Washington Nationals' Crisis: The Last Hours Of The Jim Bowden Era In Washington, DC?

"But behind the scenes, according to sources, some within the team's ownership group -- which includes Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner, seven principal owners and nine founding partners -- are eager to cut ties with the general manager they inherited almost three years ago, and see the investigation as a way of facilitating Bowden's exit."

    

 - from a Washington Post Nationals Journal entry entitled, "Nats Ownership encouraging Investigation Of Bowden", by Chico Harlan w/Thomas Boswell and Dave Sheinin

It appears as if change is imminent in the nation's capital. Washington Nationals' GM Jim Bowden is embroiled in a PR nightmare stemming from his connection to a federal investigation into what is believed to be widespread "skimming" of signing bonuses given to Latin American players, with recent reports saying the investigators could be looking as far back as 1994, when Bowden was the General Manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

 

The federal investigation, which has dragged on for over a year now has already resulted in several scouts and executives around the league, (with alleged ties to both Jim Bowden and his Special Assistant Jose Rijo), losing their jobs, and with Rijo taking a leave of absence from his own job in DC following last week's revelations about the true identity of prospect "Esmailyn 'Smiley' Gonzalez", it appears as if Mr. Bowden may be the next to depart...in spite of the fact that he told the Washington Post's Chico Harlan, as quoted in the same Nationals Journal post cited above:

"'I'm innocent of any wrongdoing, and besides that I don't have any comment.'"

SI.com writer Melissa Segura's reporting, (in breaking the "Esmailyn Gonzalez" story last week, in an article entitled, "Nationals prospect falsified indentity", and in writing the piece yesterday on DC GM Jim Bowden's connection to the federal investigation, in an article entitled, "Feds expanding probe of longtime GM Bowden for bonus skimming"), may have precipitated the fall of the Nationals' GM, whose many transgressions (which I'll not repeat again, hopefully ever) are laid bare in the Washington Post article by Mr. Harlan, who also notes that the Nationals' ownership: (ed. note - "...and the word choice here seems important."):

"...inherited (Jim) Bowden as its general manager - and ever since, Bowden has built a reputation for survival skills."

That's the second time in the Nationals Journal post Mr. Harlan uses the word "inherited" to describe Mr. Bowden's connection to the Nationals' Ownership, (so someone was stressing that?), which seems a clear attempt at creating distance as they ask the federal investigators, in Mr. Harlan's words, "...to return an answer on Bowden, so the parties can go on their merry way." Sounds like this might be past the point of reconciliation...

Which raises the question...

If Jim Bowden does in fact leave his position with the Washington Nationals...Who will replace Jim Bowden to become the Washington Nationals' new GM? The obvious choice would be Asst. GM Mike Rizzo, who is viewed as having been responsible for building up the Arizona Diamondbacks' system back when he was their Director of Scouting, before Mr. Rizzo came to Washington and became, "...assistant general manager and vice president of baseball operations," as MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported in an article in July of '06, entitled, "Nationals hire Rizzo as assistant GM".

Should The Nationals Look Outside DC...

Back on September 8, 2008 in a post at mlbtraderumors.com by Cork Gaines entitled, "Several Teams Could Have New GM's In '09", Mr. Gaines linked to articles from around the league regarding the GM field under consideration by the Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies during their respective searches for new GM's this winter. Who ended up with the jobs? The Mariners narrowed their choice down to four candidates as MLB.com's Jim Street reported back on 10/16/08 in an article entitled, "Report: Mariners narrow search", where Mr. Street wrote that the Seattle's', "...short list includes Jerry Dipoto, Tony LaCava, Kim Ng and Jack Zduriencik," with Mr. Zduriencik eventually hired as, "the Mariners new Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations," according to a 10/22/08 Press Release from the Mariners' official site. Mr. Dipoto remains the Director of Player Personnel for the Diamondbacks. Mr. LaCava remains the Asst. GM with the Blue Jays and Ms. Ng is still the Dodgers' Asst. GM. 

The Phillies' search came down to a choice between the Phils' Asst. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and Asst GM of scouting and player development Mike Arbuckle, with Amaro getting the job, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer Staff in an article entitled, "Phillies to introduce Amaro as new GM" from 11/3/08, prompting Arbuckle, (who, according to a Philly.com article by David Murphy entitled, "Phillies select Amaro as new GM", "...supervised the drafts that netted Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Brett Myers, Pat Burrell and Carlos Ruis,") to leave the Philly organization for Kansas City. 

Back in the comments section of the Washington Post article by Mr.'s Harlan, Boswell and Sheinin only Mike Rizzo's name is mentioned as a possible replacement should Mr. Bowden's tenure in Washington end? Should the Nationals go for a clean start with someone from outside the organization? Or simply promote Mr. Rizzo?...But I guess we are getting way ahead of ourselves since Mr. Bowden is still the Nationals' GM. Who would you turn to to turn this team around and change the perception of the nation's capitals' favorite baseball team? Does Mr. Bowden have to go to make that happen?

?'s For The DC Faithful...

Is there anyone else you would think would be considered as a replacement should the Washington Nationals part ways with GM Jim Bowden?

Do you think that Bowden's really going to leave?

If you were the Nationals, would you just promote Mike Rizzo?

Can anything be done at this point to change the league's perception of the Washington Nationals? (Outside of a "shock-the-world"-type of Wild Card run?")

Aren't you glad that they start playing baseball tomorrow?

John Lannan on the hill @ 1:05 pm EST Wednesday 2/25/09 against Houston...(ed. note - "I know it's scheduled to be on XM Radio, and will probably be on MLB.com Gameday Audio, at least the games were lest year, but don't quote me on that...24 hrs until the '09 Season sort-of-officially gets underway...

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