Jim Bowden Rumors

Odds and Ends: Bordick, Sheets, Bowden

Here are your Thursday links…

  • Former MLB shortstop Mike Bordick has been hired by the Blue Jays as a minor league infield instructor.
  • Richard Durett of the Dallas Morning News has the transcript of a radio interview with Rangers owner Tom Hicks.  It sounds like his club will make another run at Ben Sheets once he’s back to full health.
  • The Orioles and Cardinals might share players this spring, according to Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun.  "My gut is there would be nothing wrong with it,” said St. Louis manager Tony La Russa. "We’re in different leagues."  UPDATE: That idea was shot down pretty quickly.
  • Mark DeRosa told Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com that he left the Cubs on good terms.  There were rumors of a feud between he and manager Lou Piniella.
  • Contrary to some reports, the Nationals have absolutely not contacted Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava about possibly replacing Jim Bowden.
  • Check out Tim’s interview with "The Yankees: Minors to Majors," a blog.

Odds and Ends: Mahon, Rijo, Bowden

A few bits of information from around the baseball world.  More to come…

  • The Diamondbacks made their first roster move of the spring Wednesday, when they demoted right-hander Reid Mahon to minor league camp.  He was having major command issues during bullpen sessions.
  • According to ESPN’s Jorge Arangure Jr., the Nationals have decided to fire special assistant Jose Rijo in the wake of the Esmailyn Gonzalez age-changing scandal.  Rob Neyer wonders if GM Jim Bowden is next?
  • Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune has compiled a list of the top 2010 free agents.  John Lackey is his numero uno.  You can also check out MLBTR’s constantly-updated list of the entire 2010 class right here.
  • If you haven’t already joined the fun, add MLB Trade Rumors to your Twitter following.  And if you’re feeling really adventurous, why not add your good friend Drew Silva?

Nationals Considering GM Change

According to John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus:

The Nationals, according to multiple industry sources, are strongly considering firing general manager Jim Bowden and replacing him with Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava.

This rumor first surfaced on Ed Chigliak’s Federal Baseball blog yesterdayFire Jim Bowden rounded up a bunch of info on LaCava.  I’ve heard the Nationals may also consider in-house candidates such as Deric Ladnier and Mike Rizzo.

Jim Bowden Under Investigation

9:02pm: Chico Harlan of the Washington Post report that some officials within the Nationals’ ownership, including Managing Principal Owner Ted Lerner, are "eager to cut ties with the general manager." They write:

"The Nationals, one source said, are encouraging the investigation to return an answer on Bowden so the parties can ‘go on their merry way.’"

Team President Stan Kasten has stated that he supports every member of the Washington Nationals, regardless of circumstance.

Lerner and his son, Mark, both declined comment, stating that Kasten’s response will stand as the Nationals’ statement on the issue.

The article also mentions José Rijo, who worked with Bowden in both Cincinnati and Washington. Rijo runs a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic and was responsible for brokering the deal for Carlos Daniel Alvarez Lugo, then thought to be a 16-year-old by the name of Esmailyn Gonzalez. Lugo was also four years older than he was believed to be when the contract was signed.

Rijo, a special assistant to Bowden, took a leave of absence and returned to the Dominican Republic this Saturday, but has not been fired. According to Kasten, no team officials have been punished.

MONDAY, 3:21pm: Bowden’s comment: "I’m innocent of any wrongdoing."

SUNDAY, 9:52am: According to SI.com’s Melissa Segura:

A federal investigation into the skimming of signing bonuses given to baseball prospects from Latin America is looking at Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden as far back as 1994, when he was GM of the Cincinnati Reds, according to a baseball executive familiar with the investigation.

The Bowden investigation is linked to the David Wilder scandal by way of a scout named Jorge Oquendo.  The Chicago Tribune just posted new details on Wilder this evening.  Segura doesn’t suggest it, but you have to think Bowden’s job is in jeopardy.

Nationals Rumors: Zimmerman, Dunn, Bowden

Chico Harlan of the Washington Post has all kinds of observations from NatsFest.

