Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bowden and the Farm

Jim Bowden will be interviewing for the Red Sox GM role this week. I'll leave to the others to defend/discount the overall value of Bowden. I'll focus on what he did/didn't do to the farm system.

October/November 2004

  • Signed 3B Rick Short and RHP Dan Smith: Short was a nice story in 2005. He has the potential of being the 25th man (Carlos Baerga's spot) in 2006 if he recovers from shoulder surgery. Smith spent the entire season in New Orleans with terrible numbers in before he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in July, ending his season. [NFA: Nice find on Short.]
  • Signed SS Ramon Castro and OF Cristian Guerrero: Castro started out promising but was hit with an unprecedented 105 game suspension in July. Guerrero put up solid numbers in Harrisburg. [NFA: Two nice finds for Bowden. Both are probably no more than organizational players at this point. Though, Castro bears watching]
  • Purchased the contracts of INF Alejandro Machado, LHP Michael Hinckley, 1B Larry Broadway and RHP Darrell Rasner from Harrisburg; Purchased the contracts of RHP Josh Karp and RHP Danny Rueckel from Edmonton: This added one only one guy to the 40-man roster who even appeared once for the Nationals in 2005 (Rasner). Rasner's best shot is as a #5 SP in 2006. Hinckley, Broadway, and Karp all battled injury/inconsistency in 2005. Machado was subsequently traded to the Red Sox in April 2005 for IF Carlos Torres. Torres put up terrible numbers in Vermont while Machado made a brief appearance for the Red Sox late in the season. Rueckel was removed from the 40-man in August to make room for Deivi Cruz. [NFA: The loss of Machado is not terrible but in hindsight, he would have been a nice piece during the Vidro injury/Guzman struggles. Rueckel will be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft in December. No problems with the other moves]
  • Outrighted RHP Shawn Hill and INF Josh Labandeira to Edmonton: Hill was recovering from Tommy John surgery while Labandeira battled inconsistency, injury, and a suspension for violation of the substance abuse program. [NFA: Ideally, Hill will compete for a spot in the bullpen in 2006 with the possibility of spot starts (think Sunny Kim 's role in 2005). ]

December 2004

  • Signed RHP Rabell Rivera: Rivera did not play in 2005.
  • Traded OF Antonio Sucre to Pirates for OF J.J. Davis: Davis was subsequently paired with Zach Day in a trade for Preston Wilson. Sucre spent the season in the South Atlantic League with marginal results. [NFA: Solid, not spectacular, move that led to a contributor at the major league level]
  • Sold the contract of OF Val Pascucci to the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese Pacific League: Pascucci had limited playing time in Japan in 2005. Though 8 of his 29 hits were HR. [NFA: Not a terrible move. He wasn't going to make the major league roster and the additional dollars (however small) were probably welcome given the budget constraints.]
  • Released LHP Chad Bentz: The lefthanded Bentz caught on with the Marlins and pitched horribly in 4 appearances with Florida. [NFA: Aside from the fact he was a LH RP, his loss was not terrible. He is no better than Joe Horgan, who was quickly cast aside.]
  • Selected OF Ty Godwin from the Blue Jays and IF Tony Blanco from the Reds in the Rule 5 Draft: Godwin's rights, and the ability to send him to the minors, were acquired in exchange for 20-year old LH SP Aaron Wideman. Godwin had a solid year in New Orleans (caveat ... he's 26), while Wideman pitched solidly in the Midwest League. Blanco spent the entire season sitting on the bench in Washington with limited playing time. [NFA: The jury is still out on Wideman, but it will be interesting to see what he becomes. Godwin appears to be a AAAA player. Blanco's impact is much more a negative. Not only did he lose a year of development, but he also hamstrung the Nationals with regards to player personnel decisions during the season. This was apparently due to strained relations between Bowden and his former employer, the Reds who refused to discuss any trade options.]
  • Selected RHP Victor Prieto from the Marlins, IF Edgar Gonzalez from the Rangers, and OF Doc Brooks from the Diamondbacks in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft: Prieto was immediately traded to the Red Sox for cash considerations. He pitched only 0.1IP for the GCL Red Sox. Gonzalez played well in a season split between Harrisburg and New Orleans while Brooks apparently regressed in his third straight season in High A. [NFA: Gonzalez and Brooks are organizational players. They provided depth to a farm system that was hungry for serviceable players.]
  • Selected OF Jim Kavourias from the Marlins, RHP Dan Kolb from the Brewers, 2B Dan Dement from the Devil Rays, and OF Marcus Nettles OF from the Padres in the Double-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft: Kavourias (April) and Nettles (May) were subsequently released. Kolb struggled in his third straight year in High A. Dement split the season between Harrisburg and New Orleans, batting over 300 in both stops. [NFA: Kolb and Dement are also organizational players with little chance of making the majors.]
  • Signed the following players to minor league contracts with invitations to Spring Training (OF Jeffrey Hammonds, 3B Phil Hiatt, IF Jared Sandberg, CA Keith Osik, RHP Hector Carrasco, RHP Chad Durbin, RHP Seth Greisinger, RHP Luis Pineda, LHP Micah Bowie, and OF Michael Coleman): Hiatt and Pineda did not make the team nor play for anyone else in 2005. Sandberg was released and caught on with the Red Sox farm team. Greisinger spent most of the season in Triple-A and pitched briefly for the Braves. Bowie battled injuries in the Nats farm system. Hammonds and Osik played briefly for the Nats in 2005. Carrasco was an invaluable member of the 2005 Nats bullpen and excelled as a SP late in the season. [NFA: The players who were lost as well as Bowie, Hammonds, and Osik were organizational players. Carrasco was a find for Bowden, a diamond in the rough]

