If there are any doubts about the competence of Jim Bowden and his worthiness of handling this franchise long into the future, the series of small transactions over the last week should crush them like a Esteban Loaiza pitch.
All the moves are relatively minor, but they demonstrate that he's a man without a strategy, or a vision. If your car gets stuck in a snowbank, the solution isn't to bury the pedal to the floor; you'll just spin the tires. And yet, that's what Bowden is doing. He's fiddling at the margins, looking for the solution to the slide by shuffling the 25th man on the roster in and out.
In the process, he's completely blind to meaningful solutions to the real problem. And, perhaps more importantly, he's creating animosity among the players his transactions are affecting.
Last week, he shipped out Marlon Byrd and brought in Matt Cepicky.
The rationale for that is that they wanted an effective pinch-hitter because Byrd and Church weren't getting it done.
Bill Ladson even went so far as to paint Cepicky as a model teammate who understands his role, pointing out that he had accepted being DFA'd earlier in the season because he respects Frank and was assured that he'd get another chance.
At the same time, by comparison, Marlon Byrd was painted as a malcontent. Byrd, understandably, wasn't pleased with his demotion. Rather than lashing out, he internalized things, and didn't say a word. So, Cepicky = good; Byrd = bad.
A few days later, the team was forced to reactive Tony "Dizzy" Blanco, who ran out of time for a rehab assignment. As a rule-5 draftee, he has to stay on the active roster unless he's disabled.
Ordinarily teams will stretch the definition of disabled as far as they legally can to avoid wasting a slot on their major league roster. Bodes went out of his way to keep him on the roster. When he was suffering from vertigo, and completely useless to the team, he stayed on the roster for over a week. In the meantime, they could've had a useful player on the bench. But they chose not to. Go figure.
When they activated Blanco, they needed to send someone down. Exit Sunny Kim.
It's not like Sunny Kim is going to make anyone forget John Patterson, but he's really no different than Tony Armas or Ryan Drese. He's a useful 4th or 5th starter.
At the beginning of the season, one of the reasons for optimism was the team's depth in starting pitching. We didn't realize that Patterson would emerge as an ace, but Jon Rauch (now injured), Kim, Tomo Ohka, Zach Day and Claudio Vargas would allow the team to mix and match depending on who was throwing effectively.
Now, they're all gone.
And even more distressingly, Vargas and Kim were both claimed on waivers (by Arizona and Colorado respectively). They were given up for nothing.
So, what was a strength, is now a weakness.
Further, this left the team without a long reliever. If Drese implodes, or if Tony Armas, who left a start early last week with shoulder stiffness, the bullpen would wear itself out.
Then, just this week, Cap'n Bodes Designates Matt Cepicky for Assignment, after just a handfull of pinch-hitting appearances.
On his way out, Cepicky gripes that he didn't get a fair shot, and that he's upset that he's being used like a yo-yo. In the process, the once wonderful team player, gets painted like another malcontent like Byrd (and Day. And Ohka. And Chavez. And...)
In his place comes uber-speedster Brandon Watson to hit leadoff and provide the apparent spark Bodes thinks the team needs. (If the team does
improve, Bodes will be crowing for weeks)
These moves just make me shake my head and ask a bunch of questions.
What was the point of calling up Cepicky for a week?
Why didn't the team get anything for Kim? Is keeping Mike Stanton and Joey Eischen around better than losing Kim?
How many malcontents are there on the team?
Could it be that something else is the problem, not the players?
What's Bowden's plan with all these transactions?
Did these moves improve the team? Are we better off with Brandon Watson than we were with Marlon Byrd or Sunny Kim?
Why does Bowden refuse to bring up infield help? Guzman stinks. Vinny's hobbling.
Well, I do know the answer to that
one! Those are the problems he
created. Therefore, they aren't really problems! I almost forgot the party line there for a second!
Sucks to be Brendan Harris or Rick Short, I suppose.
And lately, it's sucked to be a Nats fan. Bodes must go.
has a similar look at the tire-spinning moves, especialy as it comes to the loss of Kim]