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How Gonzalez Became Alvarez

In the spring of 2006, when Stan Kasten took a job as Washington Nationals president, he inherited a problem. His new team, after years of anemic scouting resources, had exactly zero Dominican prospects in the organization. General Manager Jim Bowden had a good idea about how to change that, and how to make a splash all the while. The Nationals, Bowden told Kasten, should sign a 16-year-old named Esmailyn Gonzalez.

On July 2, 2006, Gonzalez became the team's most touted teenager. The Nationals issued a press release announcing Gonzalez's signing bonus -- $1.4 million. They hosted a press conference. The shortstop had a nickname, "Smiley," and his future was rich with promise.

The career of Smiley Gonzalez, as it turned out, created a problem far greater than the one his signing attempted to solve. As Kasten acknowledged yesterday, following a report from, Gonzalez falsified both his identity and his age, all part of what Kasten called a "deliberate, premeditated fraud." The player's true identity: Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo. His true, current age: 23, or four years older than the Nationals believed. The conspiracy not only registers as Washington's latest baseball embarrassment, but also raises internal concern about who was duped, and who knew all along.

"No teenager executed this fraud," Kasten said. "There were a number of people involved in it... I can assure you, this is going to have serious repercussions."

The revelation about Gonzalez's true identity diminishes the prospect's value, even threatening his career. It also intensifies the scrutiny on how, exactly, baseball teams -- especially the Nationals -- obtain their international players. Since last year, the FBI has investigated scouting practices in Latin America. An unregulated network of middle men, or street agents, create the potential for false IDs, money-skimming and kickbacks. Kasten acknowledged today a link between the Gonzalez signing and the current probe, though he was unwilling to say whether Nationals employees would be held culpable. Already, several big league teams, including the White Sox, have fired employees involved in the scheming. To date, FBI investigators have interviewed Washington employees, including Bowden, who has denied any wrongdoing.

To sign Gonzalez, the Nationals depended on another employee, Jose Rijo, the link between their scouting department and the Dominican streets. Since January 2005, Rijo has served as a special assistant in the Washington front office, operating the team's player development facility in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic.

Rijo fostered a relationship with Gonzalez for at least two years before the signing. To get close with Gonzalez, though, he dealt with Gonzalez's buscone, a street agent named Basilio Vizcaino, who just so happened to be Rijo's childhood friend. During periods before he turned pro, Gonzalez even stayed with Vizcaino, hoping to improve his living conditions and his profile as a prospect. There was never a question about how Gonzalez should repay his debt: Once he earned a signing bonus, Vizcaino would keep 20 percent.

The operations between club employee, street agent and player existed then, as they do now, with almost no supervision. And Washington entered this market -- the "wild, Wild West," Kasten called it -- hoping to be both cautious but aggressive.

The team decided to make Smiley its first target.

"Jim came to me and said his staff had seen this kid, they thought he was special, they thought he would command a premier bonus, and what was our appetite for that," Kasten said today. "And, obviously none of us had ever seen the kid or heard of the kid. But he described him, the staff described him, and we said, 'Yeah, we want to be aggressive. We'd back you on something like that if that's what everyone feels like.'"

At the time of the signing, Rijo sought no documentation, he said today. He knew the shady world of Latin baseball scouting well enough to know that documents were often falsified anyway. Even several high-profile players, including Miguel Tejada and Rafael Furcal, signed with paperwork that misrepresented their ages.

"You see a document, but you're going to see a, you know, a real or fake one either way," Rijo said.

The Nationals submitted Gonzalez's paperwork to the one place that mattered: the Major League Baseball office that verifies all player names and ages. No red flags came up.

When negotiating with Gonzalez about contract terms, though, Washington followed an unconventional path. Other teams interested in the shortstop dealt with the player's then-agent, Rob Plummer. Only Washington insisted on dealing with Vizcaino.

"I talked to all the other teams," said Plummer, who had met his client just twice. "But because of [Vizcaino's] relationship with Rijo, they wanted to go through him."