January/February 2005

  • Released 2B Rafael Batista: Did not play in 2005. [NFA: No impact]
  • Signed IF George Arias to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training: Arias was subsequently released. [NFA: No impact]
  • Signed RHPs Kip Bouknight, Mark DiFelice, David Gil and Brian Powell; SS Jason Bowers; LHPs Alex Lontayo, Matt White and Ed Yarnall; 1B Aaron McNeal; and, OF Melvin Nieves: Lontayo and McNeal were both released in April. McNeal caught on with Colorado but played poorly. DiFelice and Nieves played in Nats farm system until their July releases. Powell, Yarnall, Gil, Bowers, White, and Bouknight all spent the entire season in the upper levels of the Nats farm system. White made a spot start for the Nats in August. [NFA: Is there an echo in here? Organizational players. I bet we'll see more of the same type of guys signed in February 2006]
  • Invited SS Ian Desmond to Spring Training: Desmond impressed the fans with his defense in Spring Training. He split the season between Savannah and Potomac. [NFA: Desmond's performance turned the spotlight on the Nats farm system in the spring. What it showed was less than encouraging. Desmond is still a ways away from making the majors]

March/April/May 2005

  • Released OF Dominick Ambrosini and RHP Matthew Skrmetta: Neither played in 2005
  • Traded OF Jerry Owens to White Sox for OF Alex Escobar: Escobar missed the season with a strained right quadriceps. Owens, on the other hand, had a breakout season in Double-A. [NFA: The acquisition of Escobar is open to much debate among Bowden supporters/detractors. Owens is probably going to be no better than a #4/5 OF in the majors, but the fact that he excelled while Escobar spent the season on the DL magnifies the disparity in the return on the deal. Escobar fit the bill with regards to Bowden's fascination with toolsy OFs. He has not lived up to the promise that made him a key piece of the Roberto Alomar trade. It's not the worst deal but it's definitely not one that Bowden would want on his resume]
  • Signed CA Craig Kuzmic: Spent the season in New Orleans. [NFA: Random catcher for depth]
  • Released RHPs Edward Diaz, David Haverstick, Ricky Jenkins, and Brandon Roznovsky; LHPs Keith Ferguson, Tony Ferrari, and Josh Girdley; OFs Maurice Cobb, Ramon Diaz, and Danny Rombley; and, IFs Luis Cordova, Francis Desena, Brian Ellerson, Luis Rojas, Jason Conslik, and Jose Ovalles: Only Ferrari played in 2005, actually returning to the Nationals mid-season. [NFA: no impact]
  • Signed RHP Travis Hughes: Pitched well in relief for New Orleans with a couple of appearances for the Nats. [NFA: A solid waiver claim for Bowden. Hughes offered depth for both this past season as well as in 2006]
  • Released IF Clark Parker: Played briefly in Harrisburg prior to his release. [NFA: no impact.]
  • Acquired CF Marlon Byrd from Phillies in exchange for CF Endy Chavez: Byrd played well in platoon time for the Nationals while Chavez was relegated to PR/late inning defensive replacement. [NFA: Another solid move for Bowden. Byrd can serve as a #4 OF for the Nats in 2006.]

