José Rijo, the Washington Nationals' front-office member linked most closely to the fraudulent signing of a Dominican prospect, has taken a leave of absence from the team.I'm sure I'm not alone in hoping that this is only the beginning of an organization-wide purification by fire that claims thousands.
Above: Jim Bowden outrunning Jose Rijo. For now.
Meanwhile, Odalis Perez still isn't in camp, despite having allegedly agreement to don the W for another year. Perez was Washington's opening day starter last year. Maybe that says more about the Nationals than it does about Odalis, but it's something. He was . . . OK. League average, more or less, and that - thanks to the mysterious forces that control and occasionally destroy the economy - tends to be worth millions of dollars. It costs good money to keep Matt Chico off the mound.
Because of that, I was certainly surprised when he agreed to come back for a non-guaranteed 850 large. Odalis was apparently as surprised as I was, because as soon as he sobered up or got around to looking up the exchange rate with the Dominican peso or whatever, he decided that that kind of deal wasn't worth getting on a plane; he's staying home.
The reaction to this (at least among the tiny proportion of the population that is at all interested) is predictable and understandable. Plenty of fat jokes, shots at Perez' ability, and plenty of possibly overdone enthusiasm about this year's crop of Young Pitchers of teh Future. Nothing wrong with any of that. After all, it's a matter of public record that Odalis is a dick.
He stopped his O's 45's program, in which he bought 45 tickets for inner-city school children to attend his starts, after losing his starting job. He said he would not reinstate the program now that he is starting again because he felt he never got enough credit from the club or the public for his charitable contributions.Also, Jim Bowden claims that Perez has actually signed a contract. Jim Bowden also claimed that Smiley Gonzalez was worth $1.4 million and that Aaron Crow was too expensive, but maybe he's right this time. If that's the case, then yes, Odalis Perez should absolutely get his ass out of bed and come to camp.
If it's not, though - and when we're figuring the odds of the Nats being wrong about this, we have to adjust for the indefensible, franchise-destroying incompetence we've seen from time to time - I certainly don't blame Perez for reconsidering a cut-rate contract with the worst team in baseball. I'm not going to make a moral argument for backing out of an agreement, even if it's an unofficial, "engaged to be engaged" kind of situation. Haven't we all had momentary lapses in judgment that have haunted us for years? Deciding to start a blog, for instance? Wouldn't we like the chance to take it back?
At any rate, my advice to Perez is to grow a goatee, forge Johan Santana's driver's license, and come back to the negotiating table. The Nats have proven themselves vulnerable to that kind of bargaining ploy.