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Catching Up With Aaron Crow...The Washington Nationals' #1 Pick That Wasn't...

And now, to once again quote Tom Hanks' character, G.H. Dorr, Ph. D, from the Coen Brothers' underappreciated remake of the Peter Sellers' comedy, "The Ladykillers", it's time, "to flog a horse that if not at this point dead is in mortal danger of expirin'", and once again look in on Aaron Crow, the Nationals' #1 Draft Pick That Wasn't and see how things have been going for the former University of Missouri right-hander, who was chosen by DC with the 9th overall pick in the '08 MLB Draft, but failed to reach an agreement before the deadline to sign this year's picks, and was forced to hook up with the independent Ft. Worth Cats, where he'll play until next year's draft.

Crow sat down, (an hour late), with The Kansas City Star writer Bill Reiter for a recent interview printed in the 10/05/08 edition of the Star entitled, "Former MU star pitcher Crow enjoys his break in the action". By absentmindedly neglecting to show up on time, Crow gave Mr. Reiter time to contemplate the pitcher's situation and conclude that Crow's late arrival, as the writer sees it:

"...is about right for someone who, for the next nine months, isn’t going to be where he’s supposed to be."

Mr. Reiter starts by quickly recounting the Crow/DC Draft drama, adding only a new name to the story, that of Crow's agent, J.D. Smart, who is with the Hendricks Sports Management team, led by brothers Randal A. and Alan B. Hendricks, whose names are the only ones that had previously been mentioned in print discussions of the Nationals' negotiations with Crow and his representatives. The problem, according to Crow's side, is that the Nationals weren't willing to deal solely with Crow's team, instead insisting upon contacting the pitcher's father, Kevin Crow, who explains in Mr. Reiter's article:

"They kept calling, and I kept telling them I wasn’t involved in the negotiations,” said Kevin Crow, Aaron’s dad. “And I kept telling them the reason I wasn’t involved is there were multiple people and it creates an opportunity for miscommunication to take place.

"I wouldn’t describe it as badgering, but one of the local area scouts kept calling me. He was doing it for the general manager. I’m sure every major-league team would love to negotiate with the parents of players because we’re not professionals at this.”

DC GM Jim Bowden's recollection of the exchanges with Aaron Crow's father can be found in what is probably my favorite Nationals-related article of the year, Washington Post sports writer Chico Harlan's "Nationals Journal" blog post entitled, "More than 3,700 words from Jim Bowden on Aaron Crow", in which Mr. Bowden recounts, (in response to Mr. Harlan's asking, "Do you think Crow ever really wanted to be part of this organization?"):

"...I had one conversation with the dad prior to last night and one conversation with him last night. In my conversation with him, he said he and his son were 'tickled pink' that the Nationals drafted him. That was his exact words. Tickled pink. Yeah, so I think this was strictly a negotiation. I did call the father last night after our $3.5 [million] was rejected. We sent an email to Aaron and I made a phone call to the dad prior to 12 just to say, 'I just want to make sure that you're aware that you all rejected $3.5 [million] and we hope you reconsider because we really want you a National. And the dad said, 'Look, I'm tired. My adviser, Randy and Alan Hendricks, are handling negotiations and they're making the decisions.' I said, 'OK. Well I just want you to know that we really wanted your son to sign. If you change your mind between now and midnight give us a call because we'd like to sign him.' So we did have that phone call with the dad, we did send one of the e-mails to the son just so he was aware what had taken place. We also had a conversation -- and it did get them upset -- but we wanted to make sure that when we did get the $9 million offer, one of our scouts did contact the dad just to let him know: You're really at $9 million here with a day to go."

Two calls from Bowden and one call from a local scout?...or..."They kept calling...one of the local scouts kept calling", according to Mr. Crow? Once again, what we're left with is the DC GM telling Chico Harlan that the Nationals did everything they could, short of giving Crow $9 million dollars, while Crow's representative J.D. Smart is to this day telling Mr. Reiter, "'Something could have been worked out, they just were unwilling to move.'"

Mr. Reiter goes on to recount the story of Kansas City Royals' starter Luke Hochevar, who, (providing a blueprint for Crow), was drafted by the Dodgers, failed to sign, played with Ft. Worth for a year and then found himself a deal with the Royals, for whom he debuted this past season, but Mr. Reiter can't help but point out:

"Oh, did we mention Hochevar took a $3.5 million signing bonus?"

Aaron Crow's plans for the near future, according to Mr. Reiter:

"I’m here in Columbia (MO), working out, playing catch, getting ready for the season next year,” he says. “I get to sleep in all day, which is awesome, then I go and work out for an hour, an hour and a half and then I go play catch with somebody. I’m really happy. I think I made the right decision.”

Postscript...

In Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell's 9/17/08 "State of the Nationals" type chat with the Nationals' Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. "Ted" Lerner, Mr. Boswell writes that:

"The Nats are still furious that they didn't sign their first-round draft choice -- No. 9 overall pick Aaron Crow. "That one is not our fault. What he wanted was way out of line," said one Nat who otherwise has doubts about the team's willingness to spend. Next year, when the Nats may have the top pick overall, as well as pick No. 9a to replace Crow, Lerner vows, "We will do everything humanly possible to get our top pick signed."

Hear that, Strasburg and Boras? The Nationals will do "everything humanly possible" to sign the #1 overall pick in '09!! You don't think "Super Agent" Scott "Maximum" Boras will take advantage of the Nationals' embarrassment at being one of only two teams not to sign their '08 1st Round pick, do you? 

More Reading..."Will The Nationals Be Able To Sign A #1 Pick?"