June/July 2005

  • Drafted and signed the following players from the 2005 First Year Player's Draft: Ryan Zimmerman 3B (1st); Justin Maxwell OF (4th) [signed in October]; Ryan DeLaughter OF (5th); Marco Estrada RHP (6th); Mike Daniel OF (7th); Jack Spradlin LHP (8th); John Michael Howell OF (9th); Dee Brown OF (10th); John Lannan LHP (11th); Craig Stammen RHP (12th); Andre Enriquez RHP (13th); Deryck Johnson OF (14th); Michael Watkins RHP (15th); Josh Palm RHP (16th); Eduardo Pichardo RHP (17th); Tim Pahuta 1B (18th); Bradley Clark RHP (19th) [signed in October]; Ricky Shefka RHP (20th); Coby Mavroulis RHP (21st); Antonio Evangelista RHP (22nd); Jeffrey Taylor RHP (24th); Andrew Lane 2B (27th) - Zimmerman had the crash courtse through the minors to the majors in a few months. Maxwell, if he can stay healthy could prove to be a value pick in the 4th round. Delaughter is playing the OF but is also highly thought of as a RHP. Estrada, Spradlin, Lannan, and Stammen all bare watching as SP prospects. Daniel, Howell, and Brown are all interesting OF prospects to watch for their power (Brown) and hitting (Howell and Daniel). From the picks in the 13th round and later, it's honestly a crapshoot though Bradley Clark has the most upside if he can overcome his reputation. [NFA: Zimmerman has proven a really good pick. The fact that he signed 22 out of his first 25 picks is nice, though it's uncertain how many of the picks were based upon signability.]
  • Signed OF Dee Brown; RHPs Ryan France, Edulin Abreu, and John Ogiltree; SSs Scott Hodges and Juan Melo; and, LHP Stephen Randolph : All but Abreu and Randolph filled the roles of organizational players. Abreu did not play. Randolph was traded to the Giants for future considerations. [NFA: No prospects worth watching]
  • Acquired RHPs Ancil Baldwin and Mike Kobow from Tigers for future considerations: Kobow played in Potomac. [NFA: no impact]
  • Released SS Juan Lorenzo; RHP Samuel Martinez; OF Duron Legrande: None were picked up by anyone else. [NFA: no impact]
  • Claimed OF Kenny Kelly off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds: Played briefly in the majors. [NFA: His signing did mean Wil Cordero was removed from the roster, so there is some positive there. Kelly is another AAAA OF that infatuates Bowden]

August/September 2005

  • Announced RHP Sun-Woo Kim was claimed off waivers by the Colorado Rockies: Pitched better in Colorado than he did in Washington. [NFA: Trying to sneak Kim through waivers a second time cost Bowden an arm that could have helped in September]
  • Signed SS Frank Cruz of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: No stats available as he is too young to play in the US. [NFA: Signings out of the Dominican Republic and other Latin American countries are not necessarily up-to-date. Latin America is an area that Bowden and his team (Jose Rijo specifically) need to resuscitate. Hopefully we will begin to see more names popping up in the future.]
  • Acquired SS/2B Deivi Cruz from the San Francisco Giants for RHP Ben Cox: Cruz was roster filler at MI for September. Cox spent his Nationals time in the South Atlantic League. [NFA: Cox is just another RH RP in the minors. He could turn into a solid contributor, or he could flame out. The trade gave the Nats another MI body for the last month of the season.]
  • Signed RHPs Amado de los Santos, Bryan Lambert, Billy Sylvester; CAs Brian Peacock and Emilio Soto; IF Jonathan Martinez; and, LHP John Halama: de los Santos, Lambert, Soto, and Martinez were signed as undrafted free agents. Sylvester is another organizational type. Peacock was signed as a draft and follow after being drafted in the 39th round of the 2004 draft, he was rumored to be picked in the first 15 rounds if he returned to the draft. Halama was brought in when the Nationals faced a SP shortage. [NFA: Peacock, de los Santos, Lambert, Soto, and Martinez bear watching to see if Bowden found any diamonds in the rough]
  • Released RHP Aaron Coonrod, CA Lyndsey Simmons, 3B David Travis, and SS Gabriel Suarez: Simmons and Travis were 2004 draft picks who did not pan out. Coonrod and Suarez were minor league free agents who the Nats determined were not necessary. [NFA: no impact]
  • Acquired RHP Rhys Taylor and RHP Yader Peralta from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for LHP Mike Stanton: Two GCL arms for a guy the Red Sox wanted for one weekend. [NFA: Whatever Taylor and Peralta end up doing is icing on the cake. Getting anybody for a weekend rental is a solid move]

Overall, Bowden's impact on the farm system has not been detrimental. The players he lost through ill-advise trades (Owens) and bad gambles (Kim) do not damage a long neglected farm system that much. His obsession with toolsy OFs (Escobar and Kelly) have not cost the Nats anything of value in either the near or long term. He has brought in a large haul from the 2005 draft class and only time will tell how many of the picks end up in the majors. He's not the best GM in the majors, but most of the moves he's made with regards to the minor leagues appear to be OK given the state of the farm system when he arrived.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I think Bowden's biggest impact on the minors was giving away the team's 2nd and 3rd round picks in the 2005 draft by rushing to sign Castilla and Guzman - neither of whom would have been offered arbitration if Bowden had only waited another week.