Nationals assistant GM Mike Rizzo, seen
here at last yearÂ the ESPN Zone in DC,
could be the replacement for Jim Bowden.
The day after Jim Bowden resigned as general manager of the Washington Nationals, the process of finding a replacement for the man often called â€śTrader Jimâ€ť begins today in D.C.
Nationals president Stan Kasten (read The Biz of Baseball interview with Kasten) has his work cut out for him given the odd timing of Bowdenâ€™s resignation. The club could be entering the regular season without a GM at the helm, or could see a GM still getting to know Nationals Park when April rolls around.
There had been speculation for some time that Bowdenâ€™s replacement would be Nationals assistant GM Mike Rizzo, but with Bowden stepping down, Kasten did not announce anyone to fill the role in an interim capacity.
That may, or may not, bode well for Rizzo. Kasten, someone that has always been deliberate and thorough, will most likely examine all options at his disposal, even if Rizzo might make perfectly good sense as Bowdenâ€™s replacement.
The other name that has surfaced since Bowden was put on the GMâ€™s version of â€śdeath watchâ€ť has been Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava, a man, like Rizzo, that has been talked of highly in baseball circles as one that could take the next step to the big chair.
As for Bowden, many have surmised that his days as a general manager are over, a product of his behavior, his player decision making process, and his perchance for trouble (his DUI in 2006, and his firing from the Reds in 2003 for evoking 9/11 and the MLBPA â€śflying the plane into the buildingâ€ť if the players were to strike).
What seems certain is that the Nationals will be better this year, which is to say they could not be much worse than league-leading 102 games they lost last season. In defense of Bowden, injuries were a detriment more than Bowden himself was to the Nationals play last year. But, in reality, it was a close call.
Whether it is Rizzo or LaCava that takes the helm of the Nationals, one thing is certain, they will most likely be received with open arms by the fans, many of whom had been crying out for Bowden to leave for years. At the time that the Lerners purchased the club, Kasten said that when they took over the club it was in a dire situation â€“ the farm system in shambles. Kasten saw Bowden as smart, resourceful, and tireless. Those may be the traits that Kasten and Co. look for in the next general manager for the Nationals, just without the other Bowden underpinnings.
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.
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