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A Special Comment On The Washington Nationals

In Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's now-famous Nationals Journal post entitled, "The Stanifesto", the Nationals' Team President Stan Kasten promised to be candid with the audience of fans and journalists gathered at a NatsFest panel discussion featuring the Nationals' President, GM, Assistant GM and Manager, and Mr. Kasten proceeded to tell those there how he thought the Nationals had improved the franchise as a whole from the concessions to the mound this offseason, and he even felt comfortable enough to open up about some things that bothered him, including people who asked:

"'Stan, what is the payroll gonna be?' I get that question a lot. I've always had it for all of the years I've been in sports, any of the sports I've been in, and I am bewildered why fans ask me that. Because first of all, I don't know. Second of all, if I knew I wouldn't tell you -- because I've never talked about payroll, and you know why? It's because you really don't care. You think you care. I know you don't care. And here's why: You don't care about payroll."

(ed. note - "Aside from the fact that that's just funny,") I point to that quote from the candid Mr. Kasten, to make clear the contrast with the Nationals' Team President Stan Kasten who met with the media today to talk about the severing of the team's ties with former special assistant to GM Jim Bowden, Jose Rijo, and Mr. Rijo's Dominican Republic-based baseball operation, which produced prospects for MLB consideration, including the $1.4M mistake formerly known as Esmailyn Gonzalez. (ed. note - "I know, I shouldn't care about the $...but having a prospect age three years in an instant is troubling...")

According, again, to Washington Post writer Chico Harlan and another Nationals Journal post, this one entitled, "Kasten: Mike physically led our team in there", Mr. Kasten spoke to the media this afternoon about the titular "Mike", Assistant GM Mike Rizzo, and the trip he took to the Dominican Republic in order to, as Mr. Kasten puts it, "physically" sever the ties with Rijo and his academy, relocating to a facility run by Fernando Ravelo, GM of the Dominican Winter League's Tigres del Licey. "And that's all that I want to talk about today," Mr. Kasten continued in response to a daring unidentified questioner who asked, in part, "Does that mean you do not anticipate any more firings or removals of team employees?" (ed. note - "A question, which you can't really expect an answer to, and which serves only to force a non-answer it would seem. The point of which escapes me, since no one will ever fire an employee in a press conference, or say, 'Yes, there's another firing coming right up, you just wait ...'")

But, what Mr. Kasten does offer in response is an explanation somewhere down the line, or in his own words, as transcribed by Mr. Harlan:

"As I said to you the other day, I am supporting and continue to support everyone who works for the Nationals, and that's not lip service. I sincerely mean that. Having said that, there are many things going on behind the scenes that you all aren't privy to yet. When I'm able to talk to you about things I will, but I'm not going to discuss anything but the Dominican today, because I do not want to open any doors or lead you astray in any way, and believe me, I have seen stuff in the last couple days that are real head-scratchers. You know, things get out there and what passes for journalism, it just blows me away. But I'm just not going to be a party to any discussions about anything other than this for right now."

What's going on "behind the scenes" and what "passes for journalism" were the topics of discussion in just about every corner of the Natosphere in the last few days, with rumors, speculation and flat-out guesswork filling the void left by the Nationals' inability, (most likely due to the ongoing federal investigation), to openly discuss the sort of things Mr. Kasten promises us we, "...aren't privy to yet," which he'll talk about when he's "able" the nature of today's update-every-minute news cycle takes over and every tidbit of news is magnified, scrutinized, linked, quoted, and circulated at a speed which is truly awe-inspiring at times, and I can speak of this out of experience...

...having published a rumor, (which I clearly identified as such), just the other day about the Nationals' interest in Toronto Blue Jays' Assistant GM Tony LaCava, (who has "history" with Mr. Kasten, and as a candidate for a few open GM jobs), as a possible replacement should DC GM Jim Bowden's connection to the signing-bonus-skimming investigation force an exit from his job. The rumor, (which I kept to myself for 24hrs, discussed with several reputable sources and eventually published simply as something I (and others) had heard), was confirmed some time later by a Baseball Prospectus' writer, John Perrotto, who, citing his own industry sources, confirmed the Nationals' interest in the Blue Jays' Assistant GM in a post entitled, "Nats strongly considering change." 

Washington Times writer Mark Zuckerman, in a post at the Times' Chatter blog entitled, "Sorting this all out", writes that the Nationals, "...have absolutely not contacted Tony LaCava," (which no one I've read had claimed), but Mr. Zuckerman acknowledges that, Mr. LaCava:

"...might very well be one of several candidates for the job if and when it becomes available, but he wouldn't be the only one and certainly wouldn't just be handed the job."

On the contrary, according to all the people Mr. Zuckerman's spoken to:

"...the that Asst. GM Mike Rizzo would be promoted. He'd probably be given the job on an interim basis, which would both allow ownership to see how he handled things while also maintaining some continuity in the organization as the season opens (and maybe most important) as the club prepares for the No. 1 and No. 10 picks in the June draft."

So, the Nationals aren't willing to openly say that they will part ways with the embattled DC GM Jim Bowden, but if they were to do so, Mr.'s Rizzo and LaCava would certainly be under consideration according to all the published reports out there, and as we learned yesterday in Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's, "Nats have not contacted Selig", the Nationals will not seek an exemption from MLB rules which require consideration of "minority" candidates when seeking to fill a GM position, but not, Mr. Harlan's "league source" claimed, if the Nationals were to promote, " interim GM from within the organization." 

Having read all this, are you any closer to understanding what might be, "...going on behind the scenes" which the collective "we", "...aren't privy to yet," as Mr. Kasten put it? Who knows what is true? Rizzo and LaCava would be obvious options as possible replacements should Mr. Bowden bow out, but until such a time as the Nationals and Mr. Kasten can tell everyone, the DC Faithful, the DC media, and the whole baseball world what's going on, "we" can only speculate based on what's available...and since all that's available are "anonymous sources", "league sources" and "sources with knowledge of events" it will continue to be nearly impossible to decide whether you're being manipulated or informed...

GAME THREE GAME THREAD...Coming Soon...Before Game Time @  1:05 pm EST...The Washington Nationals and Houston Astros, with Shawn Hill's '09 Spring Training debut on the mound at the Nationals' Spring Training home, Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida.)