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NatsFest, Over And Out

The DC Sports Bog is always worth a read -- shameless self-promotion alert! -- but that's especially true when it's filled with quotes from a particular team president and general manager. Some of these quotes are about George Steinbrenner and soiled pants. So, head over there and check it out. Indeed, Steinberg and I were among the several thousand people (maybe 7,000? -- that's how many advance tickets were sold, Stan Kasten said) who came to Nats Park today for NatsFest. Most of the fans I talked to loved the event; a few, though, mentioned that it was a tad more crowded than yesterday's caravan stops. Evidently, when a troupe of players landed in Charlottesville, Va., yesterday for a meet-and-great at a bowling alley, only a few dozen fans were there. The players just ended up bowling.)

Today was a far different scene.

I have to write a story for tomorrow's paper, which I can post here later as well, but I want to squeeze in a blog post before I get to work on that. So, please excuse the disorganization here. I'll just go bullet-by-bullet with some observations and ramblings from the afternoon.

* In the last half hour of the event, from 4:30 to 5 p.m., Kasten was part of a fan Q&A panel with Mike Rizzo, Jim Bowden and Manny Acta. The thing was, Bowden and Acta never even opened their mouths. Rizzo talked for about a minute. Kasten held court for the rest of the session, devoting the first 15 minutes to what I'll call a State of the Nationals Address. (Cliff's Notes: The outlook from Stan's view is rosy). Then, he fielded questions for 15 minutes or so.

* I will fully transcribe Stan's speech tomorrow morning, but for now, we'll have to make do with an abridged breakdown. He started the speech by promising candor. He emphasized that the '08 Nats finished their season as the youngest and most injured team in baseball; experience and age will help the team improve this year. He called the offseason "very productive," and noted, among the more subtle changes, that the team has revamped its strength and conditioning program, its coaching staff, and its medical team. He mentioned once, clearly, that he would appreciate some player additions before the season starts, but he said so by way of a caveat: "I don't know that the team will be much different between now and Opening Day -- but we all want it to be."

* Kasten spent about two minutes of his speech explaining why fans' questions about the team payroll aren't really relevant. You don't really care what our payroll is, he told the fans. You'd rather us be like the Rays than the Yankees. In other words: winning is more important than spending. And we'll spend enough to win.

* Kasten indicated a particular distaste for signing free agent pitchers, particularly if they're costly. The risks with that position are just too great. He'd make an exception only if he was adding said pitcher to a contenting team.

* Again, plenty of fans expressed the desire to see Ryan Zimmerman signed to a long-term deal. One fan, given the audience with Kasten, even offered to switch jobs with the team prez for one hour -- just so he could go up to Kasten's office and get a six-year deal done. The fan, Sal Johnson, said, "This guy is going to be a solid .280, .290, he'll give you a solid year, solid at third base. He's great to people like my son. He's great for the community. We really want him to have him here. We think it's a disgrace we haven't had him signed. Please."

(wide applause from audience)

Kasten: "I think that's a great suggestion. I'd like to turn that over to Jim because, Jim, you've been working on this for three years. Now it will only take this gentleman one hour! OK, what is your damn problem?"

Jim, in jest: "You know, now that I know we don't care about payroll we should let him do it for an hour."

(laughter)

Stan: "You know, first of all, we agree with almost everything you say but for a couple decimals maybe. But you know, don't confuse respect for a person or player with getting a contract done. You know, up the road in Philadelphia they've got a player they like a hell of a lot too in Ryan Howard, they haven't been able to work it out either. I know it's just a coincidence that they have the same agent who doesn't seem to like to do long-term contracts before free agency. But, that's just me being cynical. So, I hear ya. I don't disagree with you. Numbers have to work both ways. But nobody could love Ryan Zimmerman more than the four of us do."

* Another fan asked Stan about the long-churning rumors/reports/etc that he's unhappy with either 1.) his current role or 2.) any limitations enforced by the Lerners.

After hearing the question, Kasten asked, "How long have been you been reading that?"

The fan replied, "Since the middle of the 2008 season."

