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A Federal Special Comment: The Washington Nationals, Jim Bowden and Stephen Strasburg.

(ed. note - "I'll have today's GameThread up before the game starts, for now...")

The last time we'd heard from the Former DC GM Jim Bowden, was in his final press conference as the General Manager of the Washington Nationals, on March 1, 2009, as he reluctantly resigned amidst allegations of his connection to a bonus skimming scandal involving Latin American prospects, as had been reported by writer Melissa Segura in an article from February 23, 2009 entitled, "Feds expanding probe of longtime GM Bowden for bonus skimming". 

In Mr. Bowden's parting message, as recorded in a Nationals Journal post by Washington Post writer Tracee Hamilton entitled, "Bowden Statement", the reflective Former GM expressed the understanding that he was no longer able to "properly represent" the Nationals due to what he claimed were, "false allegations contained in the press", which led Mr. Bowden to resign, so that:

"The team, the fans and media can now turn all of their attention from the distractions off-the-field to where it belongs, on the baseball field for the Washington Nationals and their upcoming 2009 championship season."

...Washington Post writer Chico Harlan had some interesting things to say the other day about whether or not The Former DC GM had left a "championship" team behind in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "1,727 Words On The Bullpen Shakeup", where Mr. Harlan, after reporting on the third reconfiguration of the Nationals' '09 relief corps, writes that, "I think it's already fair to say that...":

"...Jim Bowden greatly miscalculated his team's needs/weaknesses this offseason. Think back, for instance, to the bullpen this team had in February. No Beimel. No Wells. No Tavarez. No real back-up plan whatsoever if all the young guys failed. Bowden, w/r/t his bullpen, was counting on a pipedream."

And like Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice, only somehow more annoying, because he turns up if you simply mention his name once, Jim Bowden, just days after Mr. Harlan's post, is back, in Thom Loverro's Washington Times' article entitled, "Bowden discovers his calling in La-La Land", where the Former DC GM is quoted by Mr. Loverro from a recent radio appearance explaining that it wasn't his poor choices, but the fact that, "We didn't have the resources to ever have a competitive payroll," that kept the Washington Nationals from winning on his watch. And it wasn't the way that Mr. Bowden and his staff handled the Aaron Crow negotiations that resulted in the fact the DC didn't sign its '08 1st Round pick. The Nationals didn't sign Crow, Mr. Bowden explained in the appearance, "...because we weren't given the dollars to finish that."

Forget for a minute that Aaron Crow told Baseball Digest Daily Live host Eric SanInoncencio last August that before the deadline even arrived he had decided a deal wouldn't be reached and that he'd be better off reentering the '09 Draft, or the fact that Crow told Mr. SanInoncencio, and I quote, "I just think any of the other 29 teams would have handled it (the negotiations) a lot better." Mr Bowden says that Crow didn't sign, "...because we weren't given the dollars to finish that." And forget for a moment, the fact that Jim Bowden managed to get through an entire interview last summer with Washington Post writer Chico Harlan entitled, "More than 3,700 words from Jim Bowden on Aaron Crow", without once mentioning the fact that they were financially restricted from meeting Crow's demands, (I read all 3,700+ again to be sure), and Mr. Bowden is, in fact, quoted stating, at various points throughout the interview with Mr. Harlan, that "...we offered Crow more than any other pitcher got in the draft...", or, "We offered more than (Orioles' pick) [Matusz]. We dwarfed what Gordon Beckham got from the White Sox."

Mr. Bowden even gets personal, taunting a bit, when discussing Aaron Crow's agents' comments after the negotiations ended without an agreement, as he explains to Mr. Harlan:

"At the end of the day, I read (Crow's agent's) quote, which said ... tell me what his quote was. How much did he say we were apart? 700 [thousand]? 500 [thousand] ? Ok, so in his opinion we were $700,000 apart and the club walked away. Is that what he said? We were the only club to walk away?..."

There are incosistencies everywhere when it comes to the Crow negotiations, and when it comes to who's responsible for the fact that the Nationals are once again last in the league twenty games into the 2009 season, (after having finished last in the league in 2008 during Bowden's final season)...and that's where what Jim Bowden says in Thom Loverro's article finally actually interests me, because Bowden states clearly, as quoted by Mr. Loverro:

"Washington is going to draft (Stephen) Strasburg," (Bowden) said. "The decision has already been made. It was made when I was there. That is who they are going to take...Strasburg is going to be drafted by Washington. You think they are going to sign him early? No, it's going to be Aug. 15 at 11:57 p.m. It will end at around $15 million, about under $35 million of what Scott [Boras] wants, but that is where it ends up."

Why is Jim Bowden talking about Strasburg? Why should anyone believe what he has to say at this point? Is he telling the truth about the Crow negotiations now, or was he then? Has the decision to draft and sign Strasburg already been made as Mr. Bowden claims? Will Jim Bowden's final contribution to the Washington Nationals be a team so poorly assembled year after year under his guidance that the DC franchise is finally able to draft the sort of pitching that wins championships? Should we believe Bowden when he says that the $50 M dollar price tag is a legitimate number from Boras? Why won't Jim Bowden just go away?