In hindsight, it appears that when Washington Nationals' team President Stan Kasten told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark earlier this month, in a section of an article entitled, "Is it time to push back trading deadline?" which was subtitled, "National reset", that the Nats would be, "more aggressive than we've ever been" in their attempts to upgrade the club this winter, it was more wishful thinking or a challenge than a statement of fact. In Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell's somewhat shocking article yesterday entitled, "As Nats embark on next journey, will Stan Kasten be on board?", Mr. Kasten once again states his case for the fact that now is the time for the Nats' owners in control of the team's payroll to act:
"This is the time to act," he said this week. "We are close. This is how it felt in Atlanta just before we turned it around. Once you've laid the groundwork and improved the farm system, you need to add some pieces. That's where we are now."
According to Mr. Boswell, however, with "friends, family and baseball associates" cited as sources, there's a possibility that Mr. Kasten won't be around to closely monitor the results of any such spending should the Nats follow his advice, with those who know him claiming, "frustration at his lack of effective influence on the Lerners, as well as a desire to get back to his family in Atlanta, will probably end his D.C. days." This isn't the first time the WaPost's Mr. Boswell's commented on Mr. Kasten's influence on the team's direction, or lack of it. In a late August chat with the Post's readers, entitled, "Redskins, Stephen Strasburg, Nats and more -- Ask Boswell", Mr. Boswell was quoted stating that, "I've never seen a greater waste of a major talent than the way the Nats have used Kasten."
Mr. Boswell argued then in that chat, as he does now, that the composition of the current front office from DC GM Mike Rizzo on down through the ranks of, "old buddies" Rizzo "raided...from a half-dozen teams," was essentially Kasten's doing, since it was Mr. Kasten who originally brought the then-Arizona D-Backs' Scouting Director to the nation's capital with the intention of having him eventually replace the MLB-appointed and Lerner-approved former Nats' General Manager Jim Bowden. Now, however, Mr. Boswell writes, in contrast to the time Mr. Kasten worked for Ted Turner in Atlanta with the Braves, Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers, where, "what Kasten recommended generally became law," :
"In Washington, his views, especially in the Lerners' first three years of ownership, were greeted as if he were just another hired hand with an opinion."
The Nats' owners, Mr. Boswell argues, have listened to Mr. Rizzo and Kasten's recommendations when they signed Ryan Zimmerman to an extension, made the bold offer to Aroldis Chapman, and inked the precedent-setting deals they gave no.1 overall picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in back-to-back drafts, as well as the decision, "...to hire for 11 additional front office slots and to sign free agents, including Jason Marquis, Matt Capps and Ivan Rodriguez, to market-priced contracts," but when the Nationals opened their new ballpark and Mr. Kasten recommended that the team follow the model the Minnesota Twins did this season and, "[raise] payroll [from $65 million in '09 to $98 million] to make sure they put a good team on the field their first season," in spite of Mr. Kasten's recommendation, "It didn't happen,":
"Instead, the Nats moved to Nationals Park with a payroll $9 million less than what it was in 2006, when MLB ran the team."
Will the Washington Nationals listen to Mr. Kasten this time? Will the fact that he's publically calling for the Nats to "more aggressive than we've ever been" as he does in ESPN.com's Mr. Stark's article and drawing a proverbial line in the sand as Mr. Boswell portrays it in yesterday's piece finally force the team to take the jump in payroll that Mr. Kasten recommended before the inaugural campaign in Nationals Park? Will it be Mr. Kasten's last act as the team's President, the gift to the DC Faithful he leaves behind? Or will their decision to ignore his recommendation be the reason he finally moves on?