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Posted at 3:05 PM ET, 12/21/2010

Relationships, opportunity led Ankiel to Nationals

By Dave Sheinin

Rick Ankiel, the Nationals' newest outfielder, said he chose the Nationals over a handful of other interested teams because of his solid relationships with Manager Jim Riggleman and hitting coach Rick Eckstein from their days with the St. Louis Cardinals, as well as the opportunity to earn playing time as part of a 2011 outfield rotation.

Ankiel, speaking by phone from his West Palm Beach, Fla. home, said he has worked with Eckstein over the past few off-seasons, and called him "one of the best at what he does."

"It's a situation where I'm really comfortable with those guys," he said of Eckstein and Riggleman. "Rick has a way of making you understand what you need to do to be successful."

Ankiel, 31, split his 2010 season between Kansas City and Atlanta, hitting a combined .232 with six homers and 24 RBI, but also missed about half the season with a strained hamstring.

He signed a one-year contract with the Nationals worth a guaranteed $1.5 million, with up to $1.25 million in incentives. The signing was made official on Tuesday after Ankiel passed a physical exam.

With the Nationals, Ankiel, who plays all three outfield positions, is expected to compete for playing time with holdovers Njyer Morgan, Roger Bernadina and Michael Morse in left field and center field. He said that opportunity also helped sway him toward the Nationals. Although he declined to say how much he expects to play, he said, "I think I'm going to get enough at-bats to help the team."

By Dave Sheinin  | December 21, 2010; 3:05 PM ET
 
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Comments

Nice post. I had not realize that Ankiel's most productive year as a batter had come with Eckstien coaching him, but gather that is part of the story.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 21, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

@skins_fan_22,

"People say we're negative but let's break it down. For 2 year's I've been crying out where's the starting pitching? For 2 years Rizzo has promised to go out and get a bonifide starting pitcher."

No, not negative but spewing inane unsubstantiated vitriol makes you seem like you are still smarting from the terrible Redskins season. And by-the-way NO you CANNOT play Orapko as an every down defensive end in the 4-3. HE CAN'T stop the run. Okay? He's in the right position and the right defense. Its too bad that isn't true for most of the rest of the players.

Now, back to baseball? First, Rizzo DID GET TWO top-of-the rotation starters last year? Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann returned from injury. That could potentially be as good a #1,#2 as any in the league. The jury is still out on Zimmnn and some think he is a #3 at best. Strasburg was better than advertised but had to get TJ surgery. Marquis is a#3, #4 innings eater guy that also has an injury and really didn't show much until September. John Lannan another #3,#4 likely #5 had a terrible year and was briefly returned to the minors?

SO then this year, this offseason (NOT 2 YEARS ago right?) MIke Rizzo said that upgrading the top of the rotation was the highest priority. As much as anything to take the pressure off of JZimmnn and a rehabbing Strasburg. He and the FO were aggressive in pursuing Lee. He chose Philly. He and the FO were aggressive in pursuing Grienke. He chose Milwaukee.

Really you need to take the inane diatribes back to RI where they belong. No facts, all conjecture belongs on RI. And right now you have lots of negative people there ...

Posted by: periculum | December 21, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Barry Svrluga :
You know who would have solved the Nats power problems at first base? Adam Dunn. I still don't get this. You don't sign a guy who every year -- every single year -- gives you 35+ homers, 100+ RBI, and OPS of .850+ and 100 walks (except last year) -- but then pay a guy who has never once driven in 100 runs and has been a full-time player for three years $126 MILLION??????!!!! And the reason: Dunn's defense wasn't good enough at first base? Uh, who made him a first baseman? Not Cincinnati.

But I digress. Fielder would be the kind of guy the Nats would seem to be saying they'll be a player for in the future, and there is something intriguing about a Zimmerman-Fielder-Werth heart of the order. But again: Pursuing players and landing them are totally different animals.

From this morning's First Things First

Posted by: flynnie321 | December 21, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

He might surprise. Not a bad add, but I wonder whether the opportuntiy cost of not adding someone who has the ability hit leadoff like Podsednik or a guy who might be on a multi-year deal like Hawpe, is a mistake.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 21, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

"they'll be a player for in the future, and there is something intriguing about a Zimmerman-Fielder-Werth heart of the order. But again: Pursuing players and landing them are totally different animals."

Scott Boras is Prince Fielder's agent. He appears to be sold on the Nats and the Lerners. The Nats have that "payroll flexibility" like the Rays ... as Shenin pointed out. Fielder is only 26.

