- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Jim Bowden says he has no illusions about the situation he is walking into as the new general manager for the Washington baseball franchise. He knows it is a job with no future beyond perhaps a few months. He also knows he’s inheriting a team that was near the bottom of every category in the National League last year.

But the former Cincinnati Reds GM is looking at it as a challenge, and a chance to help create a successful baseball legacy in Washington.

“It is a tremendous challenge and a very exciting opportunity,” said Bowden, who has been working in television with the morning show “Cold Pizza” on ESPN2 after being fired in Cincinnati more than a year ago. “I think it is very important that before the new owners are in place, the organization goes forward and puts together the beginning building blocks that are needed to start to build a championship-caliber team. This is coming off a season in which the Expos had the second-worst record in the National League.”

Club president Tony Tavares said Washington fans should be encouraged by Bowden’s performance as a GM.

“I’m thrilled to add someone of Jim’s stature to our organization,” Tavares said. “Jim has a winning track record, both with young and veteran players alike. He’s a builder and a perfect match for this club. This is a positive step that our new fans in Washington can be excited about.”

Bowden was picked by Major League Baseball — the owners of the relocated Expos club — to put together the roster for the team that will take the field for the 2005 season at RFK Stadium. Commissioner Bud Selig said he hopes to have the team sold to new owners by the end of the year, but a more likely timetable is by spring training. Until then, personnel decisions have to be made, and Bowden, who spent 101/2 years as the Reds’ GM, said he is looking forward to that challenge.

He said Frank Robinson will be retained as manager. He has held that job since the 29 major league owners bought the team from Jeffrey Loria three years ago.

“Frank Robinson is the manager,” Bowden said. “That position is in place, and he is going to manage the team. I have respect for Frank and have known him for many years. He has a lot of knowledge.”

Bowden, 43, also said the baseball operations will be based out of the club’s spring training facility in Viera, Fla., because of the temporary accommodations at RFK and the work required to get the stadium ready for baseball in April.

“That is the most functional place right now to have baseball operations move forward,” Bowden said. “Right now they are using trailers outside of RFK. There are some employees in Montreal. We have other people scattered around, and I think from a functional perspective, until there are actually offices in Washington, it makes the most sense to put us at the complex in Florida, where if we need to bring players in to look at their position, or if we need to work players out, we have a place to do that.”

Bowden was not baseball’s first choice for the Washington job. It offered the position to Bob Watson, vice president of on-field operations for MLB. It is a job with no guarantees once the new owners take over, but Bowden said that doesn’t concern him.

“I didn’t want [job assurances] and didn’t ask for that,” he said. “When a new owner comes in, I think they should be able to have a management team in place that they can be happy with. And I think as a general manager, you want to work for ownership that works for you as well. It’s a mutual thing, not a one-way thing. What is important to me is to try to put this franchise in better condition for when the owners take over.”

Bowden said pitching, shortstop and a leadoff hitter are the areas he will try to strengthen.

“In general terms, you can never have enough starting pitching and you never get enough bullpen help,” he said. “Certainly the shortstop position needs to be looked at. There are not enough middle-of-the-lineup bats to produce enough runs. There’s not a true leadoff hitter to get on base. Those will be the generic goals. I think there is a ways to go in player development and scouting to put them on the path that is needed for the long-term success of the franchise.

“My approach will be as if I am going to be a long-term GM, only because I think that is the only way you are going to make the right decisions for the franchise. I am not going to go forward and trade a top prospect for a player that is going to help us in 2005. That doesn’t make sense. I am going to act as if, what can I do as a steward of the organization to put them in the best position I can, short and long term, when the new owners come in.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide