Thursday, March 19, 2009

Funny Numbers

Sometime in the 2009, the Chicago Cubs will honor the number 31 and the players that wore it famously(Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux). That's fine and dandy, I can't argue with what they've done. Jenkins is the best canadian-born pitcher ever in the major leagues and Maddux is the prototypical "finesse" pitcher that all non-power pitchers want to one day become.

What I question is...
1.) Why are the Cubs honoring 2 players with 1 number?
2.) Why honor 2 players who played half their careers or less as Cubs?

Out of Jenkins 19 seasons, 10 were as a Cub. The Cubs are correct in honoring Jenkins alone, seeing as that Jenkins' and the Cubs go hand-in-hand. However, they chose to honor Greg Maddux as well with the #31 celebration. That's where I gotta argue.

Maddux and the Cubs aren't synonamous, not at least in my mind. He was great in his early years as a Cub, but he left and made his name as an Atlanta Brave. That's where "Mad Dog" turned into "The Professor" and won most of his Cy Youngs and Golden Gloves. I realize that he got his Hall of Fame "locks"(300 wins, 3000 ks) in his 2nd Coming with the Cubs, but the Cubs traded him and he played 3 more years bouncing between the Dodgers and Padres.

Why honor a guy that you gave up on twice?

My distaste of some number retirings doesn't go beyond just the Cubs. My beloved Rays and the former ownership that enjoyed giving me headaches since "The Hit Show" Days (Thank god for poor aim and vision on my part for missing my tv with the remote when I seen Vinny CASHsteala managing Team Mexico). The Rays only 2 retired numbers are that of Jackie Robinson and Wade Boggs.

Wade BLEEPIN' Boggs!

In a controversial turn of events, Chuck LaMar tried to decide Wade Boggs' HOF plaque's hat fate when he stipulated that if/when Boggs became a HOFer...He'd be a Ray. It was basically a guarantee that he'd get in, seeing that 3,000 career hits cements you as a Hall of Famer. The Baseball Writers Association of America decided otherwise and he's wearing a Boston cap. However, the Rays still decided that it would be good to honor Wade Boggs by retiring his number.

A player who played 90% of his career with division rivals plays 2-3 lackluster years with a team and gets his number retired. Did Boggs give Vince Naimoli tampered chicken?

If the Rays are to have just 1 retired, it should be Fred McGriff. If "The Crime Dog" ever got into the "500" homerun club(he only needs a few), which is usually a lock into the Hall of Fame as a hitter as well, it'd be hard-pressed for someone to argue against McGriff's best years being with the Rays. He held/still holds Rays career records, which is something Boggs can't say. McGriff hasn't ever been tarnished by steroid rumors and is still seen on TV(Thank you Tom Emansky!).

Please Stu and Andrew, retire the Crime Dog's number!

Tourney Troubles

It's March and by the end of the month, 2 touraments will be over and only 1 champion will truly matter. It sure won't be the WBC champion, if you ask me. Not that I don't like the idea, but the timing of it is all wrong.

If you ask a player on Team USA what WBC stands for, I wouldn't be surprised if they answered "We're Broken, Coach!" Is it the poor conditioning by the Team USA players or is it that international players take this tournament more seriously? Honestly, how many freak and almost petty injuries have been inflicted on the USA roster? Dustin Pedroia, David Wright, Chipper Jones, Kevin Youkilis, JP Howell and Matt Lindstrom have all seen more trips to the Trainers' table than most of their major league teammates have on their respective rosters.

I don't know about you, but does the entire idea of the WBC coinciding with Spring Training seem a bit wrong? When a player should be easing into regular season work, players in the WBC are throwing 95+ mph fastballs and running their hardest to beat out throws and put their country closer to winning the WBC.

If it were my choice, the WBC would be better held during the All-Star Break every 4 years. Rather than it being 1 week long, make the Break 3 weeks long. Olympic and Carribean World Series winners and runners-up respective countries would have automatic invites into the WBC. It may be tougher for teams like Australia or South Africa, but honestly have they shown that they're on the level of other teams in the WBC anyways?