Not quite. Werth, Fielder, Zimmerman, Harper. Left, right, left, right. Rizzo's dream 3,4,5,6 where no double switches required by Riggleman.

Posted by: periculum | December 21, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

More from Barry Svrluga :

Here's the thing on Lerners, Rizzo and promises. I'm certain that they told Werth they were going to be major players, that they were not going to hold back on the purse strings and they would compete for talent. But there's a difference between competing for talent and actually landing it. Witness the Greinke trade. Reports are that Greinke declined the opportunity to go to Washington -- and that's in a TRADE. A free agent is FREE to go anywhere he wants, and he has to choose Washington. Translation: The Nats will have to overpay for talent, just as they did for Werth. Coming in second on a free agent gets you nowhere.

To my mind, this is still a long climb.

Posted by: flynnie321 | December 21, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

"To my mind, this is still a long climb.'

But it seems a lot shorter than it did under Bowden who failed miserably at signing his draft picks. Just looking at nationalsprospects.com and the draft tracker. All the green signed draft picks by Rizzo versus a dearth of signings (including first pick and starting pitcher Aaron Crow) ... with Bowden it was mostly unsignable high school and prep school types who mostly opted to continue on into college.

Bowden literally wasted five years ... five years where he helped trash the team as much as Loria. That's an eternity in baseball.

Posted by: periculum | December 21, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

"And the reason: Dunn's defense wasn't good enough at first base? Uh, who made him a first baseman? Not Cincinnati."

Svrluga's wrong. Dunn's defense is not the reason he wasn'r re-signed. He wasn't re-signed because his agent only made him available in the jumbo Costco four-year pack. Rizzo needs a first baseman for 2011 like I need a beer tonight. I could go to Costco and buy a case of Dunn brand suds, but they won't split them out and sell me a single. So I have to go to 7-11 and buy a can or two of LaRoche or Lee brand to get my buzz on tonight. Simple as that.

Posted by: FeelWood | December 21, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

enough with the Greinke BS. He turned down the Nats. So what?! He also turned down a trade to the Blue Jays. Rizzo did what he wanted to do. He made a deal with another ballclub. Things were in motion but stopped due to one player that had a no-trade clause in his contract. I still don't see how anyone can fault Rizzo over not getting Greinke.

Also, Rizzo laid out offers to Vazquez and De la Rosa, both reportedly larger than what they eventually signed for. Sometimes, it just doesn't matter how much more is offered, players can and do decide not to just go where the money is (Cliff Lee is another example).

I still see something happening in regards to getting a SP. And I think it's going to be something that hasn't been "reported" on yet, because if you look back on Rizzo's track record, virtually all deals he's made have been done so stealthily. Somehow, Rizzo and his crew don't show their hand to reporters/insiders/bloggers until after the deal has been done. I, for one, am not ready to grade this offseason a bust (or a success) until sometime in mid-late January.

Posted by: erocks33 | December 21, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Well, FeelWood, clearly you're too cheap to spring for the case, is your problem.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 21, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

ESPN is questioning whether the Nationals have a plan, any plan. Headline: "The Confusing Plan of the Nationals"

See link below, but it's an ESPN Insider story, so it requires a subscription:

http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/hotstove10/insider/columns/story?columnist=meyers_matt&id=5943534&action=login&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fmlb%2fhotstove10%2finsider%2fcolumns%2fstory%3fcolumnist%3dmeyers_matt%26id%3d5943534

Posted by: swanni | December 21, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

"And the reason: Dunn's defense wasn't good enough at first base? Uh, who made him a first baseman? Not Cincinnati."

If we pay for the materials, will they make us one?

All due respect to the Blogfather, they made him a first baseman because there's no DH in the NL.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 21, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Swanni, care to infringe a little, there, for us too-cheap-to-subscribe bums?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 21, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Sec3, love to, but I don't have a subscription, either. :)

Posted by: swanni | December 21, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

And about Greinke, this may have been mentioned before, but if he has an anxiety disorder, I can see no amount of money being worth coming here as the supposed Ace. One look at this blog and he'd be in Japan.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 21, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

ah, so you're fishing for someone who does. That's a plan!

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 21, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Here's the beginning of the ESPN story for the non payees:

"Back in 2002, Jonah Keri wrote a column at Baseball Prospectus entitled "The Success Cycle." The piece is particularly relevant now in light of the recent major deals by small- and mid-market clubs.


