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Kasten: "I am angry. We've been defrauded."

For about 20 minutes today, Washington Nationals team president Stan Kasten spoke to the media about the false identity of the prospect formerly known as Esmailyn Gonzalez. In the coming minutes, as you refresh this blog, a transcript of what he said will grow. Kasten described "a deliberate, premeditated fraud..." that involved numerous levels. The start of the transcript follows below.

KASTEN

It's just another complicated day, so it's taken me a while to be able to have anything to say about this, so let me give you all I can. I'm not going to be able -- as you'll understand why -- to give you too much in the way of detail, but let me give you some background on this and if there are questions at the end I'll do what I can.

I've known about this coming for the last couple of weeks; I got a heads-up a few weeks ago. I received confirmation from MLB yesterday, formally, that the player that we thought was Esmailyn Gonzalez was not. He has some other name, and I'm not exactly sure how to refer to him, so for now I'll just call him "the player to be named later." But his birthday is November 1985. And he's not Esmailyn Gonzalez, 19. He's someone else. I think he will go by Carlos Alvarez, but I'm not sure. And he's 23.

You know, to say I'm disappointed doesn't begin to describe how I feel. I'm angry. I am very angry. We've been defrauded, and make no mistake -- this wasn't a college kid with a fake ID that came in and did this. This was a deliberate, premeditated fraud with a lot more to this story, and we are going to get to the bottom of it. There were many, many people involved in this premeditated fraud.

Let me give you some background on all of this... We were awarded the team in early May [2006], and really soon thereafter, within maybe two weeks or three weeks, right in the early stage of the transition, we did not yet own the team, Jim [Bowden] 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. 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.' So we did support their recommendation, and we went ahead and signed him on the first day we were able to, which was July 2. And that day is significant because that's the date in the year that MLB lets you sign kids born in that year. And this is important -- all the MLB procedures were followed. MLB undertakes the responsibility to verify ages and names. After 9/11 they set up an office in the Dominican Republic to do all that. It's still kind of bad down there in terms of identities, but it used to be much, much worse.

All of that was done. We got verification from the MLB people that this was his name and this was his age. Real soon thereafter -- I don't know if it was that summer, but certainly by that winter -- I heard rumors that circulate around baseball that were some irregularities related to this Esmailyn Gonzalez signing, whether it was the amount of money or where the money wound up going or whatnot; I kept hearing this. And you know, it was disquieting to me, and so I went back to baseball and I asked for their help... So we're talking now 2007, and I said, 'I want to get to the bottom of this.'

And, you know, they came back to me and said we've checked it out and the nearest we can figure, everything is in order. And that's the way it stood until two things happened. The first was the Mitchell Report. And that's significant because an outgrowth of the Mitchell Report is MLB's department of investigations. The second thing that happened was the White Sox situation, the incident you all know about - the cash, payoffs, allegations in the Dominican. And the department of investigations started digging into that dilemma...

In the course of that investigation, they've talked to a number of teams, and they are and have talked to our team as well. I think partially because of the Esmailyn Gonzalez rumors, but for other general reasons, too. And so this went on through the summer. But I kept hearing these rumors, and while I know this longer investigation will take a long time, I did go to them four months ago, six months ago, and said: 'Do this for me. Let me narrow this down for you guys. I keep hearing all kinds of things, but at least verify for me that he is who he is, and his birthdate is his birthdate. Surely you guys can do that.' And it took them this long, but they did crack through it. All the people that had verified his name and age in the past were mistaken, and it was just in the last few weeks that they finally, conclusively, determined that this was not Esmailyn Gonzalez, this was not a 19-year-old; he was in fact someone else who was 23.

Now this is very important. You need to know this. This was not a teenager who walks in with his college ID and lays his card on the table and signs a contract. This was an elaborate, premeditated scheme that no teenager concocted. No teenager executed this fraud. There were a number of people involved in it. When you guys learn -- you won't today -- but soon you will... when you learn the lengths these participants went to perpetrate this fraud, you're gonna be amazed. Falsified hospital documents. Falsified school documents. Other family members changing their identities. Bribes were paid. Really elaborate stuff. And I have to give MLB's department of investigations a lot of credit. They really do deserve a lot of credit for finally cracking through this. ... I can assure you, this is going to have serious repercussions. I have people examining all possible avenues of recourse with regard to any legal and financial concerns, No. 1.

