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Kasten At Press Club

This afternoon, Nats team president Stan Kasten spoke for one hour at the National Press Club. The first 30 minutes, during which he delivered a speech about the "three metrics" of Washington's bright future, mined mostly familiar territory. There was the Build With Young Pitching portion. The Top-Notch Stadium Experience portion. And third, the Community Relations portion.

Kasten spoke at length about the on-field product, and how the young pitching staff that has him feeling "very optimistic" about the organization's future. (He mentioned that Atlanta manager Bobby Cox spoke to him recently and said, "It's really happening" -- as in, Cox now believes Kasten has replicated the build-with-young-arms formula mastered by the Braves in the early-90s.) He said of Nationals Park, "I have to tell you, as a I travel around the country to all the different stadiums, our stadium is as fine a stadium as there is anywhere in baseball. It's more beautiful than virtually any stadium I can think of." He also spent about eight minutes speaking about the community outreach efforts made by the organization and its affiliated charities.

Of course, the best part of the Kasten experience is watching him field questions. Mostly because the fielding is just as often an apt, lawyerly deflection. Or a quick, purposeful redirection to another topic.

One example:

Q: What should happen to all the players who did steroids? Specifically, should Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and A-Rod be kept out of the Hall of Fame?

KASTEN: Wow, that's a question I came here to ask all of you. Because it's the writers who decide who belongs in the Hall of Fame (laughter). So can we get some opinions out there?

(And no, he never did offer his own opinion.)

That said, the Q&A session certainly had its highlights. He offered what I'd consider his most-emphatic-yet support of Manny Acta -- at least since the rumor period began last week -- and expressed disappointment about the team's struggles to cultivate talent internationally. Here are a few full Q&A segments from the afternoon.

---

Q: As president of the Washington Nationals, how much blame do you shoulder for the performance of the team?

KASTEN: Well, I shoulder all of it. As I said, I will take that responsibility because until we get it right, it's not right. But, as I said, right now, I'm the village idiot. I get that. I'm aware of that. I'm not proud of it, but, with resignation, I get that.

Q: Who will succeed Manny Acta, and when?

KASTEN: You know, I can't explain -- this has come up... there were media reports last week, writing about media reports, and I've been asked about this every day since the first week of the season when we got off to a slow start. So in Manny's case, I happen to be a big fan of his. I think he has the demeanor to be a long-term solution as a manager. He has the demeanor of a Bobby Cox and others who have been successful. I had this great talk around the batting cage last night with Terry Francona, the young, possibly genius manager of the Boston Red Sox. And I said, 'Terry, I remember when you were a dummy as manager of the Phillies.' And he says, 'Stan, I promise you, I'm still a dummy, I just have better players.' It's so true. And I have always from the beginning supported Manny. I can't predict whether it will work here, but I think he will, I think he's going to serve as a long-term manager here. That's my hope.

Q: Stephen Strasburg has been called The One, The Savior of the Nationals --

KASTEN (Interrupting): Mostly by his agent. (Laughter)

Q, cont'd.: His agent, Scott Boras, is will aware of this. The largest contract given to an amateur player is $10.5 million awarded to Mark Prior in 2001. Now people are throwing around numbers like $20, $30 and even $50 million. How are negotiations going, and more importantly, is there a limit to how much you can invest in one player, especially for someone who has never played a professional game?

KASTEN: Obviously I never negotiate in the press, and I'm not going to today. I will talk about Stephen. One of the real cool things about the rotation that we're putting together here is, we're developing the same kind of atmosphere we had in Atlanta. A very close one. Great friendships, but also on the other side of it, great competitiveness. They want to out-do the others, but they also want to pick the others up. That kind of cohesion really goes a long way; it's exactly what we had in Atlanta. It's what we're developing here. And what's very cool about this is, What a perfect environment for Stephen Strasburg. He couldn't have a better place to grow and contribute. No quicker path to a big league rotation, and he'll be a very good addition to the club we have here. And the other side is, they'll be a great environment for him.

Q: Can you give us some thoughts on what should be done to improve an under-performing defense?