This extended break would ensure that pitchers would already be in their extended pitch counts and hitters would be in their greatest shape at that point of the season. There would be less chances of strains and pains that have been appearing thus far.

Just some food for thought..

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Deep-dish with Jonah Keri, Baseball Writer

Been a long-time of Jonah's work, especially from his work on Baseball Prospectus and ESPN. His site, Jonah Keri dot com is a personal favorite of mine and should be bookmarked for all those fans of Sabermetrically-inclined work.
Jake Larsen: For those not familiar, who is Jonah Keri?

Jonah Keri: I'm a Montreal-born and -raised goofball who's lucky enough to write about both the stock market (Investor's Business Daily) and sports (, Wall Street Journal, Penthouse, etc.) for a living. I'm also one of only 12 Montreal Expos fans left on the planet.

JL: Last year, unbelievable stuff happened. Multiple Rays in the All-star game and the Rays going from worst to first. With that said, is there more parity in baseball than 10 years ago? See anymore weird stuff happening this year?

JK: I think the Royals could make a run if things go right, though they shot themselves in the foot for no good reason by spending sizable chunks of cash on stiffs like Kyle Farnsworth and Mike Jacobs (not to mention the prior Jose Guillen contract abomination). I also think the Mets win the NL East, which to mainstream observers might seem weird, given they've been branded as can't-win chokers.

There's definitely more parity now. I mean, the Yankees had just finished a dynasty in 2000.

JL: The big-spending Yankees are back! With the signings of Teixiera, Sabathia and Burnett, have the Yankees surged past the Rays and Red Sox for supremacy of the AL East? Do you think the Yankees moved back the "Dooms day Clock," seeing as their roster still contains numerous aging key veterans, with this offseason? Also, did they overlook their weak bullpen in their spending?

JK: I was set to pick the Yankees second in the division, slightly behind the Rays and slightly ahead of the Red Sox, with all three teams winning 92 games or more. Teixeira and Sabathia figured to help a lot, even though Burnett's health and success was a question mark and questions remained in terms of age and defense at key positions. Now the A-Rod injury knocks them down a peg, such that I now have it Rays-Red Sox-Yankees (with all three teams still topping 90 wins).

JL: While the Red Sox didn't go nuts in the offseason with the top free agents, they locked up key youngsters and signed a lot of low-risk/high-reward signings?

JK: Well there wasn't anything to lock up per se, they just bought out some arbitration years, with a free agent year or two thrown in for good measure. Which can be a fine strategy of course, as any Rays fan would tell you re: Evan Longoria. I liked some of Boston's low-risk, high-reward signings, with Penny-Smoltz-Saito a nice trio on the pitching side. My biggest concerns for the Sox remain with their offense. I expect some bounceback for Ortiz, but catcher is still a hole, Drew's health is never a certainty, we don't know if Ellsbury's going to take the next step, Lowell's fading fast, Bay < Manny, etc..

JL: 2 scandals became more prevalent this spring, steroids and age descrepincies with latin players? The new testing policies seem to be working on the usage, but how does baseball fix "Age Gate", are suspensions and contract terminations the answer?

JK: The Nats story was pretty high-profile just because it was the killshot that finally forced to change its name. Other than that, though, I don't know that I'd agree on age discrepancies suddenly becoming a much bigger deal. That's been an issue for a while.

As for how to fix it, it just requires more diligence on the part of signing teams. The Nats case, and really a lot of what has embarrassed that franchise, can be placed at the feet of Jose Rijo. Penailizing the player in a sense lets teams off the hook for their gullibility.

JL: Its been 101 years for the Cubs, will Cubs fans get that release that Red Sox fans had when they broke "The Curse of the Bambino" anytime soon? Milton Bradley was an interesting pick-up, wasn't it?