Kasten continued: "OK, and have I left? Hey, you know. That's all I can tell you. We have a lot of media people in the room, and I hate to be disrespectful to them as they will tell you, but you can't believe everything you read. I came here because I love this city; I love it more now than when I got here. And I really love the people I've met here. And I also came to accomplish something here: To make this a winner. If I am ever unhappy it's because we are not winning yet. You can bet that makes me unhappy. Everything else about this makes me very happy, and I love it here."

* Non-sequitor department: Manny Acta was wearing a fedora today. Very swank. Looked almost like the sort you'd see in an old photo of the Ebbets Field grandstands. Oh, and he had been wearing a cowboy hat at previous caravan events this week. Makes you wonder what he'll be rocking come spring training. Probably a ballcap, but I'd encourage some experimentation. ... Elijah Dukes was at the event, a late addition to the roster of players. ... At one point in the middle of the Jim Bowden Q&A with fans, somebody randomly yelled out, "Segway!" Bowden replied, "Would you like to buy my Segway?"

* Bowden, during a Q&A session with fans, expressed some surprise that many free agents' asking prices have yet to come down. Each big name is holding out in the hopes that he gets the last whopper contract. But lots of those guys, he said, only have one or two teams actually playing for them.

* Bowden guessed that many free agents will make up their minds about where to play within the next 10 days. Especially as spring training gets closer, he said, they'll get nervous -- and so will their wives. They, too, will want to know where they'll be living in 2009.

* Bowden said that Stephen Strasburg is as good a pitcher to enter the draft as baseball has seen in 10 or 15 years. He also said that, given the team's current draft board, it will probably select a college player with pick No. 10 (first round) as well.

* Kasten said he was almost certain that nothing with respect to the stadium's naming rights will change before the start of this season. He's had some discussions of late on renaming Nationals Park, but nothing is imminent.

* Lines to get a photo taken with Ryan Zimmerman were upwards of one hour.

* Zimmerman seemed OK about the prospect of heading into arbitration, but emphasized that he hopes to sign a long-term deal here. "For me, the way I feel around here, me being so close to home and just what I've done in my career here so far, I think it would be nice to stay here for a long time."

By Chico Harlan  |  January 25, 2009; 6:16 PM ET
 
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Comments

* Kasten spent about two minutes of his speech explaining why fans' questions about the team payroll aren't really relevant. You don't really care what our payroll is, he told the fans. You'd rather us be like the Rays than the Yankees. In other words: winning is more important than spending.

No, winning is not more important than not spending.

Posted by: Brue | January 25, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the fan's shouting of "Segway", the distinct impression I got was that he shouted "segue", as a call for Bowden to transition onto a topic sure to be more contentious than the immediately preceding comments.

Perhaps someone else can recall the topic at the point of the comment, but I'm almost certain the fan was not referring to the segway Bowden is noted for.

Posted by: tomterp80 | January 25, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

I thought he said "Che me amo, me segue" -- a call to the fans to get behind the team with their support.

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 25, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

The "seque" comment is clearer over on the Sports Bog.

Posted by: NatsNut | January 25, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

tomterp, I can't remember the context at the moment but I also thought that he shouted "segue" as a transition cue.

Sorry to miss those of you who were there but we did manage to run into tomterp, calsgr8, and Hendo (as well as to say "hi" to Chico).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 25, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

"He called the off season "very productive," and noted, among the more subtle changes, that the team has revamped its strength and conditioning program, its coaching staff, and its medical team."

Since I've been whining about the medical situation for three years, I want to give credit where it is due. Alleluia. Finally!!! I predict this change will pay significant dividends if those they've hired are at least competent.

#4

Posted by: db423 | January 25, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

I saw Nats 320, but am afraid I may not have recognized others.

+ 1/2 St.

Posted by: kevincostello | January 25, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Just got home and, on the whole for a first-time event, I wasn't disappointed. Got to see some areas of the park, including the loker room, that I would have never thought I would be granted access. Next year I would like the team to have more team-related and interactive exhibits and either free or discounted food. Stayed from beginning to end and was starving after walking through most of the park to get at least a glimpse of everything. Didn't agree with everything Stan the Plam Man had to say - especially about the "very productive offseason" - but was mostly satisfied.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 25, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Pretty good event for a first time try. Was shocked at the size of the lines at 1PM. Got to admit getting a chance to walk around the club-house was pretty neat.