KASTEN: Yeah. We need better defensive players. I assure you, we have as many quality coaches as anybody in baseball, specifically on the positions on the field. And we work as hard -- in fact, we work more on players with defense (than anybody else in baseball). I will tell you that as a fact... But still, there are some players who aren't very good. And so you have to figure out how to mix those who might be good offensively but less so defensively. There is room -- and every winning franchise has players who aren't good defensively. But there are parts of the ballclub that have to be good defensively. We think we can do that, we can achieve a good defense, while still being good offensively. It may mean some additions and name changes and some new parts from this season to the next, but it can be done.

One other note from the Kasten speech, and I'll forgo the full answer here, only because the sound quality on my tape recorder (I was seated far away from the speaker himself) became kind of blurry.

But Kasten also addressed the Dominican issue, post-Smiley. He said, "we still have not developed the pipeline that we need to have. And this, I will tell you -- on the player development level, this has been my biggest disappointment so far." He then recited the basics of the Smiley story, Bowden's suggested pursuit of this phenom, the Lerners' approval of a seven-figure bonus, etc. Kasten then said, "We've certainly been set back by the missteps... Because this year we're so heavily weighted in the draft, we know we won't be able to make our next international push until 2010."

By Chico Harlan  |  June 25, 2009; 3:28 PM ET
 
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Next: Kasten's Statement of Support, and Talk About Bats

Comments

I've been singing this for two years around the house (my kids think I've gone mad)! Tonight, with some lyrical variation, we could sing it during both halves of an inning.
___________________________
When Zimm the National hits one
Everybody's gonna jump for joy.
Go on, get out (did you see it!)
Go on, get out (where he hit it!)
You've not seen nothing like
the mighty Zimm

Posted by: greggwiggins

Posted by: lowcountry | June 25, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm imagining the rest of that conversation between Francona and Kasten--

Terry: Stan, I remember when you were a genius with the Braves, and now here you are as a dummy with the Nationals.

Stan: Terry, I promise you, I'm still a genius.

Posted by: Cosmo06 | June 25, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I feel like the guy is trying to sell me a '76 Ford Pinto.

Stan, I want the CarFax.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 25, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

"He has the demeanor of a Bobby Cox and others who have been successful."


Stan, I don't see Manny arguing with umps and getting tossed from games like old Bobby C. does. You know, the kind of things that managers do to stand behind their players and turn the momentum....like Terry Francona did last night which turned the game around for his team.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 25, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I work here and I told Jane to make sure you were aware of this event. Did you get an email from her?

Posted by: jonfhoffman | June 25, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"Because this year we're so heavily weighted in the draft, we know we won't be able to make our next international push until 2010."

Cheap bastards.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 25, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Post of the Day nomination, Cosmo!

Posted by: lowcountry | June 25, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

"I'm imagining the rest of that conversation between Francona and Kasten--

Terry: Stan, I remember when you were a genius with the Braves, and now here you are as a dummy with the Nationals.

Stan: Terry, I promise you, I'm still a genius."


Hilarious cosmo06. Stan is TOesque in his "I love me some me" love affair with himself.

Posted by: souldrummer | June 25, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I know it's only 4 in the afternoon, but Cosmo06 has clearly wrapped the Comment of the Day award. Maybe the year.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 25, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

"Because this year we're so heavily weighted in the draft, we know we won't be able to make our next international push until 2010"

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Not shocking in any way whatsoever

But BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO nonetheless

Posted by: Brian_ | June 25, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Oops???

---

I work here and I told Jane to make sure you were aware of this event. Did you get an email from her?

Posted by: jonfhoffman | June 25, 2009 3:50 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 25, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Hey... I HAD a '73 Ford Pinto! (This is where you insert some joke about a sucker born every minute?!)

Posted by: 1of9000 | June 25, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

"He has the demeanor of a Bobby Cox and others who have been successful."

No he doesn't. He has the demeanor of a log. If he were any more passive, he would be *dead*.

A manager who fails repeatedly to back up his players on the field ends up with players who don't try that hard. I mean, if the manager doesn't care, why should they?

Posted by: zaph | June 25, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Didn't have one of those but did have an aluminum-block Chevy Vega (AKA burnt toast).

---

Hey... I HAD a '73 Ford Pinto! (This is where you insert some joke about a sucker born every minute?!)

Posted by: 1of9000 | June 25, 2009 4:01 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 25, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

He said of Nationals Park, "I have to tell you, as a I travel around the country to all the different stadiums, our stadium is as fine a stadium as there is anywhere in baseball. It's more beautiful than virtually any stadium I can think of."

