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What decision do you want back?

Oct 26, 2010, 2:53 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Was Cristian Guzman's original, four-year contract the worst move the Nats have ever made?

With the Texas Rangers in the World Series for the first time, there have been plenty of mentions of Cliff Lee and Vladimir Guerrero and the fact each once played for the Expos but departed before the franchise ever relocated to Washington. We can only imagine how the Nationals' fortunes might have been altered had Lee not been traded (along with Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips) to the Indians for Bartolo Colon in 2002 or had Guerrero not been allowed to walk as a free agent following the 2003 season.

Those decisions, of course, were made before baseball ever returned to D.C. We certainly didn't realize at the time how they would impact the Nats, because the Nats didn't yet exist.

Which got me thinking: In the six seasons now since we have had baseball in the District, what one decision has hurt the franchise the most? What one move do you wish the Nats could take back?

I came up with the following list of candidates…

Trading Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis to the Angels for Jose Guillen (Nov. 2004): Guillen was the best player on the inaugural 2005 team, but he was a divisive clubhouse figure and after a strong first half to the '05 season, he was either terrible or injured through the remainder of his contract. Rivera and Izturis, meanwhile, became regulars for an Angels club that made the playoffs four times in five years.

Signing Cristian Guzman to a four-year, $16 million contract (Nov. 2004): Jim Bowden felt his team desperately needed a veteran shortstop, and Guzman was really the only one available. So the new Nats GM overpaid the former Twin and gave him more years thanRead more »

  1. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    Clearly, retaining Jim Bowden in 2006 rather than letting Kasten search for fresh face (who knows, maybe Rizzo would have been the guy), to lead the franchise.All Bowden's moves from 2006 to 2009 are reasons the club has been slow to achieve respectability.

  2. Feel Wood - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    Clearly the Bowden decision was the worst, because practically all of the other decisions you named came about directly because of him.

  3. Doc - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    You've given us a rogue's gallery here MarkMeister. When your looking at 10 pygmies, which one is the smallest?? Keeping it somewhat current, I think that Rizzo needs to be held accountable for signing Marquis, particularly for $15 mill. If he didn't know about his physical status, he should have.

  4. Slidell - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    The Young and Lo Duca deals were 2 occasions where there wasn't much guesswork involved as to "what might happen" and provoked head-scratching from the get-go. Guzman, no bullpen, and keeping Bowden were close. The others fall into the categories of either "it didn't work out" or "who would've thunk it?".

  5. Steve M. - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    Almost all of Bowden's mistakes are gone and some clearly didn't turn out well and now you hope that ownership (especially Mark Lerner) has learned a lesson.Paul LoDuca being masqueraded as a Pro ballplayer and paid that type of money and showcased was really bad and then showing up on the Mitchell report was a further embarassment.I think the $8 mill extension to Austin Kearns with the $1 million buyout which wasn't on your list was money that could have been spent much better.Those are all really bad decisions but my "Decision I Want Back": is the decision to allow Adam Dunn to go into Free Agency is just mind boggling when this team was an offensive joke in 2008 before he arrived. Trust me, it is no coincidence that Ryan Zimmerman put up 2 great offensive seasons with Adam Dunn tucked in the lineup behind him.Unless Rizzo has some master plan in replacing Adam Dunn's 100 RBIs, 40 HRs, .360 OBP, and 3.6 WAR then I want to hear about it.

  6. Evan S - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    Retaining Jim Bowden obviously. With several of the trades made, obviously they were disasters for the Nationals, but not many of the players sent away were exactly shining stars for their teams. Besides, most trades in the MLB are one-sided anyways. I still wouldn't call Detwiler a bust, the kid still has tons of potential, but he MUST make the team next year OUT of Spring Training, otherwise not drafting Madison Bumgarner is going to look real stupid.

  7. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    A very depressing read. Perhaps soon you can post a list of the good moves that the Nats have made? I need a morale booster after watching the great talent that the Playoff teams have compared to my Nats.