All in all I listened to all of the Q&A's sessions and it probably goes with the territory but man can those guys spin a story! This constant referring back to the Rays and other low-payroll teams that have had recent succces, also have had years of draft picks that have been able to make it to the majors, I'm convinced that it will take the Nats at least 10 years to be in the current Rays position. Unless they are willing to add two or three FA's evry year thru 2011 there is just no way that there is enough talent to make it any sooner.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | January 25, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I saw Nats 320, too.
Stood in line for an hour for Manny, Willingham, and Olsen.
Then stood in line another hour for Zim.
Zim was exceedingly gracious and was very kind to my son.
Then just 20 minutes for Lannan and Shell.

It must be hard to sit there all day and deal with us.
Was also nice afterward to go down to an empty clubhouse, hit a couple of balls in the cage, then pretend to be rich in the Presidents Club.
But the topper: as we rode the escalator down to the main concourse, my son hugged me and said, "Dad, thanks for bringing me here today."
That made all the waiting worthwhile.

Posted by: seancollins121 | January 25, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

I don't know who I saw, but I was on the Green Line from Shaw to the park with a bunch of park-bound folks.

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 25, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Hi again Chico!

Glad to meet you. Glad I finally caught up with NATSFAN1A and TomTerp! I got Olsen, Willingham and Acta's autograph. The only one I needed was Willingham. Scott Olson remembered me from yesterday in Woodbridge. I asked Manny about his hat. Is that going to be his signature hat when off the field. He said that's his hat to cover up going bald! LOL!!!

I should have gotten my picture with Dukes but then I would have missed Phil Wood's and Management team. Remember, Stan said, its not about payroll, its about getting good players! (YEAH RIGHT!).

It was fun!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | January 26, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

The fanfest event in Charlottesville wasn't well advertised. I knew about it from NJ and had my eye open for ads, but didn't see any. So only diehards probably knew aobut it. I couldn't make it myself. It also competed with a UVA basketball (ugh) game, probably a lot of Nats fans are also UVA fans.

Posted by: utec | January 26, 2009 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Kasten says the Nats would rather be like the Rays than the Yankees. OK, we are getting somewhere. Have the Rays failed to sign their #1 pick? Who spends more on international players, the Rays or Nats? Do the Rays lock up long-term their guys before they go into arbitration or in the early arb years (Longoria, Shields, Crawford, Kazmir)? Considering trades, free agent signings, drafts, etc., which team is making a bigger commitment to the future? Which organization is ranked more highly, and what are the ranking trends for each? And which team has by far the bigger market and better ballpark from which to generate revenue that could be plowed back into the team?

Posted by: EdDC | January 26, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

The caravan in my area is a joke. Martinsburg, West Virginia is Oriole/Ravens/Steeler country. All they had to do was to come 20 miles south to Winchester, arrive at an hour when kids are not in school, have the event at a local high school where the area baseball coaches could have their playesr there, and bingo, lots of attendance and appreciation. I am starting to un derstand why the ownership and front office cannot chew bubble gum and walk at the same time.

Posted by: dirtball | January 26, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

EdDC

Really good point. There are so many generic calls for us to be spending more money but, it's more important that we spend the right money. The lack of international free agents is a total disgrace for a team with our mission statement.

There is so much debate over Crow, and I go back and forth myself. I understand refusing to be bullied and yet, to have failed to sign a first round pick is terrible. Regardless of whether it was a failure of money, or because they failed to research if he was even interest.

Well, Bowden's investigation being lrgely concluded, and the extra draft pick make this year the huge for the Nat's. Even though I feel we may all have said that last year...

Posted by: soundbloke | January 26, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Stan---
You don't really care what our payroll is, he told the fans. You'd rather us be like the Rays than the Yankees.
-------

Wow, he's getting good at misdirection. If we're looking at the late 90's - early 2000s, then I'd say YES, please give me the Yankees. Also note that some very shrewd decisions were made once the Rays changed ownership. We aren't so lucky.

