Friday, March 30, 2007

Nationals Love Triangle

The WaPo has a good story on the threeway relationship that really matters most: Jim Bowden, Stan Kasten, and Mark Lerner.

There are some good quotes in there that an armchair psychologist could have a field day with.

The CW is that Jim Bowden, who's a love him or hate him kinda guy, ingratiated himself with Mark Lerner when the tea leaves started blowing the Lerners way, and that Bowden isn't really Stan Kasten's ideal man. It's just that the friendship between Bodes and Lerner prevents Kasten from taking out the trash.

Svrluga doesn't draw any conclusions, but most of the quotes in the piece don't really dispel it either.
Take this graf:
"There's more than one way to skin a cat," said Kasten, pointing out that he is also markedly different than his buttoned-down GM in Atlanta, John Schuerholz. "I believe that. There's no formula, no one solution. Each situation requires an analysis of what's required. I tried to do that here, and it changes on a frequent basis."

That's hardly a ringing endorsement. That could easily be interpreted as "Well, I'm stuck with him, so I might as well take advantage of his limited skill set."

Says Lerner of Jim:
"After about two minutes, we just had a great relationship," Lerner said. "I think he was a little different than what I expected. I just like Jim a lot. I respect his work ethic. He's a good man. He and his fiancée, Joy, are good friends of ours."

Now that's a ringing endorsement.

Bowden certainly knows where his bread is buttered:
"They're great human beings, all of them, the entire family," Bowden said. "The family includes the wives and the children and the cousins and the grandchildren. They're all special people."


Another non-ringing endorsement:
"I felt good enough about what was here to give Jim the first shot."

Translation: "I settled."
Past performance is good for whatever lessons you might learn from it, but every situation requires a person tailored to that situation -- and that's what we try to do here."

Translation: "We're working around his limitations."

Kasten was asked if he thought that Bowden had the right skills to rebuild:
"I do. I have no reason not to think that. You know, you make adjustments always. Always, always, always."

That second sentence is pretty damning. Do you suppose that he intended the third and fourth to apply to himself?

More from Bowden:
"I think that the decision that was made from ownership to Stan all the way down was something that none of us will ever second-guess."

Translation: "We don't agree on a lot of things, but we march ahead for our jobs' sake."

There's a lot more love tossed back and forth in the piece, but there's an awful lot of subtext there, too. It's an interesting relationship, and watching how it develops over the next year or two is going to be fascinating.

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