In a recent Q&A Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell expresses his feelings on the organization of the front office management of the Nationals since day one:
"There are a dozen different kinds of relationships between owners and their brain trusts. I'm sure Kasten was amazed that his views were only given a fraction of the weight that Ted Turner gave to them. Mostly, Stan takes flack for everything that goes wrong, says 100% of the public words for the team, pulls many strings behind the scenes and protects the Lerners (while they learn a new industry) because that's who he is: the loyal sarcastic bulldog on the front lawn.
But, to be brief, I've never seen a greater waste of a major talent than the way the Nats have used Kasten.
And if you like Rizzo a lot, which I do, ask yourself this: Who was the Lerner's first hire on THE DAY they took over the team? It was Rizzo. And who do you think decided that? Kasten, of course. On Day 1 who in ownership would ever have heard of somebody in the D'back operation?"
There isn't very much positive press written about Stan Kasten, and it's not hard to see why. From day one the club has seemed mismanaged. Putting power into the hands of a guy like Jim Bowden, drafting players that didn't really have the upside potential that we were led to believe, and bringing in overpriced/washed out free agents that didn't help the on the field product did not exactly inspire confidence in the Nationals fan base.
Perhaps Boswell has a point, however. From a writer who has been around not just from the beginning of the Nats era, but for decades, Boswell has an inside perspective that few of us can claim. He puts together a convincing argument that perhaps the incompetence that we all witnessed from 2005-2009 was not the fault of Kasten but instead the fault of the Lerner's for not letting Kasten BE Kasten.
Since the bonus skimming scandal forced former general manger Jim Bowden to resign at the start of the 2009 season, the Kasten/Rizzo led team has completely turned this franchise around. Perhaps it was then that the Lerner's took the leash off Kasten and gave him the freedom that he had under Ted Turner.
Since the Kasten/Rizzo takeover the club has:
- Signed Ryan Zimmerman to an extension
- Signed Stephen Strasburg
- Signed Drew Storen
- Signed Yunesky Maya
- Signed and traded Matt Capps for a top catching prospect
- Made a trade to get rid of stalling Lastings Milledge for an everyday outfielder in Nyjer Morgan and strong bullpen arm in Sean Burnett.
- Successfully transitioned Adam Dunn from a minus outfielder to a neutral first baseman
- Signed Bryce Harper