Sunday, May 7, 2006

Sorry, Jim Bowden. We don't mean to speculate about your potential successors as general manager of the Washington Nationals while you're still on the job. And it may very well be the case that you are in such good graces with the Lerners that you will be retained once the actual ownership takeover occurs next month.

Besides, outside searches in midseason are notoriously difficult to pull off because other teams are loathe to grant permission to their employees to interview. But as a former member of the media yourself, you know that part of our job is to speculate about such things.

Here, then, is our informed opinion of the top five candidates for the Nationals' GM job, if a change is made:

1DAYTON MOOREDirector of Player Personnel, Atlanta Braves

Either Moore or Frank Wren is expected to succeed Braves GM John Schuerholz after 2007, but the Braves allowed Moore to interview for the Boston job this winter (he later withdrew from consideration). He almost certainly will be a GM soon -- the only question is where.

2FRANK WRENVP/Assistant GM, Atlanta Braves

Worked under new Nats president Stan Kasten in Atlanta, and has experience with the Expos, Marlins (assistant GM for the 1997 World Series champs) and Orioles (GM in 1999).

3MARK NEWMANSenior VP for Baseball Operations, New York Yankees

A perennial GM candidate, Newman has been in the Yankees organization for 15 years and now heads up the team's Tampa operation, which often seems to be at odds with the New York office headed by Brian Cashman.

4CHRIS ANTONETTIAssistant GM, Cleveland Indians

One of the hottest young (30 years old) GM prospects in the game, he turned down a chance to interview for the Red Sox' GM job this winter. Began his career with the Montreal Expos as assistant scouting director in 1998.

5PAUL DEPODESTAFormer GM, Los Angeles Dodgers

His two years as GM of the Dodgers, which ended with his firing last November, were a disaster. But the Billy Beane protege (and Alexandria native) has the advantage of being highly available.

ALSO OUT THERE: Al Avila, VP/assistant GM, Detroit Tigers; Tony LaCava, dir. of player personnel, Toronto Blue Jays; Mike Hill, assistant GM, Florida Marlins; Dave Wilder, dir. of player development, Chicago White Sox; Dan Evans, special assistant to GM, Seattle Mariners.

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