The Washington Times - August 1, 2008, 11:25AM

On Thursday, Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said goodbye to nearly more than $13 million worth of Lerner family money that he wasted. That adds to the $1.5 million he already lost earlier this year, the $10 million being paid to a player who is, in the beginning of August, being asked to simply get in shape to play, and of course the $5 million to the cleanup hitter who is batting .212 with five home runs and 27 RBI — and who will be paid $8 million next season.

The Lerner family cannot be happy about this. They might preach patience when other people’s money is being wasted — when fans are spending big-market ticket prices at Nationals Park to watch a bad Class AAA team. But I doubt they are very patient when it is their own money being wasted.That doesn’t bode well for Bodes.

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The team released second baseman Felipe Lopez, and their two free agent signees at catcher, Paul Lo Duca and Johnny Estrada. Lopez, who was earning nearly $5 million this season, has been a bust (along with the $13 million cleanup hitter over the next two years and his .212 average, Austin Kearns) ever since he came over in the highly-touted trade with Cincinnati two years ago. And it turned out that neither Lo Duca, who was being paid $5 million, and Estrada, more than $1 million, was worth putting behind the plate at catcher every day. They join Rob Mackowiak, who was cut earlier this year, making $1.5 million, and Dmitri Young, who is being paid $5 million this year and $5 million next year, yet is just now being forced to simply just get in shape to play.

Like I have said before, if Bowden were the District of Columbia, the Lerners would be suing him all over the place. The question for this 38-70 team that is on its way to 100 losses is who’s responsible? Who is accountable for this embarrassment? Like most failures, there are many, but I suspect one person will have to pay the price for the price the Lerners are paying.

Meanwhile, in Texas, the Nationals have become such a farce in baseball that they were used in a practical joke on pitcher Eddie Guardado. Club officials tried to come up with the worst possible team to trade Guardado to in playing a practical joke on him. “Washington Nationals?,” Guardado said incredulously, according to the mlb.com report. “You’ve got to be kidding.” Turns out they were. The Washington Nationals — baseball’s whoopee cushion.

Note: I will be on The Sports Reporters today (Friday) from 4 to 7 p.m. on ESPN 980 AM radio.