shake his demons. Thus far he has prevailed, and I am happy with him. He asked for a chance, was given a chance, and took advantage of the chance. I applaud him.
I'm old school, knock down pitches and break up the double play old school, and I love the way he plays and support his show of emotion in the dugout.
I dislike his past thrown at him at every opportunity, but am delighted with how well he has handled it.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | October 13, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

@ Natsfan1a,

you misunderstood my color preference for a political statement. If I were making a push for color based on my party, it would remain red based on the press and its assignment of blue to dems and red to gop'ers. I agree with you in that politics and sports shouldn't mix.

What I was trying to convey when I said "Red is for losers", was this.... The Nationals since 1901 have worn blue hats. In 1968 they switched to red and have sucked ever since. At least during the "blue" period, we went to 3 World Series and won one of them.

Posted by: 6th and D | October 13, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

6th & D

Totally agree with you about the blue caps vs. the red caps. The team of my youth that left town in 1971 wore red caps before departing for Texas, which is why I have NEVER bought a red Nats cap. Currently only the Angels and Phillies wear red caps both home and away. Even the Cardinals wear navy blue caps on the road. And the Reds wear red-crowned caps with black visors away from Cincinnati. I sport a cap the Senators wore from 1963 to 1967 - navy blue with red piping with a red curly "W" outlined in white. My all-time favorite baseball cap.

Posted by: leetee1955 | October 13, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Ah, thanks for clarifying, 6th and D. My sincere apologies for the misunderstanding. I've been a tad cranky in that regard of late due to a high number of incoming political robocalls. I was thinking of an article that appeared (in the New York Times, perhaps) after the team came to town. That piece assigned political significance to one's choice of Nats cap (truth be told I can never remember which color is which in that vein). I'm not originally from this area and didn't make the local baseball history association. Thanks much for enlightening me in that regard.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 13, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

>What does signing Strasburg and/or other Boras clients have to do with signing players on the international market, Brue<

More than you can ever imagine.

Posted by: Brue | October 13, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

"I don't know, I can imagine quite a bit."

Posted by: Han Solo | October 13, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

No prob natsfan1a. Too many sour memories in a red hat to suit me. AND, leetee1955. I thought that blue cap with red piping was (and is) the coolest baseball cap ever devised. We, as kids, all had a replica of that hat (probably from hat day).

Posted by: 6th and D | October 13, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

John in MPLS- I never knew how to spell "Jai guru deva". Learn something every day.

Last off-season I posted probably every day under the name "4 more months", "6 more weeks", etc until Spring Training started. I am too disheartened to do it now. This story really indicates that everything that had me excited now has me depressed. I will spare you the litany.

However, the team has the chance that every team does once the World Series ends, to sucker the fans into believing again, or grasping desperately to the slightest encouraging news. I can hardly watch the playoffs because I feel so betrayed by our ownership. I still will be sucked in thereafter.

Thank God we have an election going on- really distracting stuff. I can get mad at the kids who stole our election signs, and not believe that Bowden or the Lerners had anything to do with it whatsoever.

Of course, the Lerners probably had enough money to keep Lehman Brothers from going out of business. Maybe I should resent them for more than failing to overpay Aaron Crow.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | October 13, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

P.5st,

We get to choose our attitudes. I share your frustration but:

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | October 13, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

SlowPitch63-

Yes, thank you. In regular life I am the optimist who works to have others appreciate their blessings. I guess I hold sports to a different standard. Perhaps I shouldn't.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | October 13, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

It is very disparaging to read about the BA report on our lack on international signees. If the Front Office blames the investigation for hampering our signees, couldn't we just have done it "legal and proper" and signed some guys legitimately? Why stop all together??

And our previous signees haven't done much. Two winters ago, Barry from the Post, the guy from the Fredricksburg paper, all went down to DR together to check things out and do a series of stories. Our "big" signee mentioned was Raudy Almonte, a 17 yr old, tall, lefty. Since signing, he's had 8.10 ERA in 2k7, its above 14(!!!) this year. In the Dominican Summer League - a step below the GCL Nats. Their DSL winning team is mainly made up of over-age non-prospects, low to mid 20's, lots of them cut by other DSL teams.

It's like letting a decent college player play against high school players.

Posted by: VladiHondo | October 13, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

P.5st,
If it helps, there have been many times this year when you've pumped me up. To steal a line,"We care so much because the stakes are so low."

