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More on the new and improved front office

For all the free agent signings of the 2009-10 offseason, Washington's most assertive moves this winter came behind the scenes, as GM Mike Rizzo overhauled his front office. Today's story offers some perspective on those changes. But to supplement, let me elaborate on the one dimension that didn't get enough light in the piece itself.

I want to talk a bit about the guys who work in the Nats Park offices alongside Rizzo.

For sure, most of the people Washington added this offseason have scouting backgrounds. And thus, they're creatures with Ryan Bingham-type travel schedules. Put 'em together, and they have war stories from every Class AA field and every Motel 6 in America. Guys like Jay Robertson, Kasey McKeon, Roy Clark, Ron Schueler, Bill Singer, Kris Kline, Wade Taylor, etc. It's a bit misleading to call these guys a part of the "front office," if only because... well, they're never in the office.

So who, exactly, is in the office? And what do they do?

Well, a basic primer follows:

Assistant GM Bryan Minniti, baseball ops director Jay Sartori, assistant baseball ops director Adam Cromie, scouting coordinator Reed Dunn, advanced scouting assistant Michael Mazur, minor league ops coordinator Ryan Thomas, scouting and player development coordinator Jason Choi and (hold your breath... one more in this list) minor league operations director Mark Scialabba have all spent lots and lots and lots of time this winter in their cubicles. Some will travel more once the season rolls around, but right now, they're spending most days at Nats Park. In fact, they're often working at 10 p.m. They're often working on Sunday mornings.

Just to give you an abridged idea of their duties, Sartori is the go-to expert on contracts. Cromie does a lot of the sabermetrics work. Minniti, according to Rizzo, deals with contracts and arbitration, and has input on baseball ideas. Dunn coordinates logistics for the scouts, all those moving pieces. And again, this is just a short list. I am short-changing the nuance here.

When I was at Nationals Park for an afternoon last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with all of them for a 30-minute roundtable discussion. Several of them described themselves as the offensive linemen of the front office -- happy to do important jobs, sans attention.

"None of the stuff we do is terribly sexy, but it's all interesting to us," Minniti said at one point. "Except for Adam."

"I try to bring a general air of sexiness to everything," Cromie deadpanned.

"You were looking for some way to get a capsule on our days. It's hard to give a flashy capsule like that," Minniti said. "Our jobs are to make everything else easier. Make our player evaluation easier. Make the development system run better. Make sure scouts are getting where they need to go. Our work behind the scenes is to help make those things better, easier."

"We're like BASF," Sartori said.

"Exactly," Minniti said.

By Chico Harlan  |  January 26, 2010; 9:01 AM ET
 
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Next: Bog: 'No way we'll lose 100,' Zimmerman says

Comments

It's way early, but Manny Acta has already fooled some Indians fans.

http://www.cleveland.com/tribe/index.ssf/2010/01/cleveland_indians_manny_acta_m.html

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 26, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Chico, nice piece in today's paper. I have to say, though, that it made me sick to my stomach to the extent it looked back at what a joke the organization has been during the first years of the Lerners/Kasten's stewardship, notwithstanding their promises to build from within a first-class organization and commitment to doing things "the right way." This excerpt especially:

"In previous seasons, the Nationals required even their lead scouts to cover both the amateur and pro levels. Manpower was so scarce, it left the team with a flimsy database of scouting material on the other major league clubs.

"'There was a perception out there that [the Nationals] were running a skeleton staff in scouting, development, and so was that really that important to them?'" Robertson said. 'You need some identity, and I think they were void of that. That's what Mike has changed in the last six months.'"

It's great to think that things might finally be starting to turn around under Rizzo, but this just shows that the marketing of the "Plan" was just a bunch of snake oil that that shyster Kasten was trying to sell, with no substance to back it up. There's absolutely no reason that 2007 and 2008 saw skinflint scouting and development budgets--which translated to crappy drafts and poor player development, among other things.

It's too bad that you--or one of The Post's vaunted "columnists"--didn't cover this stuff back when it was timely.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 26, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Chico-

If you, or whoever replaces you, could get us a chat with the SABRmetrics guy, or the business/martketing guy, I am sure it would be very interesting to many of us.

Scouts might be harder to pin down, but that would be an interesting discussion, as well.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | January 26, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

By the way, how does this article square with the article that Barry wrote back in 2007( Nationals' Biggest Hires Don't Even Play)? Here are some excerpts from that one:

"The Nationals are widely predicted to finish last in the National League East, but they believe they will be contenders in the future. And they say that, at least in part, because of the work being done by nameless, faceless men holding radar guns and notebooks: scouts.

"'There's nothing more important than what our scouts are doing right now,' General Manager Jim Bowden said earlier this spring. 'We've built an all-star team of these guys, the best there are in baseball, and we're going to compete with every single team. There's nothing we won't do to find and get the best players there are.'"

* * * * *

"'I'm thoroughly impressed with the scouting and development departments, and I'm hard to impress,' said Chuck LaMar, one of the dozen new scouts the Nationals hired. 'I don't say that because I'm new on board. We are going about it the right way, and we are going to succeed.'

"LaMar is just one indication of the Nationals' commitment to hiring the best evaluators available. He is a scout's scout who came up through the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati organizations before becoming the director of scouting and player development with the Atlanta Braves, where he worked under Nationals President Stan Kasten. In 1995, he was hired as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a position he held until he was fired a decade later."

* * * * *

"'We have enough bodies,'" scouting director Dana Brown said. 'We can see players we never would have seen before.'"


Here is the link to the full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/09/AR2007030902180.html

Was it all BS back in 2007, but now it's for real?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 26, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

The only thing Reed Dunn likes to coordinate are stripper outings, turd milkshakes and celebrity gossip.

Posted by: Cartaldo | January 26, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

What a nice change from Bowden, who just had an Assistant General Manager for Leather Pants Procurement.

Posted by: Kev29 | January 26, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I came here to post something after reading Chico's story this morning but CiL already said everything I was going to say, and more. The Plan was A Sham. No scouting, no minor league infrastructure, very few over slot signings, no international scouting or signings. In short, complete bunk. Have things changed? Maybe, but I think a lot of us will be reserving judgment. Let's just say that signing mediocre bullpen guys and defensively challenged outfielders isn't going to get us over the hump.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 26, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Letee: I'm happy for Manny and wish him the best. Truly. He's a good man.

Posted by: big_game_lannan | January 26, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Good job on the homework, CiL. I remember reading that and feeling optimistic about the prospects of the Plan.

I do trust Rizzo more than I trusted Bowden (and that's not exactly a ringing endorsement of the former, either), but the people at the top are still there.

If you're not allocating the necessary resources or making adjustments after earnest evaluations, is it really a Plan at all?

Maybe we should start calling it the Concept.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 26, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

On a more positive note, four Nationals made this list of the top 100 prospects:

http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2010/01/25/the-top-100-prospects-of-2010-1-25/

1. Stephen Strasburg
35. Derek Norris
63. Chris Marrero
79. Drew Storen

Posted by: BobLHead | January 26, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm already mostly in the tank for the Nats, but Chico's story gives me more hope of my hometown team is ready to step up to Big Boy Baseball because of a strong and stable front office. I lived through the expansionista Senators, who seemed to solely acquire players from what was written in the annual Street and Smith's baseball preview magazine except when then-GM George Selkirk kept trading semi-valuable players like Harry Bright and Steve Hamilton to his old employers the Yankees. Checking back through old copies of Sporting News baseball annuals, the Sens consistently had one of baseball's smallest front offices and scouting staffs. I'm happy for Rizzo, whose father was among the miniscule number of Sens scouts, and feel more confident going forward as a fan of the Nats as I ever have. Let's play two!

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 26, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

FYI...just saw this on Facebaook. Chats this week with Lerner the Younger and Riggs.

Washington Nationals Chat live with Mark Lerner this Wednesday at 1 p.m. Live Chat with Manager Jim Riggleman this Friday at 11 a.m. Register now >>
Washington Nationals | MLB.com: Fan Forum
washington.nationals.mlb.com
There are so many new ways to connect with us -- find out how to keep up with us through Twitter, Facebook, MLBlogs and more!

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 26, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Chico, thanks for the article on the Front Office... why didn't we get this article back in November?

As for Acta, I'm certain that he's a very nice man. Just not a good manager while he was here.

Posted by: comish4lif | January 26, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Those chats are a joke. They select the safest, most boring questions they can pull from the roll. "Hey Mark, love the new park, so shiny, what kinds of culinary delights do you have in store for us in 2010!?"

