So over the weekend while snow pummeled the Washington D.C. area, the Nats took no notice and proceeded to make big baseball news. Sunday saw a personal dream come true for me as Jim Bowden "stepped down" from his Vice President and General Manager positions atop the Nationals organization, but rather than go gracefully with his head percieved to be held high, he instead thought it better to subject himself to being kicked repeatedly on his way out (not that it wouldn't have happened anyway, seeing as the majority of Nats fans/bloggers that I have come across are not too supportive of JimBo) by blaming the media for his need of an exit.
First of all, I'm not too sure that Jimmie-B decided to step down so much as many people in the organization pressured him to do so. There had been a few rumors that I linked to in some previous posts that the Nationals were considering replacing Bowden with Tony LaCava from the Toronto Blue Jays organization and though the Nationals had denied doing so, those rumors still have not gone away. If an organization is already considering your replacement days before you submit your letter of resignation, I'm inclined to belive they had a hand in pushing you out the door if only for the simple reason that it seems that they had prior knowledge of your departure from the position.
Second of all, though Jim leaving is certainly big news and his shot at the media wasn't exactly classy, he's not the biggest news article or item of speculation for me. That distinction belongs to his replacement.
Despite the rumors of an interest in bringing LaCava in to be the new GM, the prevailing notion in the media has always been that Assistant GM Mike Rizzo would be named to the position in the interim should Bowden be ousted. However, the Nats took an interesting course of action that caught me and most of the bloggers in the Natosphere by surprise.
Nationals President Stan Kasten annexed the title and duties of the GM for a very brief (we are talking a day, tops) time before giving the majority of those duties over to Rizzo (and here's the interesting part) without giving the title over to him officially, not even in the interim. Basically, this means that Rizzo is the GM without actually being the GM.
It is a very intriguing move to me because, though it initially doesn't make sense, it is actually quite an interesting way of testing Rizzo's GM merit without letting him get too big to hold on to if he isn't the right guy.
You see, and mind you this is all speculation, if they promote Rizzo to interim GM, but he doesn't have a knack for the job, the likelihood of him returning to the team in a smaller role, like his Assistant GM title, is not that great. However, by keeping him in the Assistant GM role for "the foreseeable future" while giving him the majority of the responsibilities belonging to a GM, they keep him in a position where they can still hire someone (like LaCava) from outside to be the GM full time if things don't work out for whatever reason without losing his incredible expertise for scouting talent (see Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, Dan Uggla, Brandon Webb, and Jordan Zimmermann) to another team.
I may not do it often enough, but I am definitely singing Stan Kasten's praises on this one. He's allowing the Nationals to get the very best replacement for Jim Bowden that they can with as little harm done to the organization as humanly possible.
After all, hasn't Jim done enough harm?