Let's play two!
To st

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | October 14, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

"Yes, thank you. In regular life I am the optimist who works to have others appreciate their blessings."

That's my job around here, +.5St, please don't try to hone in on it!

In regular life I'm a cynical curmudgeon, so let's just stick to our comparative advantages, eh?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 14, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Anyone see Goldstein's remarks on the Nats over at Baseball Prospectus? Ugh. Goldstein attempts to determine potential worst to first teams by analyzing the four teams with the worst records in each league. His outlook for the Nats:

"This is a bad team with a bad minor league system, and little room for optimism"

For those with a sensitive tummy, there is no sugarcoating. Anyway, here's the linky:

http://tinyurl.com/4afqwu

Its a pay site so access may be restricted.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | October 14, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

This fun fact that places yet another black eye on the organization -- we'll scour the globe for talent! Ok, maybe we won't -- just makes it that much more certain that the Nats will have to overpay for play for quite some time. Any free agent, any high draft pick will make bigger demands in order to take on the risk of playing for a club that is without direction. Penny-wise, Pound-foolish Lerners.

Posted by: dh | October 14, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Pulled from the Baseball Insider Blog ---


From September 21, 2007 chat...

D.C.: Hey Boz,

How foolish are the Mets looking now considering their reluctance to give up Milledge for a reliever?

If Minaya could do things over, do you think he'd have made a Milledge-Cordero deal?

Is there any way that Bowden could pry Victorino away from the Phillies? They rarely play him anymore! Thanks.

Tom Boswell: I'm a Cordero fan, though he sure makes you nervous because you know his command has to be razor sharp to avoid the Dreaded Lang Ball. Like so many teams on so many trades, I suspect the Mets would like to rewind the clock and see if they could do that deal. (However, there was never a day when I would have made it, from the Nationals point of view.)

I wouldn't give two cents for Victorino, especially playing in the Phillies bandbox. How can you afford the "luxury" (waste) of giving 440 at bats to an outfielder with 11 homers and an OPS of .773? If Church or Kearns had those at bats in Philly, they'd have 20-25 homers. Partly because of the distance to fences, but also because a cozy part lends confidence, helps initial hot streaks.

The Phils are a lot of fun right now. I'm pulling for them, either as a wild card or in the East, though I think their starting pitching is just too weak to make it. Manuel, underrated IMO as I've said before, has done a good job. But not nearly as good as Acta. I was amazed to read an MLB.com analysis of potential Manager of the Year candidates this week. There were SEVEN in the N.L. and Acta wasn't mentioned! Talk about a snub. Many should instantly be on the short list __THEN figure out who the others are.

Posted by: What a difference a year makes | October 14, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for off-topic but don't know where to go with this without Ballpark Guys around anymore.

I'm a full season ticket holder in Sec 317 considering selling off one or two shares of 10-15 games each. Email me at dlombardo@wusa9.com if interested.

Posted by: Dave | October 14, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm still around.

Posted by: www.ballparkguys.com | October 14, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Nationals today announced that Dr. Ben Shaffer, Nationals Medical Director and Team Orthopedist, has resigned his position as team doctor.

“I appreciate the opportunity afforded me to provide care to the Nationals players and organization the last three years,” said Dr. Shaffer. “From a time standpoint, this responsibility has required an enormous commitment and I have decided to focus my energies on my family, my practice and the other professional teams I work closely with.”

Nationals Senior Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden responded, “I know I speak for the entire organization in recognizing Dr. Shaffer’s invaluable contributions to our players’ welfare and his orthopedic expertise. His departure is a real loss for our organization.”

Posted by: Press Release | October 14, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

...the fan forum on the Nats site and the NatsFanatics forum

Posted by: other possibilities... | October 14, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Boz going off about Victorino not being worth two cents (100 runs and 35 plus SB's, quality glove and fan favorite gamer to boot) AND telling the world that Acta should have been NL 2007 manager of the year?? (I guess with only an average manager the Nats would have finished a lot more than 16 games under .500 in 07.) Too precious. How DOES that guy have a full time job doing THIS??

Posted by: dh | October 14, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

"I have decided to focus my energies on my family, my practice and the other professional teams I work closely with.”

In other words, focus energies on the teams who actually pay their bills....

Posted by: Anonymous | October 14, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

thank you ladies and gentlemen, anonymous will be here all week. and please remember to tip your servers.

Posted by: natsscribe | October 14, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

See you at the new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 14, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

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