Jim Bowden Still Haunting the Nationals

A couple of years ago, Dmitri Young was one of the best stories in baseball. His career seemed to  be over, as off-field issues and a battle with diabetes took their toll. But Bowden, who is nothing if not unflinchingly loyal to his former players (Young's career started with the Bowden Reds), gave him one more chance with the Nationals, and Young went from spring NRI to .320/.378/.491 starting first baseman in 2007. He also received a lot of praise from the younger Nats for being a good mentor to them, not surprising for a guy with the sheer volume of life experience (less charitable people might call it baggage) Young brought with him.

Great story. Nobody does redemption like pro sports. But like most stories involving Bowden, it doesn't quite have a happy ending. Oh, not that Young went on a killing spree or anything. But the GM signed him to a two year, $10 million extension in the middle of that solid 2007, despite the fact that there was no earthly reason to think the then 33-year-old Young would keep it up. And of course he didn't, playing in only 50 games last season and hitting a weak .280/.394/.400.

So Young got dropped from the 40-man roster in the offseason to clear a spot prior to the Rule 5 draft, the Nats signed Adam Dunn to give them a legitimate big bat at first base, then Bowden got caught up in the scandal involving 'prospect' "Esmailyn Gonzalez" and was forced out of office. End of comeback, end of story, right?


As it turns out, Young had a 'handshake' agreement with Bowden that he'd be re-added to the 40, and even with Bowden gone the Nationals are going to honor it. So even though he's no longer in charge of the team, Bowden still found a way to saddle the club with a $5 million Triple-A player and maybe cost them a younger, potentially more useful player who they'll now have to expose to waivers.

Like I said at the top, things don't appear to be hopeless in Washington. There are some kids in the pipeline like Zimmermann to help the rotation, the offense should at least be solid now that Dunn is in the fold, and they have the #1 pick in a year when the Best Pitching Prospect Ever ZOMG is available. But that's down the road.

For one more year at least, this is still Jim Bowden's team.


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