Sorry Stan, this is a lie. I have personally been to 20 MLB parks, Nats Park isnt even close. Its better than the Trop, and maybe I'd rather see a game on South Cap than Cincinnati or Dodger, but please, please dont kid yourself that this Food Court is one of the best ballpark experiences. Although the suites ARE nice.

Posted by: MinorLeagueFanatic | June 25, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I thought you would be posting on that Note Brian...... and so many of you all said we were just focused on the negative with our Jimbo must go, Lerner's are cheap and Manny is part of the problem.......yup you just keep looking on the bright side of life......and enjoy the losing, it will be here a long long time.

Posted by: JayBeee | June 25, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget to bring your neckties to donate tonite.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 25, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Oops???

---

I work here and I told Jane to make sure you were aware of this event. Did you get an email from her?

Posted by: jonfhoffman | June 25, 2009 3:50 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 25, 2009 3:59 PM
_____________________________________________________________

1a,

I'm thinking that someone got a Nats related post in their inbox.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 25, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Well said JayB.

But, for some reason I feel like throwing up. That is a very depressing thought no matter how true I know it is.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 25, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, 505. Luckily, I'm too low-tech to figure out how to do that. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 25, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

@"He has the demeanor of a Bobby Cox and others who have been successful."

No he doesn't. He has the demeanor of a log. If he were any more passive, he would be *dead*.

A manager who fails repeatedly to back up his players on the field ends up with players who don't try that hard. I mean, if the manager doesn't care, why should they?

Posted by: zaph | June 25, 2009 4:03 PM
----------
Zaph, I cdn't care less about his demeanor. You call it passivity. He has said many times that he ranted and raved when coaching in the minors, and it got him nowhere. I don't think it's passivity; it's just the way he is. If we were winning, who wd care about Manny's demeanor? And I for one don't see how it follows that his self-restraint has anything to do with our win-loss record.

I think your second paragraph is another non sequitur. My sense from watching Manny's press conferences is that he cares enormously. Moreover, he sure backs up his players every time he talks to the press.

Posted by: Section109 | June 25, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

For a while we were Cincinnati, now we're Atlanta. Hopefully someday we get to be Washington.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | June 25, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Kierkegaard is rather existential about all this . . .
_________________________
For a while we were Cincinnati, now we're Atlanta. Hopefully someday we get to be Washington.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard

Posted by: lowcountry | June 25, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

How many / have any of you have been in the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis and also in Nationals Park?

How would you say it compares? Similar?

http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com/stl/ballpark/index.jsp

http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com/stl/ballpark/ipix/2006/index.jsp?view=pitchers_mound

(hint: it was designed by HOK and built by Hunt)

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 25, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Cosmo06:

+1

Posted by: joemktg1 | June 25, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Section109, he needs to back up his players *on the field*, not just to the press.

When the calls don't go our way, he needs to do something about it. Let his players know he's got their backs *on the field*. No, he doesn't need to be Bobby Cox and get ejected every other game, but he seems to fear getting ejected as much as our pitchers fear hitters. It's OK if it happens once in a while, though, if the alternative is just standing there with his arms crossed letting everything go against his team.

And if we were winning, it would be in large part because we got a new manager, so we wouldn't be talking about Manny Acta at all.

Posted by: zaph | June 25, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Curious...Harper will be 1st overall in the 2010 draft. He'll cost a pretty penny. Will the international push be delayed until 2011 then or do the Nats plan on overcoming the 8 game lead CLE has for 29th in MLB so they can draft 2nd overall?

How does drafting/signing guys like Storen & Holder for 100's of thousands under slot jive with "heavily weighted in the draft".

Frustrating. I second the BOOOOOOOO!

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | June 25, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

It's been a hard day for me. What are we angry about today?

Posted by: Section506 | June 25, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

506: Red Sox fans.

No, strike that, the Red Sox ownership (for fielding a team that is outstanding, marketing it well, and having a front office that executes as well as the players).

That's what we're angry about today.

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 25, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Red Sox trolls, Stan's comments on international operations, and, of course, Manny's passivity and the Lerner's cheapness.

C'mon Jordan - we need a win tonight.
__________________________
It's been a hard day for me. What are we angry about today?