  8. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    "Unless Rizzo has some master plan in replacing Adam Dunn's 100 RBIs, 40 HRs, .360 OBP, and 3.6 WAR then I want to hear about it."Do you also want to hear about Rizzo's plan for replacing Dunn's 199 Ks?

  9. Sec4LookingforaSofa - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    Yeah, that's a pretty ugly group that I'm not going to try to prioritize or top, but my own personal view is that trading productive vets in mid season for prospects that have so far flopped should be listed somewhere. For example, Nic Johnson during his most productive season and Ronnie Belliard, who brought a lot to the team, IMHO, much more than Adam I-don't-feel-like-hustling Kennedy, though maybe these should be listed under "retaining Jim Bowden."

  10. CoverageisLacking - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    Retaining Bowden as GM is the clear #1.Mark, regarding this quote on Detwiler though: "So they took what they believed to be the best pitcher in the class besides No. 1 pick David Price."That is not what was reported by some at the time. I'm not certain what you reported then, but Svrluga, at least, reported that the Nats at least believed Porcello was better than Detwiler, but that Detwiler would reach the majors faster (shows how that kind of thinking can backfire in the MLB draft) and would be easier to sign (ugh). Even with his struggles this season, I would take Porcello over Detwiler today in a second.On Heyward, Goessling interviewed Rizzo this summer, and Rizzo said that the decision not to scout Heyward was made "above him"–Rizzo was VP of Player Personnel at the time–because the Nats weren't going to pick him and Rizzo shouldn't "waste his time" scouting him.Bumgarner seems more like a hindsight thing, and there are too many of those in the baseball draft to kick yourself over. (Gee, do you think the Royals would rather have drafted Zimmerman over Gordon?) But anyway, Bumgarner is a good example of a real pitching prospect, and how the Nats by contrast still don't have many of them. His minor league stats showed incredible domination. Meanwhile, Detwiler has never dominated anywhere. And yet the Nats continue to promote these guys and pretend that they are something special.

  11. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    BowdenBowdenBowden Let me punctuate that statement – Bowden. Bowden. Bowden.

  12. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    i'm now depressed. thanks.The one that will be the worst is how Dunn was handled this year. Trade for a solid starting pitcher? nope. Possibility of signing him? slim. At best we may only get a weak compensatory pick when he walks. One of the best players signed in the last 6 years and they will get nothing when it's all done except memories. (oh sure, they COULD sign him, how much you wanna place on that?)

  13. CoverageisLacking - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    "Young wound up playing in only 50 games in 2008 and didn't play at all in 2009. Thus, he earned $200,000 for every game played under that contract extension."That surely bought him a lot of Mint and Gem Mint HOF rookie cards (not to mention weed).

  14. Mark Zuckerman - Oct 26, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    CoverageisLacking: You are correct about Porcello. The Nats did consider him better than Detwiler, maybe even better than Price. But since he was represented by Scott Boras and had exorbitant demands, they (along with about 20 other clubs) weren't going to draft him. I should have said the Nats considered Detwiler the best pitcher who they knew would sign and could reach the majors quickly.My real point was that they really wanted one of those three position players (Moustakas, Vitters, Wieters) and hoped one would fall to them at No. 6. When that didn't happen, they were left with Detwiler.