Gonzalez was signed on July 2, 2006, awarded with a bonus that doubled the offer of the next highest bidder, the Texas Rangers. By the start of next season, he was playing for the Washington's affiliate in the Gulf Coast League, a rookie ball level comprised largely of teenagers. Indeed, several of Gonzalez's teammates, interviewed today, spoke of a quiet suspicion many shared about the player's age. His face looked young, but he had a developed body.

"You can tell a teenager from an adult," said one teammate, who asked that his name not be used, because he is still in the organization. "The way that he carried himself and stuff like that -- teenagers didn't do that. At 19, he was kind of bald in the front. I was suspicious. And I would ask him, too. He'd tell me he was 19, and I would say, "C'mon, bro, stop lying."

Kasten, even months after the signing, had his own suspicions -- though he did not specify today about why they arose. "I heard rumors that circulate around baseball that were some irregularities related to this Esmailyn Gonzalez signing, whether it was the amount of money [he received] or where the money wound up going or whatnot; I kept hearing this," he said.

So Kasten went back to the MLB offices and asked, again, for investigators to examine the Gonzalez case. For the second time, they found nothing.

Meantime, Gonzalez flourished. In 2008, his second professional season, he played 51 games and hit .343, winning the GCL batting title. Success only fueled the rumors, though, and Kasten's concern about the player's age and identity lingered. Somewhere within the last six months, Kasten said today, he approached baseball with another request: "At least verify for me that he is who he is," Kasten recalled saying.

Only did on Tuesday did Major League Baseball give the official confirmation. The player's real birthday is sometime in November 1985 -- not on Sept. 21, 1989, as Washington previously believed. The four-year scheme to protect Gonzalez's identity included, according to Kasten, falsified hospital documents, falsified school documents, and family members that changed their identities.

Rijo, speaking today, denied any involvement in the scheme, and said the player he initially fell in love with always had the name Esmailyn Gonzalez.

Provided he is able to return to the US -- and Kasten indicated that the shortstop already has a new passport -- Washington will receive a prospect with the experience of two professional seasons and one alias. He is due to be in Viera, Fla., by March 13, the reporting date for Washington's minor league spring training. The Nationals might still try to recoup some of the initial signing bonus, but doing so will be an improbable mission. Alvarez could face suspension. At minimum, he'll return to the US as a dimmer prospect than he left.

His accomplishments last year, in retrospect, reflect a man competing among boys. Though Baseball America, a respected industry publication, ranked Gonzalez last month as the 10th-best prospect in the Washington organization, the player's standing now drops considerably. A 23-year-old in such competition produces numbers that are "meaningless," said Jim Callis, executive editor of Baseball America.

If the shortstop does arrive in camp next month, he will likely go by the name of Carlos Alvarez, Kasten said.

"I think those are the four names on his passport," Kasten said, looking at a copy of it. "I think those are the two he goes by. In fact, hold on, hold on -- he's got it right here on his passport." Kasten paused to look at a copy of the documentation. "You gotta believe the passport, right?"

By Chico Harlan  |  February 18, 2009; 8:51 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Kasten: "I am angry. We've been defrauded."
Next: John Wooden, Smiley, Odie


"You gotta believe the passport, right?"

Ok, that was funny.

Posted by: swang30 | February 18, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

>I can assure you, this is going to have serious repercussions."

BS: 'Hello'
SK: 'Yeah Bud, this is Stan Kasten'
BS: 'Stan, I understand we have to finger somebody, at least one person from your organization, and we can blacklist a couple of these Dominican agents. I'll have the dominican agent thing in writing at the end of this week'
SK: 'Bud I think we can do without Rijo, all that bs about scouting in the dominican was a load of crap anyway.'
BS: 'That's what I figured, I know you have to sell tickets and look smart by 'exploring all avenues.' Works every time, at least to buy time while you struggle.'
SK: 'Ok then, I'll keep making statements to the press to create movement, meanwhile we get our statements to jibe, and we'll be done with this by next week'.

Posted by: Brue | February 18, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Aw, Chico, assuming this is tomorrow's print story, you left out Kasten's best line: "We'll just refer to him as the player to be named later."