JK: I liked the Bradley move, he's been one of my favorites since he was a Vermont Expo. And sure, the Cubs have a shot to win it all. I don't get too caught up in predicting World Series winners.. Eight teams make the playoffs every year, and short series give less talented teams the opportunity to win it all. The Cubs are the favorites in the NL Central. If they get into the postseason, anything's possible.

JL: Desribe a day in the life of Jonah Keri.

JK: There is no standard day. For example, I'm writing this just after finishing my daily column for Investor's Business Daily -- at 12:11 am Madrid time (I'm in Madrid partly for vacation and partly on assignment for a story I'm writing for Penthouse about bullfighting). Other than writing the flagship stock market column for IBD, "The Big Picture", at the market's close every day, anything else is possible on any given day. 2009's going to feature a lot more long-form work than I'm used to doing, which is certainly a challenge. I've always worked best on a tight deadline, not having 10 months to write 100,000 words.

JL: If you had to pick a team to go from worst-to-first, who would it be? Also, what team do you see having a grand fall from grace?

JK: Worst to first: I don't see any team doing it.. The team with the best shot at it is probably the Tigers. They still have plenty of offense, and Verlander and Bonderman could easily bounce back.  

Fall from grace: Brewers. They're going to take a step back with Sheets and Sabathia gone.

JL: What misconceptions do you think there are about sabermetrics and sabermetricians? Murray Chass, Bill Platchke and numerous other well-known writers seem to have in for those types and bloggers who seem to think along those lines.

JK: The biggest misconception, by far, is that numerically-inclined analysts don't love the game. That's not only bat-feces insane, it's completely illogical. Why would people like Tom Tango and others of that ilk spend so much time and effort devising new ways to look at the game, unless they were compleetly gaga for baseball? Some of the smarter analysts out there could be making piles of money if they devoted all their energy to something other than baseball, like...I don't know, software development, rocket science, finding a way into Fort Knox, whatever.

JL: What well-known and less-than-known blogs do you read, whenever you have the chance?

JK: My Google Reader is way too long. Some of my favorites: USSMariner, Squawking Baseball, DRays Bay, Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan, , Rob Neyer, Joe Posnanski, Ken Davidoff, Steven Goldman, McSweeney's, Freakonomics,, Basketball State,, FanGraphs, The Book, Baseball Analysts, Baseball Prospectus, The New Yorker, Tim Marchman, Baseball Think Factory, River Avenue Blues, BrewHoop, TrueHoop, John Hollinger,'s college hoops page, and RotoSynthesis. There are many others too. It's a wonder I ever get anything done.

JL: Jim Bowden or Paul DePodesta, who gets another GM shot next?

JK: DePodesta, though we have to hope that the baseless slams made by the L.A. media while DePo ran the ship don't stick.

JL: As a Rays fan, I couldn't go without asking any Rays-related queries. What do you foresee out of the Rays in the short-term and the long-term future? Will the addition of Pat Burrell make an impact in the young careers of hitting prodigies like Evan Longoria and BJ Upton? The Rays trade of Delmon Young for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett seems to have paid dividends for the Rays, is it still too early to call the Rays the winners of the trade?

JK: They're a better team on paper this year than last with the Burrell signing, more David Price, Joe Nelson and company added to the pen and more depth elsewhere. But that doesn't guarantee a repeat performance, of course. There is no evidence (that I know of) to suggest that lineup protection offers a team significant benefits, so no to the Burrell question. The Rays are the winners of that trade, yes. Young will improve, but Garza's best is yet to come too.

JL: There's a belief that a pitcher's arm has a limited amount of pitches in it and its best for a young pitcher to be slowly acclimated into their careers and that an increase of 30 or more has negative effects on a pitchers career and elbow ligaments. First, do you believe in "The Rule of 30" and do some pitchers get excluded from it(due to their pitching mechanics)? Tim Lincecum looks like he could throw complete games everyday and painlessly for years and CC Sabathia has thrown 512 innings in the last 2 seasons(including the playoffs) without looking like his arm is falling off.

