Last November, Tony Tavares raised a stir when he talked turkey with Nats.com, wherein he accused Frank Robinson and a bunch of thereafter-deposed coaches of failing to prepare the team properly. Fast-forward to July 2006, and it's not exactly George Washington bemoaning the young nation's growing factionalism or Ike warning about the excesses of the military-industrial complex, but Tavares gets his own farewell platform. Again, the stage is Nats.com.
Tavares' comments are not as incendiary this time, although he does note some frustration for basically, well, having to stick around while the deal closes and the Kasten of the Lernasten team literally takes his job. There are some fascinating nuggets buried in the interview, so I commend you to read it. Some quick observations from my review of the interview:
- It's possible Tavares has presided over his final game at RFK Stadium, provided the deal closes by July 21. Apparently he and his assistant, Kevin Uhlich, will be out of town until then.
- Tavares notes no personal animosity between him and Kasten, but he notes an abundance of situational "uncomfortab[ility." Reading between the lines, it seems Tavares is either annoyed by Kasten's aggressiveness or MLB's snail's pace in closing the deal, or both.
- Again, reading between the lines, it looks like the Esmailyn Gonzalez signing was a heavily-discussed point. It would appear that MLB is on the hook for the signing bonus in the "slim and none" chance the closing falls through.
- Tavares characterizes a spring 2008 opening for the new ballpark as "an aggressive timetable." He lavishes an extreme amount of praise on the contractor, Clark Construction, but hmmmmmn.
- Tavares likes Jim Bowden and is happy for him. He seems to enjoy playing games of Socratic method with Bowden on player personnel moves. ("Why do you want another outfielder? Why are we going to do that?" I thought that was pretty funny.)
- Tavares soft-pedals the oft-intimated and sometimes-reported animosity between him and Robinson, labeling concerns over criticism from a guy's boss "tough cookies" and pointing out the praise Frank has also received. Tavares states there's no personal contempt between the two, and offers as evidence his attendance at Frank's birthday party, which struck me as quaint. Also, he states that Robinson has done "a creditable job" with the team, which is an interesting choice of words. Contrast that with his comments about Bowden, who has "done a good job with limited resources" and had an "exceptional draft." (On the other hand, Tavares did say he thought Robinson did a "brilliant" job with some things and was touched by the Lecroy situation, so maybe I'm parsing his words too thinly.)
- Tavares is proudest of the Zimmerman draft pick, which is convenient. A lot of people are getting a lot of praise for a consensus draft pick. Which isn't to say I'm not grateful the team actually pulled the trigger on it, but the corollary is that everybody should be glad the final Expos were bad enough to afford the franchise the No. 4 pick the following June. Thanks again, Nos Amours!
- Tavares does a position-by-position round-up and concludes that a lot of guys are underperforming. He also states with pride that he stopped a May purge and says he would insist on significant value for Alfonso Soriano. Well, there you go.
Thanks again, Mr. Tavares!