Posted by: AshburnVA | February 18, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

This is just my impression, but it seems they were putting a lot of faith in MLB to do their fact checking for them. Also seems that MLB maybe wasn't doing nearly as much as the club assumed they were.

I don't care what MLB said the were doing if I'm writing a 7 figure check, I'd want to know for myself that I'm buying what I think I'm buying.

Also intersting that the agent only met Vizcaino twice, not exactly johnny on the spot, which leads me to believe that this was not a scam targeting just the Nats, they cospirators were trying to market a bogus product by packaging a decent 20 yo player as a 16 yo phenom. Having Bowden as a patsy only makes it that much more profitable.

It will be very intersting to find out how much money "Smiley" and family got and how much went to the guys who set up this scam.

Posted by: estuartj | February 18, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if the perpetrators of this fraud own a used car dealership also. If not, they should.

Posted by: cokedispatch | February 18, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

RE: blog title

Shouldn't the title be, "How Alvarez Became Gonzales (He Became Smiley When He Got His $1.4 Million)"

Posted by: wigi | February 18, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

I remember reading here on the Post that the Lugo family had not gotten all the money but Carlos said he thought they did.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | February 18, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Gonzalez became Alvarez, I assume meaning the investigation.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | February 18, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

OK some potentially good news, or maybe bad, Griffey chose the Mariners over the Braves. Braves still need a power hittint outfielder (Willingham?), but it would be much better to send him out of our division considering his success last year vs the Nats.

This also likely removes another trade locatin for Nick Johnson since they likely don't have the salary room to take on NJ's contract unless we take back Washburn in return. We could use a good picher back for NJ, but Washburn just isn't that guy.

Posted by: estuartj | February 18, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

"His accomplishments last year, in retrospect, reflect a man competing among boys."

Like Kramer in his karate class, LOL!!

Posted by: NatsNut | February 18, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

"The Nationals might still try to recoup some of the initial signing bonus, but doing so will be an improbable mission."

"Esmailyn Gonzalez drives his gleaming white Cadillac Escalade through the narrow and pock-marked streets of Pizarrete ..."

Ironic that his mother's name is Ana Mercedes?

"The concrete structure will have two floors, four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a garage. It cost about 2 million Dominican pesos, or roughly $70,000."

Take the car. Sell it for 20k. Take the house. Real estate prices are in a swoon. tho.

"When asked if he was proud to take care of his parents, brother and four sisters, he speaks quickly in Spanish and grins from ear to ear. The rough translation: "Hell, yeah."

"Gonzalez has been compared to fellow shortstop Miguel Tejada, who grew up near Pizarrete in Bani, and Rijo said he's better than Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman when Guzman was Gonzalez's age."

"I would be worried if he would be like the average Dominican. He's not," Rijo said. "His attitude, his temper, it's unbelievable. I don't see the cockiness. I don't see the big head. It's unbelievable. He's patient at the plate. It's unbelievable, his quickness."

incroyable!!! inconceivable?

estoy firmado!!! go away FBI!!! YMOS JimB

Posted by: dhfrancoise | February 18, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: NatsNut | February 18, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse


Really nice writing. What a story. Thanks for telling it well.

Posted by: phillip4 | February 18, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

"Buscones have been known to juice players on steroids in the weeks before a tryout."

anyone ever have a testosterone shot? i have. 15 minutes later? wild, aggressive must.

estoy firmado!! go away fbi!!! ymos JimB

Posted by: dhfrancoise | February 18, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

OK some potentially good news, or maybe bad, Griffey chose the Mariners over the Braves. Braves still need a power hittint outfielder (Willingham?)
We could use a good picher back for NJ, but Washburn just isn't that guy.

Posted by: estuartj | February 18, 2009 9:42 PM

... what's this stuff all about, estuartj? Sounds an awful lot like baseball talk. Please get back on topic.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | February 18, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Can I second the good writing? It was very basic, just telling the facts, but doing it in an appealing style.

estuartj, what do the Braves have to offer? I thought they were more or less bereft and ready to switch to rebuilding mode.