Posted by: jctichen | January 26, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Just a reminder on the Crow issue, the players agent did not offer the low-but still record setting price for that slot until the last hours of a months long non-negotiation.

I'm not saying they should not have signed him, but all indications are he did not want to be signed but wanted to make it look like he did. Brinksmanship is a lousy strategy for world peace and baseball.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 26, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

The Rays and Rockies (along with the Tigers), have become easy crutches for Stan to misleadingly point to. Teams like that don't just get lucky, they need to execute their plans perfectly. The pieces need to be in place, and THEN you need to get lucky. As soundbloke points out above, the Nats don't appear to even be trying very hard to put the pieces in place.

It is amazing to me how condescending and arrogant Kasten is when talking to the fans--i.e., his customers. The more extensive quotes on the Steinbog really demonstrate this. Stan is right--we don't CARE about payroll, in a vacuum. What we do care about is that the team is winning, or at least trying to win. When the team is not winning, AND the team is not spending money, then we DO care about payroll. Because, you know, for some strange reason, Stan, that kind of gives the impression that you aren't even trying very hard.

Also, they really should cut out this "do you want to be the Yankees, or the Rays?" nonsense. Why don't we first just focus on putting together a team that does not lose 90-100 games year after year? When Nats' ballgames are painful to watch on a daily basis and the team is constantly playing from behind, the false choice that Kasten is offering is really insulting. At least Yankees (or Mets, etc.) fans know that every game, there is a good chance that their team will win, or at least that the game will be fun and competetive.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 26, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"It is amazing to me how condescending and arrogant Kasten is when talking to the fans--i.e., his customers. The more extensive quotes on the Steinbog really demonstrate this."

For someone with the moniker CoverageIsLacking, you really ought to engage in a bit more coverage yourself before coming out with pronouncements like this. Relying on quotes cherry-picked by Harlan or Steinberg, and with only the flat printed-word tone and none of the visual or verbal inflection that went with the words when they were uttered, is a classic example of taking something out of context. I was in the room for Kasten's entire presentation yesterday (and Bowden's and Acta's before it) and I got absolutely no vibe of condescension or arrogance from him. And from the cheers that erupted after he specifically put to rest any rumors that he will be leaving, I don't think that any of the other fans, i.e. customers, in the room were getting that kind of vibe from him either.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 26, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

CiL

I think were are offered a lot of false choices here. For instance where is the 'Do you you want to be the Red Sox?' They have a great farm system that has provided MLB ready talent that has saved their season for two years because when a player went down they could turn to their youth program.

To be fair to them, you have to execute free agent spending just right as well. Bad decisions in the free agency market can cripple even the best teams. Fr instance the Yankees of the last few years.

the way I see it is that you build a franchise with the farm system and the team with free agency.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 26, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

CE, we were on the Green Line as well but only from Gallery Place to the park. I enjoyed the fest overall but do have a few thoughts on areas for improvement to make the next fest even more successful.

Having had the opportunity to interact with players at the Pfitz and having seen the clubhouse and other areas on a previous park tour, we spent the day listening to the speakers (and I agree with nonof1 re. Stan's tone).

Unfortunately, we missed George Will because, although we arrived at the park at 12:40, we didn't get in until 1:30. They *really* needed to have more people manning the gates initially. My husband was ready to leave when we got to the PNC Club and found that they were not letting anybody else in to hear Mr. Will because the room was at capacity. I talked him into waiting to see whether they would clear the room in between speakers. They did let us in after the talk ended, but only after each audience member had left (a handful of them having lingered for photos or autographs, evidently).

Given that most of our time was spent waiting in lines outdoors or sitting in a cool/cold room, it would have been great to see hot beverages available in the PNC Club as well as the cold sodas. It would also have been great to see discounted prices for concessions or even some freebies (hey, I can dream, can't I?). Given the good turnout, maybe the team could consider a larger, inside venue for next year's fest.

I was also bummed out to read about the Negro League exhibit after the fact. I'd downloaded a schedule from the team site and didn't carefully read the schedule handed out at the park. Would love to have chatted with those folks. Hope that we'll have an opportunity to see them at a Negro Leagues tribute game later this year.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 26, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

As a life-long Royals fan, let me be the first nats fan to say I would MUCH rather the nats be the yanks than the rays. They do seem to have a slight edge in titles won.

