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Wrong again (but with more notoriety this time!)

Seven million-time Emmy winner Jim Williams is branching out, diversifying his uninformly incorrect prognosticating to hot stove rumoring:

But the cost of the top-name free agents exceeds their budget. However, a real nice stocking stuffer could come in a trade that would send Jose Vidro and reserve outfielder Ryan Church to the Cubs in exchange for starting pitcher Kerry Wood.

Yeah, right.

Williams is getting craftier, though, as he's now postdating his goofiness:

The deal has more than a few details to be worked out, but there are two key issues. First, Vidro's leg injuries have to be mended. Part two is Wood's health and hefty contract.

If the deal happens, look for it to go down closer to spring training.

Well, that's convenient.

If I were to spend half-an-hour drawing a list of why this rumor is bunk, I could probably scribble up a full sheet of paper---and not that weak wide-ruled stuff, but I'm talking about the pure swank: college-ruled.

Instead, I'll just think about this for five seconds and present two obvious objections:

  1. Wood has a full no-trade clause. This itsy, bitsy little contractual detail would seem like a relevant consideration for Williams to mention, wouldn't it?
  2. Williams mentions Church as if he were an afterthought; he's just a "reserve outfielder," donchyaknow? Of course, the guy was nearly traded for Javier Vazquez, and I'm guessing that Jim Hendry wouldn't acquire Church for the purpose of hiring a driveway shoveler still under team control. Of course, the Cubs not only have a new centerfielder (Juan Pierre), not only tendered outfielder Corey Patterson, not only have their own young unproven outfield bat (Matt Murton), but also . . . WHOOPS! The Cubs just today signed another lefthanded-hitting outfielder, Jacque Jones, to a three-year deal. Well, darn.
Nevertheless, Williams' little rumor got some serious run today---I'm talking Can-Am imprimatur, baby!

It's still a dumb rumor, though. If Bodes were serious about trading Vidro, I'd think he'd be hotter on the tail of an outfielder somewhere---toolsy, like Juan "Encar-nar-cion" (to use Dave Shea's pronunciation guide), or otherwise. This would doubly be so since trading Church would leave the team with one remaining outfielder with notable big league experience, Jose Guillen. In the absence of an outfielder acquisition, Marlon Byrd, considered by Rocket Bill (and therefore by Bodes) to be "no more than a fourth outfielder," would be considered a starting outfielder, as would Brandon Watson.

As you can tell, the rumor doesn't harmonize with what we're being told Cap'n Leatherpants wants and/or envisions. The way he is organizing his roster provides pretty convincing evidence he intends to play Soriano in the outfield; if not, why would he have tendered a contract to Jamey Carroll, a utility infielder? It certainly seems to me that he expects Vidro to be around, at second base, sooner or later---and Carroll (not Soriano) would be insurance in case the answer is "later."

Consequently, aside from the slight omission of Wood's no-trade clause, Williams' silly rumor seems refuted by the Nats' own offseason activities.

Stay tuned.



Speaking of Soriano, he's not exactly making friends and playing well with others. No matter whether Bowden actually intends on carrying out his intention to play Soriano in the outfield (despite Soriano's repeated objections to the move), I think we can all agree that it's rather idiotic to trade for a guy with the express intent to engage the player in a position switch without first discussing the move with the player. The idea is far less inspired, it that's even possible, when it's apparently based on stupid platitudes and faulty logic.

Bowden's a divisive character; it's possible that he receives more criticism than a more unassuming general manager making the same moves would. Ah, but perhaps this statement is based on a faulty premise: that a more unassuming GM would have made this move at all, chock full with the expectation that Soriano would move because, Well, back in '93, Tony Fernandez moved for Barry Larkin.

Both the Bodes detractors and (seemingly former) defenders appear to realize this.

For instance, here's the observation of Distinguished Senators, whose view of Cap'n Leatherpants is, shall we say, not altogether flattering:

The nice thing about Soriano's frequent and petulant pronouncements is that they give us more proof, if any was needed, of Bowden's incompetence. Soriano had already turned down at least two requests to move to the outfield: both the Yankees and Rangers asked him to. Bowden, without any plans to dump Jose Vidro off on someone, went ahead and acquired Soriano without talking to him, his agent, a family member, his priest, or anybody else about it. It wasn't a secret that Fonz wanted to stay at second, and a general manager who knew what he was doing would have done a little groundwork before pulling the trigger. Or, more likely, a general manager who knew what he was doing wouldn't have seriously considered the trade at all.

And here's a similarly hard-hitting observation from Beltway Boys, whose views have previously been more supportive, to put it mildly:

I have been a supporter of Jim Bowden since the acquisition of Cristian Guzman. No one could have anticipated what happened, and I predict that the Nats' shortstop will rebound in 2006. But anyone could have predicted the fallout of the Soriano fiasco. . . .

Bowden's going to get canned because he didn't foresee the fallout from this trade, because the Nationals traded two quality outfielders and a young arm, and will likely realize a return on their investment of only the bodies they receive in trade when Soriano finally goes away. And I am fearful that they'll be just that: only bodies.

Sometimes, trades don't go well in spite of the hard work and research that went into them. Those we can live with. Other times, trades don't go well because there was little hard work and absolutely no research. Those we can't live with. And [n]either will Bowden.

It would be stating the obvious that it's only December 20. Maybe a stern Listen, son face-to-face with Frank Robinson will prove persuasive with Soriano; after all, Robinson's not sticking around for his in-game strategical acumen, is he? But, as of December 20, Soriano still wants to play second, and there's no evidence Bowden wants to play him anywhere other than the outfield.

We'll have to see who blinks---and who grouses.