Posted by: Section506 | February 18, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, don't know what I was thinking.

but to clarify for those just here to talk DR, Griffey going to the Mariners likely means they don't have money to take on Nick Johnson (if he even makes sense anymore) without dumping a bad contract, which Washburn has.

Posted by: estuartj | February 18, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

506, The Braves still have lots of talent available in the minors.

Sickels has them ranked #3 (for the 2nd straight year).

Posted by: estuartj | February 18, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but this just isn't much of a story to me.

Percentages say that only a handful of the team's top prospects will ever make it to the major leagues, so it's not like we were counting on him as the next Ryan Zimmerman.

From what I've heard, no National representative was part of the sleight of hand.

As long as it was deception by people outside of the organization towards the team, I say, "oh well." Live and learn.

Could the team be involved? Other than Jose Rijo, I'd have to say no.

Time will tell.

Posted by: rushfari | February 18, 2009 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Setting aside the question of whether the Nats (or anyone else) still wants him, there's a real question in my mind as to whether this prospect -- whatever his real name turns out to be -- hasn't rendered himself permanently inelligible for any sort of U.S. visa. In the post-2001 world of super-strict enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, engaging in visa fraud (i.e., knowlingly submitting a false passport, knowingly signing visa applications with a false identity, providing fake supporting documents such as forged birth certificates) is going to put this young man's future visa status under intense scrutiny. I'm no immigration lawyer, but at a minimum he's going to have to jump through a lot of hoops to get a waiver of inelligibility for future admittance to the U.S. if a waiver is even available in these circumstances.

Posted by: eddinska1 | February 19, 2009 12:49 AM | Report abuse

The Dominican Republic has been a part of shady dealings for awhile. Was that kid that got kicked out of Little League because he was 14 and not 12, from the Dominican Republic?

Miguel Tejada, also admitted to being older than his contract says he is.

A while back, I heard that some kids in the Dominican Republic use the same type of Steroids that are given to HORSES. They can't get a real prescription, so they go to VETS to get it for their horse. Then they inject themselves with it.

A-ROD is saying he got his Steroids over the counter from the Dominican Republic.

There is something wrong with a country that its male citizens are so desperate for MLB contracts, that they do drugs and falsify records to do so!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | February 19, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse

One day this team is going to trip and fall over backwards and tumble down a flight of stairs and accidentally do something right...right?

Posted by: shekb | February 19, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

... and now back to baseball, where we should be.

... estaurtj, I understand your reasoning about the loss of opportunity to trade Nick to Seattle. But I'm not as anxious to trade him, or anyone for that matter, so soon. To my way of thinking, I'd want to wait for a couple of weeks into ST before we start the bartering. It's not that I want to keep NJ that much; I'm willing to trade anyone to improve the team. But so far, all we know about anyone this year is on paper; at present, I don't think we are aware enough about what we already have on hand.

... when things begin to sort out on-field, then we ought to look for deals. If waiting causes us to miss out on a good trade, well, that's just the way it is.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | February 19, 2009 7:00 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather talk about on-field issues as well, but this story isn't trivial.

If someone in our organization (Rijo, for example) knew about it or God forbid had a piece of the action, it is a really big deal. It is criminal. We are ridiculed by most of the national media (e.g., Heyman, Law) for what seems like an almost unhealthy obsession with hatred of JimBow. But if someone employed by this franchise was in on it, we deserve the ridicule. And there's no way JimBow gets out from under it. Was he incredibly gullible or negligently dismissive of the red flags?

This story is not going to die until our front office is cleared (good) or heads roll as conspiracies are substantiated. Stan guaranteed it yesterday by not unconditionally defending the people working for the organization.

Posted by: ArlingtonNatsFan | February 19, 2009 7:20 AM | Report abuse

My gut feeling on this is that the repercussions won't go any higher than Jose Rijo, but I hope I'm wrong.

To me there are only two logical scenarios for what really happened:

1. Rijo and his buddies Vizcaino and Baez decided to fleece Bowden and the Nats.


2. Rijo, his buddies, AND BOWDEN decided to fleece the Nats.

There are some pretty well documented reasons to dislike and distrust JimBo, but ever since word of the FBI investigation I could never figure out what his motivation would have been to skim bonus money from a prospect.