No one is going to get a question answered anything like: what is taking so long to build talent on the farm? why has it taken 3 years to hire an adequate front office? why the bargain basement payroll year after year? etc.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Needham has a great new post over at his blog (welcome back?), addressing the ridiculousness of Chico's article in light of Barry's article from '07--both in terms of "The Plan" and The Post's lousy coverage.

http://dcbb.blogspot.com/2010/01/microcosm.html

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 26, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Chris should have cited you, CiL!

Posted by: BobLHead | January 26, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

CiL,

Thanks for the link to Needham's post.


I'm waiting for the Kool Aid drinkers to try and defend the "cheapass Lerner's" and StanK on this one.

The fans continue to take it in the shorts, while Uncle Teddy makes a huge profit. The cheap old SOB got a free stadium and now is running the whole organization on the cheap, while he makes millions.

What say you Kool Aid drinker's? I can't wait to hear the excuses.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 26, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow CIL, that post on DCBB is awesome. I feel like such a sucker for not having seen thorugh the smoke and mirrors of "Our top-notch scouts will leave no stone unturned for talent and we'll bring it here!" They have in effect literally been saying that for years. Rizzo himself. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Exciting developments, somewhat! These are good front office additions that will improve the quality of the Nats' low-budget moves.

The Nats are good at getting under-slot talent in the draft. They are good at resisting the temptations to "pay too much" for high-ceiling international kids. They refuse to sign expensive free agents (only two expensive free agents under the Lerners, and none more than $20 million in four years of the Lerners--how many franchises can beat that?). And they refuse to take in salaries in trades--none of the players traded for under the Lerners has made an average MLB-level salary. Not one.

Under the Lerners, the Nats are building the front office so that the team can be respectable over time on a low budget. These are all positive moves, if we favor the small market approach to team-building. The Nats have to make the best use of their very limited resources. These additions will enable that to happen.

Posted by: EdDC | January 26, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

BobL, I couldn't have said it any better than Chris. But I won't take credit for giving him the idea by any stretch--I was thinking about this stuff this morning before I posted, but when I checked out my Nats twitter feed I saw that Chris was already making the same points on twitter that I had in mind.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 26, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Sec506, easly on the Lerners. The sun was in their eyes, it was a bad call, or maybe a bad 1,200 calls maybe, people with leather pants were in their employ, Smiley was soooo much older than expected, they were born under a bad sign, Kasten has merely had a couple of decades of experience running a club, it is society's fault, those rascally Salahis snuck in and messed things up . . .

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

So was the Blogfather: http://twitter.com/barrysvrluga/status/8236350086

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | January 26, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Ahah. Tweeting. So traditional sports reporting has gone the way of the dodo, and we now have tweets seeking to draw us to blogs. We're all i-Reporters now folks, we are the news, and the news is us.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 26, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Unlike some rich and profit-grabbing local ownership groups (cough, Snyder) who hired incompetent GMs (cough, Cerrato) and "savior of the franchise" coaches (cough, Spurrier and Gibbs) the Lerners/Kasten at least have read the tea leaves, jumped in and made changes in their management approach and style in only a few short years, instead of pressing on with the same failed course of action for a decade. Gotta give them credit for that. Bonus points: the Lerners have not sued any grandmothers during their ownership years either.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

JE1: Replace your coughed names with Lerner, Bowden and Acta in order and it applies as much.

I'm not sure how this indicates they've changed their management style since it's the same thing they were saying they'd do a few years ago. How is that a change?

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | January 26, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

EdDC's listing of accomplishments, I guess, of the Nats front office shows that the club has been far too conservative. The Lerners are risk adverse to the point of suffocation. How and when do they expect the big improvement that the club needs to come? (Maybe Ted thinks Strasburg starts every game.)

They can forecast profits (worst team in basebal lfor a couple of years and still turned a handsome profit) with a midling club and a bottom third payroll for years to come. If they get lucky and manage to make a wild card run, then they'll really cash in -- why pay to build an elite club when a marginal club will turn profits and be easier from a cash flow persepctive?

And, they have to make the best use of "very limited resources"? Doe anyone buy that? Free park, big and rich market, tiny payroll, etc.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to jump on the Lerners are cheap as S#!t bandwagon again but I will believe that things are changing when they unfreeze the salary of the hourly-wage working stiffs who toil year round at the stadium.

Posted by: alm1000 | January 26, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Agreed that the Lerners are probably better than Daniel Snyder. The Lerners are less willing than Snyder to spend, but are more likely than Snyder to take the longer view.

To me, a longer view of the Lerners trumps the Snyder propensity to waste money with short-term decisions that hurt the team in the long run.

Ted Leonsis has a better balance than either of those two. He is willing to spend (but not waste) and he takes a long view of team-building. I'm glad he will take over the Wiz.

Posted by: EdDC | January 26, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not sure how this indicates they've changed their management style since it's the same thing they were saying they'd do a few years ago. How is that a change?"

With Snyder, it has been SSDD for TEN YEARS. The Lerners and Kasten have basically turned over their entire FO operation as well as much of their team in only three years. What's the reason for that? Clearly, poor performance from the 2007 incumbents. All organizations make grand pronouncements when they bring new management on board. Give the Lerners credit for having enough class not to slander the old management that's no longer here, and give the new management a chance to live up to the grand pronouncements being made about them before you start writing the team off. Geez, pitchers and catchers haven't even reported yet. At this time last year, Dunn and Beimel who were two of the few bright lights in an otherwise miserable season had not yet been signed. Yogi Berra was right when he said "It gets late early around here", but you bozos are off the chart. Lighten up.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

As a confirmed Kool-Aid drinker, I am still not convinced that The Plan was a sham, but readily agree that The Execution was a little late coming (RIP, Bowden).

The Plan was and is a good one, but it sort of has the Animal House feel of "6 years of college wasted!" To carry forward the analogy, if only Jim Bowden had not tried to go through life "fat, drunk, and stupid" we might have had better results by now.

As for the Lerners, they acquired the team in mid-2006, they delivered a stadium with an uplift over the original design in 2008, they recognized that management structure 1.0 was flawed and redesigned it this year. I just don't think you can evaluate major league ownership performance based on 3 full years.

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 26, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

"Ted Leonsis has a better balance than either of those two. He is willing to spend (but not waste) and he takes a long view of team-building."

Tell me, were you saying the same thing about Ted during the Jaromir Jagr era and its aftermath? If you were, you were the only one who was.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Not much to add. I don't trust them anymore either. Spending to try to win would be a big change. They're not stupid. I have to think they're working their chosen business model - "frugal" operation in a big market with relatively high ticket prices and a locked in TV contract, stay profitable.

The Nats beat isn't the only sports area with poor Post coverage. Now that Abe Pollin's gone, Boswell jumps all over what a cheap front office operation the Wizards have run all these years. Where were the "reporters" at the time?

Posted by: utec | January 26, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

JennEric -- The Lerners were in control 3+ years ago, they selected a management team and went with it -- I don't hear them stating that they wish they had put adequate resources into scouting and the front office when they took over (though there is evidence that the club sold us a bill of goods that they had done so -- hired the best and brightest baseball people they could find! -- in 2007). You brought up last year's off season, which is a great example of "what are they waiting for?". In 2008 the club loses 100 games and has problems all over the place (no SP, cannot score worth a damn), the only additions of significance were the last minute bargain adds of Dunn and Beimel. Those big adds brought payroll to 27th and they lost 100 games again. Meanwhile, it was not like the Nats loaded the farm either.

No will/skill to get it done in the ownership box.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Ben Sheets an Athletic, something like $8M 1 yr.

I am sure the Nats were right in there to the end.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"Now that Abe Pollin's gone, Boswell jumps all over what a cheap front office operation the Wizards have run all these years. Where were the "reporters" at the time? "

Simple. Wilbon was too busy crawling up Michael Jordan's a**, Kornheiser was too busy being an a**, and Wise has been too busy sucking up to Gibert Arenas.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

"Ted Leonsis has a better balance than either of those two. He is willing to spend (but not waste) and he takes a long view of team-building."

Tell me, were you saying the same thing about Ted during the Jaromir Jagr era and its aftermath? If you were, you were the only one who was.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

No, Ted learned. He now has the right balance. Maybe the Lerners will learn to compete at the MLB level.