Posted by: Section506

Posted by: lowcountry | June 25, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

...and doing it all in a 97 year-old ballpark that wasn't even built by the government.

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 25, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

506, you probably need some ice cream in a tiny batting helmet. As for what are we angry about today, whattya got? ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 25, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

If the Blogfather were still here, he'd buy us all ice cream. Tracee would probably do it, too. Just sayin'.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 25, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Stan Kasten, spreading crappolla in Washington DC since 2006.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 25, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

@Zaph and Others

How did Francona do with the Phillies. Same as Stengel did with the Dodgers. Worry about getting a new Manager after we get new (better players). As for the International side, it sure is easy to spend other peoples money You all want 3 or 4 3 million per hot shots then you should have been pushing for Ackerly over Strasburg. Stan did say 2010 as opposed to 3 or 4 more years as some over at NFA were predicting.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | June 25, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

53 more days to sign Strasburg.

Everybody stop getting so angry. Embrace the bad. Remember the 62 Mets. They were just happy to have a team. Only 21 victories till they pass the 62 Mets.

Watch the minor league clubs they're more interesting.

Posted by: natsguy | June 25, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Oops???

---

I work here and I told Jane to make sure you were aware of this event. Did you get an email from her?

Posted by: jonfhoffman | June 25, 2009 3:50 PM

No oops. I should have said "Chico", at the beginning. So a little oops I guess.

Posted by: jonfhoffman | June 25, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

My Kool Aid is tasting a little bitter today but, apparently not so for others.

I guess 59-102 and 20-49 records and cheapass payrolls effects people differently.

Oh well, each to his/her own.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 25, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Gotta luv StanK, to bad he didn't get on that plane and take a 5 day hiatis to Agentina to look for some prospects

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 25, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

If the Blogfather were still here, before buying us all ice cream, he would probably tell it like it is and call Stan a liar again.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 25, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, they can keep talking about 2010, but there is no way it will be a good year. It'll be better than 2009, because it pretty much has to be, but you don't go from losing 120 games to winning 100, or even 90, or, in most cases, even 81. I'd say the best we can hope for next year will be about 73-89.

Inexperienced players need guidance and support, and Acta just doesn't provide that - at least not to the degree they need it.

Of course, he's also utterly incompetent when it comes to things like strategy and bench preservation, which is another of the many reasons he needed to be fired last season.

So unless you've got a time machine, I'll take him being fired this year, preferably before he lets the Red Sox sweep us tonight.

Posted by: zaph | June 25, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I can vouch for the non-oopsness of jon f.'s post. Jane -never- remembers to send me the e-mail about events, and it is seriously starting to p-ss me off. Seriously, Jane, what are we paying you for anyway?

Posted by: joebleux | June 25, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Destin Hood hit a grand slam yesterday.

Posted by: natsguy | June 25, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

If Stan the Plan Man was as good at putting a quality team on the field as he is spinning why that has yet to happen, maybe fans in this area would buy enough tickets so that he wouldn't have to go hat in hand begging fans from other cities to come here.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 25, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Jane, you ignorant - oops, sorry. Was flashing back to Saturday Night Live days.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 25, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Stan- A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Why do I get a feeling this Strasburg negotiation is going to be a train wreck?

Posted by: Tom8 | June 25, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I dont know what I want him to say, but I know I dont trust the crap he says.

Stan: "our stadium is as fine a stadium as there is anywhere in baseball"

he is either looking us in the eye and lying

or even worse and what I fear more: he has no idea what the true fans want from the experience of going to the ballpark.

Posted by: MinorLeagueFanatic | June 25, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

All I want in a Park is good defense, sound fundamentals and they type of sense of purpose you are seeing from the Sox Coaches, Manager and Players and a Hot Dog and Beer for $10.

Can we get that Stan?

Posted by: JayBeee | June 25, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

new post.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 25, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

All I want in a Park is good defense, sound fundamentals and they type of sense of purpose you are seeing from the Sox Coaches, Manager and Players and a Hot Dog and Beer for $10.

Can we get that Stan?

No.

Low budget

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1cOCeWpCjw

Posted by: Brue | June 25, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Nats Park is fine. PNC Park is nicer.

Posted by: gbooksdc | June 25, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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