Jim Bowden resigned as GM of
the Nationals Sunday saying he
was a distraction.
Jim Bowden, who had been the only general manager for the Washington Nationals since the club relocated from Montreal as the Expos, has resigned today, saying that he had become a distraction.
An immediate replacement for Bowden was not announced at the time.
Bowden has become part of a federal investigation into the skimming of bonuses given to Latin American players, and comes on the heels two days ago of Bowden’s announcement that special assistant Jose Rijo had been fired. Rijo was fired after a scandal involving a top prospect Alvarez David Lugo, who previously called himself Esmailyn Gonzalez. The shortstop, who received a $1.4 million signing bonus from the Nationals in 2006, allegedly falsified his name and age.from the Dominican Republic who lied about his age and name.
At the time, the club also fired Jose Baez, the Nationals' director of operations in the Dominican Republic, and cut ties with Rijo's baseball academy in the Dominican Republic.
Bowden was also arrested in April of 2006 for DUI and running a stop sign in Florida. At the time of his arrest, he refused to take a breathalyzer. "I intend to plead not guilty at a future date in a Miami-Dade court. I deeply regret any embarrassment that my arrest may cause the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball," Bowden said in the statement at the time.
Bowden released the following statement, through the Nationals on his resignation today:
I am today resigning my position as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Washington Nationals. It is an emotional decision that saddens me, but one that I feel is in the best interests of two of the things I love most - baseball and the Washington Nationals.
My resignation is based upon my realization that my ability to properly represent the Washington Nationals has been compromised because of false allegations contained in the press. I am disappointed by the media reports regarding investigations into any of my professional activities. There have been no charges made, and there has been no indication that parties have found any wrongdoing on my part.
At the same time, while I have done nothing wrong, I place a greater value on the love, respect, and best interests of my family, friends, the game of baseball -- that I've served lovingly and faithfully for close to 25 years -- and, the reputation and future of the Washington Nationals, which I'm proud to have been a part of since its inception in 2004.
I believe I have had one of the great challenges afforded to any general manager in baseball. I was hired in November 2004 to make day-to-day baseball decisions on an interim basis with no ownership group, no permanent place to play and no legitimate minor league system. There was little to no budget for a major league roster. But, with the help of some very special assistants, we persevered. Today, we have some of the best owners in the game. We have one of the finest new ballparks, with a beautiful view of the Nation’s Capitol. And, we are headed in the right direction with the nucleus of a young, competitive and interesting major league baseball team that is capable of turning into a contender in a short period of time.
I'm proud to have had the opportunity to be part of such a special organization with so many tremendous people who will always be my friends, and am also proud of my contributions to Major League Baseball, the Washington Nationals and the game.
I wish nothing but success to the Lerner Family, Stan Kasten and the Washington Nationals organization, and to the very special players and front office personnel with whom I've built strong and meaningful relationships. I also want to thank all of the players, managers, coaches, front office staff and ownership for treating my family members like their own.
In closing, let me state this is a bittersweet moment for me. While I will always have the experiences and fond memories of my relationships with the Nationals, Stan Kasten and the Lerner family, who have always been gracious and fair in their dealings with me, I will also carry with me the cold hard realization that my life has been turned upside down by a news media that prints entire stories attributed solely to anonymous sources who refuse to be identified and who are free to allege anything they choose for any purpose without fear of retribution. One can only understand the impact of false allegations, insinuations and innuendos by the press if they themselves been the subject of those false allegations. However, I also want to thank the many media members, who have dealt with me with fairness and professionalism, and they far outweigh the others.
Like anyone else, I have made mistakes in all areas of my personal and professional life, but I leave here with the true belief that I have done nothing intentionally to harm the Washington Nationals or Major League Baseball. 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.
Nationals president, Stan Kasten, supported Bowden’s resignation, saying in a statement:
We greatly respect and admire the decision made today by Jim Bowden. He showed characteristic poise and maturity, and demonstrated his selfless love for the game and the Washington Nationals.
We all believe it is imperative that we honor the integrity of the game and that fans be able to concentrate their attention and affections on the game and players on the field. Jim has maintained his innocence, but recognized that he had become a distraction, and with great grace determined to do what was best for the team and his players.
As the only general manager in the history of the Washington Nationals, his influence and direct imprint on the franchise is immeasurable. He was hired by Major League Baseball to manage a nearly unmanageable situation, without the benefit of local ownership. But, he knew he would be serving a fan base long hungry for the return of big league baseball to the Nation’s Capital. He accepted the challenge and fulfilled it with enthusiasm, intelligence, and gritty determination.
Jim’s efforts to develop a competitive club on the field, while dedicating himself to building a minor league system second to none, will serve the Washington Nationals for years to come.
The Washington Nationals ownership group, management, players, and fans, owe a great deal to Jim Bowden. He laid the groundwork for a team that we know will be a perennial contender in the National League East and throughout the league. We wish him all the best.
Regardless of the club’s support of Bowden, his record with the Expos/Nationals is one of the worst in recent MLB history. The Nationals had the worst record in the league last season going 59-102. During his tenure with the Nationals, the club has gone 284-364.
Bowden also had had troubles with the Cincinnati Reds, the club he was with before the Expos/Nationals. He was fired in 2003 after comparing the MLBPA to al Qaeda when speaking of a possible strike by the players. “If they (the players) do walk out ... I encourage all of them, "'Make sure it's Sept. 11th. Be symbolic about it. Let [union head] Donald Fehr drive the plane right into the building, if that's what they want him to do.'"
Bowden’s last key move with the Nationals was the signing of Adam Dunn to a two-year, $20 million deal. The Nationals had also been bidding heavily for free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira. Before the Yankees swooped in with a eight-year contract worth $180 million, the Nationals offered Teixeira an eight-year, $160 million deal.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.
Subscribe to The Biz of Baseball