A quick summation of the concept is as follows: "The cycle is a baseball continuum on which every team resides. To measure a team's place in the cycle, assess its talent in the majors and minors. Can the players in the organization, mixed with a few trade acquisitions and free agents the team could reasonably sign, yield a competitive team? More precisely, can the team expect to compete while its current core of major league players remain productive and under contract?"


No transaction better exemplifies two teams on opposite ends of the "success cycle" than the Kansas City Royals trading Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers for four cost-controlled youngsters. The Royals, who have the best farm system in baseball, can see their window for success is 2013-15, knew that Greinke would leave as a free agent before then and decided to deal him while his value is still high. The Brewers, on the other hand, have a powerful offense and mediocre starting pitching, and since general manager Doug Melvin knows that first baseman Prince Fielder and second baseman Rickie Weeks will likely leave next offseason via free agency, he decided to go all in for this season. Using the "success cycle" as a guideline, this trade makes perfect sense. Some teams' maneuvers aren't nearly as logical, however, which brings us to the Washington Nationals.

To put it succinctly: What are they doing?"

Posted by: swanni | December 21, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see that someone other than "crazy bloggers" think the Nats are acting strangely.

Posted by: swanni | December 21, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Akiel is a has been. What a dumb signing.

Posted by: chiro1623 | December 21, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

The basic thesis of the Insider story is that the Nats are making some moves that appear designed to contend now (Werth, the attempt at Greinke) and other moves that imply that they are looking ahead to 2012 and beyond (not re-signing Dunn, trading Willingham). So they are schizophrenic and don't understand that they need to be on one side of the "success cycle" or the other, but not both. This strikes me as a reasonable argument, but I suspect Rizzo's response would be that we are trying to position the club to improve now while at the same time not giving up any critical pieces for the future. We also know that Rizzo is seeking well-rounded, athletic players that can hit, get on base and field their positions -- criteria that Dunn and, to a lesser extent, Willingham, did not meet. So there is another way of looking at these moves that can be viewed as equally valid. But only if they get a few more of those well-rounded athletic players to fill the holes.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 21, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

it's a little confusing to call it a cycle, though--that implies a more-or-less inevitable progression, which is clearly not happening in KC, or Pittsburgh (and arguably, not here, either). Disingenuous, too, to overlook WHY KC has all those high draft picks in their system.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 21, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

To put it succinctly: What are they doing?

Meyers clearly doesn't follow the Nationals. Looks like he doesn't have a clue when it comes to the Nats. Follows the Yankees and Phillies religiously.

He mentions some article written in 2002 called the "success cycle".

Finally as so many have now pointed out? Its December, not March and the end of Spring Training. right?

Clearly Rizzo wants to build a fast, athletic, great fielding team with power but mostly gap power. Werth fits that mold. Justin Upton (who you can be sure was the first guy the inquired about well before the Werth signing) is.

Rizzo wants power pitchers and effective sinker ballers. He is not at all interested in slop pitchers and soft tossers.

What cards does Rizzo have up his sleeve? Derrick Norris for one. He is still 2 years away, still needs to catch more games but looks like he could be better than Matt Wieters. He has Harper of course who also requires time in the minors. He will hopefully have Strasburg. Hopefully Solis soon. He has the draft and the right people to make those choices.

He has the funding and support to sign Prince Fielder to a contract that will likely blow away the Werth signing. Before the 2013 season there will be a plethora of free agent starting pitchers.

By 2013 the Nats should field a young, athletic all star lineup that will include Derrick Norris, Harper, Werth, Zimmerman, Desmond and/or Espinosa, Lombardozzi, Strasburg, Zimmermann, Solis, perhaps AJ Cole will be ready and Robbie Ray? There are guys like Cole Kimball. Perhaps (likely) Prince Fielder.

In the end I believe Rizzo succeeds in his machinations.

Meanwhile, he clearly needs to make some moves to prove that the Nats are making consistent forward progress.

Posted by: periculum | December 21, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

My concern is that Rizzo was overconfident that he could fill the holes left by Dunn and Willingham. And that he could pluck a top-line starter out of the air.

If the Nats end up with some washed-up, .230 hitting vet at 1B, Bernadina in LF and Livo as the ace, 100 losses seems likely.

Posted by: swanni | December 21, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

hey, thanks for sharing, cheerio.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 21, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo missed De la Rosa, Lee, Grienke and who knows who else; because those guys do not think that the Nats have either the will or the skill to win. And the players are right.