Sure, his cut would have possibly been a couple hundred grand, but he was already making good money and would have been risking his entire career... But now that Stan has laid out the timeline I see things a little more clearly.

As Kasten pointed out, when this signing went down the team was in the process of changing hands. We seem to forget that around that time the consensus all over baseball was that Bowden was going to be out of a job; Kasten didn't like his style and would want to bring in his own people. Had he not gotten chummy with Mark Lerner, Trader Jim would be back working for ESPN right now... But at the time, nobody saw it coming that Bowden would keep his job.

With the knowledge that he was most likely on his way out, Bowden would have been way more likely to take a risk like that. I can finally see his motive.

But regardless of whether or not Jim was involved, the bottom line is that Rijo was HIS guy; he needs to be held accountable for that. I just don't see how you can keep a guy after a scandal of this magnitude where the best case scenario was "he's an idiot who got ripped off by his own friend and assistant."

It's time to promote Rizzo to GM.

Posted by: DCNationals | February 19, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

... please slap my wrists if I EVER again bring up the name Expos ... after this last time. But since Stan revealed this mess was underway when the team changed hands, and since the Expos were known for their Latin American (read DR) connections, I wonder how Omar Minaya might have – if ever – been involved or implicated in the whole affair. I hope not at all, since I want to keep my Montreal memories clean and clear.

... but I gotta ask.

... OTOH, the Expos were in the hands of Bud Light for three years or so in the interim, so maybe there is more to the MLB connection to this than first meets the eye.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | February 19, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

"To me there are only two logical scenarios for what really happened:

1. Rijo and his buddies Vizcaino and Baez decided to fleece Bowden and the Nats.


2. Rijo, his buddies, AND BOWDEN decided to fleece the Nats."

Or 3. Rijo himself was fleeced by his childhood friend. It surely would not be the first time such a thing has happened. People have been betrayed by those they trust the most since the dawn of time.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 19, 2009 7:54 AM | Report abuse

I would say Jimbo is out on the limbo!

Posted by: fearturtle44 | February 19, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

So if the Lerners didn't even own the team yet this is just another episode of our Nats getting the brunt of the blame for the 29 other owners' shameful mishandling of our franchise.

They all kicked us to the curb and stand over us laughing? If these other teams fans start piling on, please remind them it was on their watch.

All our records and scouts moved to Florida and all our best players were sent to Cleveland.

I'm more angry than embarrassed.

Baseballwise, our team is looking better everday. I can't blame Bowden for that.

Posted by: longterm | February 19, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

And Rijo knew him when he was 18 and assumed he was 14?

Come on. If this were a girl in school nobody would give the benefit to Rijo. Those ages reflect a huge difference in maturity and physicality.

I'm mostly suspicious he just wanted his academy to get a kick start.

"But it was the culture back then." i'm hearing that excuse everywhere now. all these guys knew it was wrong yet knew they could profit.

Posted by: longterm | February 19, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Congrats to Chico on achieving front page, section A status (it was below the fold, but that's more on the Nats than Chico). I dream of the day when the team achieves front page status for good news, like, say, a playoff berth...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 19, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

The age scam has been going on so long in the DR and the conspiracies run deep.

You have to worry with any recruit these days whether or not they use PED's and if they come from a foreign country (any country) that they are of the correct age, name, and their collective statistics are not tainted.

If MLB wants to get real, they should institute a "voluntary" polygraph.

After the whole steroids thing and now this, the dishonesty level is just crazy.

The Nationals never would have taken Smiley Alverez Lugo if they knew his real age. He wasn't a 16 year old phenom rather a good 20 year old player.

Ay caramba!!!!

Posted by: dmacman88 | February 19, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Someone involved with one of the Someone with a Nationals' minor league team told me last season that Bowden never comes to see the team play. GMs for other teams spend more time visiting our minor league teams than Bowden--according to knowledgable sources. Best case scenario is that Bowden relied exclusively on Rijo, probably never saw the kid play until well after he was signed, was too busy chasing skirts to check behind the situation.