Posted by: WrongDog | January 26, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

@1a

When my brother and I arrived at the park about 12:45 p.m. and saw how far the line stretched, I was amazed. One of the major problems of getting everyone admitted in a timely manner was that there were no ticket scanner or handbag check staffers at the gate before they opened. Another problem was that many people just bypassed the line and walked across the street to the gate and went in. We managed to see and hear Will, JimBow, Phil Wood and the Stan the Plan Man by leaving the PNC Club and just getting back in line. Like I said yesterday, I would have liked to have seen the club give us fans something for our t6en bucks like free or discounted food and beverages for standing in all those lines. Thank goodness it wasn't a windy day.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 26, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

...er

ten bucks.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 26, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

It wasn't free??? Way to build the fanbase...

For STH, $10 isn't much, but for most of this city and surrounding neighborhood, it's a slap in the face. Well...for STH it's a slap too, but I imagine most of us went to the open house last summer.

Posted by: jctichen | January 26, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

ABM, I mean nunof1, I didn't see any ellipses in Chico's or Steinbog's quotes, so I'm not sure what could possibly be out of context ;-) Seriously though, if you want to disabuse me of my impression of Stan's comments, why don't you tell us what was said, or how it was said, rather than making unnecessary comments about my screenname.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 26, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I nominate nunof1 as the biggest "Homer" on the NJ. This at times, is a good honor and other times, not so good.

Sometimes it's OK to question your beloved teams decisions. Other times it's good to be patient.

This is a 102 loss team, that as of this time, has not added any FA's. It's alright to be frustrated and question Stan "the Plan." I wasn't at the event but, Stan is a little arrogant at times, one has to admit.

I love the Nats but, they ain't gettin' it done right now and standing pat for the most part is not the answer. I have given these guys the benefit of the doubt up until this offseason but, their lack of activity is starting to tick me off.

See the forest for the trees.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 26, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

jctichen, STH were able to get free tickets, but the rest of us schlubs paid $10 ($5 for kids, I think).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 26, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

jc

Not only was the event not free, if you bought tickets online you were assessed a $1 "service charge" for each ticket purchased and an additional $1 per ticket for the privilege of using your own toner to print them.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 26, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

The NatsFest was free to season ticket holders. I think it was four free passes per account. For everyone else it was $10/adult, $5 child. Free parking for all.

I fail to see your beef with this. It costs $10/ticket to go to the movies these days. The amount of entertainment the Nats provided for $10 yesterday was at least as much if not more than most recent pictures have offered. And unlike at the movies, popcorn was free at NatsFest.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 26, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

leetee, we did the enter/exit line thing, too, but missed the boat on Will.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 26, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Would I rather be like the Rays or the Yankees? Wow, tough choice for me . . .

Next time someone from this organization trots out "we want to be like the Rays" as an example, someone should have the guts to say, "then have the owner sell the team to someone who cares, and fire the front office and bring in someone who understands the current game."

Mind you, I am not one who bashes the system, the roster, the front office, or the owners incessantly, but I do blow up at misrepresentations, arrogance, and condescension. Thus, the simplistic "It took ten years of finishing lousy in order for all of our internally developed high draft choices to lead us past the evil big spenders" is something that sets me off. One first round pick from prior to Sternberg buying into the team (Upton). That's it. They could have won the World Series and come up with every other player [detail below].

Payroll? It can be argued the NYY missed the playoffs for the first time since 1993 because they refused to deal young players and spend money to get Johan, rather than they had overspent. But I suppose we aren't looking at long run track records of consistent winning. That's not a justification for an approach, right Stan? Especially because they only won 4 World Series and make it a couple of other times. If that's not success, then don't boast about your Braves.

Just don't BS us. You have some good parts of the story already. JimBo made two or three very good deals already (Dukes for Gibson, Milledge for church/schneider, and Olsen/Willingham for nothing), your system is showing an ability to turn out arms, and you have a couple of other young regulars under team control for 3 - 4 years.