As to natsbuiscuit saying the Lerners delivered an upgraded stadium, they did add a better scoreboard and some better executive suites. They took out the left field view and put up an ugly garage with Geico billboards. They could have done better. The original design had some more glass and stonework effects, but it's a good stadium. Anyway, the DC govt. built the stadium, not the Lerners.

Posted by: EdDC | January 26, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I would have guessed that, as smart as they are, the owners would have made more progress by this time. That being said, however, six years is an awfully short time to be as bitter as some appear to be. I'd rather not have the Post go all Woodward and Berstein on the Nats. It's baseball.

Posted by: 24thStNE | January 26, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

JE1,

Does the Kool Aid taste great or is it less filling?

"The Lerners and Kasten have basically turned over their entire FO operation as well as much of their team in only three years. What's the reason for that? Clearly, poor performance from the 2007 incumbents."

Yes, but the Common Denominator each year under Uncle Teddy is the lack of spending...anywhere. ML roster, draft picks, international signings, scouts expenses, you name it.

They will end with the same bottom 5 payroll this year as they have had every other year.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 26, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Almost every GM and owner would've jumped at the same deal. And, in the end, it wasn't Jagr that failed. It was Cassidy.

Either way, comparisons to Ted are hard to make, what with the NHL's salary cap.

-----

Tell me, were you saying the same thing about Ted during the Jaromir Jagr era and its aftermath? If you were, you were the only one who was.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 26, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"They will end with the same bottom 5 payroll this year as they have had every other year."

I don't care what the payroll standings are. The W-L race is all that matters. Let's see what happens this year. Even though the money being paid may be the same, the players receiving it will be vastly different.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Cassidy and his napkins, high comedy. We certainly have a better Bruce now (although perhaps we owe Butch a debt of gratitude for putting us in position to draft Alex). Wait, what blog am I on again?

Posted by: BobLHead | January 26, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Sheets deal looking sweeter now at $10M.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I don't "want" to care about the Nats Payroll. But when the team has back to back 100 loss seasons AND the payroll is near the bottom of the MLB, than I am concerned.

Nats sign Ty Walker and Chuck James. The next day the A's drop $8 or 10M on Ben Sheets (depending on whose reports you read).

Yep, the Lerners are cheap and are pocketing $20M before selling a ticket or a chili dog...

Posted by: comish4lif | January 26, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

If it took an article like this by Chico to get Capital Punishment out of retirement, I'll take it any day. Thanks Chico for getting Chris to take a stand. I was tired of the drivel on his other gig.

Having said that, Sports Illustrated did rate the Nats off-season among its top 10. It's not what they say, its what they do. Jury is out, right, but there's no question that Rizzo (a) is a better team player and (b) has a better poker face that Jimbo.

I suspect that there's at least one more big deal in the works this off-season. I'm drinking my kool-aid and waiting for ST.

Posted by: nattydread1 | January 26, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

off topic, can anyone who has been to one of the Nationals Caravan events give me an idea what to expect at White Flint Mall this Saturday? I am taking my two boys, 8 and 12 and I what to adequately set their expectations for ability to get autographs, etc. Who early should we get there for an event that is slated to run from 5:00 to 7:00?

Posted by: twinbrook | January 26, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

How do I get a $2.0M (I dropped the decimal in the previous post, sorry) profit before selling a ticket? Here's the math:

$20M from MASN
$30M from MLB Central fund (National TV, Radio, internet, licensing, etc.)
$20M from Revenue Sharing
That's $70M right there, subtract last year's $68M payroll and you have a $2M profit before selling a ticket or 1 of Ben's All the Way Chili Dogs.

Posted by: comish4lif | January 26, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

"That's $70M right there, subtract last year's $68M payroll and you have a $2M profit before selling a ticket or 1 of Ben's All the Way Chili Dogs."

Players aren't the only expense for an MLB team, even though they may be the largest expense category. (And BTW, don't forget that over and above salary there's lots more money being spent on players. Meal money. Travel. Medical expenses. The list goes on.) It would be interesting to see how much the Lerners' profits are, but since only a portion of their annual income and expenses are known, we'll never have that information. But my strong suspicion is that they're not making near as much money on the team as their detractors say they are. The real money in baseball is made on the sale of teams, not on annual income.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Agreed that the players aren't the only expense the Nats have - but how much do they gross ticket? I have $60 seats - on the high side - and I cannot get out of there without dropping $20 on beer and food. I use a private lot, so, none of my parking money goes to the Lerners. Lots of folks on Metro.

But I have to figure that the Nats gross on average $40 per ticket. If not more. Think of the weighting effect of $300 & $150 tickets. Think of the people in the $5 seats pounding beers in the Red Loft at $7.50 apiece.

Even with attendance down to $1.8M in 2009, at $40 per head, the Nats take in $72M at the park, on top of the $70M from MLB.

Posted by: comish4lif | January 26, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

But you can't possibly know that, comish4lif. You're just making assumptions here. So JE1's assumptions are better than yours, agreed?

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | January 26, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

natbiscuits: I just don't think you can evaluate major league ownership performance based on 3 full years.
-----
Maybe with the Lerners. Maybe.
But 3 full years was more than enough to evaluate the horrid ownership of Bob Short.

Posted by: KenNat | January 26, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Who cares about parsing the numbers on what the Lerners net from the gate/TV/merchandise/parking. The bottom line is that they are taking in more revenue than many clubs and they are spending less than many clubs, year fter year.

Though, they do lose more than all clubs, so they have that going for them. Number 1 in losing! Threepeat??

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't say that either of us have the better set of assumptions - they are different for sure - but without the Lerners' actual numbers, you cannot say which assumptions are correct. Unless JE1 is saying that the Lerners are not cheap. That is clearly wrong. The Lerners have not invested in the mLB on the field product during their period of ownership. To be sure, there have been incidents of spending - Dunn for $20M - but really, that's the biggest contract they've committed to.

With $1.8M tickets sold, you tell me what the assumption is on a per fan basis? $25/$50/$75?

I think that the only thing we know for sure is the $20M figure from MASN.

Here's Jayson Stark's article on Revenue sharing and Scott Boras for those that haven't seen it. http://tinyurl.com/ydaq3g7

Posted by: comish4lif | January 26, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"Even with attendance down to $1.8M in 2009, at $40 per head, the Nats take in $72M at the park, on top of the $70M from MLB."

You're forgetting to think about all the empty seats (especially in the more expensive sections) and all the filled seats that were sold for less than face value to groups or individuals with coupon codes. I myself bought at least a dozen single game tix for half price last year in sections with regular prices of $30 and up. Other times, I made an in-game upgrade from $20 seats to otherwise empty $60 seats. I certainly wasn't alone in doing that. Really, when it comes down to it there's no way to accurately estimate the team's ticket revenue knowing only the announced attendance and seat pricing structure. You can only get a WAG, not even a SWAG. My college engineering profs would call any such number a "rectal transformation."

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

full disclosure: Happy kool aid drinker here.

But still, It's not a stretch to think the Lerners and Kasten really believed they were on the right track to start with w/Jimbo and his crew, and then learned a pretty quick lesson within 2.5 years of suck.

Seriously, can you say that Rizzo and his staff are the same ole, same ole with a straight face?

Posted by: NatsNut | January 26, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"To be sure, there have been incidents of spending - Dunn for $20M - but really, that's the biggest contract they've committed to."

What about $45M for Zimmerman? Or was that just to get his autograph?

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, I forgot about Zimmerman. That's a big oversight, and not to backtrack here, but I see a difference between making a commitment to retaining your own players (like Zimmerman) vs. bringing in players to cover areas where the current players are not MLB ready or good enough - like the 4-5 starters, or the 2B/SS situation. And I'll admit that the Nats have done a better job this year with Marquis and Capps and the bullpen overhaul, but where were they in the winter of 2007 and 2008?

To me - and this is perspective and opinion - the Lerners "look" cheap when the press reports that they are interested in Hudson or Cabrera but are waiting for the price to come down.

Posted by: comish4lif | January 26, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"Unless JE1 is saying that the Lerners are not cheap. That is clearly wrong."

Depends what you mean by "cheap". I'm taking it that you prefer this definition from dictionary.com:

8. stingy; miserly: He's too cheap to buy his own brother a cup of coffee.

