Just before the game, St. Barry Svrluga, who is good and whom we deserve not, conducted a chat on the Washington Post website. Regular readers of this and any number of other Nats blogs are aware of the radness of Svrluga, but there was a disturbing exchange in there, one that I hope turns out not to be a portent.
You see what Svrluga's doing here? He's not reporting; he's advocating. Maybe he's just presenting an alternative the reader's take, but Barry sounds unfortunately Boswellian here. Castilla's contract is the lesser issue, but I'll say three things: 1. Svrluga ignores the draft pick we lost to sign him; 2. that he "has been much better than expected" is just asinine - we're 22 games in; 3. RBIs are a tool of the Father of Lies and do nothing but mislead.
Bethesda, Md.: I see where the Nats have extended Bowden's contract. I wonder if they're aware that he is the most lowly-regarded GM in MLB by the writers at the Baseball Prospectus -- the smartest baseball analysts in the business for my and many others' money. Big mistake. Christian Guzman? Vinny Castilla? (Park effects - what are those?)
Barry Svrluga: There are certainly all kinds of views on Bowden, and you're right, there are certainly those who don't have a high opinion of him. I will say this, though: What was this team supposed to do at shortstop and third base? They got Castilla, who has been much better than expected, for the relatively cheap price of two years, $6.2 million. No, he's not going to lead the league in RBI, as he did last year. But if he drives in 80 or 90, that's well worth the money. Guzman is struggling big-time on offense, and it's legitimate to say they may have overpaid. But if he doesn't make those two moves, the left side of the infield would've been Brendan Harris and Maicer Izturis. Don't talk to me about Tony Batista. No one really wanted him back. And keep in mind: Bowden will have to prove to a new owner that he's worth keeping. Bottom line: If he does the job, he'll be around. If he doesn't, someone else will be here.
Svrluga's best argument for the woeful Guzman signing is "there weren't any alternatives," which is a cop-out. It would have been a reasonable point had Bowden not signed anyone - and it would have been true. But Bodes went ahead and signed one of those non-alternatives, and we're stuck with his pudgy ass for four years. Currently we have a shortstop who can't hit and allegedly can field. Maicer Izturis is a shortstop who can't hit and allegedly can field, and I can think 16 million further reasons that he's preferable to Guzman. Barry Svrluga is a sharp guy and unquestionably a cut above the average sportswriter. That's all the more reason to hope he's playing devil's advocate and not positioning himself for a Ron Santo Award.