  15. Todd Boss - Oct 26, 2010 at 4:05 PM

    Pretty clear to me; the decision to keep Bowden lead to half the other decisions on this list. You can lay the Smiley Gonzalez signing, the Kearns/FLOP trade, Dmitry signing, the LoDuca signing, the Guzman extension and the 2009 bullpen debacle squarely on Bowden's head.You can't fault the Detwiler second guess draft pick; you can go back and see clearly that he was drafted in the exact position most scouting pundits had him ranked. I thought the same thing (especially as Heyward was tearing up the league in April). Here's some more "decisions" that had lingering effects on this franchise:- Trading for Dukes. Another in a long line of Bowden transactions designed to bring in 5-tool guys with 5-cent heads. Incredibly divisive in the clubhouse, couldn't stay out of the limelight, eventually released and not one other team even offered him a minor league deal.- Toolsy player draft strategy. Look at our 2007 and 2008 drafts. the Crow debacle, Hood's mediocre numbers, Smoker's non-performance, McGeary's wasted draft dollars. Burgess may never produce. I think our franchise has been held back by the sheer incompetence of those two drafts, which should be producing near major leaguers by now.- NOT trading Soriano at the deadline. Yes we got Zimmermann and Smoker with the pick. But so far is that worth the trade value he had? Zimmermann has yet to really produce and his value lies in his potential. Smoker is a disaster.

  16. Sam - Oct 26, 2010 at 4:08 PM

    I actually think the original Guzman contract was very well worth it. Looking back on it, the Nats didn't get the value they expected. But, at that point, I would be glad to do that deal over again. $4 million for Guzman at age 27? You're asking for average to above average production from him. Definitely a good deal. Credit Bowden for that one. He didn't foresee Guzman's -1 WAR (an anomaly) and then missing a year. But he came back strong after that.The two-year extension after that was ill-advised and definitely one of the reasons Bowden was fired.I never criticize anyone for any draft decision ever. The draft is a crapshoot. At the time, the Nats probably thought Detwiler was better than Bumgarner. I'm sure the Royals and Mariners thought Alex Gordon and Jeff Clement, respectively, would be better than Ryan Zimmerman. In fact, Zimm's bat was never really touted. He was drafted solely for defense, and look, he's now the best third baseman in the National League.

  17. N. Cognito - Oct 26, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    1. Jose Guillen trade – baseball-wise: bad; marketing-wise: okay. It's not a trade I would have made, but if Bowden was doing it to at least get something exciting on the field that first year here, then maybe not so bad.2. Guzman signing – Simply bad. The guy already had no range and no patience at the plate. Not the way to build a winner.3. Giving up on Marlon Byrd – Nothing wrong with that decision at the time.4. Retaining Jim Bowden – VERY BAD. For every good deal he makes, there's 2 or 3 bad ones. The guy just lives to wheel and deal. He'll take an average team, make a bunch of moves to make it decent, then because he can't stop tinkering with it, will have it back to mediocre before another season is up.5. Smiley – the risk of delving into the foreign market.6. Huge Nats/Reds deal – a great deal that simply imploded upon the Nats? The potential of Kearns, Lopez and Wagner were much greater than what we sent the Reds. Pitchers blow out their arms, but perhaps the Nats should have had a better idea of what to expect from Felipe "I'm a lazy a$$ POS" Lopez and Austin "I'm never gonna change my approach at the plate" Kearns. A better major league scouting department and not having a GM totally infatuated with players he drafted, would have avoided this blunder."Dad. You're rambling."7. Manny Acta – a managerial signing that just didn't work.8. Detwiler – It's a draft. It's full of uncertainty. I don't remember anyone saying after the draft, "Oh, we could have had Bumgarner or Heyward or FILL IN THE BLANK."9. Dmitri Young – Some people saw this coming but I recall a lot of Nats fans saying this was a great signing, saying he had regained his form, yada, yada. That sentiment quickly changed in Spring Training.10. LoDuca – Bad timing. Take a look at the stats of free agent catchers. There are one or two good ones, the rest are crap, and there's about 10 openings each year for backup catchers.11. 2009 Bullpen – major cluster…. Well, you know.12. Jason Marquis signing – What were we thinking? Wasn't Ben Sheets available?Rambling Done.

  18. Sec3MySofa - Oct 26, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    Sec4LookingforaSofa now that's funny…

  19. Sec3MS - Oct 26, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    "which one I'd like back" is not the same as "should have seen that coming." Just sayin.But I'm with FeelWood–most of these probably don't happen without Bowden here. We'd have a whole different list of somebody else's [mess]-ups, probably, but I'm going with hiring Bowden long-term.