Posted by: Juliasdad | February 19, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

To me, the most interesting part of the Kasten presser yesterday was the point that Loverro made - he's clearly drawing a line between those who were part of the new ownership, who were presented with an open and shut case on "Smiley," and those who did the presenting. That clearly puts Bowden on the wrong side of that line. Some folks may read the Kasten-speak as prelude to sweeping it away. I see it as a warning shot that indicates that the Nats are going to have some sort of shakeup.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | February 19, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I had the same impression from Kasten's presser, Hwy 295. Will be interesting to see what develops.

Also, Chico has a new post up, as does the Bog (another Nats one).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 19, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

"This also likely removes another trade locatin for Nick Johnson since they likely don't have the salary room to take on NJ's contract unless we take back Washburn in return. We could use a good picher back for NJ, but Washburn just isn't that guy.

Posted by: estuartj | February 18, 2009 9:42 PM "

Well - the As have a surplus of starters and relievers, although they may be stretched for rotation innings a bit without Harden, Blanton, and Smith. But they have one pitcher with a really cool name (I don't mean his first name Josh). How'd you like a to here an announcement at Nats Park:

"Now pitching for the Nationals - Outman!"

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 19, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

"If MLB wants to get real, they should institute a "voluntary" polygraph.

After the whole steroids thing and now this, the dishonesty level is just crazy."

Between the MLB and MLBPA, tough to get anything too drastic going. Not sure if someone is an unsigned prospect, if you could voluntarily ask them to submit to a polygraph, but it is a good idea. If they won't do a polygraph, then you know to stay away.

It's a sad commentary on today's society that you can't trust many people.

If Stan Kasten knew the truth back in 2006, he might not have signed him and certainly for that type of money. Smiley may have taken someone else's spot as I am sure they were looking at multiple young players.

Given the real age of this young man, he is probably close to being fully developed and no longer a top prospect. Big difference in a 16 year old and a 20 year old and a 19 year old and a 23 year old.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 19, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

>It's a sad commentary on today's society that you can't trust many people.

Hey - you can't trust ANYBODY. If you have millions of dollars, and I have nothing, why wouldn't I do something to try and get some of the money? Smiley would have nothing if he didn't lie. It takes balls to tell someone who hasn't even got shoes to keep living like that and be 'honest'. What, like the guy is going to heaven or something if he dies of starvation? Get real

Posted by: Brue | February 19, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

This is just not that big of a story. The Nats got scammed in a DR free agent signing? So what! Welcome to the not so exclusive club. The rest of MLB does not rant and rage to the media when stuff like this happens (and it happens A LOT). They deal with it. Gonzalez/Alvarez, whomever this kid is, has nothing to do with the MLB club. Let the investigators and the parties to the contract do their thing to work it out.

BTW: Does anyone think that Andruw Jones, who has completely fallen apart as a player, did so prior to reaching his reported ripe old age of 31?

Posted by: dfh123 | February 19, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, baseball will look into this. Just like Bush looked into the Valerie Plame leak.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | February 19, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

We complain about the consequences of codding athletes, in particular their bad behavior and sense of entitlement.

Yet in reading all the posts here, I see eagerness to blame everyone but the player who lied about his age and his identity, and who we must presume was a major -- if not the major -- beneficiary of the scam.

Why the reluctance to blame -- and punish -- Gonzalez/Alvarez? Not out of vengeance, but basic decency. What employer would ever on the one hand accuse an employee of a "premeditated fraud" and then hand him a promotion, as the Nationals are being encouraged by some fans to do?

How would anyone expect this kind of behavior to stop if it is rewarded like that?

I would release him outright and try to get as much money back as possible, and I don't care how good a ballplayer he might become. BTW, from everything we know about Ted Lerner, I'd be surprised if he doesn't feel the same way.

As for the culpability of the rest of them, especially Bowden, I'm waiting to hear what the FBI has to say. It should get really interesting.

Posted by: Meridian1 | February 19, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

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