JK: There are no hard and fast rules in baseball. Once you believe something with absolute certainty, there's a good chance you'll soon be proven wrong. So yes, there are certainly exceptions to that, just like any other. With that said, anyone who's willing to bet his life on Sabathia, Lincecum or anyone else staying healthy from now 'til age 40 better start digging his grave now.

JL: To throw your name in the great prospect debate, who would you choose between Matt Wieters or David Price?

JK: Wieters. Hitters are always a safer bet. 

JL: Who are your breakout hitters, pitchers and prospects for this upcoming season?

JK: The Upton brothers, Clayton Kershaw/James McDonald, David Price (duh), Alex Gordon, Chris Tillman, Gordon Beckham, Tim Beckham, Justin Smoak. 

JL: Michel Ynoa thinks he could be in the mix for the Oakland A's rotation in 2 years(at the age of 19) and has yet to throw a professional pitch? Cockiness on his part or is he just that good?

JK: Until age 14, I was convinced I could play in the NBA, and Inoa's just three years older than that. Teenagers are cocky jackasses. That's what makes them teenagers (myself back in the day very much included).

JL: Manny Ramirez took 4 months to finally sign the original offer of the Dodgers. What was his deal, did he honestly believe he was worth more or get talked into the thought that he could get 100 mil?

JK: I am not privy to Manny Ramirez's brain. If I were, I would have stolen his otherworldly strike zone judgment, signed with the Expos years ago, led them to World Series glory, and shoved it in Bud Selig's face.

JL: Should Scott Boras be given the disrespect that is thrown onto him? He's done plenty of underhanded things, but Drew Rosenhaus seems worse to me.

JK: He goes all out to get the most for his client by taking advantage of any loophole he can. If owners don't like it, they should work harder to close loopholes.

JL: Anything that baseball fans should be on the lookout for from you?

JK: I'll be contributing to the Wall Street Journal's new (nearly) daily analytical column, "The Count", throughout the baseball season. Of course I'm hopelessly outgunned by fantastic writers like Tim Marchman, Dave Cameron and Carl Bialik, but until WSJ Sports Editors Sam Walker and Geoff Foster can break into my house and steal the incriminating photos I have of them, I think I'm safe.

JL: Final thoughs?

JK: When it comes to the stock market, always cut your losses quickly. When it comes to your favorite team, forget cutting your losses. Always believe. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In Review: MLB 2k9

Hey people,

So I decided to buy MLB 2k9 today, which is the release date of the game from Sega's 2k Sports.  The past two years I bought the MLB 2k games and really enjoyed them, so as you could imagine, my expectations were very high.  And you may be asking yourself, why not buy MLB 09:  The Show?  Well, I downloaded the demo and hated it.  So, without further adieu...

The first impression  you get from any game is the home screen which automatically jumps the user into the "Exhibition" mode.  Yeah, it's your standard setup for multi player modes.  However, to bring up the menu you must use the right stick.  Without knowing that, I found myself button mashing with no effect.

From there, I went right into the Franchise Mode which was pretty simple.  Everything was going pretty well until I tried to call up/send down prospects.  This was a complete mess.  Instead of the side-by-side format like past versions, you couldn't compare players from the 2 different levels.  It's hard to explain but it was a pain in the ass.

And my other pet peeve in franchise mode is the trading.  I acquired Pujols, Mauer, Peavy, Chris Young, Ben Sheets, and Manny Ramierez and I actually made my payroll cheaper.  CPU's accept trades too easily which can leave you with a super team.  Let's be honest, the Cards would never trade Pujols.

Grade:  C+


Well, honestly, the music is comical at some points.  You have Europe's "The Final Countdown" and can't help but laugh.  But honestly, the music is pretty solid.   As always, you have some established artists thrown in with some indie bands... But one thing is lacking:  there is no song from the Cool Kids.