  20. Sec3StretchingOutWithCushions - Oct 26, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    Now, if you add "Picking the Lerners to buy the team", I might change my mind.

  21. Jonathan - Oct 26, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    Clearly the answer is retaining Jim Bowden. He's responsible for ten(!) of those decisions. Each one looks so short-sighted and pathetic in retrospect. I'll never forgive the Lerners for keeping him on as long as he did. He set us all back as fans at LEAST four seasons. We'll never get those years back. I'm fully behind the Rizzo regime, but man, it took way too long for the Lerners to put a professional in charge. They better make it up to us with a legitimate payroll next year. When a team like Philly, with a far worse local economy, has twice your payroll, you know your owners are cheap. Step it up, Lerners!!! Make us forget the Bowden era!!!

  22. N. Cognito - Oct 26, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    Anonymous said… "Steve M. said: Unless Rizzo has some master plan in replacing Adam Dunn's 100 RBIs, 40 HRs, .360 OBP, and 3.6 WAR then I want to hear about it.""Do you also want to hear about Rizzo's plan for replacing Dunn's 199 Ks?"Dunn whiffs so much because he doesn't shorten his swing and/or try to go to left when he has 2 strikes and is behind or even in the count (0-2, 1-2 and 2-2). In those situations he is 31 for 231 (.134) with 8 homeruns and 153 Ks.Eight homeruns does not counter that level of ineptitude at the plate.

  23. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    "Eight homeruns does not counter that level of ineptitude at the plate."But you ducked the question. How you gonna replace that?

  24. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 5:06 PM

    One poster mentioned it, but I'll repeat it as well. Not trading Soriano and getting draft picks instead of decent mlb ready prospects was an idotic decision that still bothers me to this day.I like Jordan Zimmerman, but let's face it, during all the time it took to draft, develop, and rehab him, we could have used the trade to plug more holes over those years.

  25. N. Cognito - Oct 26, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    Anonymous said… "Eight homeruns does not counter that level of ineptitude at the plate."But you ducked the question. How you gonna replace that?Maybe you don't replace it next season. Maybe it gets replaced the season after that.We fans tend to think short term (next year). Team management thinks long term. There just might be a gap between Dunn in 2010 and several someone elses they have penciled in for 2012 (Burgess, Marrero, Adrian Gonzalez???).I'd take a year of Mike Morse at first if it meant we were able to get Gonzalez for 5 years beginning in 2012.

  26. N. Cognito - Oct 26, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    Anonymous said… "One poster mentioned it, but I'll repeat it as well. Not trading Soriano and getting draft picks instead of decent mlb ready prospects was an idotic decision that still bothers me to this day."What were the Nats offered?

  27. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    But…but…the number of season ticket holders who will cancel because they won't be able to see Dunn strike out those 199 times will positively CRIPPLE this franchise! Don't you understand that?

  28. Steveospeak - Oct 26, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    I'd add the drafting and failure to sign Aaron Crow. Yes I know we got Storen, but with guy like Smoak, Wallace, Hicks, Ike Davis among others available the Nats would be in a better place now. Also that doesn't include all the public and press backlash from the decision.

  29. nationals anthems - Oct 26, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    "How you gonna replace all those strikeouts?" I suppose we could ask certain players to swing and miss more. Zim and Willingham could swing over the first pitch on every at bat and over the course of the season they could make up the strikeout deficit left by Dunn's absence.

  30. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 6:13 PM

    The fanbase won't support making up for Dunn's strikeouts with existing players. That's cheaping out. They need to spend big bucks on a new guy to strike out.

  31. natsfan1a - Oct 26, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    What is retaining Jim Bowden? (See now, I win, because the rest of y'all didn't phrase it as a question.)

  32. natsfan1a - Oct 26, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    sec4lookingyadayadayada, it's been done. Maybe try a La-Z-Boy? 😉

  33. JayB - Oct 26, 2010 at 6:37 PM

    Bowden is the worst by far because he personally is responsible for most everything else on the list…..And why did they keep him…..Lerner cheapness and Lerner stupidity…..not much has changed.