No. 2, of course, there's another dimension, and that's the baseball future for this player. Let's face it, false IDs still happen too frequently in our sport. To our team, to other teams. We routinely sign kids or offer kids deals and they get kicked out by MLB before the contract gets signed after MLB verifies the ID is false... So these things are going on, but they are usually caught because the scheme is not elaborate. And I suppose it's usually because it doesn't involve this much money. In this case, it wasn't caught, and that is a shame for all of us. I also know, because it's happened to me before, that there are instances of players continuing their careers after these kind of things happened. Becoming Major Leaguers, and even becoming all-stars...

At the same time, I have to tell you, I am familiar with one-year and two-year fibs. This is a four-year fib. That's... you know, in our world this is a big difference between being a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old. Do I know what his future holds as a baseball player? I don't. I would say clearly he remains a prospect, but I would say a very different kind of prospect today. I am just not prepared to say what is going to happen to him in his career just yet. We're thinking this through, and there's a lot still going on. That's really all I can say. There's a lot going on that we're doing internally. A lot going on behind the scenes with MLB, still, with this very issue. But you can rest assured you're going to be hearing more about specific action taken as a result of this in the days and weeks ahead. You can count on that.

Q: No. 1, are the Lerners going to try to get their bonus back? And No. 2, are you going to look into your own people in the organization?

I'm not going to talk about specifics for today. Rest assured that we are studying many, many things right now, and as I said we'll have more detail for you on the repercussions from this, and the actions taken, in the days and weeks to come. Again, there are further complications here. At the time this all happened, we didn't own the team. These people didn't work for us. That is just a complication. Yes, we went along with the deal, for sure we did. But, it's just one more factor we're sorting through while all of this is being studied.

Q: Does this make you reevaluate any of the team's protocols for doing business down there, or any of the relationships that the team currently has there?

I have to tell you, I've been chasing this for almost two years now as I told you, and it has caused me to be more circumspect than I have in my whole career in our dealings down there, frankly... The protocols are the baseball protocols. I think 90-percent of the time they're very effective. We've turned kids in that baseball has kicked out for fraudulent IDs. That's usually how it works, and it didn't work in this case, and that's a shame.

Q: You said the scope of this fraud was massive in terms of how many people are involved? Do you have reason to believe whether anybody in your organization was a part of that?

I'm not going to say anything right now while the investigation continues, and you know, you know how I am about this. I am going to let all conclusions be reached. I want it pursued to the very end. The chips will fall where they may. I just want to uncover everything I can possibly uncover, and that's what I have asked baseball's help in.

Q: Have you or anybody with the team been in contact with the player?

There have been some people in touch with him... It's been a tricky last, I would say, three weeks. But I cannot yet tell you anything more about his status or about our communication for now.

Q: Will he be in camp in a couple weeks?

I am not prepared to say yet. I will tell you, he apparently already has secured his new passport. I have seen the new passport. He has one. I think a visa would be granted; that is what I have been told. I think that's already been arranged as well.

By Chico Harlan  |  February 18, 2009; 5:50 PM ET
 
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Next: How Gonzalez Became Alvarez

Comments

Start rolling heads, Stan.

Starting with Bowden and Rijo.

Posted by: MrMadison | February 18, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

just from the beginning of this, it looks like Kasten is prepping us for holding no one on the Nats staff responsible.

Posted by: bottomfeeders10 | February 18, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I don't see the Nationals as having done anything wrong other than being duped. If the proper info was provided, then Bowden did nothing other than being aggressive.

Posted by: rushfari | February 18, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Houston we have a problem.

If MLB was also cross-checking his name and age and was defrauded as well, this one is bigger than just the Nats.

No wonder the FBI is snooping around.

Posted by: ArlingtonNatsFan | February 18, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

there should be some charge-pressing involved with any Nats FO personnel involved in this scam.