Gary Thorne and Steve Phillips were a huge relief to hear rather than another year of Miller and Morgan.  Wow.  This is sensational.  The commentary is not perfect, but the retooled a lot of it.  I was pretty impressed and I love Gary Thorne, so I can't complain much.  One cool feature is that Phillips will start a conversation, Thorne will interrupt with the action, and then respond to Phillips comment.

Grade:  B+  (The Final Countdown?  Really??)


Well, I'm playing on a standard definition TV because that's the kind of TV that my roommate brought to school.  Damn you Ken.  But, it looks pretty good still.  The players characteristics look great and the fields are well-designed.

Animations are sub par at best though...

Grade:  A-


They didn't change anything really...

Grade:  B


Well, this was completely redone (again).  I'm not too thrilled about it. It's a two-step system that is just the wind-up and the stick motion.  There is no release this year which makes it rather hard to time up your pitches if you are used to the old style of pitching.  Luckily you can choose to add the final step which I did.  For those of you old-schoolers, you can still assign a pitch to each button and do the old wind up.  It works well.  Overall, the pitching is not as good as last  year's, but it is still good

Grade:  B

Fielding/Base running:

I think my biggest issue of the game is this.  Fielders are slow and have absolutely no urgency.  My outfielders jog to a ball casually and to switch to the nearest fielder, you have to press X/A... It's stupid.

Infielders take their time when making a play which can leave you with men on base from a casual ground ball at times.  Turning a double play is very hard and it leaves you frustrated...

Base running is the same as last year essentially.  The only difference in fielding (other than the slow reaction time) and base running from past games is the fact that the controls are all completely different.  It routinely messes up players that had this game in the past.  2k, why did you mess with our controls?

Grade:  D+


Well, they use a different system that rewards the best players and punishes the average player.  Most of the all-stars peak at about a 90 overall rating while the superstars are the only ones that can get into the high 90's.  Pujols is a 99 (deservedly so) and Lincecum is a 95.  Most of the other players on your team will tend to be in the lower 80s or mid 70's.  However, some of your relievers may get as low as the mid 60's!

As far as team ratings go, the Yanks reign supreme after a 400+ million dollar summer.  Besides the Red Sox, they were significantly better than just about every team.  Well, the Yanks the past few years have been nothing special, so I have an issue with this.

Time will tell if the ratings get fixed as the rosters will be updated each day.  Stay tuned for those.

Grade:  B


The foundation is there, but the execution isn't.  Next year, 2k has to redo a lot of things in this game.  If they can, they will have one of the great sports games on their hands.  Let's hope that they can turn it around after great games from the previous two years.

My advice to you is to rent or download a demo of the game first.  Form your own opinion...

Grade:  B- (with room for improvement)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Deep-dish with Paul DePodesta, Asst. GM of the San Diego Padres

For most baseball fans, Paul DePodesta isn't really a household name like Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein or Andrew Friedman. However, those who read "Moneyball" were introduced to probably the first sabermetrically-inclined baseball executives that were in Oakland's Front Office. Years have past since then, but Paul DePodesta has still made his mark on the baseball world. A little over a year ago, Paul did what no other baseball exec has ever done and started blogging over at It may be go first, where fans get a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at what he does on a day-by-day basis.
Jake Larsen: For those who aren't familiar with you, who are you and how did you
get to where you are right now?

Paul DePodesta: Plenty of luck. I started out in the Canadian Football League, worked nights in the American Hockey League, and then got my big break as the minor league van driver in spring training for the Cleveland Indians. After three years in Cleveland, I spent about 5 1/2 years in Oakland, 1 1/2 in Los Angeles, and now I'm nearing three years here in San Diego.

JL: I'll try to keep the "Moneyball" questions to a minimum, but what are
your thoughts on Michael Lewis' book that gave the common fan a new look
at baseball and how things were starting to change? Any misconceptions that you feel that came about from that?