Boz's piece from the other day explaining how the Nats could not make a decision to either trade Dunn or sign him at the deadline is telling of just how dysfunctional this club is. The every year low spending in a big market does not help. And recent transaction history does not scream “we’re building a winner!” either -- Rizzo took the 2009 100+ loss team and added some short term placeholders, not one significant long term FA or trade add to that terrible club (Capps, Kennedy, Pudge, Marquis, Bruney).

Rizzo’s performance has been spotty, he’s not shown himself some genius, not yet at least. There is very little evidence that he is an effective guy. There just isn’t.

Rizzo has yet to even assemble a proper roster. Last year they were fine having no Ace (waiting until mid June for Stras was the plan), no RF, a guy who never played 2B at 2B, a guy who never played 1B at 1B, a lead-off man CF who had never played a full season at the position, a clanky gloved rookie at SS, and a few less than top level OF prospects playing every day.

So, this year when they still lack anything resembling an Ace or every day 1B, among other roster issues, does the league have reason to suspect that they'll do what it takes to fill those needs with high caliber talent? History says no.

Sure, things are better in that the big talents of Werth will be in RF, but he and Zim are all that is really bankable. Maya could impress, Wang may come back from injury well, Livan might repeat, Morgan might get it together, Ankiel could find nice form, Morse could blossom, Desmond might glove and hit liek they think he can, Espinosa might be a gem, etc. But, they are relaying on 80% of the roster playing above expectation in order to just not be completely crushed week after week.

Like I said, Werth is a nice, shiny piece, I applaud the move, but it did not fill a glaring need for the club, it is too little to make a difference in the standings on its own and it is literally too late to help the club lure other players like Grienke to DC.

So, we throw in the towel for yet another season and look to 2012 and beyond as to when the bleeding might stop, though there is not much reason to suspect that this club after only getting this far in 5 years will get it together by then.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 21, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Shame on Rizzo for not stopping in the middle of cooking dinner to share every little detail of his recipe with ESPN. I bet Tom Seitsema gets just as upset when KFC won't tell him what the secret spices are in the fried chicken.

Posted by: nunof1 | December 21, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

dfh21: the good news is that it's Rizzo's ball game. Either he puts together a playoff contender,or he doesn't. There's no longer any split responsibility.

It won't be until 2013 or later when we learn whether Rizzo's any good. (I'd venture the odds of his succeeding are no better than 50-50.) In the meantime, the Nationals will have to keep on inviting Philadelphians and New Yorkers to come see their teams while doing some sightseeing. I don't see much that will attract local fans to Nats Park over the next couple of years.

The TV ratings as usual will be invisible.

Posted by: JohnRDC | December 21, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

"Last year they were fine having no Ace (waiting until mid June for Stras was the plan), no RF, a guy who never played 2B at 2B, a guy who never played 1B at 1B, a lead-off man CF who had never played a full season at the position, a clanky gloved rookie at SS, and a few less than top level OF prospects playing every day."

Sure, when you put it like that it sounds bad...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 21, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and you left off Waiting for Wang, and looking for 150 games from Pudge Rodriquez.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 21, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

JohnRDC, I would feel better if indeed it was Rizzo's "ball game." But the Lerners will never let that happen. They are in control and always will be.

The only hope is that they get as sick of losing as their fans are.

Posted by: swanni | December 21, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

"Last year they were fine having no Ace (waiting until mid June for Stras was the plan), no RF, a guy who never played 2B at 2B, a guy who never played 1B at 1B, a lead-off man CF who had never played a full season at the position, a clanky gloved rookie at SS, and a few less than top level OF prospects playing every day."
===========================================
And they still managed to improve by ten games over 2009. Does that mean we're through hating on Riggleman?

Posted by: gilbertbp | December 21, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

"And the reason: Dunn's defense wasn't good enough at first base? Uh, who made him a first baseman? Not Cincinnati."

------------------------------------

Ummmm, the problem with that thinking is, of course, that as bad as he is a first base, and he is dreadful at first, he's worse in the outfield.

And it's not a coincidence that as soon as Cincinnati jettisons him they soon after win the division by fielding a team that plays good defense. You can win with Adam Dunn as a DH. You can't win if he has a glove on his hand.

Posted by: ouvan59 | December 21, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, well then what great and powerful FA did the TB Rays add that helped them win over their division over the Yankees and Boston? Pray tell who?

The Athletics are now everyone's sleeper. It has less to do with the Hammer and everything to do with pitching prospects who finally reached the majors and were effective in 2010?

The Marlins look again like they could be the sleeper who could knock off the Phillies. Did they sign Adam Dunn?

Milwaukee traded for Grienke but is he even enough to go against the Cards?

Even with the best FA signing. Even with Cliff Lee or Grienke, nothing is guaranteed? There ARE ALWAYS PLENTY OF IFS. Right? Its what the players are looking at as well ... how the team is attempting to mitigate those risks.

But, Its just as likely that top prospects are effective and veterans have off years. Especially if the veterans are over 30! Right? How many Albert Pujols are there out there people?

Sheesh. Its about time for the Nats luck to turn when it comes to getting prospects that can help them both now and in the future.

It seems to make more sense to have a younger, more athletic team built mostly from top prospects the organization develops.

Posted by: periculum | December 21, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Tampa Bay is the clear example of how to build a competitive team from the ground up through the draft. They spent a decade in the wilderness doing it, while trying to build a fanbase from 'ground-zero' as an expansion franchise. End Result = Competitive team, but minimal fanbase, primarily because of the stench of losing for so many years.

The Lerner Group is facing much the same dilema, but is in a location with a MLB history, and a lower tolerance for failure They (albeit with assistance from Bowden & Kasten) let things like the 2008 'cattle-call' for pitchers, the combined 'buscone' fiasco in the Dominican Republic & the Draft(Crow) in 2009, and the radio-promoted flood of Phillies fans into Nationals Park in 2010 occur. Are they really the 'micro-managers' that they've been made out to be, or is it really all just about the bottom-line on the ledger?

Great, they step up & toss out a token "high-end" FA signing in the off-season as a tease to drive ST renewals - Guzman, DaMeat, Guzman (again), Dunn, Marquis, Werth.

Bottom line is: They've wasted both time and the of good-will from the fans by failing to build either a solid minor-league foundation (finally started in 2009), or offering more than simply the token support they've provided to putting a solid product on the field in D.C. As a result of that, now both FA players and trade prospects are turning their backs on DC as a possible location, even though the $$$ might be the best on the table.

Rizzo is swimming upstream against a hard current, with maybe only KC & PIT behind him.

Posted by: BinM | December 21, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

BinM, nice post. Well laid out.

Two nice advantages the Lerners have, in terms of being able to recover the fan base.

Size of market
DC Metro Area 5.5 million
Tampa / St Pete Metro Area 2.75 million

Stadium
DC, new, quite good
Tampa, old, quite crappy

Posted by: Sunderland | December 21, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree BinM; it doesn't really matter who is the GM if the Lerner's don't start to act like a big market team, the best a great GM can do is field a mediocre team with the constraints that apply. Is Rizzo a good GM? Who knows, but the reason this team is failing isn't because of him it's because of the people above him. All of who are Nats fans hope they start acting like the owners that we envy of other teams; if they do - if - then we are in a great position do do something special with the market they have.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 21, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

BTW, do you think ESPN will do a story on "What are the Rays doing now?" since they're dumping salary after getting to a competitive position with the Yankees and Red Sox? We're going to find out just how good their farm system is, and whether you can replenish a winning team solely from within. My guess is No. Scoff if you want, but you can argue the Nats have a much brighter future than the Rays.

Posted by: baltova1 | December 21, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

@Sunderland: Sadly, the advantages are both wasted and lost unless the team is either competitive, or at least entertaining. With Strasburg & Dunn in 2010, they held the promise of entertainment value on most nights; In 2011, that value is gone. All that's left is being competitive in the NL East - Unless Rizzo can pull a rabbit (or two) out of his a** between now & March, I just don't see it.
I'll instead spend my money in places like POT this year, where the facilities may lack amenities, but the play will be interesting.

Posted by: BinM | December 21, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Another BTW while we wait for something to happen...
My biggest pet peeve about the Nats and their past failures might be the 2006 draft (and what's sad is that I really agonize over things like this). Four picks in the first two rounds and so far, that draft has produced no major leaguers. None. Chris Marrero. Colten Willems. Sean Black. Stephen Englund. Stephen King. Blecchh. They passed on Kyle Drabek, Joba Chamberlain and Chris Perez, among others. An easy second guess, I know, since a bunch of other teams passed on those guys in what has turned out to be an only okay draft. But the Nats really needed fresh talent that year and to get nothing out of that draft is really painful.

