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Tony Tavares: all man, baby

Tony T. "talked turkey" with Pravda-DC's Rocket Bill Ladson today, and the guy was smokin', I tells ya. I've heard others (St. Barry? Boz?) mention that Tavares is an argumentative cuss; I can see that for sure now, because he wasn't holding anything back. One need not read between the lines to see that Tavares holds no particular regard for Frank Robinson's leadership in '05:

I just think we lost our focus. Honestly, it's a challenge going forward for the players. There are leadership issues within the locker room. There are guys who have to stand up and show better leadership. Frankly, our coaching staff has to show better leadership.

. . . I don't think we should have had some of the issues that manifested themselves. They should have been handled. Nine times out of ten, they should have been handled by the players, but our coaching staff has to do a better job getting involved.

. . . We just lost our focus. And I think we have to work harder. I don't think we work very hard. There's an old saying, the harder I work, the more successful I am or the luckier I get. When I compare what we do to prepare and what other teams do, I don't think we work as hard as we need to.

. . . I wondered [why the Nationals didn't practice before day games], too. It's something that will not be accepted going forward, I can tell you that. When I say we didn't work hard enough, that's exactly what I'm talking about.

Too many times, we didn't take batting practice. If you look at our record on Sundays, it's indicative of our success. I just don't think we prepare as well.

We are giving up hits in circumstances where our infielders should have been at a different position or our outfielders should have been at a different position. Our preparation is not there right now. . . . [Thus, when the team didn't take batting practice on the last day of the season,] I was angry, honestly. It was going to be the third day in a row we didn't [take batting practice]. I went to Jim and he straightened it out. I said it to a coach as well.

Holy canoli!

For what it's worth, I think Tavares has one heck of a point. It's sensible to dwell on how cranky Frank was, and it's insightful to conclude that he doesn't match up well with young players these days. Those observations, though, are on a separate plane from Tavares'---and Tavares' was the same as ours: this was a sloppy team. I'm not sure I've ever followed a team that ran the bases so carelessly, and it's not entirely unfair to pin that attitude on a manager whose tactical decisions tended toward suicide (especially with all the botched hit-and-runs, over and over again).

Late in the season, Robinson made some superficial steps to restore discipline, including a silly ban on clubhouse music, but Tavares' words indicate that either:

  1. Frank had already lost control of the club; or,
  2. Frank didn't care.
Of course, I'd be remiss not to note that Tavares might have another reason for (non-explicitly) painting Robinson in a bad light: Tavares has aligned himself with Jim Bowden, and the conventional wisdom seems to be that Robinson and Bowden both might not be back but it's fairly certain that both won't be back together. Clearly, Tavares is a Bowden guy; I find that a bit disconcerting in itself, but it is what it is:
What I've told everybody is, "Nobody has made any promises. If you get a job opportunity, you should pursue it, because I can't guarantee anything."

. . .  If I come back, I'm definitely offering a job to Jim Bowden.

. . . [As for Robinson, t]hat would be Jim Bowden's call or a new GM's call. I didn't hire the manager or the coaches, and I'm certainly not going to fire the manager and the coaches.

End of interview.

Well, that was a bit terse, I suppose.

I get the unmistakable impression that Tavares wants to portray himself and Bowden as organizational stewards. That seems to be his hook, his marketing angle to the prospective owner(s) (whoever he/she/they may actually be); he's in effect saying, "Look, guys, that first year was thrilling, but me and Bodes, we're forward-thinking here, trying to build something. You'd be foolish to change horses in mid-stream." Or, as Tavares actually said:

I want to spend the money a little differently than we have in the Minor Leagues. We have to improve our instruction down there. We have to improve our overall scouting. [Interim general manager] Jim [Bowden] is trying to address some of that right now. We don't feel we are getting consistent instruction at the Minor League level. It's kind of our fault because we have been on the low end, pay scale-wise. We are not getting top-end people. When you compare us to the Braves [in terms of teaching], we are in a different time zone, different planet.

Anyway, it's trite to say, "We shall see," but we're truly in a position where we shall see what we shall see.

One last note on the Tavares interview: color me impressed, Pravda! Uncharacteristic freedom of expression and emphasis on criticism, I must say.

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Other stuff of note:

DCRTV rumors that Jeff Smulyan (d/b/a Team Emmis) is interested in ABC Radio's very available cluster of DC-area frequencies, including WMAL-AM. Gee, didn't see that one coming at all . . .

Eucalyptus takes another look at "small-ball," which might be even more over-hyped than Moneyball these days.

Oleanders & Mornings Glories is running a positional analysis series. Here's the latest entry: second base. Pressing question answered: "Did Henry (One Game) Mateo meet preseason expectations?"

Nats Blog observes that RFK Stadium was the second-best pitchers' park in the National League, and draws resulting conclusions/recommendations.

David Thurdl says watch out for the Devil Rays. Really. Well, hopefully . . .

Donutball Pete reviews the season and provides a nice tribute to bandwagon-jumping.

Nats Triple Play maps a secondary path to victory: the demise of our divisional rivals.

Nats Farm Authority enters the world of "online journalism" and answers the question of "Nats Instructional League: yes, no, yes, no?" Remember, the answer is always no; it's
cancelled.