  • Nationals president Stan Kasten expressed his distaste for free agent pitching contracts, but might consider it if the team is closer to contention.
  • A quote from Kasten regarding the Ryan Zimmerman extension talks: "I know it’s just a coincidence that [Zimmerman and Ryan Howard] have the same agent who doesn’t seem to like to do long-term contracts before free agency."  That’s a reference to Casey Close.  Currently the two sides have a $1.15MM gap on Zimmerman’s ’09 salary.
  • Zimmerman is friends with Adam Dunn, who would love to play for the Nationals.
  • GM Jim Bowden expects the free agent market to get moving within the next ten days.  Bowden still hopes to add a left-handed middle of the order bat as well as starting pitching.

Heyman’s Latest: Manny, Holliday, Peavy

SI.com’s Jon Heyman has a new rumor-packed article up.

  • Heyman suggests the battle for the three elite free agents – Mark Teixeira, Manny Ramirez, and C.C. Sabathia – will mostly be fought by the New York and Los Angeles clubs.  Heyman talked to one GM who believes the country’s economic situation will not affect the big names but could be bad for the lower-tier guys.
  • Heyman’s potential Manny suitors: the Mets, Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Phillies.  The Phillies’ interest will depend on whether Pat Burrell stays.  I’m not sure why the Orioles would be in the mix.
  • The Rockies are "very likely" to trade Matt Holliday. The Rox would be willing to sign Holliday for five years and $100MM, but that won’t cut it.  The team’s focus in a trade will be a young starter.  Heyman echoes a Ken Rosenthal thought from a few months ago: surprising small-market teams may enter the Holliday bidding.
  • Heyman has the Mets, Rangers, and Indians as teams looking at Brian Fuentes.  The Mets are the favorite to sign him in the three-year, $36MM range.
  • Jake Peavy has already turned down one American League team.  Heyman believes hes particularly opposed to the Rangers and has mixed feelings about the Yankees.  Peavy is reeling from the Padres’ decision to shop him. 
  • Heyman has unkind words for Luis Gonzalez, who may not be welcomed back to the D’Backs based on his "uneasy relationship" with Stephen Drew and Chris Young.
  • Heyman does not think MLB has any evidence against Nationals GM Jim Bowden in the scout skimming scandal.
  • Heyman gives Ruben Amaro a slight edge over Mike Arbuckle to replace Pat Gillick as Phillies GM.
  • George W. Bush as baseball’s next commissioner?  "Many have long believed" that Bush would like to be Bud Selig’s successor.

Odds and Ends: Bowden, Cain, Young

Links for Tuesday…

  • Chat today!  2pm CST.
  • Joe Pawlikowski at River Ave. Blues looks at some under-the-radar free agents.
  • MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy crunches the numbers and determines that it would be difficult to fit C.C. Sabathia into the Brewers’ payroll.  I think they could retain Mike Cameron and sign Sabathia, but only if they’re willing to take payroll into the mid-$90MM range and forgo other improvements.  Or, they could save $17-19MM by declining Cameron’s option and trading Fielder.
  • Reds beat writer John Fay muses on the team’s offseason needs.
  • Nationals GM Jim Bowden was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer this summer, but delayed surgery until after the season (a decision he regrets).  He’s OK now and back to work.
  • I get this question all the time: if the Yankees sign C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, do the Brewers or the Angels get the Yanks’ first-round pick?  Baseball America’s Jim Callis explains that it’s determined by which player has the higher Elias rating.  In this case it might be Tex by a hair, but the official rankings are not out yet.
  • MLB.com’s Chris Haft heard the Twins covet Matt Cain and would be willing to trade Delmon Young for him.  Haft does not believe the Giants would make the one-for-one swap.
  • As of Monday night, the Mariners had not decided on their new GM.  They are not supposed to make an announcement during the World Series, so today remains an option.  It’s also been suggested they announce it tomorrow before the Series begins or get a waiver and do it on Friday (an off-day). 

Olney’s Latest: Cardinals, Snell, Milledge, Maine, Fuentes

Buster Olney’s latest offering is packed full of links:

  • Bernie Miklasz notes that the Cardinals have only three starting pitchers (Adam Wainwright, Todd Wellemeyer, and Joel Pineiro) locked up for next year (he’s not expecting Chris Carpenter to contribute in 2009), and no prospects waiting in the wings. His solution? Pry open owner Bill DeWitt’s wallet, "and please, no el cheapo deals for rehabbing pitchers, medically risky pitchers, broken-down pitchers."
  • The Pirates have it a little bit tougher. According to pitching coach Jeff Andrews, it consists of Paul Maholm and "a blank sheet." Here’s one vote for adding Ian Snell, "on the verge of becoming the best right-handed pitcher to come from Delaware since World War I," according to DelwareBaseball.com, who sponsors his Baseball Reference page.
  • According to GM Jim Bowden, the Nationals will explore ways to upgrade their defense for 2009, including the possibility of moving Lastings Milledge from center field back to a corner spot. Left fielder Elijah Dukes could move to center.
  • Despite going through a difficult divorce, Padres’ owner John Moores is not planning on selling the team—which he bought because of his soon-to-be ex.
  • The Mets seem to be rushing John Maine back from the DL in an attempt to keep their playoff hopes alive.
  • Dave Krieger is amazed that the Rockies aren’t doing anything to try and keep free-agent closer Brian Fuentes.

Sarah Green writes for the Boston Metro and Umpbump.

Heyman’s Latest: Bowden, Helton, Maddux, K-Rod

Let’s take a look at the latest from SI.com’s Jon Heyman.

  • Despite the headline "Nats GM in trouble," Heyman says Jim Bowden has the support of his bosses.  They do not blame him for Aaron Crow and are not concerned with his possible connection to the scout skimming scandal.
  • Heyman suggests the Rockies could shop first baseman Todd Helton this winter if he demonstrates a healthy back in September.  Here’s the thing – if Helton was a free agent and you had to give him a three-year deal, what would you pay?  $5MM a year maybe?  Are the Rockies going to eat $40MM?  Helton might have to be swapped for another bad contract.
  • Heyman sees Ryan Dempster getting four years and $48MM, and Oliver Perez snagging $60MM over five.  Are they worth that?
  • People close to Greg Maddux are saying he wants to pitch next year.  Heyman also sees John Smoltz and Tom Glavine back in ’09.
  • "Some are expecting" the Reds to be big players in free agency this year.  The Reds figure to be in the market for catching and outfield help.  Manny Ramirez would be interesting.
  • Heyman wonders if the Mets will be players for Francisco Rodriguez this winter.

Draft Reactions: Nationals

The dust has settled on the 2008 amateur draft.  The Nationals, Pirates, and Royals had storylines worthy of a closer look. 

The Nationals failed to sign their first round pick, college righty Aaron Crow.  Crow might’ve completely skipped the minors had he signed.  ESPN’s Keith Law considers the Crow situation a major blunder for the organization.  The Washington Post learned the details via a lengthy Q&A with GM Jim Bowden.  Here are some highlights:

  • Crow is represented by Randy and Alan Hendricks, and much of the discussion occurred over email.  Last Tuesday the Nats were told it’d take a $9MM big league deal.  Bowden wanted the Hendricks brothers to explain the rationale behind that figure, but the Hendricks brothers did not provide it. 
  • Law blames the Nationals for not properly gauging Crow’s signability before the draft.  That point comes up in the Q&A but Bowden does not provide a clear answer on how he gauges signability.  He mentions that they knew they couldn’t afford Rick Porcello last year, but doesn’t explain why they thought they could afford Crow.
  • The Nats were offering $2.25MM on a minor league deal until Brian Matusz signed Friday, six hours before the deadline.  Matusz got a $3.5MM Major League deal.  Bowden called and said he’d do a deal within that framework, but the Hendricks were not interested. 
  • At one point Bowden gave in and offered a Major League deal, but this offer was by the boards at 6:30pm on deadline day.  That’s because the Nats would not have had enough time to give Crow a physical, and a big league contract can’t be voided.  Both sides seemed to understand this.
  • 15 minutes before the deadline, Crow’s agents dropped their demand to $4.4MM on a minor league deal.  In the last few minutes the Nats offered $3.3MM, and then went to $3.5MM over the phone at the buzzer.  Needless to say the offer was not accepted, and the Nats lost Crow over $900K.
  • I agree with Bowden’s implication that the Hendricks brothers didn’t do a great job here – their client now has to play for the Fort Worth Cats for a year when he could’ve been in the Major Leagues.  This looks ugly for both sides, and neither agents nor teams seem happy with the idea of a midnight deadline. 
  • It’s fair to consider Bowden on thin ice.  The FBI investigation, public mention of his plan to non-tender Chad Cordero, and many of his contract extensions form a poor resume coupled with the Crow situation.