Posted by: MrMadison | February 18, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm not so sure about Nat's management not holding anyone responsible. Basically the first thing Kasten said was "Jimbo talked us into dumping a whole bunch of cash on this kid".

I see walking papers in Jimbo's future. Probably just wishful thinking, though.

Posted by: joebleux | February 18, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like MLB, Rijo, and the buscone all have their hands full. Trader Jim's seat just got a little toastier, but the Stanspeak does not seem to indicate that he's on the chopping block, as Stan believes he was simply conveying others' [read: scouts, etc.] information to the ownership group.

Posted by: faNATic | February 18, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I've been a Bowden-defender for a long time, or at least trying to hold off what appear to be irrational attacks on Bowden's performance. HOWEVER, if there's any hint that either Bowden or Rijo knew of the shenanigans, Bowden needs to go. You just can't let that stand.

...and dammit, why aren't we beating the bushes in Korea, South America, and other closer-to-legal places for talent???? Those damn Koreans threw the ball past everyone 3 years ago.

Posted by: Section406 | February 18, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I doubt anyone will be fired (it's the wrong time of year) but it does sound like JimBo might be in trouble. Kasten seems to suggest it was Bowden who wanted to do this and Bowden who should have known more about the player. (Talent at the very least. If the player isn't as good as advertised whose fault is that?) It's certainly a situation worth watching and I cannot wait to learn more details.

Posted by: grforbes | February 18, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Please, someone explain to me why Bowden should be fired. Other teams made offers as well.
How could he have prevented this?

Posted by: rushfari | February 18, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

this is MUCH, MUCH more embarrassing than not signing our #1 pick. this is absolutely inexcusable, and the Nats will be ripped for it for months. and there's nothing we can say about it in defense of the team.

Something needs to be done, and a message needs to be sent here.

Posted by: MrMadison | February 18, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Kasten said he's known about this "for weeks". if he's known that long and was going to fire Bowden, he'd have done it.

Posted by: bottomfeeders10 | February 18, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Please, someone explain to me why Bowden should be fired. Other teams made offers as well.
How could he have prevented this?

Posted by: rushfari | February 18, 2009 6:07 PM

the 2nd highest bid was from Texas for 700k. We paid 1.4m. that's twice as much as anyone else was willing to offer. normally you outbid someone yes, but you don't double the highest offer right off the bat. that raises suspicion.

every single other team that negotiated for the guy, negotiated with Gonzalez's Agent.

Bowden did not. Bowden negotiated with a buscone(who are notorious scam artists when it comes to skimming bonuses) who was a close childhood friend of Jose Rijo. that raises suspicion.

it raised so much suspicion that both Bowden and Rijo came under FBI investigation over it. I don't recall seeing anyone else's name specifically mentioned as being under investigation by the FBI in regards to their Bonus-skimming investigation.


Posted by: MrMadison | February 18, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

The next closest offer was half that -- $700,000 by the Rangers, another team that doesn't know what the heck it's doing. Bowden should be fired, not because he's crooked, but because he's stupid. He thought that he could come up with a hot prospect that nobody knew about -- he was duped. The perpetrators of this scheme looked for a sucker, and his name was Jim Bowden.

Posted by: mike8 | February 18, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

It looks like the Chinese women's gymnastics team advised Smiley's people.

Posted by: ericp331 | February 18, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

I think that Rijo was involved with the buscone in planning and perpetrating this scam, and Bowden was just the idiot patsy they used to get it done. he was so desperate to do something big and flashy in order to try and stay employed when the Lerners took over that he was the perfect idiot to pull one over on.

but that's just my personal opinion.

Posted by: MrMadison | February 18, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

okay, sure. a couple things don't sound right for Bowden and Rijo. 1)Sounds like Bowden had been working the "Smiley" case long before his new mgt showed up and talked them into the deal before the new ownership's ink was even dry and 2) Rijo was supposedly friends with the buscone.