If that's the case, no they're not cheap. If they were cheap they wouldn't be spending $20M on Dunn, $45M on Zimmerman, $15M on Strasburg. And don't get me started on all the millions they wasted on Kearns, Dmitri Young, WMP etc. No, there's no way the Lerners are cheap.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Here are some facts. First, payrolls:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=p4ew-fwu2XT3cpPRtt9qIGw

Next, the business side:

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/33/baseball-values-09_The-Business-Of-Baseball_Income.html

Posted by: EdDC | January 26, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Nats Nut: I should not say that Rizzo and his staff are the same old same old, BUT Rizzo himself is quoted from 3 years ago saying that the crack team of scouts they had were going to get it done. Today we have Rizzo basically telling us that THIS crack team will get the job done (as if the thought of having great talent evaluation was ever thought of in nats Twon before today and that it would make a big difference). Chico's story, in context of what was said in spring 2007, really makes Rizzo and the Lerners look bad.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, can you say that Rizzo and his staff are the same ole, same ole with a straight face?

Posted by: NatsNut | January 26, 2010 3:11 PM
___________________________________________________________

The issue is not Rizzo and his staff. The issue is Uncle Teddy and StanK.

Look at the payroll rankings on Jason Stark's article that Comish4lif posted.
The Nats are the only top 10 market team in the bottom 10. It's a hustle. The Lerner's are raking in revenue sharing as a top 8 market, year after year. I would imagine that's pissing off some owners.

If they would have poured money into the FO and scouting staff, as well as, draft picks and international signings, instead of the ML roster then I could have continued to buy into "The Plan."

However, it was clear that they weren't and this article by Chico today proves that they weren't.

Rizzo is making as many moves and FA signings as he is "allowed to" at this point.


Posted by: Section505203 | January 26, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Baseball as we all know tends to favor long term trends for evaluation. Please stop referring to what the Lerners are doing "year after year". The team has been in the city what half a decade. This time frame does not accurately describe a year after year situation. For instance if the team turns it around this year spends more money and wins games then that would blow apart this year to year trend. Basically 5-6 years is not the same as decades.

Posted by: Stu27 | January 26, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"Here are some facts. First, payrolls:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=p4ew-fwu2XT3cpPRtt9qIGw

Next, the business side:

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/33/baseball-values-09_The-Business-Of-Baseball_Income.html"

That second one is not facts, it's estimates. There IS a difference.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Section505, Rizzo is making do within a budget. A very tight budget. How that budget relates to the revenues is anyone's guess, but what cannot be questioned is just how awful this club has been for years.

The Lerners promised to do it right, to build an organization that would yield an elite club -- they have not yet really shown the ability or will to get that done. Would Ted have me believe that it takes 3 years to hire a quality talent evaluatin team for a club that was telling us that they were focussed like a laser on finding and devloping loads of young talent as its foundation in 2007? Ridiculous.

Ted and Mark and their partners need to get it together and let Rizzo make some moves to get us more talent.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Over the years since the Lerner family has owned the club, I have noticed when I am at the ballpark, that some or all of the family attend each game. Indeed, they stay to the bitter end of many a losing effort. It must be as frustrating for them, as it is for us, to see the Nats lose. Perhaps it is more frustrating. I would think that they have every incentive to field a winning team to make their experience at the ball park fun. Harping on how cheap they are is, if you will, a cheap shot.

Posted by: kecoh | January 26, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"Nats Nut: I should not say that Rizzo and his staff are the same old same old, BUT Rizzo himself is quoted from 3 years ago saying that the crack team of scouts they had were going to get it done. Today we have Rizzo basically telling us that THIS crack team will get the job done (as if the thought of having great talent evaluation was ever thought of in nats Twon before today and that it would make a big difference). Chico's story, in context of what was said in spring 2007, really makes Rizzo and the Lerners look bad."

The difference is that in 2007 Rizzo was the newly hired underling, while today he's the boss. It's not really fair to accuse a newly hired underling of lying if all he's doing is spouting the same company line promulgated by his boss. That's not lying, it's keeping your job. Don't judge 2010 Rizzo on 2007 Rizzo quotes. Judge him on his job performance, both then and now, and I believe you'll come to a different conclusion.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

There's word from MLBTR that the Nats were "in it to the end" for Ankiel. As with Chapman and others, not getting the deal signed is not the same as being cheap. Sometimes the players simply pick another team. Even with all the changes, talk of being on the right track, some players expressing interest, the Nats are still offering confederate money to some degree. Some players are simply going to go to another team. I get the sense that is the case with Orlando Hudson. If he wanted to be a National, he'd be a National. He hasn't signed with anyone else, the Nats may be in fact already offering him a premium price and he simply isn't taking the deal. Same with Garland.

The Nationals need to up the ante and get the final deals done, but I do not think their failure to sign players A,B, or C is an indicator of being cheap. I think it may be an indicator of only being willing to overspend by too large a margin.

However note to the Nationals, I stay longer and spend more when the Nationals are winning. If they routinely fall behind and stay behind by the 6th, your going to be losing a third of my discretionary spending.

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 26, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Keeping in Mind that the Forbes numbers are estimates, they are from Forbes and have some level of respect based on that.

The Forbes list states that the Nats had a $42.6M operating profit in 2008 - the second highest in MLB... about $20M of that would have looked nice if they put it into the payroll... maybe the Nats could have avoided a second 100 loss season.

Posted by: comish4lif | January 26, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Kecoh: They have every incentive to field a profitable team, which they have my all accounts done. Should they win more games, the profits only get larger as the bulk of their costs are alredy fixed when you see Ted or Makr cheering to the most often bitter end. had you looked in the Club level during many of those games you might have seen me, though I paid handsomely for my seats -- the losing is more bitter for me than for Mr. Lerner, I am wagering.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the Lerners haven't owned the team for 5-6 years. More like 3 or so. Plus, as far as their costs, they are probably amortizing the cost of buying the team from MLB. That has to be included in their annual costs somewhere.

Posted by: LandoverHillsBoysClub | January 26, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

More fuel for the fire: Ladson's "interview" wih Mark Lerner is up. http://tinyurl.com/y8omwqg

By the way, you guys who are debating with generic1 do know who it is you are debating with, right?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 26, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Gah. I still can't believe that actually happened. LaCanfora didn't tell that story until after Cassidy was canned.

It makes me wonder how many other napkin stories are out there waiting to be told.

-----

Cassidy and his napkins, high comedy.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 26, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

"By the way, you guys who are debating with generic1 do know who it is you are debating with, right?"
__________________________________________________________

CiL,

Let me guess, ABM? or is it StanK?

Posted by: Section505203 | January 26, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"Don't judge 2010 Rizzo on 2007 Rizzo quotes."

Fine. 2010 Rizzo hasn't done a thing. We'll judge him at the end of the year. But that means those drinking vinegar and those drinking Kool Aid both have to stop swigging.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | January 26, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"I get the sense that is the case with Orlando Hudson. If he wanted to be a National, he'd be a National. He hasn't signed with anyone else, the Nats may be in fact already offering him a premium price and he simply isn't taking the deal. Same with Garland."

Same with Dunn last year. Where'd he end up? Did a good job of faking happy once he got here too. Same could happen this year with Hudson and/or Garland.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"If they routinely fall behind and stay behind by the 6th, your going to be losing a third of my discretionary spending."

Last call comes after the seventh inning, so to be fair it would only be 1/7th, wouldn't it? And of course you'd have to add in the factor of bad play driving you to drink, too. Looks like a wash to me.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 26, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

The Dodgers just resigned Belliard. Perhaps that will break the logjam and Hudson et al will now scramble for the remaining spots. One cna only hope ....

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 26, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

can only ...

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 26, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not here to talk about the past."

Who cares about '07 anymore? Let's all move on, shall we. Are some of you really disappointed with Rizzo's offseason so far? Since Rizzo took over, he's acquired a real CF, a real backup C, a real 200 inn SP, a real closer, a real setup guy, and the best prospect the game has ever seen, plus he locked up our best player for a few more years. But if we don't give Hudson 9 mil today we're doomed? Hudson is not the solution to all that ails us and he sure as hell ain't worth what he's asking for. What's wrong with not overpaying veteran players? If he wants to come here for a fair market value then welcome aboard. If not, then let's see what Desmond can do. With the exception of Pudge, all of Rizzo's moves have the potential to be long-term Nats - yet none are locked into bad contracts in the event something better comes along.

Rome wasn't built in a day, folks. But from where I sit, so far so good. Not good enough, but getting there.

Posted by: sec307 | January 26, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

"...a real backup C, a real 200 inn SP, a real closer, a real setup guy..."

I assume you are referring, respectively, to Rodriguez, Marquis, Capps, and Bruney? If so, your use of "real" is really awesome.