PD: There were plenty of misconceptions, but that's probably what made it an
engaging story. At the end of the day, it's not really a baseball book. Rather, it's a book that uses baseball to tell a much more common story.
Some of the passages probably shouldn't be read too literally.

JL: Do you still have the laptop computer that Lewis made it sound like was glued to your body?

PD:I think the A's have it stored in Fort Knox.

JL: This offseason has been an unusual one, with the amount of rumors and the slowness of signings. Do you think that the country's economy is
causing this or do you feel that teams are starting to rely on their own farm system and assets to acquire the players that they want?

PD: I can only speak to our situation, but there is no question that the economy is having a major impact.

JL: Living in the Chicagoland area, the Peavy-to-Chicago rumors were abundant and often laughable. Without going into much detail, was this deal as close to happening as Chicago newspapers made it out to be?

PD: I've often said that most deals that are discussed never happen. In this case, the rumors all winter were obviously out ahead of the
reality. After having a season like we did in '08 we felt it was important for us to explore every opportunity that might put us in a
better position to compete in '09 and beyond. Cleary, no potential Peavy deal satisfied that requirement.

JL: Greg Maddux is a legend in his own right, being vocal with his statistics rather than being a huge talker. Do you see him filling any
managerial roles or administrative roles in the future?

PD: We had Greg in spring training last week as a guest instructor, and it was great having him here. We definitely believe he can add a lot of value to the organization even when he's not on the mound.

JL: Chris Young is one of those players that catches your eyes, for obvious and non-obvious reasons. Many people aren't sure how he's gonna be the same, after being nailed by a line-drive. What are your thoughts on him for the upcoming season?

PD: Chris actually had a 3.35 ERA after the All-Star Break last year (missed part of May, all of June, and most of July after being hit) and had a
2.38 ERA in his five September starts. At this point he's fully recovered and we're looking forward to 30 starts from him in '09. He's a key to our Club, both on and off the field.

JL: This offseason seen the Padres and Trevor Hoffman parting ways, plus the trading of Khalil Greene. I know that you can't talk about the players on other teams, but what are your thoughts on these transactions?

PD: Every team has tough decisions to make, and we had a few this off-season. It's always emotionally difficult for fans and us to part with players who have been a part of your fabric for a period of time. Their departures, however, have created great opportunities for some of our younger players, and hopefully those players will take advantage of it.

JL: Heath Bell was a tremendous pick-up a few years ago and is primed to
take over as closer this year. What are your thoughts on Bell? What did you think when you heard about his Wii Fit workouts this offseason and do you think that this workout program should be in every players regimen?

PD: I've actually never played the Wii, so I can't vouch for it, and I'm waiting for my kids to get a little older before we let them indulge. Until then, I'm stuck being a SEGA hockey guy.

JL: Matt Antonelli is a personal fave of mine since his college days. Where do you see him fitting in the Padres plans this year?

PD: Matt will likely begin the season in AAA Portland but who knows after that. He has looked terrific so far in camp, and I think the fresh start this year will help him.

JL: Everth Cabrera was the Rule 5 pick of the Padres this year. He lead the Minor Leagues with 70+ stolen bases last year, do you think he will continue to be a speedburner like he has shown to be? Could you give us fans a short scouting report on him?

PD: Everth is a talented young player with good defensive actions and well above average speed. Some time in the future he could be a true leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position (SS). As the any prospect, the trick is to see if he can fulfill the potential that we envision, but there is no doubt that his tools are exciting.

JL: Mat Latos is one of baseball's best pitching prospects. He was one of the last draft-and-follows, if I recall correctly. Does he have any shot of making the opening day roster or is this camp a learning experience for him?

PD: Major League camp is really meant to be a learning experience for Mat. He has tremendous stuff - #1 or #2 starter type stuff - but he has yet to make it through the rigors of a full season and hasn't pitched at all in the upper levels of the minors yet. We're all excited to see what he does this year, and he's certainly a guy who could move through the minors quickly once he gets rolling.