  34. Gusto - Oct 26, 2010 at 6:38 PM

    The chorus agrees with the "Fire Jim Bowden" site. In addition to the bad baseball decisions there is the lack of class with which he represented the Nationals. I was still trying not to kick him when he was down until he booted Chad Cordero off the team in a radio interview.

  35. JayB - Oct 26, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    Any you people wonder why I see the negative side of Nats moves….simple because that is the dominate trend….just read Mark's list…..It did not need to be like this.

  36. JayB - Oct 26, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    This is not a story of how MLB ruined the farm system, it a story of how MLB picked the wrong ownership group based on good old boy criteria, not sound management principles.

  37. Michael J. Hayde - Oct 26, 2010 at 6:54 PM

    Boz said at the start: "Sign Dunn now." That opinion takes precedence over the rest of you sarcastic numbnutz.This team's gonna suffer a big time bite at the box office if/when Dunn walks away. I don't care if Rizzo digs up Ruth, Mantle, Williams or DiMaggio, or creates some kind of Aaron-Musial-Mays clone. The fan base that, you know, actually GOES TO GAMES loves Adam Dunn.

  38. JayB - Oct 26, 2010 at 7:00 PM

    Winning is more important that Dunn….if they win they will come. I loved Dunn, said this many times, I would sign him for 5 years. Sat with him at a lunch…he is just a great person, very real…..but it is clear Rizzo does not want him and does not think he will lead the team to more wins….so it is the GM's call….now show me the wins Mike.

  39. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    Wow – first off, how great is it to come to this site with real (and good) content and a great discussion to go with it. Does Zuckerman still need donations to make this work?Second, I'm all on board with the "it's all about Bowden" votes. The majority of this started with him and Rizzo had to spend two years unwinding it.Last – seems like it's worth some discussion on the payroll front that the Rangers are in the series with a $55M payroll (26th in MLB) and the Giants at $98M (9th in MLB). Rangers are definitely at the front of a "build it internally and add some key parts" program – should build from there and clearly it'll be a lot higher if they want to keep Lee. I was kind of shocked to see the Giants number – outside of their pitching, I had to look to see who else they were paying big $$ to – but they're still anchored by a number of homegrown guys.

  40. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    "The fan base that, you know, actually GOES TO GAMES loves Adam Dunn."Yes, but do you really want the kind of fanbase that rewards a 4K game with a standing O?

  41. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 26, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    JayB… Your rants on the Lerners has grown old and stale. All of us realize that the Lerners are EXTREMELY successful real estate people and they adhere to a solid business principal that allows them to develope a property purchased at one price, extract profits from the operation of those properties while allowing them to increase in value and either continue to operate them or sell them at a favorable profit when they feel that the market will fall.The Lerners are not selling this team. They are Metropolitan Washington area lifers and look at ownership of the Nats as a public responsability.They are actually learning on the job and since jettisoning Bowden and Acta, are finally heading in the right direction.Just hold your tongue till October of 2012 and if everything remains status quo, we will all praise and bow to your ability to have seen us as the Pittsburgh Pirates or the Kansas City Royals.But if the 2012 season ends with the Nats being anywhere near 85-77 and in the hunt for a playoff spot, you can acknowledge that operating a successful professional baseball team is complicated, competitive, and full of pitfalls, and requires alot of luck with sound baseball practices mixed in.

  42. Pedro G. - Oct 26, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    Bowden is the noxious odor that will permeate Nats Park for the foreseeable future. Every time I see his smug, would-be know-how jive on Twitter, I want to strangle the guy with his leather pants.Mark–How come paying Chen Ming Wang $2 million to play the Invisible Man this year isn't even mentioned? It ain't a boatload of money but I'm sure Rizzo could have used it creatively.