"Rome wasn't built in a day, folks. But from where I sit, so far so good. Not good enough, but getting there."

No, but the aqueducts should be finished by now, and the foundations for the Coliseum and the Forum should be laid. Where are the frickin' aqueducts?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 26, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Garland got a West Coast gig (like he wanted back in December) with the Padres (per Mike Axisa [mlbtraderumors.com] & Corey Brock [mlb.com]).

Posted by: BinM | January 26, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

There's word from MLBTR that the Nats were "in it to the end" for Ankiel.
-----------------------------------

Ok, that's not being cheap, that's being stupid. Why the hell are we in it to the end for Ankiel? Stay away... Who are these scouts anyways?

Posted by: swang30 | January 26, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Not much left as far as free agent starting pitchers and if we trade Willingham there are not many left field replacements on the market either.

We are going to end up over paying for someone, I'm thinking Noah Lowry if his workout goes well.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | January 26, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo gets a B- from me for the off-season. He's plugged some glaring holes, the club should be much better but the club was so bad that getting a lot better may not be near enough.

The club is starving for an Ace, but the Nats have not yet been able to work a trade or ink a FA to get what they need. That dings him a full letter grade. And The Plan should have the Nats vying for options younger than 30 more often -- there's the minus.

As to Rizzo having added pieces that go beyond next year, Pudge at 39 and innings eater Marquis in 2011 are likely not so sexy, we'll see. Capps is under control for 2011, if they want him, but based on last year's performance and the fact that the Bucs non-tenderd the guy, they may not want him. I am not sure that any of his other off-season moves have any real long term potential.

Thus far he's been much like his mentor Bowden. Vets at mid-level to bargain rates, a flyer on a struggling closer, a couple of decent bull pen arms, and a flyer on the upside OF in Duncan, but no addition of anything a super value.

Last year Bowden landed Dunn and he traded Bonafacio for Olsen and Willingham -- it would be great if Rizzo could top that.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Gr8, there goes Garland...what the heck are the Nats' doing???!!!!!!

Posted by: Lipty | January 26, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I wonder if the Nats were "in it to the end" for Garland. Come to think of it, that could be the slogan for this season: "Nationals baseball: We're in it to the end."

Either that, or "Where are the frickin' aqueducts?" That would be fine too.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 26, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

"Nationals baseball: We're in it to the end."

Notice they never say *whose* end they are in it to.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 26, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

From what Bill Ladson is tweeting, the Nats may be focusing in on Orlando Hudson.

Hudson reports he is getting closer to a deal with "a team," and Ladson's "source" says the Nationals are on top of his "wish list."

I know, it's like your sister's best friend's manicurist's gardner saying he heard a girl down the street likes you.

But at least no one is saying it isn't the Nationals.

I think he ends up coming to D.C., which keeps the team from signing another $7 million arm.

Sometime this year, Jason Marquis, John Lannan and Stephen Strasburg will fill three rotation spots, leaving Ross Detwiler, J.D. Martin, Scott Olsen and Craig Stammen to fill the last two spots.

And I can live with that.

Posted by: rushfari | January 26, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

When they call me about season tickets, I'll let them say they were in it to the end.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 26, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I can live with it. They've lost 100+ twice, and I ain't dead yet. But that won't get it done.
****************
Sometime this year, Jason Marquis, John Lannan and Stephen Strasburg will fill three rotation spots, leaving Ross Detwiler, J.D. Martin, Scott Olsen and Craig Stammen to fill the last two spots.

And I can live with that.

Posted by: rushfari | January 26, 2010 6:33 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 26, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I am steamed about hat aqueduct line as it was cribbed from my post of a while back . . .

"There should so be at least an aqueduct up and running by this point."

Posted by: dfh21 | January 13, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse "In it to the end with Chapman" string

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Well, not steamed.

Anyway, so who is it now, Bedard? Lowry? Monster trade out of nowhere?

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

dfh, I remember that, you were definitely the inspiration for my line. Though if memory serves me correctly, I think that back then in the Chapman post, you were in fact following up on a response that I had made to the silly "Rome wasn't built in a day" line. I think shared credit is in order...

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 26, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Signing Hudson does not preclude us from adding another $7 million + in payroll for another SP. Now, can we get one to come here? That's another question.

Posted by: goexpos2 | January 26, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

In terms of FA starters, the ranks are thinning. Right-handers(age) include: Paul Byrd(39), Adam Eaton(32), Livan Hernandez(35), Braden Looper(35), Pedro Martinez(38), John Smoltz(43), Chien-Ming Wang(30), Jarrod Washburn(35), and Todd Wellemeyer(31). Left-handers(age) with SP experience include: Eric Bedard(31), Tom Glavine(44), Noah Lowry(29), and Eric Milton(34).

Maybe one of these, maybe a trade... As Mick Jagger sang, so long ago - "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need".

Posted by: BinM | January 26, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

From fox sports:

"Garland turned down a deal from the Nationals similar to the one the team gave Jason Marquis -- two years, $15 million. He simply did not want to play for the Nats."

Depressing...

Posted by: swanni | January 26, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

What say you Kool Aid drinker's? I can't wait to hear the excuses.
___

I say you would probably be happier if you didn't spend so much of every day spewing your hatred for the owners of a professional sports team.

Posted by: markfromark | January 26, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Bedard or Wang!!!!

Posted by: Lipty | January 26, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

I am guessing Wang and Hudson. Why not.

They can trot Wang out as a big innings, winning pitcher with Yankee Ace pedigree. The guy will be the toast of what is left of China Town and he'll likely come on one of these 1.5 yr deals that are all the rage (like $7M in 2010 and mutual option with buy-out for 2011). Hudson will be the glove he needs behind him and a fan favorite as he is Mr. Personality. They'll trade Willingham (so Hudson will not have to bat 8th) and get a solid MI or SP prospect.

And CIL and I can swim in the cool, shimmery waters of Nationals Aqueduct No. 1.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

ah crap, there goes Garland!! Hello 60 wins!!! damn it....Ill be pretty happy if the Nats get Erik Bedard, But Ill be really pissed if Chuck James is our last "addition" to the rotation... .

Posted by: Cartaldo | January 26, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

you would like to see Wang?

... tee hee hee ...

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 26, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Wang & Bedard are probably the "big names" left on the FA board, but both come with liabilities - Wang will probably not be ready to pitch until May-June (at the earliest), and Bedard is a hangnail away from the 15-day DL from start-to-start.

Marquis & Lannan are not 'aces', but are viable front-line (#1-3) pitchers; Should the team acquire a #4-5 capable of 30 starts & 180+ innings (and they need to), then two from the group of Stammen, Olsen, Martin, Martis, or Detwiler can fill the remaining slots.

I'm still hoping for a trade, but fear it would punch a hole in the every-day lineup that would be hard to fill at this point.

Posted by: BinM | January 26, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm... According to mlbtraderumors (and FOX sports), Washburn is only interested in "a limited number of places", apparently including MIN & SEA; Those places do not apparently include Washington, DC. Maybe Boras thinks he already has enough clients on-board here.

Posted by: BinM | January 26, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

But the Nats were in it til the end:

¶ SAN DIEGO (AP) _ People familiar with the negotiations say free agent right-hander Jon Garland and the San Diego Padres have agreed to a $5.3 million, one-year contract. Garland was 11-13 with a 4.01 ERA last year with Arizona and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | January 26, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Some off-the top guesswork here. Right-handers(age)[offer value?] include: Paul Byrd(39)[$2M], Adam Eaton(32)[MiLB contract], Livan Hernandez(35)[$3M], Braden Looper(35)[$3.5M], Pedro Martinez(38)[$4M+], John Smoltz(43)[3M+], Chien-Ming Wang(30)[4M+], Jarrod Washburn(35)[4M+], and Todd Wellemeyer(31)[2M+]. Left-handers(age) with SP experience include: Eric Bedard(31)[3M+], Tom Glavine(44)[none], Noah Lowry(29)[$1.5M+], and Eric Milton(34)[$1M+].

Posted by: BinM | January 26, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

The amount of bile that gets spewed here in the wake of even a good story about team progress is really staggering.

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | January 26, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I like Rizzo and I'm pleased with a lot of the additions this offseason, but I sure hoped that we'd land either Garland, Pineiro, Sheets or Washburn.

I hope we don't have a new Pacino protest: "Aqueduct! Aqueduct!"

Posted by: Drew8 | January 26, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

I say you would probably be happier if you didn't spend so much of every day spewing your hatred for the owners of a professional sports team.

