September 23, 2010

It's The Lerners' Team Now.

Sell the StanSpeak translator for scrap; Kasten is headed for the door. Boswell's oddly well-timed column has some background that will provide copious fodder for the recently diminished ranks of the "Teh Lerners are Cheep!!1!" movement. Chris Needham correctly assesses the likely fallout.

This is a gut-punch for a franchise in need of a drama-free offseason. Leaving aside the Adam Dunn contract situation the Nationals' roster looks to be as stable as it has ever been. The manager (for better or worse) and GM are both expected back, providing continuity of on-field leadership. But with Kasten, the face of the front office and head cheerleader for "The Plan", jumping ship any number of things could be thrown into flux. Rizzo was a Kasten hire, and Riggleman was Rizzo's choice. That chain of command is now broken. Who's in charge?

Of greater importance, the buffer between the owners and the public is gone. The Lerner-Kasten partnership was a Bud Selig-arranged shotgun wedding that apparently never really suited either party. Kasten was a good soldier, never publicly admitting to an inch of daylight between him and Ted Lerner on decisions. His track record provided gravitas and cover for four years poor performance and declining attendance. But Boswell suggests that Stan privately chafed at having his advice ignored. The next president will be a purely Lerner hire, and will tell us a lot about what to expect for the future of the franchise.

Have Ted and Mark Lerner internalized Kasten's lessons? Will Kasten's replacement be a baseball man given room to operate semi-autonomously, or a glorified accountant? Will the Lerners front the money to improve the major league team around the Zimmermen(n), Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos even if attendance plods along in the low-20,000s per game, or will they simply be happy to turn a profit on the strength of their publicly-financed stadium?

There's no one left to deflect these questions. "The Plan" has run it's course; the future is now. It's the Lerners' team. Time to watch what they do with it.

UPDATE: Someone break out the Lerner Language Lexicon. It's a "Don't let the door hit you." statement from Uncle Teddy.

Stan Kasten will always be an important part of the history of the Washington Nationals. He was vital to ownership winning its bid from Major League Baseball and his agreement to serve as the team’s chief executive for the last five years has been critical to building the Washington Nationals franchise.

Over his tenure he has positioned the Nationals to become one of the most exciting franchises in baseball and we thank him for all that he has accomplished.

We certainly respect his decision to pursue other interests at the end of the regular season, but will continue to call upon him for his vast knowledge of the game, the league and the franchise. He will remain a friend and valued partner of the team and ownership group.

Theodore N. Lerner
Managing Principal Owner

UPDATE II: In what I can only assume is a brilliant protest move, Jim Riggleman is fielding the worst Washington Nationals lineup I believe I have ever seen for today's 4:35 pm tilt with the Astros.

Espinosa – 2B
Kennedy – 1B
Desmond – SS
Morse – RF
Bernadina – LF
Ramos – C
Maxwell – CF
Gonzalez – 3B
Detwiler – P

Undoubtedly they'll win by 14.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Teh Lerners are Cheep!!1!

Gosh, I shore am dumb. They really aren't cheap, right? Oh yes, they are.