  43. bdrube - Oct 26, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    The Bowen retention HAS to be number 1 since he made most of those other boneheaded moves.Retaining Dmitri in 2007 and Guzman in 2008 at the trading deadline were to me the worst of the player moves along with also not trading Chad Cordero in 2007. What was the point of stripping the team down before the '07 season if they weren't going to trade their veterans while they were at the peak of their value? That was an inexplicably inconsistent strategy.

  44. BinM - Oct 26, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    The biggest "do-over" for me would be the hiring of Bowden. Too many of the problems the franchise is still fighting to recover from occured under his watch.

  45. CoverageisLacking - Oct 26, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    "All of us realize that the Lerners are EXTREMELY successful real estate people…"Most owners are, by definition, extremely successful business people. That's what enables them to purchase the team. That doesn't make them good owners.Of course, then you have the instances of inherited wealth. Which is what the Nats will have before too long. And I don't know too many people who will point to Mark's great personal successes and keen intellect in the context of the family business. (Ever wonder why he so easily switched to spending as much time as he does on the Nats?)And then you have a guy like Tom Hicks…whose team is in the World Series."Just hold your tongue till October of 2012…"Is that the new target date, then? Back in 2008, we heard a lot about 2010/2011. But, of course the problem is not the Lerners. It's JayB. It all makes sense now.

  46. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    "Most owners are, by definition, extremely successful business people. That's what enables them to purchase the team. That doesn't make them good owners."No, what makes them good owners is that they keep their meddling hands out of the baseball operations and let the professionals handle it. Which the Lerners have done from day one. Not only that, when they realized they had made a mistake with the first GM they hired, they corrected it by getting someone else, who they are now not meddling with. If the price of that non-meddlesome ownership is having Mark Lerner suit up and innocuously shag flies during BP while his baseball people are running the club, then that's a price well worth paying.

  47. CoverageisLacking - Oct 26, 2010 at 8:13 PM

    "what makes them good owners is that they keep their meddling hands out of the baseball operations and let the professionals handle it. Which the Lerners have done from day one."This is a different topic than the one I was addressing, but…really? What is the basis for your assertion that they have not meddled in baseball operations since day one?Interestingly, if this assertion were true, it would also be inconsistent with the suggestion that Ted Lerner's success in the real estate world will somehow translate to baseball.

  48. Sunderland - Oct 26, 2010 at 8:13 PM

    Hey, Anon 3:01, let's not be suckered into believeing the Rangers are in the World Series with a $55M payroll.They opening day payroll is reported at $55M. They added, among others, Jorge Cantú, Cliff Lee and Bengie Molina mid-season. Those three guys alone raked in about $20M in 2010.On their playff roster, their top 9 guys in terms of salary cost $55M a year. The other 31 guys on the MLB roster are not playing for free.They've obviously done some things well, but repeating the $55M number isn't legit.

  49. Sunderland - Oct 26, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    Anon 4:05 said:"No, what makes them good owners is that they keep their meddling hands out of the baseball operations and let the professionals handle it. Which the Lerners have done from day one."Wow, this is bizarre. The Lerners have not in ANY way shown themselves to be good owners.And the Lerners have NOT let the baseball people run things. Why do you think Stan K quit? This is just making stuff up to sound loyal.

  50. natsfan1a - Oct 26, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    And now for something completely different. In watching game 6 of the NLCS, it occurred to me that the (awesome, imo) third strike call of the home plate umpire, where he almost completely turns around at the finish, seemed familiar. Specifically, it reminded me of that of the guy behind the dish for Strasburg's debut this summer. I'd been meaning to look into it when I had a moment, and I just deduced that it is indeed the same fellow, Tom Hallion (thanks, Google). That is one heck of a strikeout motion, imho.We now return you to your regularly scheduled airing of Point-Counterpoint.

  51. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    Not only that, but Ryan Howard's looking at a called third strike with the game on the line reminded me of someone else I'd seen before too. Oh yeah….Adam Dunn.

  52. Tcostant - Oct 26, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    N. Cognito said… Anonymous said… "One poster mentioned it, but I'll repeat it as well. Not trading Soriano and getting draft picks instead of decent mlb ready prospects was an idotic decision that still bothers me to this day."What were the Nats offered? Me: The Nats turned down Kevin Slowey (they wanted Garza). Slowey was and is still is a solid #3 SP type for the Twins. The Nats should have taken that.

  53. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 26, 2010 at 9:01 PM

    Who hired Davey Johnson last January? I do believe that was Rizzo and Rizzo only. Not the Lerners, and not Kasten.Who drafted 2 different high schoolers well below their talent level then convinced them to sign at way above slot money? I believe that was Rizzo with the blessings of the Lerners.This past draft is the first completely laid upon Rizzo and the scouting staff he assembled last year. Last years (the Strasburg draft) was a mix of the current scouting staff and left over information from the old staff.It's easy to take pot shots at the owners as any move they make can be seen as meddling or cheap, which ever way you feel but the truth is this organization is now in the hands of true baseball people with a substantial budget and committed to a plan.Rizzo sees Riggleman as a good fit for the type of team he wants to assemble over the near future, but will not tolerate another sub 80 win season. I have not been a fan of the ownership group and their ambivalance to this small but devoted fan base, but I do not think it's because of cheapness and expect to see improvement in their approach to us this coming season. However, I have seen first hand, the baseball operation at it's base level and can tell you, the current situation is leaps and bounds better than it was 2 years ago.

  54. Roberto - Oct 26, 2010 at 9:02 PM

    Retaining Bowden was by far the biggest mistake. Not were his personnel decisions disastrous, I read somewhere that he persuaded the owners that the "dumpster diving" approach could yield good results. Re: Detweiler. I'm pretty much convinced that he's a bust. But the Nationals weren't alone in their regard for him. Baseball America shared the Nats' opinion and recall that they named the Nats the biggest "winner" of the 2007 draft and because of Jordan Zimmerman and Derek Norris.

  55. Roberto - Oct 26, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    I hate typing: I meant "not only were his personnel decisions . . ." and " . . . not because of . . ."

  56. JayB - Oct 26, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    NJack…I agree with you about Rizzo but if Lerner's were done with their meddling ways then Dunn would have been traded back at the July Deadline….it is well sourced that Rizzo did not want to resign him and had a trade he liked and Lerner vetoed it….check Boz Chats for supporting quotes…..I too have been to camp last spring twice and very quickly this fall…..yes big changes from two years ago….but that does not give Lerners a pass for all the mistakes they have made….Show me the wins….I have been a season ticket holder for six years and the list of self inflected Lerner errors is very, very, very long.

  57. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 9:44 PM

    Great article!!! Now we know why the Nats are where they are!!

  58. Anonymous - Oct 26, 2010 at 10:03 PM

    Another vote for Bowden (BOWDEN!!!!!). So many of these mistakes can be laid at his doorstep. Heyward I don't blame so much, oddly enough, because the draft is such a crap shoot and any team can play the hindsight game with regret.John C.

  59. Sec3MySofa - Oct 26, 2010 at 10:31 PM

    Well, to paraphrase a former baseball owner, "Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me six years in a row, that's just a six-shooter of shame."Talk about shooting yourself in the foot…

  60. Sec3OnTheWaterfront - Oct 26, 2010 at 10:44 PM

    Again, there's apples and oranges in the handbasket here. The question was, what would you like a mulligan on, *not* what should they have known to do/not do. It makes a difference. Some of the things on Mark's list were arguably not so much mistakes as things that just didn't work out (yet). Crow, for instance, would still be on this list if they HAD signed him, and I think the whole torches and pitchforks argument is vastly over-rated–it doesn't matter if they piss off season ticket holders, IF THEY WIN. It really doesn't. But I'm sticking with my Bowden answer, because having a competent GM from the start is the single thing that would have had the biggest impact on getting good talent and developing it. By now, they coulda been somebody. They coulda been a contenda. Instead of bums. Which is what they are, let's face it, Charlie.