Posted by: markfromark | January 26, 2010 6:57 PM
________________________________________________________

Whatever. Go put your head back in the sand.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 26, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Whatever. Go put your head back in the sand.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 26, 2010 9:17 PM
------------------------------------------------
Whatever. Go put yours back up your....oh, never mind.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 26, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

It could always be worse - we could be Cubs fans.

Posted by: BinM | January 26, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Wang not being ready until May 1 is not such a big deal, so he misses 3 maybe 4 starts in the thin-schedule and weather delay month of April. If they can get the guy and have him for 2011, he's likely worth a shot.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 26, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Nunof1, ABM or one of your other 50 monikers you call yourself,

You're a jackass.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 26, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

You know what we need in here to cool off? Running water! If only we had some system to bring water across distances ... but what??
http://tinyurl.com/ybcoz5q

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 26, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

sec3, those are sweet! Good t-shirt idea if we ever have another NJ tailgate like back in the Svrluga era. Nationals Journal: Where are the frickin' aqueducts?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 26, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm still looking for one that allows captions. "Where's OUR &(*&^ aquaduct?"

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 26, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

This answer from Mark Lerner in his Q&A with Ladson is just the awesomest. I've read it about 15 times now and it still cracks me up.

MLB.com: This will be your family's fourth season opener as owners of the Nationals. Anything different for you now compared to when your family first entered the league?

Lerner: I only get more excited each year. Every year I've felt we were getting a little closer to becoming more competitive and a little closer to being able to contend in the National League East.

From Day 1, we said we would follow a plan and philosophy for building a team and an organization that Stan Kasten and some of the other proven winners in baseball have followed in the past, and we have inched closer to realizing success.

This year, I feel, and I think our fans feel, that every game will be more competitive, that every game will have its own excitement, and that we will soon be exactly what baseball fans hoped for when the game returned to the nation's capital.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 26, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps you'd prefer an owner who says there are no real baseball fans in Washington?

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 27, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Yarg. Isn't this the time of year we're supposed to be at our most optimistic?

In other news, the Twins signed Thome.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 27, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

So Garland took $4.7 mil for 1 year with the Padres instead of about $15 mil for 2 years with the Nats? Thats a lot of cheese to turn down...

Can't really blame Garland too much though. He said from the beginning that he wanted to play on the west coast, and I guess if you are choosing between the Padres and Nats, I'd rather lose 100 games living in San Diego than in Washington.

I'm not sure who my top choice is from the remaining free agent starters. Smoltz would probably have the most trade value later in the season if he is pitching well, and Bedard on a one-year incentive-heavy deal would be a nice addition if he stays healthy, but that's a big if.

A quick history lesson for you Roman history buffs out there...

Rome, the largest city in the Empire, had 11 aqueducts built over the course of 500 years. Very careful planning and extreme precision and skill (along with countless hours of slave labor) helped construct one of the greatest engineering accomplishments in the human history, as some of the aqueducts are still standing today, nearly 2000 years later.

Posted by: SpashCity | January 27, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Switching topics for a second...

Planning on going to the Winter Caravan at Tyson's today with the children. Can anyone advise on the crowd levels, crowd control, and general level of attitude from Nats representatives, e.g., friendly, apathetic?

Greatly appreciate feedback; thanks.

Posted by: joemktg1 | January 27, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Can somebody please explain?

2009. The Nats off-load Ronnie Belliard, who appears to have no future in DC, to the Dodgers.

Belliard goes on a mini-tear. He is re-signed by said Dodgers, replacing a spent Orlando Hudson at 2B.

2010. The Nats spend half of the off-season pursuing Hudson, now an expensive free agent in whom the Dodgers have no interest. Nats fans practically demand an $8 million dollar contract.

What gives? Am I missing something.

Posted by: nattydread1 | January 27, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Belliard signed with the Dodgers for 825K. I'm sure if Hudson was available at that price the Dodgers would have kept him.

The Dodgers also signed Jamey Carrol (another former Nat) to a two-year $3.85 million deal, I'm assuming to be their everyday second baseman.

Both Belliard and Carroll are downgrades from Hudson, but in the wake of the owner's divorce drama, and several young stars such as Matt Kemp, Andre Either, and Chad Billingsly becoming arbitration eligible, LA had to cut some salary from somewhere and 2B was an expendable spot in their opinion.

The Nats on the other hand, are looking for a serious upgrade at 2B, which Hudson is, after the revolving door of Hernandez, Gonzalez, Orr, and Belliard, didn't produce a single legitimate full-time starter in 2009.

The Nats seem willing to pay for Hudson, presumably less than is asking price of $9 million, but how much less seems to be the key question. With his only other known suitors to be San Diego and Cleveland (both strapped for cash) and Tampa Bay (lots of cheap, internal 2B options), it seems like the Nats will have the best offer, its just a matter if Hudson wants to get paid as much as he has indicated over the past two seasons.

Posted by: SpashCity | January 27, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

nattydread1, due to the McCourt divorce the Dodgers are now cheap. Silly you, you thought it was the Lerners.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 27, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Joemktg1;

Enjoy the Carvan at Tysons, with little to no publicity you should have plenty of space to enjoy. Oh yes once word gets around the site people will peak-in but its not like they will be knocking you out of the way, most wouldn't even know a Nat even if they tried. You can not compare the Nats Caravan with say the Cubs, Cardinals or even the Reds annual fan fest,its just not at that level yet! Nats staffers are rather friendly but what else could they be especially when its not them most people are coming to see.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | January 27, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Rome, the largest city in the Empire, had 11 aqueducts built over the course of 500 years. Very careful planning and extreme precision and skill (along with countless hours of slave labor) helped construct one of the greatest engineering accomplishments in the human history, as some of the aqueducts are still standing today, nearly 2000 years later.

Posted by: SpashCity | January 27, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Most of the Aqueducts were rebuilt in the 17th and 18th century which is mainly why they are still in existence. The aqueducts were not the beginning of a foundation or infrastructure for ROME. They were built later in an amazing engineering feat not to be duplicated for another thousand years. Not sure this aqueduct analogy really holds true for comparing the building up of the nationals.
It would be more like once Stars and Storen are shutting people down Byrce Harpers annual 50 home run seasons run the world series through Washington, much as the Roman aquaducts flowed water into the citys fountains and baths.

Posted by: Stu27 | January 27, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Also kinda bummed about Garland, I was holding out some hope for him. It sucks but Bedard seems to be the best option(besides a trade). To many older FA, not the direction we need to take. Wang is far to risky, he was so solid for a lot of years with the yanks but the last couple of season have been tough on him, I really cant see him ever regaining his old form. Guess if I had to chose from the over the hill FA gang Washburn might be the best option. Im also kinda sick of Livo nothing against him but lets get some new blood here, even if it is 35 yo new blood.

Posted by: Stu27 | January 27, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Thanks TippyCanoe.

Posted by: joemktg1 | January 27, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Stu -

Thanks for adding to the history lesson. I agree that the aqueduct analogy doesn't "hold water" (haha, pats self on back) when it is applied to the Nats' plan for constructing a long-lasting winner. The "Rome wasn't built in a day" crowd has led to a competing "yes, but where are the freakin' aqueducts" group. I was trying to point out that aqueducts were not the first step to building the Roman Empire, but you made the point much more clearly. That's what I get for doing my history homework on Wikipedia.

Posted by: SpashCity | January 27, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Drat. I was hoping to land Sheets, but for $10M, I think I'd hold off too. Garland would have been nice, but it was wishful thinking that he'd pitch somewhere other than on the left coast.

So barring trades for SP, I'd say take a flier on either Bedard or Wang. I'd lean more towards Wang as he could put a few more fannies in the seats and it might finally start the Nats presence in Asia. Either of these pitchers can be had on a one-year guaranteed deal with incentives built in. Throw in a team option for a second year and they should be good to go. Worst case scenario is they get hurt again and not much is lost but a few bucks. Best case scenario is they bounce back to form, give the Nats solid starting pitching, which would allow the Nats to either 1) not rush Strasburg and let him develop longer in the minors oor 2) allow the Nats to trade either Bedard or Wang at the deadline for some much-needed prospects.

Posted by: erocks33 | January 27, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I would rather trade Willingham for a good, young pitcher that could be part of our future than to sign a FA with a ton of injury problems for only one year - otherwise we're in this same spot next year. Garland's not that great, neither is Davis and Sheets can't pitch a whole year. Wang is young enough that he would be the only injury-guy I'd take a risk on (not to mention the exposure in Asia he would bring). Bedard is a horse's you-know-what that isn't worth the trouble.