But still, I stop at the point where Bowden knew anything about the age problem besides maybe a hunch. Kasten's saying this age thing got by *MLB* back in the day, and it even took current *investigators* a long time to figure it out.

at any rate, this sounds big and will be fun to follow.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 18, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I'm parsing this too carefully, but Stan sure sounds like he's creating a "we" v. "them" distinction that indicates someone is in big trouble. "We didn't own the team. These people didn't work for us."

Posted by: Section220 | February 18, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse


I think that Rijo was involved with the buscone in planning and perpetrating this scam, and Bowden was just the idiot patsy they used to get it done. he was so desperate to do something big and flashy in order to try and stay employed when the Lerners took over that he was the perfect idiot to pull one over on.
Posted by: MrMadison
--------------------------
This

Posted by: Lifeaftertweak | February 18, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Wow. The more updates I read on this the more it sounds like something big may actually happen internally.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 18, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Game over. Mr. Madison wins the thread.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | February 18, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

The thing that strikes me is how clearly Stan talks about JimBo bringing this to him right off the bat, just as soon as the new ownership group had been approved.

Doesn't sound good for Bowden, but we'll see how it unfolds.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | February 18, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see that Stan the Plan Man still has some fight in him. Kasten realizes that the organization is on the verge of becoming a laughing stock within and outside the industry. Does this mean that JimBow and JimBoy Rijo are going to be the fall guys? Not unless Mark Lerner gets over his bromance with Buscone Bowden and decides that enough is enough. Some days it's really hard to be a fan of this organization because of the apparent benign neglect of the Lerners. Ted and Mark should give Kasten a big broom to sweep JimBow and the Cincinnati Kids out of the upper levels and start over with Mike Rizzo in charge. If perception is indeed reality, that would be a refreshing and much overdue change.

Posted by: leetee1955 | February 18, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

I can't tell who is to blame, but perhaps Stan is inferring that he and the investigators do. He doesn't quite say that. I can't imagine they get the money back. I can't imagine that they subsequently continue to develop this player - at least not without his full and complete participation in the continued investigation and subsequent prosecution. Even with that cooperation, I would think the only way to get back the investment would be for him to pay off as a prospect and subsequently garnish his wages. Consider the complexities of that maneuver....

Posted by: natbisquit | February 18, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Rob Neyer and Keith Law have both weighed in on the Smiley debacle on ESPN.com.

Neyer
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3916959&name=Neyer_Rob

Law
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3916915&name=law_keith

Posted by: leetee1955 | February 18, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Stan says it wasn't us; it was MLB who didn't do the hard work.

But he also says:

"We routinely sign kids or offer kids deals and they get kicked out by MLB before the contract gets signed after MLB verifies the ID is false... "

... the blunt truth is that it takes two to tango; it takes two to commit frauds such as these.

... where George Mitchell?

Posted by: natscanreduxit | February 18, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

And while we're on the subject, Odalis Perez looks older than 31 too. I'm just sayin...

Posted by: NatsNut | February 18, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Posted this to NFA a few minutes ago - thought I'd cross-pollinate here & see what NJ has to say about it.
-------------------
In light of the revalation regarding Gonzalez/Lugo, I would have to think that the Nationals have to be looking into revamping their entire DSL operation.
First of all, cutting their investment by constricting to a single team in the DSL, if remaining as a presence at all; secondly, by instituting some sort of “vetting” process for the validation of players they employ on that team; finally, by cutting ties with Club officials / representatives who are directly associated with this.
Baez / Rijo / Bowden (all CIN ‘mafia’ members by association), your days with the Nationals’ should be numbered, and don’t look for favorable reference letters to prospective employers.


Posted by: BinM | February 18, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

So did Livo. Just sayin.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 18, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Where George Mitchell?? Easy! He's in the Middle East, straightening out a 4,000 year old problem. Certainly easier than if he had gotten the job that he really wanted, MLB Commissioner.

Posted by: Catcher50 | February 18, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

As a tangential effect of this, the negotiations for Strasburg's contract just got even tougher. Add this as the cherry on top of the Crow mess last summer and it's all the more imperative that the Nats draft and sign Strasburg to repair their industry reputation. If you listen close you can hear the faint rumblings of "muwahahahaha" coming from underneath whatever rock Boras is taking residence under.

I keep waiting for Strasburg to pull an Elway/Eli and have Boras tell the Nats not to bother drafting him because he'll never sign with them. San Diego holding the #2 pick scares me just enough to think this is a possibility - and days like today sure as hell don't help make it any less likely.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | February 18, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

@leetee: Thanks for posting the espn links. Another black-eye for the Nationals' organization; Law's comments seemed suprisingly measured, in my mind. I'd have to think some heads will fall under the guillotine on this one.

Posted by: BinM | February 18, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

@Rickety:

Remember, the players under "Boras' Big Top" don't deal with GM's, they deal directly with the owners, whenever possible. The Lerners' still have the goodwill from the Texeira negotiations 'in the bank' for openers with either Strasburg or Green.

Posted by: BinM | February 18, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

At least this thing seems to be coming to a head. Hope that we will hear about specific actions be taken in the days and weeks ahead, as Kasten states, so that the team can move on without the Sword of Esmailyn hanging over its head.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 18, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Mariner's pick 2nd and SD is 3rd.

If there is a club in worse shape than the Nats its the Mariners...

Posted by: estuartj | February 18, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Rijo and Bowden are baseball's worst kept secret. Jokes. Players are realizing Jose skims. Yes, I said it.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | February 18, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Hey, hey, ho, ho Bowden and Rio its time to go!

Just another reason why MLB should include these "south of the border" phenoms in the annual draft. Its unfair that all the US college players have to play by the rules while these mofo's probably are being used by their no good war-lord handlers for scams, lies and big bucks.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | February 18, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

this is absurd. if kasten fires bowden i surely hope its for reasons other than a bunch of fanatics that don't have any specific details.

if he did something wrong, fine. i just don't read this with blood in my eyes like a lot of you do.

is this a new thing, internet mob mentality? you get to hide behind numbers and your computer. wow, i'm impressed.

this is more about homeland security and border control and mlb, but everyone in here wants it to be about bowden. even if you're proven right, this was too personal. kasten is right to be angry, but i don't think anyone in here knows a thing other than what they want.

Posted by: longterm | February 18, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Jim, errr, I mean, longterm - what a fitting name.

I'm only saying Bowden should get fired if he is found of wrong doing, but there is reason to believe there could be - or atleast reason to believe he knew of wrong doing.

Look at the connections between himself, Rijo, Baez, and the buscone. and the fact that the Nats doubled the second highest ofer. and the fact that the FBI is all ready investigating.

Seems suspicious? Is suspicious.

Tons of smoke, means there's fire.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | February 18, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

IF Kasten DID see this guys passport WHY IN THE HELL DIDN'T THIS REPORTER ASK WHOSE NAME WAS ON THE PASSPORT11111. that question --as far as I know--didn't get asked--it would be VERY INTERESTING TO KNOW WHOSE NAME KASTEN SAW--AND WAS THAT THE FIRST TIME KASTEN KNEW ABOUT THIS SCREW UP!!!!

Posted by: vergens2 | February 18, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

"... is this a new thing, internet mob mentality? you get to hide behind numbers and your computer. wow, i'm impressed."

... but longterm, we are members of this discussion group ... so we can 'discuss'. I.e. we get to be provocative; we get to say whatever we have in mind; we get run ideas up the NJ flagpole to see who's saluting. And we get to do this because we don't have any real power save for our voice; we don't have any real authority save for that of the fan. If any of us were to find ourselves in a real position wheer we could effect any change, no doubt we'd all be professional, tolerant, reasoned and level. But here, we can express extreme notions ... because we can

Posted by: natscanreduxit | February 18, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Stan took a page out of freshman year of law school -- 'I am outraged and I will get to the bottom of this!!! Bowden isn't going anywhere. Those alibi artists will spin it so that somebody in MLB's office gets fingered for insufficient vetting. The league did it!!! I am outraged!!!! We did all we could!! Don't you believe me??!!!?

I mean, just because half the people on here are sick of Bowden's mediocre ability and white trash attitude doesn't mean that it can't be spun away from him. That's what these guys do. They'll cut ties with Rijo but Bowden will survive. They'll keep Gonzalez or whatever his name is around for a couple more years and get some labor out of him for their money.

I mean, did they fire Bowden's ass when we had the worst record, and he chose somebody who wouldn't sign for us in a million years in the draft? Of course not.

Posted by: Brue | February 18, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

I think it's safe to say that the name on his passport and visa was Gonzalez. If he was running around using his real name with ICE there's no way it would have taken MLB so long to figure this out.

He took on a full new identity, birth certificate, hospital records, school records, passport, visa, EVERYTHING. Even had family member take on new names too.

Posted by: estuartj | February 18, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Where are the MIB when you need them.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | February 18, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

> If he was running around using his real name with ICE there's no way it would have taken MLB so long to figure this out

Or if he was using steroids lol. They're all crooked as hell and all they care about is the bottom line. Remember that Bud voted himself a huge raise during a recession. I am outraged!!!! yawn

Posted by: Brue | February 18, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

the hits just keep on comin'. new post.

Posted by: leetee1955 | February 18, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm with longterm here. And the venom goes beyond Bowden -- folks are ready to can Kasten, too! It looks to me as if Kasten did what he could to resolve the questions about the player -- he went back to the MLB, the entity that had validated the player's identity in the first place, and asked them to review this further. I'm not sure what else he could have done.

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

You're supposed to do the investigation BEFORE signing the prospect not afterwards. It's called due diligence.

Kasten has nobody to blame but himself

Posted by: nativedc | February 18, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

They should have suspected something was hinky when Bernie Madoff showed up to negotiate the contract...

Posted by: Samson151 | February 19, 2009 7:27 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.

or

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 7:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Bowden is at fault here.

He thought the guy was 16 so it was going to take a big bonus to sign him.

There is no reason for Bowden to want to overpay for a 19 year old.

That being said, Bowden is average at best as a Gm.

Posted by: Pensfans | February 19, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Looking at this logically it does not seem that Bowden had a motive to be part of the scam. First of all the 1.4 million signing bonus would have to be split in so many ways with the player, his family, his buscones, Rijo and everyone else who knew the true identity that the money flowing up the chain would be insignificant. Secondly, Bowden would have far more to lose than anyone else in the chain. If the scam involved him he would be the one who would be prosecuted in the U.S. for fraud. If Bowden was guilty of anything it would his overeagerness to make a splash for his new bosses. He played the part of the fool very well.

Posted by: driley | February 19, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Many of those commenting claim the size of the (1.4 million) signing bonus is a sign of Bowden's complicity. If you check the newspaper articles at the time, the ostensible reason was to make a splash, to put an anemic farm system on the radar in the DR. It's kind of like how the team just spent too much on Dunn, because they stink and need to convince free agents they're serious if they ever want a decent player to sign with them again.

A black eye for Bowden? Sure. Sufficient evidence of his complicity and reason to howl for his head? Definitely not.

Posted by: none57 | February 19, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

If this really is a massive fraud, as Kasten says, and as I believe it is, why are we talking about the player's baseball future?

Why wouldn't he be cuffed and arrested the moment he steps off the plane?

Why would ANY organization employ someone who had defrauded it -- the other word is embezzlement -- of serious money?

Say what you want about Rijo and Bowden and all these other clowns, but the main perpetrator is the player himself, who was the main perpetrator and beneficiary of the fraud.

It will be an outrage if he appears in a Nationals uniform (and spare me the violins about how the Dominican kids are poor, etc.).

Posted by: Meridian1 | February 19, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I want Bowden or who ever the Nats GM is, to be aggressive!! Let get real here, MLB had put this team in a HUGE hole and stripped it of ALL its resources!! They had to take greater chances to compete!!
In the end, it took MLB three bites at the apple before this scheme was uncovered!! How can anyone in the Nats front office be blamed for not uncovering what took the investigative division of MLB to three tries to do!!

Posted by: dkidwell61 | February 19, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

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