[Skip if you don't want the detail on the Rays - Crawford was a high 2d. Sonanstine and Shields - middle rounds. Lamar made one sucker trade - Zambrano for Kazmir. Other than that, a lot of treading water moves until Friedman came on board.]

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 26, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

On a more whimsical note, was anybody else in line near parking area C when Thom Loverro drove in? I'd never heard a car make a noise quite like that. Guess that if you're a beat writer you have to drive a beater... :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 26, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"I wasn't at the event but, Stan is a little arrogant at times, one has to admit."

As Kasten himself admitted freely in his talk yesterday.

"I didn't see any ellipses in Chico's or Steinbog's quotes, so I'm not sure what could possibly be out of context ;-) Seriously though, if you want to disabuse me of my impression of Stan's comments, why don't you tell us what was said, or how it was said"

Not sure what you mean with the ellipses thing. What Steinberg and Harlan quoted is what Stan said, of course, but only part of it. You could extract a paragraph or so out of anyone's half-hour talk and it could easily give an impression totally opposite of what really was said all together. That's all I'm saying. And sorry, I wasn't running a recorder yesterday and thus can't give you a complete transcription of everything that was said, but trust me. There was zero arrogance or condescension on the part of ANY of the speakers yesterday. Certainly no one who was actually there to hear it all is popping up to say that there was, anyway.

But hey, your approach to things could be helpful elsewhere. Try just paying attention to the innings when the Nats score more runs, and then you'll think they've won every game. Imagine how happy you'll be then!

Posted by: nunof1 | January 26, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

4 World Series and a couple of appearances for the NYY during Stan's Braves run.

The only other Naimoli era #1 that amounted to a key for the Rays is Delmon Young, who got them Garza. But now way in heck Lamar has the imagination and guts to pull off that deal.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 26, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

O's-fest in Farragut Square was always free. Granted, they didn't include walking on the field, etc., but had autographs, free food, etc. For an organization with low tv viewership, low attendance (and growing smaller with every cancelled ticket plan), I would think they'd forego the ~$30K(?) in ticket receipts. The long-term approach to building the franchise, IMO, should also be applied to building the fanbase. Instead, it gets thrown out the window whenever grubbing money is involved.

Posted by: jctichen | January 26, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

natbuisquit,

Thanks for the reminder on why you feel the Nats did not sign their top draft pick. Here is another reminder: the year before the Crow fiasco, the Os also had an agent ask for the moon for their first round pick, Matt Weiters. Only in the last few minutes did the agent get "reasonable" and Weiters was signed shortly before midnight. Plus he signed for $2 million more than what Crow's agent was willing to sign for a year later.

So both agents were awful to deal with. The difference is that the O's stepped up, and the Nats did not.

We can drop this topic and move on. I am fine with that. But let's call it a Nats' mistake as well as an agent or player mistake before we move on. It's business. It is money. The O's spent. The Nats did not. It is just too easy to blame it on agent personality.

Posted by: EdDC | January 26, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I did not blame it on agent personality I blamed it on the pitcher not wanting to sign. I got that not from feelings, but from reading the quotes that the pitcher made to the media. As I said before they should have signed him, but it is difficult when the player and his agent won't engage. (Het but don't let the facts get in the way of your argument).

Posted by: natbisquit | January 26, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

If the pitcher did not want to sign with the Nats, as you suggest, then that means he voluntarily gave up a year of his professional baseball career. As we all know, youth does not last forever, and a year is a long time for a professional athlete.

But let's say you are right, for the sake of discussion. The pitcher did not want to come to DC. Why is that? He didn't like the water supply? He is stupid? He didn't like the stadium? If you are right (which I doubt), the only reason I can think of that makes sense is that he did not want to give six years of his baseball life to an organization that is not committed to winning. And he was willing to sacrifice a year off of his career to get a chance--a year later--to play for a higher quality organization. If that is the case, then what does that say about the Nats?

Posted by: EdDC | January 26, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

We can drop this topic and move on. I am fine with that. But let's call it a Nats' mistake as well as an agent or player mistake before we move on. It's business. It is money. The O's spent. The Nats did not. It is just too easy to blame it on agent personality.

