... In which the trading history of Nationals GM Jim Bowden is discussed and evaluated.
Shortly after being named Interim-GM of the transitioning Montreal-to-DC franchise in November of 2004, the first move that former Cincinnati Reds GM Jim Bowden made was to retain Montreal Manager Frank Robinson as the team's skipper to provide some sort of stability as the team was relocated.
Following the release of old Expos favorite Rocky Biddle, and the signings of several Minor League prospects, the first significant acquisitions of the Bowden Administration were those of third baseman Vinny Castilla, and shortstop Cristian Guzman.
Castilla proved an inspirational, though hobbled, leader in his time with the Nationals, and the jury is, as they say, still out on Guzman, who has struggled with injuries throughout the duration of the 4-year $17 million dollar deal the shortstop signed on November 16th of 2004, just two weeks into Bowden's tenure.
"Trader Jim" didn't wait long to pull the trigger either. Two days after signing Castilla and Guzman, Jim Bowden traded outfield Juan Rivera and infielder Maicer Itzuris to the Los Angeles Angels for power-hitting outfielder Jose Guillen, whose relationship with Bowden went back to October 30, 2002 when Bowden had signed the right fielder to the Reds.
Jose Guillen hit .283 with 24 HR's and 76 RBI's in his first season in DC in 2005, but the next season, the right fielder played in just 69 games, batting .216 with 9 HR's and 40 RBI's before ending his 2006 season on July 18th after injuring his right elbow.
Macier Itzuris has played three seasons with the Angels, batting .281 with 46 doubles, 12 HR's, 110 RBI's, and 30 stolen bases, while Juan Rivera has hit .292 in parts of three season, with 45 doubles, 40 HR's and 152 RBI's.
Guillen was granted free agency on October 30, 2006 and signed soon after with Seattle. In his first season in DC, Guillen provided much-needed power to the Nationals offense, and even (allegedly!) tipped off the team to Angels reliever Brandon Donnelly's pine-tar antics, which set off the infamous Frank Robinson vs Mike Scioscia shoving match, so in spite of the injury shortened 2006 season, his time in Washington was well spent, and Itzuris and Rivera had struggled to even crack Montreal's lineup, so the verdict in this one...
...is for "Trader Jim!" A year-plus of quality starting offense and defense from Jose Guillen in '06 over the part-time contributions Macier Itzuris and Juan Rivera have provided to the Angels. Feel free to disagree, that's what the COMMENT section is for...
*An Extra Note*
Macier Itzuris had been acquired by Montreal along with Ryan Church for Scott Stewart. Juan Rivera came to the Expos along with Nick Johnson and Randy Choate in a trade that send Javier Vazquez to NY, and Choate was then sent to Arizona for John Patterson...
...So in effect, the Nationals/Expos exchanged Vazquez, Itzuris, Rivera, Choate and Stewart for Ryan Church, Nick Johnson, John Patterson and, one and a half year's worth of Jose Guillen's bat and strong right arm in right.
Ryan Church, Nick Johnson and John Patterson all remain important parts of the Nationals roster, so it would seem that in spite of the fact that Guillen was exchanged for two prospects, and then left bringing nothing in return, the overall impact on the franchise of these player movements is in DC's favor.
(Though I really would like to have Vazquez back, Please?)