  61. Jeeves - Oct 27, 2010 at 1:21 AM

    Not trading Dunn for Dan Hudson is still very high on my list. The Nats need solid pitchers.

  62. raymitten - Oct 27, 2010 at 2:04 AM

    The Dmitri Young contract was the most forseeable mistake this franchise has made. It boggles my mind they would give Young $5 mil a year at that point in career but won't give Dunn %15 mil a year now. I know its a different regime but still…The Bowden retaining was probably the worst because as others point out all roads lead to this mistake. Trading for Soriano who had no intention of staying here was a mistake. Trading Schneider and Church for Millege was a mistake. Benching Church for Wily Mo Pena in '07 was a mistake. Brandon Watson — remember him? — was a mistake. There's a hundred of them but they all lead back to Jim Bowden.

  63. Anonymous - Oct 27, 2010 at 2:32 AM

    Far, far, far and away, without a doubt, the worst decision on this list and the the one that set the Nats back the most time was retaining Jim Bowden. It's not even close.MAYBE if you combined the Guzman, Gonzalez, Young, LoDuca, and Marquis signings into one colossal "wasted money" mistake, then it would be close, because I think signings like those might make the Lerners hesitant to sign free agents.Bowden was a fat, cocky disaster.

  64. sjm105 - Oct 27, 2010 at 4:31 AM

    Not sure which I enjoyed more, the article by Mark or the comments. I also vote for Keeping Bowden as the worst move and for the same reasons as most, almost all of the other moves were a result of that. I also think the original Guzman signing was one of the few good things he did, even though it didn't work out. At the time he was an AL All-Star, 27 years old and had a great upside. Second on this list is resigning D. Young. Great story but what a waste of money and time. I read so many solid comments on here and want to change my profile to some sort of couch reference but just can't come up with anything witty. It looks like we are moving from 105 to 205 next year so I will be changing my profile.Also add me to the list of readers that tire of the constant harping about the Lerners. We are not getting new owners and your complaining on any site will not get them to change. I am willing to give Rizzo at least two more years and will be interested to see what the owners do under his leadership.

  65. Joe Seamhead - Oct 27, 2010 at 8:08 AM

    I wish we had kept Jamie Carroll.

  66. JaneB - Oct 27, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    Well, I came away from this LIKING the Lerners better. I'm glad they heard the fans on the Dunn issue last July. If his Ks are the price for protecting Zimm and for the production he generates, then I'm fine to see the Ks. It will be the worst decision in Nats history not to sign him if we can't somehow pull it off in the next few weeks. And I'm still holding out hope.Joe Seamhead, I miss Carroll too…

  67. Jim in MD - Oct 27, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    By far, both the hiring and the extension of Bowden were #1. Bowden's hiring led to several other disasters from which the team is still trying to recover. Wouldn't Juan Rivera have looked good in the Nats outfield these past 6 years? It took seven years, but the Reds have finally recovered from the Bowden era. I hope it doesn't take the Nats that long to recover.

  68. FOTB - Oct 27, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    natsfan1a … I had the exact same thought about the home plate umpire in game 6 of the NLCS. Thanks for confirming that he was in fact behind the plate calling The Kid's K's in his debut. And, I agree, it's a great third strike motion.

  69. Anonymous - Oct 27, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    Bowden. But let's not forget trading for Nyjer Morgan. Glad to be rid of Lastings Milledge, love Sean Burnett, but Nyjer was a mistake.

  70. Raff - Oct 27, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    Having Teddy be the stooge in the Presidents' race. Everybody knows that real-life Teddy would wipe the floor with those other guys. Lincoln and Washington were both fit, but they were no Teddy.Jefferson is the fraud. That guy might've been a five-tool president (which is why Bowden liked him), but as a sprinter? No way.

  71. Section 3 - Oct 28, 2010 at 5:33 PM

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