Okay, I'm done now.

Posted by: baltova1 | December 21, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I am not trying to hate on the club, but bottom line is they need to do much more and they need to act NOW not in hopes of 2103. They have been awful as an organization and it is time for them to grow up and produce a club for 2011 that can win. They have the money they have the time. Make it happen.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 21, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

@SCNats: As a 'long-distance' fan, you have my sympathy. Rizzo (IMHO), has done a very good job in re-filling the minor-league pipeline with prospects for the future in DC; The problem is, they're only prospects. Both he, and his predecessors (Minaya & Bowden) were at mixed ends on how to bring the team forward.

Minaya was geared to set the team up for contraction, dumping youth for a one-time shot, which failed. Bowden ran toward the "draft young, draft cheap" route, pushed for 'his guys' too often in trades / signings, & did a lot of roster-churning as well, looking for gems amongst the coal. Rizzo has drafted well, but seems to value 'his guys' far too highly (much like Bowden), imo.

They each have their particular flaws - Only time will tell who is better suited at the role.

For the team looking forward - An improved defense might hold ground on the 2010 W-L record, but without marked improvement in other areas still spells last in the NL East.

Posted by: BinM | December 21, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

BinM, yes, the advantages that I mentioned are in reference to Tampa still not drawing well and securing a sizeable fan base.
If the Nats turn it around soon, between our population and stadium, I expect attendance to grow and the Lerners to suffer no long term ill effects to 5+ years of poor leadership.

Posted by: Sunderland | December 21, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

@baltova:
A fair rant, give the # of outright failures from the top-five (all HS, or undergrads at best); That's all on Bowden. He was apparently looking for another quick-fix, and in retrospect, failed miserably. At least he had a lucid moment and selected Zimmerman in 2005, or the team would be that much further behind the curve.

Posted by: BinM | December 21, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Certainly Bowden should be afforded the lion's share of the blame. Convincing the Lerner's that through his brilliance he could convert from acquiring enough free agent talent to make the team viable to a potential new owner to a philosophy of rebuilding the farm system through the draft. But his high school types were too often signability picks. And if they didn't sign it wouldn't matter because most went to college and were signed years later.

Look at Burgess and Marerro? Right now Corey Brown looks a lot better than both. He too was a first rounder but considered a failure at age 25 after repeating AA and then having a slow start in AAA. Are Burgess and Marrero any better? All we can hope is that they become reasonable trade bait to acquire a "sleeper" pitching prospect. But I'm not holding my breath.

There is a reason why a web site called Fire Jim Bowden existed.

Posted by: periculum | December 21, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Blaming Jim Bowden 2 years later? Come on. The best parts of this club are his doing and no one he jettisoned turned out better than expected. He was not great but he was not worse than Rizzo either.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 21, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

@dfh21,

I look at the Big board and the draft tracker. Just based on 2 years (keep in mind the staff Rizzo HAD LAST YEAR WAS BOWDEN'S!!!) the number of signings HAS AT LEAST DOUBLED. He managed to sign both Harper and Strasburg and all of his top 26 picks LAST YEAR. Bowden never came close and lost Aaron Crow. Right?

Its night and day if you look at just those online spread sheets.

I don't know what baseball planet you come from but the more prospects you sign, the more competition you have, the more players are pressured the better. I distinctly remember blogger Sue Dinem complaining about the high age of the prospects organization wide ... even in the low minors under Bowden!! But especially in Potomac. This year he is looking forward to seeing real prospects compete there.

Rizzo is placing competition on every single team in the minors for every single position. That in turn puts a lot more pressure in the majors.

I still remember Bowden's comments about signing Dukes. He told the Lerners that he would either be in jail or in the all star game. That's Bowden and yes until they signed Werth there was that gaping hole in right everyone complained about when Dukes was cut? Who was his competition down in the minors? Burgess? He just barely survived AA last year.

NO PROSPECTS, most of Bowden's high choices ALL FAILED! High School kids who failed miserably. Rizzo at least managed to salvage some such as Ballystar.

You're getting as bad as redskins_fan_22.

Posted by: periculum | December 21, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Back to Ankiel: It's interesting that he looked at our outfield and thought, "Yeah, I can compete with these guys," whereas Greinke looked at the club and thought we are not ready for prime time. Then there is Groucho, who would not join a club that would have him as a member.

Posted by: paulkp | December 24, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

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