JL: Have the Padres started scouting any for the 2009 draft? Are there any players that you've pinpointed as possibles at the #3 spot or is it way, way too early to tell?

PD: As with any team, we had already identified guys late last summer, as amateur scouting is almost a year-round task these days. That said it's still early in this season to have a definitive list. My guess is that there will be at least five or ten guys who are worthy of discussion for that slot.

JL: Who do you see being a sleeper for the Padres in camp and fans should start paying attention to?

PD: We have a lot of competition on our pitching staff this spring, and I'm anxious to see who is going to step up and claim some of the key roles. I won't mention names at this point, especially because it's so early, but I think there will be at least a couple of guys who may surprise.

JL: Thank you for your time and the opportunity to pick your mind. Any final thoughts that you'd like to pass along to bloggers like me or
baseball fans alike?

PD: I can't wait for the season to start.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Day The Nats Stood Still...

Around 2 weeks ago, BP's own Christina Kahrl gave me the thumbs up on using an idea of hers(sorta, it was her facebook status) and making a "WWBD?" post. Why make a "What would Bowden do?" post, well mainly because it's easy and it would be a funny post.

Jim Bowden is one of those types of GMs that owners like, but the ones fans love to hate. Fans probably loathe him more than Pat Gillick, Chuck LaMar or Bill Bavasi.However, like those guys, he always manages to find a job and get free-reign of baseball teams(whether fans like it or not).
Knowing he has a job, guarantees that one team's beat writer will have his share of headaches and laughs.

Jim Bowden, the segway-driving, leather pant-wearing GM resigned today from running the Washington Nationals and somewhere Wily Mo Pena sheds a tear. He was on the receiving end of a lot of rumors and turmoil dealing with Latin American prospects. A week after one of his prospects wasn't who he claimed to be and how old he was supposed to be, Bowden decided that it was easier to wave the white flag than risk his career/freedom by continuing in Washington. Freedom, mainly due to Federal inquiries from claims that Bowden and a few select high-ranking officials were part of a widespread bonus-skimming controversy. Not sure if the Carlos Lugo "whoops" was the last straw, but the dominos were falling when Jose Rijo(one of Bowden's special advisors, who also was embroiled in the skimming controversy) took a leave of absence from the team. Rumors started to follow that Bowden was the next to get the axe and Bowden beat the team to it.

When I say Wily Mo Pena shed a tear when Bowden resigned, it's probably not very factual. While its possible that a player is brought to tears by a GM's departure, Wily Mo and Jim Bowden are like the "Bert & Ernie" of baseball. Wily Mo must have an envelope with pictures involving Bowden and farm animals, seeing as no matter where Bowden went...soon Pena was to follow. Cincinnatti the relationship began and Washington was where the "spark" was rekindled. The obsession with his former Cincinatti power-hitting outfielders grew when Bowden acquired oft-injured Austin Kearns and batting average/defensively-challenged Adam Dunn. Christian Guzman, Livan Hernandez and Odalis Perez are all bad contracts that Bowden can be blamed for, as well, and Guzman is the only remaining on the team right now. Dmitri Young and Nick Johnson were both acquired on Bowden's watch too, but they at least have redeeming qualities and possible value.

Luckily for Bowden's sake, Mike Rizzo was put in charge of the Nationals' farm-system and positive personnel moves were made. Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge both came with baggage, due to their preceding teams selling low rather than dealing with them anymore. Jesus Flores was a Rule 5 Draft steal, which some Mets fans still cringe at. Ross Detweiler, Jordan Zimmerman and Aaron Crow(though he didn't sign) are among the talents that Rizzo has directed the Nats to draft. Rizzo has righted the ship of a formerly-poorly ran franchise and is one of two known candidates(the other being Tony Lacava(sp?) of the Toronto Bluejays) likely to takeover the GMing duties.

March 1st was indeed the day that the Nats stood still, figured out they've been standing in a puddle for a couple of years and finally took a step forward.