Posted by: EdDC | January 26, 2009 1:03 PM

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Sorry, EdDC, but I can't hold my tongue anymore. You say let's drop this topic and move on, but YOU are the one that keeps bringing this topic up! And please stop comparing what the O's did to sign Wieters. A switch-hitting catcher with as much upside as Wieters should ask for the moon and get as much as he can. Any organiztion would be foolish NOT to offer more than they are "willing" to pay. Overpaying wildly for a pitcher is not sound business practice, particularly if that pitcher's demands are so out of whack from reality and they won't even budge a little until the very last moment. And if Crow didn't want to play for the Nats (for whatever reason), guess what ... most teams drafting in the Top 10 are generally the same teams drafting in the Top 10 year in and year out (Pirates, Royals, O's, and until this year, Rays). Why is that? Because those teams have not really shown any growth in their systems (and drafted much worse than the Nats have done the past 2 seasons). Would he have been happier if the Pirates had drafted him, or the Royals?

We all get it ... you're ticked Crow didn't sign (or rather, ticked that the Nats didn't sign Crow). Get over it. Ain't no amount of [m]issing and [p]oaning going to change that.

Posted by: erocks33 | January 26, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

@leetee: "Not only was the event not free, if you bought tickets online you were assessed a $1 "service charge" for each ticket purchased and an additional $1 per ticket for the privilege of using your own toner to print them."

I am a season-ticket holder and my tickets were completely free. I did not choose to print them at home using my own toner, but rather to have them sent to me in the mail, using the Nationals' postage budget. Didn't cost me a dime.

The freebies were a benefit for STH. The tickets were available to the general public for $10, which is $1 cheaper than I paid to get into the AMC Tysons Corner cinema in the evening a couple weeks ago.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | January 26, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"The tickets were available to the general public for $10, which is $1 cheaper than I paid to get into the AMC Tysons Corner cinema in the evening a couple weeks ago."

And, as I already said above, at NatsFest the popcorn was free. Peanuts too.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 26, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm also tired of Nats' fans talking about sound business practices.

OK, let's move on from the failure to sign the top draft pick. Just one request please:

All I am asking is that we say both are at fault, the Nats as well as the agent/player. Why is that so hard for Nats' fans to admit?

Agreed?

Posted by: EdDC | January 26, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"All I am asking is that we say both are at fault, the Nats as well as the agent/player. Why is that so hard for Nats' fans to admit?"

I dunno. Why is it that every time the subject is raised it's always "the Nationals' failure to sign their top draft pick" and never "Aaron Crow's failure to land a big league contract"? Why is that so hard for Aaron Crow's fans to admit?

Posted by: nunof1 | January 26, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

OK, here it is: the agents grossly misrepresented their client, the pitcher. I think they took their cue from the Wieters signing the year before and from the success of Wieters' agent, Scott Boras. Crow's agents played hardball right up to the 12th hour. Problem is, it worked for the Os but not with the Nats. Boras would not have let this deal fall through, but the Hendricks lacked Boras' skills. The Hendricks assumed that the Nats would jump at the last minute at their figure, but the Hendricks did such a great job of stonewalling the Nats that they had no feel for the parameters of a final deal. So there was no deal.

As a guess, the Hendricks thought that the Nats would cave, but the Nats had no way of caving. The Lerners probably gave Jimbo his marching orders as to their top figure of $3.7 million, had themselves some hot cocoa, and went off to bed.

So I do hold the Hendricks responsible in a big way. But I hold the Nats responsible too. This is petty cash for most franchises, less than Lo Duca money. This whole draft process will be reformed soon, so what's the harm in overpaying a (very) little for a year or two? The Nats will have to overpay with Strasburg for sure, if they draft him. Without a first rounder or supplemental pick, the Nats had the lowest pick of any club in 2008--not a good way to build your club.

All you have to say is that it was the Nats' fault and well as the agents' fault, and I'll stop. Now, the next step is to get Tom Boswell, the rest of the Post, Kieth Law, and most of baseball for harping on this failure. The topic keeps coming up all over the place. Nonetheless, this is not the only thing wrong with the Nats' "sound business decisions."

Posted by: EdDC | January 26, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

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