The Washington Times - June 2, 2009, 07:54PM

So pitching coach Randy St. Claire is the latest victim of the dead fish that former Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden left behind when he resigned in shame this spring after reports surfaced of him being targeted in a federal probe involving the signing of Dominican players.

You can lay the firing of St. Claire totally at the feet of Bowden, and the mess he has left behind. For years, St. Claire had the reputation of, well, a saint. He could do no wrong, and had a reputation as a good coach who made pitchers better.


Now suddenly he is the problem for the Nationals woes, and so he is fired. Nobody could so anything with this mess of a pitching staff — young pitchers with talent but no experience and no leader on the staff to help them, and a bullpen constructed by Bowden with kerosene and kindling.

It’s not fair, and it is, of course, the wrong move yet again by this organization, now forced into cowardly decisions because of the corner the Lerner family painted itself in by letting Bowden ruin this franchise at the most important time — its infancy in Washington (anyone notice that last year’s draft pick, Aaron Crow, selected ninth but not signed by the Nationals, is projected as this year’s third pick in the draft?).

It is hard to judge coaches. Leo Mazzone was the gold standard in Atlanta, and he bombed in Baltimore. So I don’t know if St. Claire was a particularly good pitching coach or not, though I believe he was. I do know these two things — he had liittle to work with, and he worked very hard and put in a lot of time.

But the disappearing and disillusioned Nationals fan base wanted a scalp for this embarrassing season, and so they got St. Claire. It’s not the one they wanted — that one is manager Manny Acta, who may also fall victim to the landfill left behind by Bowden. That would be another mistake.

These are decisions that should not be made until the organization has at least a year to flush the poison out from the Bowden regime.

It’s a shame St. Claire couldn’t stay around until Wednesday night. He was a member of the 1988 Montreal Expos — the year a rookie named Randy Johnson, now looking for his 300th career victory, came up for the Expos. St. Claire was there at the beginning.


I will be on The Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 AM Washington on Wednesday, June 3, from 4 to 7 p.m.

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