Wednesday, November 29, 2006

StanSpeak, 45th In A Continuing Series

Credit to Bill Ladson, who scores an interview with The Genius™, Stan Kasten. Ladson asks the right questions, and, as per his usual, Kasten answers none of them. His answers would be perfectly fine for a different set of questions, which is why he comes across so well -- this isn't a Mark McGwire before Congress sorta thing. But you really need to read Kasten's answers as if you were contracting for services with Beelzebub; every word matters. Thankfully I've got a friend in Atlanta (Let's call him Fred Burner), who's provided me with the StanSpeak Translator. With some copying and pasting, and the flicking of a button or two, it spits his deep, dark, hidden thoughts, so that us, the non-humble humble non-geniuses can understand this great man. I'd encourage you to check out the entire interview -- there's some good stuff in there -- but here are things you won't be seeing, at least without modern technology.

On how surprised he is by all the money being dropped on free agents:
We heard reports of it, but couldn't tell you a damn thing first-hand, so I'm not surprised about the vigorous market, which is rumored to exist, even though it's not one of the best classes we've ever had (Man, they suck!). But I am surprised at some of the contracts that I've seen. $50 million for Gary Matthews?!

We heard reports that some wacky people were going to have a renewed or a redoubled sense of confidence in the business moving forward, but why would I?. Some people have looked at their own economics and have been able to justify some of the expenditures that we have seen. Our "economics", however, justify nothing but profits for me!

In our own case, we are in a very different set of circumstances this [coming year], in that we're focusing on pocketing as much revenue in the next year before pocketing even more revenue when the new place opens up. It's a brilliant plan, if I do think so, myself. So it's hard to put myself in the shoes of other non-Genius people who don't value profit as much as I do.


On whether the Nats plan to spend "this kind of money" when the new stadium opens up:
I don't know what you mean by "this kind of money." I reject the premise of your question, little man. The payroll levels in the future will be higher than the payroll levels in 2006 and '07, that's for sure, but if you think we're going to run this like the top market we are, HA!. ... We are never going to do contracts that are unwise as defined by me, a person who hates agents because they cause these ungrateful players to expect to get paid. We are going to do the best, as defined by me, deals that we can. Having said that, I expect us to be as aggressive as possible always -- whether it's looking at opportunities, but not actually consummating deals, in free agency or signing six-year free agents -- stars such as Tim Redding and Marlon Byrd-- , Rule 5 Draft picks -- like Kenny Kelly and Tony Blanco -- or trades. (Hopefully that AHole blogger recognizes that we did this one right, at least)


On whether he thought the Nats had a chance of re-signing Soriano:
I just didn't know with absolute 100%, iron-clad certainty. It was impossible to predict. Who knows? Maybe he would've relented and taken our 5/$75 offer. [chortle]. We had a chance in a technical sense, but this worked out just fine for us (Me: Don't have to explain to the simpletons why we didn't re-sign him for that ungodly number; Daddy Lerner: doesn't have to break the seal off his panda-skin wallet) and way beyond fine for Alfonso and his greedy SOB agent.

On whether he was satisfied with the Cubs measly second rounder and that sandwich pick:
Absolutely. What choice do I have? Let's face it, we have a building job that we need to do. We are not happy that we need to do it. That's the situation that we find ourselves in. To ignore it would be foolish. To pursue a free agent (CRAP! I let the plan out. Think, think, think) -- even to pursue our own free agent (Nice Save!) -- at that kind of money and not improve our team, what would be the point of that?

On what he likes about Manny Acta:
First of all, I love the way he speaks. He speaks with real decisiveness and clarity, but not too much clarity. That would be bad. He articulates a position that brings confidence, and he'll learn how to better dodge questions. The single quality that is most important in a manager and head coach is leadership. Can he lead men? Can he articulate a vision that will cause people to follow him? I get that feeling when I spend time with Manny Acta. I bet he could even convince the typical DC fan that we're in a mid-sized market!


On the team's chances of being improved under Acta:
I think we will get the most out of what (the very little) we have next year. I don't know yet what we are going to have (since all those minimum salaried guys will duke it out in spring training) or what position we are going to be other than 5th in the NL East. I'm already 100 percent confident that we are going to make an awful lot of progress in moving this forward -- building our foundation (stadium) and setting the stage for even further success (stadium revenues) down the road.

On what the team's payroll will be in 2007:
I don't think about teams that way, because it makes me look cheap. I think about assembling assets (actually I think of them all as debits) and not passing up opportunities to pass over free agents. As to what the final number will be, I couldn't tell you now even if I wanted to, which I most assuredly don't, because I don't know what my revenues are going to be, and I've clearly been too busy to even estimate this. Since we're not going to be players in Free Agency, why should I waste my team estimating expenses? I don't know what money I will have available. It all depends on how much Daddy Lerner wants to sock away under his mattress. Whatever it is at the start of Spring Training, it will be more on Opening Day. It could be more by the trade deadline, assuming that business is going well, and if it's not, you fans have yourself to blame -- not me, the guy who hasn't bothered to set a free agency budget, nor the puppet GM I have in place without authority to pursue anyone.

On what it's like to work with Jim Bowden after having worked with real baseball men like surefire Hall of Famer Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz:
I think he has done a very good job. I hope nobody noticed that that didn't answer the question he asked. We all know we have our limitations, and we all know that Jim has limitations. We also have some very exciting profit-making opportunities in Washington. He has done well within our limitations and opportunities and within his many limitations. We haven't even begun to talk about the Pacific Rim program that we are starting to put in place. Jim has been aggressive doing that. When I named him our GM, I may or may not have been on quaaludes, the most single thing about him is how resourceful (read: frugal) he is. He will look under every rock to try to bring assets to our club at rock-bottom prices, and, so far, that is exactly what he has tried to do, while mostly failing.

On whether they've discussed a role for Frank Robinson yet:
Jim and I were talking and laughing about that [on Wednesday]. We haven't gotten to it yet. It's about 4,230 on our list, somewhere below seeing what kind of deal Barry Zito is looking for. We have been working on first, hiring a manager, then preparing for the Winter Meetings. Perhaps in January, we'll turn our attention more fully to that or perhaps I'll get a set of pliers from the tool chest and remove my right rear molar.

On whether Frank Robinson worked hard as a manager:
Frank's career, especially his terrible managerial record, speaks for itself. The reasoning that went into the decision, which was made by Jim Bowden (and managerial changes are something I have no input on, even though I, strangely, seem to have had lots of input on his replacement, so don't blame me), was more a reflection on needs, such as a competent manager, and expectations moving forward over the next two, three, five years that our manager won't nap in the dugout. That's the reason Jim NOT ME DAMMIT!!! made that decision, and it was not at all a reflection on Frank Robinson, but on his crappy managing.

____

Wow. That works much better when I'm not bitter and angry. Oh well. There goes my chance of having good seats in the new barn! ;)

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