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.


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 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.