Posted by: sec307 | January 27, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Spash, indeed maybe instead of "yes, but where are the freakin' aqueducts". It should be more like, "where is the all the slave labor and massive amounts of igneous rocks". Not quite as catchy, possibly to long for a t-shirt.

Posted by: Stu27 | January 27, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Mark and Ted are no Romulus and Remus folks.

Anyway, the aqueducts reference was indeed in response to some post about Nats Town's need to have more patience while the Lerners build it, but the "there should be an aqueduct or something up and running by this point" comment is valid, notwithstanding some detail of ancient history's timeline.

The Lerners do not have much to show in the way of building blocks for some shining city of a franchise for their 3+ years of ownership. The farm was the focus from day one (says Marky Mark Lerner just yesterday), but at like day 1,200 Mark finally decides to add the Funnky Bunch front office to actually make that happen? Come on, come on. What took so long? Why the hot air about having the right people in place in 2007? Do they not see the credibility ding they just took?

The Lerners need to step it up. They have done a nice job with the at the park experience, tinkering every year to improve this or that, but they just don't get it when it comes to the need for the club to do much more to be anything near an elite franchise.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 27, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Keith Law over at espn has his new farm system rankings up, but i'm not an 'insider.' Any insiders willing to share what he says?

Posted by: Bethesdangit | January 27, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

So I'm thinking about whether the acqueducts could have been built with igneous rocks, because (i) I had a vague recollection that igneous rocks were generally porous, which would mean you wouldn't want them holding your water; and (ii) I thought the acqueducts looked like they were made of limestone. Naturally, this led to me reading an article entitled "The Secrets of Roman Concrete," which can be found here:

http://romanconcrete.com/Article1Secrets.pdf

(Yes, we have officially reached the point where there is a website dedicated to absolutely everything.)

In any case, the short answer is that "modern" concrete (since 1824) is made by heating limestone and clay and producing a fine powder which, when mixed with water, essentially creates a durable artificial stone once it dries. The Romans didn't know about the clay and the heat part though; for the most part they just heated limestone and created a paste which, when combined with river sand, became a "lime mortar" that could be used to bind bricks or rocks together or to plaster a wall.

However, the Romans also discovered that using, yep, volcanic ash (i.e., igneous sand) instead of river sand made a much tougher concrete. Why? Because the volcano that heated the ash gave it the same kind of chemical properties that the heated clay in modern concrete has, essentially, enabling the ash to bind to the lime in the same way the clay does.

So there you have it, the acqueducts were made of igneous limestone concrete.

Now back to your regularly scheduled bickering.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 27, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Nats are ranked #23.

"Getting there, slowly, but a number of top draft picks from 2006 to 2008 haven't developed as expected, and two of their top three guys -- including Stephen Strasburg -- came in the 2009 draft."

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 27, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

BTW, Stu may be a bit off in his history lesson. Aqueducts go back in Rome to something like 300 B.C. Once those aqueducts got flowing the place really flourished. They run under the freaking Colliseum and the Pantheon, which were build hundreds of years later. The Roman republic was only maybe a mere 2 centuries old when the first aqueduct was dug. The equivalent of much less than 3.5 years of MLB frnachise ownership, of course.

I am Spartacus and I want some freaking aqueducts!!

Posted by: dfh21 | January 27, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, (I think!) CiL.

Posted by: Bethesdangit | January 27, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Devil's advocate time here ... in regards to the 2007 story about the scouts/front office, is it possible that at that time those that were quoted as saying positive things about the Nats were basing it compared to what they had when MLB owned the team? And yesterday's story was touting how much better they've become since 2007 because in those 2+ years they've learned that they need even more people?

I'm neither a Kool Aid drinker nor a curmudgeon, just trying to see both sides here. I mean, if the Nats began in DC with a bare-bones staff, then up it by X% once the Lerners took over, wouldn't you crow about how much better it would be to have more people around to help get things done? Then after a couple of years realize that you need even more people, so you go out and get them?

I dunno, just spitballin' here ...

Posted by: erocks33 | January 27, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Well #23 puts us just ahead of the Phillies and the Yankees, but that's because the Phils have been trading prospects for players during their current series run, and because the Yanks have lost picks due to signing top tier free agents. Not much consolation there in my view. It would have been nice if Keith had said this instead:

A top-10 system despite the graduations of Matt Wieters and Chris Tillman as well as several lower-tier young arms speaks volumes about the organization's turnaround under GM Andy MacPhail and scouting director Joe Jordan.

Oh wait, he did say that, just not about the Nats. Where is O's Exec these days?


Posted by: BobLHead | January 27, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

If I'm the kool aid drinker, why is my glass half full while you curmudgeons are left holding a glass half empty?

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 27, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

erocks, nice try but I think I can hit your spitball. Once the Lerners took over there was no excuse for failing to install a complete major league staff and scouting operation. OK, maybe they couldn't do it immediately, but after the 2006 season most of that should have been in place, with the rest to follow by, say, the end of 2007. Evidently they waited until now to get it done. I was a Planista for years but I have come around to the view that the Lerners did, in fact, try to do this on a shoestring budget, and that they have just started coming around a bit (this is in line with what Boz has been saying lately). It's not clear yet that they have come all the way around, although they may be trying, finally.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 27, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

From Ben' MASN post

Hey Ben,

Is it true if you criticize Stan and Lerner on Phil Wood's Blog he will not post it? Based on WPost recent writing about the phony PLAN of 2006 - 2008 where we we told time and time again how much money was being spent on scouting, I posed some direct questions to Phil about what happened and why....he is choosing to ignore the WPost story...how about you?
-----------------------
Comment posted, so that should answer that question. As for the story, I thought it was a good piece by Chico. I was only around for the last year of the Bowden era -- when some of this stuff about having a bare-bones scouting operation started to come up -- but it's clear there's a definite difference now. I'm guessing some of the hesitation in 2008 had to do with Bowden; why would you let him fill out a scouting staff if he was in the middle of an investigation and was eventually going to be gone? There definitely seems to be a different momentum under Rizzo, or at least a feeling of stability the organization never had with Bowden.

Ben
January 27, 2010 6:20 AM

Ben's reply represents my gut feeling about the past three years.


I believe the plan that is now in place was the design that Kasten laid out when they first took over. It was the plan advertized to Rizzo to get him on board. However, I don't believe Bowden really understands what it takes to build a "team" so the required guidance from the GM spot was never adequate for the plan. Therefore it didn't move forward as fast as it should have. Then when Bowden got into trouble things drifted. While the team has been here 5 years and the plan was presented to us three years ago. In my mind it has only really been actively and adequately prosecuted for less than a year.

While there is frustration about the progress the REAL major league franchise in DC is less than a year old. Forget the first five years. Enjoy the present and the future.

Posted by: kgwcoach | January 27, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't think we're going to sign Wang because I think the powers that be think we already have his equivalent in Olsen (i.e., a formerly solid starter coming off shoulder surgery).

I think we're looking at trades for a young controllable starter. I also think there is a chance that Smoltz falls to us. If both of those things happened I might get around to renewing my tickets.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 27, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

aqueduct?

"This town needs an enema!"

Posted by: longterm | January 27, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"Devil's advocate time here ... in regards to the 2007 story about the scouts/front office, is it possible that at that time those that were quoted as saying positive things about the Nats were basing it compared to what they had when MLB owned the team? And yesterday's story was touting how much better they've become since 2007 because in those 2+ years they've learned that they need even more people?"

Yes and yes. But also consider this. Most of the people hired to beef up the scouting and FO staff in 2007 had one common denominator: Bowden cronies from the Reds. And who was the one who hired them and created the spin that they were the best FO guys ever? Bowden. The Lerners didn't do that. Kasten didn't do that. Bowden did that. The Lerners and Kasten aren't baseball guys and have never claimed to be. They let their baseball guy (then: Bowden, now: Rizzo) make the baseball decisions. Unlike other owners and team presidents, they don't meddle. About as far as they do is if Kasten steps in to close the deal on someone he's had a longstanding relationship with, or maybe suggests someone like that. Look at the people working in the FO and where they came from. You don't see Kasten cronies, you see Bowden or Rizzo cronies, or cronies of their cronies.

The only big mistake the Lerners have made in their ownership is to fall under the spell of Bowden. You guys complained endlessly about that mistake. But now they've rectified it, so you need to get off their backs.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 27, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Something like Willingham to the Giants for Jonathan Sanchez and Fred Lewis.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 27, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"The only big mistake the Lerners have made in their ownership is to fall under the spell of Bowden. You guys complained endlessly about that mistake. But now they've rectified it, so you need to get off their backs."

"However, I don't believe Bowden really understands what it takes to build a "team" so the required guidance from the GM spot was never adequate for the plan."
___________________________________________________________

So the Lerner's and StanK get a pass and it's all Bowden's fault. OK then. I guess Bowden is at fault for "global warming", the Real Estate crash and 9/11.

The Lerner's and StanK hold the checkbook and run the show, they need to be held accountable.

"Where are the freakin' aqueducts!?"

Posted by: Section505203 | January 27, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"So the Lerner's and StanK get a pass and it's all Bowden's fault. OK then. I guess Bowden is at fault for "global warming", the Real Estate crash and 9/11."

Actually I was blaming you for all those things. It's the Lerners and Stan's fault for hiring Bowden - a big mistake. Perhaps in all your venom-spewing you missed where I already said that.

"The Lerner's and StanK hold the checkbook and run the show, they need to be held accountable."

Show me one instance where the Lerners or Stan has ever told Bowden or Rizzo that they could not spend money when they recommended that someone be drafted or acquired. One instance. Okay, Aaron Crow. (Although the true fault in that one is highly debatable.) Yeah, having that guy really would have turned this ship around, wouldn't it?

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 27, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"Show me one instance where the Lerners or Stan has ever told Bowden or Rizzo that they could not spend money when they recommended that someone be drafted or acquired. One instance. Okay, Aaron Crow."

J.P. Ramirez

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 27, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

JE1,

You didn't happen to notice all the signability picks in the last few drafts did you? They drafted a lot of guys that would sign quickly, hence the #23 rated minor league system.

"Venom-spewing?" Seriously, lighten up.

I think the Lerner's and StanK are doing things on the Cheap and things are moving way to slow. You obviously don't agree with that opinion. Great.

Let's move on.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 27, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I thought they did spend on JP Ramirez. If i remember you said they paid 1.5 million for him in the 15th round.
Then i was all like whaaa thats a lot of dough for the 15th round? and all i got was like(cricket chirps).

Posted by: Stu27 | January 27, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"J.P. Ramirez"

Not following you here. The Nationals signed Ramirez. Are you saying that the Lerners and Stan forbid Bowden from signing Ramirez, but he did so anyway in some fit of insubordination?

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 27, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

JP Ramirez was signed only after Crow wasn't. The Lerner's and StanK's budget would allow for both. If I remember correctly, it was right at the last minute.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 27, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Make that wouldn't allow, not would

Posted by: Section505203 | January 27, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I think what happened was they weren't going to pay Ramirez because the budget only had enough money for Crow, but when the talks with Crow fell through, they went back to Ramirez at the last minute with an increased offer. Although some may ask why there wasn't enough room in the budget for both Crow and Ramirez, I don't think either of them qualify as "signability picks".

Posted by: SpashCity | January 27, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

505203 has it right: Bowden was told that he couldn't spend money on Ramirez if he spent it on Crow. He was ultimately signed (because they didn't spend it on Crow), but the point remains.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 27, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Crow was asking for far to much. what spot were we at like #8 or something correct? Crow was asking for like top 5 money and we didnt give in to the Hendricks Brothers?

I dont think thats a bad thing, how is Crow doing? Is he tearing it up right now or did he drop further in the draft the next year and end up accepting the money that goes with the spot he was drafted in.
Us not signing him allowed us to pick up the best reliever in the draft last year.

But again why was this Ramirez character who i was told was a potential 1st rounder drop to the 15th? thats a big drop.

Posted by: Stu27 | January 27, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-a repost....and while this is a new piece by Chico, I'm still waiting for some noise on the player side of the equation. This was regarding our lack of recent action
"....been waiting for a new post with some sorta explanation for Garland-at under 5mil- and Sheets at 10m-being somplace OTHER than the NATsion. WE STILL NEED ARMS!!!! And while I've been duly impressed with the work the Rizz has done up til now...well, Stan, Mark, Ted et al.....the stench of the past few years is only a windshift away, and these two moves (that we DIDN'T make) are starting me thinking on the same old same old path. Look,I gotta believe-until proven otherwise-that the owners here STILL don't get it-or enough of it, at any rate. This is a pretty sophisticated market, as evidenced by the comments on this site, and near-misses and good starts just ain't enough to convince a fan base that has already watched one of the all-time great opportunities in sports/fan building get WASTED! And whatever spin The Rizz puts on it(absent any other real moves) it still is starting to look like the slow Lerners are acting penuriously.....(I choose to believe that the Rizz would have got one of those guys if he had a free hand...again, absent any upcoming moves of consequence.And we're only talking pitching here-never mind Orlando, etc.)
So, gang...what's your take?"

And let me add this-I'm working, so haven't had the chance to read all the comments-appologies if some of you have already adressed my question....and who's left? Washburn? Or does The Rizz really have something major cooking?
Go Nats!!!!
zendo


Posted by: zendo2 | January 27, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

New post. Bookmark this one for reference in October.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 27, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Here is what Bowden said on August 16, 2008 about the Crow/Ramirez budget:

Q: What about when you're talking about the bonus money given to Crow and then Ramirez in the 15th round?

A: He [Ramirez] was done at one minute 'til midnight at the end. Here was a guy that, we were holding on to that because we didn't know if we had enough money in our budget to get Ramirez. We had enough money to get Ramirez because we didn't sign Crow. So that was done right there at the end. Because, OK, the money is sitting there and he's a first-round talent. We took him like McGeary late but we didn't think we could sign him. He wanted $1.6 million and we negotiated all summer with him, but at the end of the day, we didn't think there were enough dollars. We wanted to save our money in case we could save Crow. That was what we were trying to do. Our scouting budget that we had to sign players - we were saving it for Crow. When he fell apart, we picked up the deal and closed it at the last minute.

*****

The full transcript is here:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2008/08/more_than_3700_words_from_jim.html

Res ipsa loquitor.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 27, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Really, Bowden is to blame? The only mistake the Lerners have made is JimBo?? Wow. All baseball badness comes from leather pants and/or Segways? No.

Does anyone think that Bowden made some kind of conscious effort to keep his staff as thin as he could? As if he did not have any more friends to hire? Chico's piece states that waiting for revenues from the new stadium and then Smileygate as being reasons it did not happen sooner. The former is cheapness without disguise, the latter is BS as the whole drama did not really errupt until after the 2008 season when Mark and Ted were already clad in hteir tunics swimming in the National Park Cash Aqueduct that goes from half Street to the Lerner Mansion in Great Falls.

The Nats went cheap on the hires while telling us they were going big and the results of their unwillingness to spend are in today -- 23rd best farm on a club that had the farm as its primary focus for 3 years. Sad stuff.

23rd in farm, 27th in payroll, last in the National League!

Posted by: dfh21 | January 27, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

So Ramirez = Crow. One instance. All I said.

As for "signability issues", tell me all you conspiracy theorists - on which part of the grassy knoll was the second spitter located? Because your Lerners are Cheap schtick is one magic loogie.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 27, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

"So Ramirez = Crow. One instance. All I said."

Another way to look at it is that it is the entire 2008 draft--i.e., many instances.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 27, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"Another way to look at it is that it is the entire 2008 draft--i.e., many instances."

If you're a conspiracy theorist, sure. But as I hope you've gathered by now, I think it's far more likely to have incompetent managers running unsuccessful organizations than it is to have a cheap, evil mastermind maximizing the squeezing of every possible penny out of its customer base while spending no money of their own. Because those kinds of conspiracies only work if everyone who's in on them is on top of their game. One slip-up by some incompetent somewhere down the line, and the conspiracy fails. You're trying to tell me there are no incompetents anywhere in the Nationals organization? If that was the case, then all those FO types they were trumpeting back in 2007 would never have been let go.

Posted by: JennEric1 | January 27, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Whether or not a particular manager was good or not 9or even whther they may have been conspiratorial) is arguable (I think Bowden was really not all that bad, all things considered, but that's for another day), and besides the point.

As to team ownership, the facts are -- and they simply cannot be disputed: the Nats have underspent the market on rosters for years (even after moving into a brand new publicy financed ball park) and they have willfully (maybe for good economic reason, but by choice without doubt) kept their scouting department below major league caliber for years.

Follow the (lack of) money.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 27, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

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