Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bad Metaphors

Things Jim Bowden is bad at:
1) Free agent signings
2) Trades
3) Metaphors
4) Dressing himself

Things Jim Bowden is good at:
1) Negotiating contract extensions.

He's proven it time and time again. He's managed to secure himself a couple extensions, which is damned impressive considering . . . well, if you're reading this I'm sure you know what I'm about to complain about. But I'm living for giving the devil his due, as they say, and Jim Bowden is 2 for 2 in lengthening the contracts of his current players. You may recall when he straight-up conned Brian Schneider into agreeing to stick around for four years, and now he's done it again.
First baseman Nick Johnson agreed to a $16.5 million, three-year contract extension with the Washington Nationals on Saturday, a deal that ties him to the club through the 2009 season.
The details:
The 27-year-old first baseman will keep his contract for this year, which pays him $3.2 million and includes incentives for games played and plate appearances. He then will be paid $5.5 million in each of the next three seasons. Should he be traded before the end of the 2008 season, the final year of the deal becomes Johnson's option to accept or decline.
I've mentioned that I was not, in a general, theoretical sense, in favor of locking Johnson up. He gets hurt literally every year, and this time I actually mean literally. He's not fast and tends to the . . . husky -- all those factors make him a bad bet to age gracefully. But $5.5 million -- that sounds good at first. Then you look at what Sean Casey's scamming the Pirates out of, and it looks even better. Everything I was about to say about injuries and whatnot was already said by Bodes himself, so I'll let him:
"If he doesn't have the injuries, he's in the $8-$10 million a year range," general manager Jim Bowden said. "But he's been hurt, so we hope he gets healthy, and if he's healthy he has a real good deal. And if he doesn't get healthy, we still have a good deal for what he brings to the table."
Nick Johnson is our best hitter. Nick Johnson minus one-fourth of the season is still our best hitter. He will go on the DL repeatedly over the course of this contract, but he's making little enough that he'll still be worth it.

So I was all full of happy feelings for Bodes. It felt kind of weird and I didn't like it. The problem was solved, though, when I read this.
Washington's next priority is to sign outfielder Jose Guillen and second baseman Alfonso Soriano, who are free agents after this season. Bowden said multiyear offers have been made to those players.
As much as I dig the Johnson deal, it does raise an unpleasant question: who the hell does Jim Bowden think he is? The general manager? Sorry, Tracksuit, you're the interim general manager. "Interim" is a Latin word meaning "gone the fucking instant we decide who has the pleasure of firing you." That didn't mean much back when we had no hope of a ballpark or an owner and the Nats were going to be contracted or moved to Oaxaca or whatever. But now all the political eczema has cleared up, Selig's probably already picked an owner, and you lost any chance you had of becoming a real, grown-up general manager when you made the consensus worst move of the offseason.

I'm complaining now before something bad happens -- prophylactic invective, if you will. Bodes has done well in this area so far. With no depth in the system and a slim free agent pickings, Schneider needed to be locked up, and if Johnson thinks so little of his future earning potential that he'll settle for Kyle Farnsworth money, you have to jump on that. I'm not worried about Soriano -- he won't be sticking around unless he's promised a salary even Bowden would have qualms about leaving for his successor. But Bodes has no business guaranteeing a living to his close, personal friend and occasional babysitter Jose Guillen. Not only is Guillen literally a ticking time bomb, he also lacks even one arm that hasn't required recent surgery.
Guillen declined to comment on his contract situation, but a baseball source said that Guillen is not willing to take a discount like Johnson.
You're a fool, Jose. If you turn down what I'm guessing is going to be a very generous handout from Bodes, who's going to pay your rapidly disintegrating carcass to bitch about the fences, feud with your pitchers, and throw batting helmets at your manager? I guess that depends on whether Bowden gets another GM gig.

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