Jim Bowden wasn’t surprised to learn that the Nationals’ negotiations with managerial candidate Bud Black apparently fell apart after the Lerner family’s initial contract offer left the former San Diego Padres manager “deeply offended.”
On Tuesday’s episode of “Inside Pitch” with Jim Joyce on SiriusXM MLB Network Radio, Bowden said the Lerner family did a similar thing when Bowden was the general manager of the Nationals and searching for a replacement for Frank Robinson after the 2006 season.
“None of us should be surprised at this,” said Bowden, who resigned as Nationals GM in 2009 amid an FBI investigation of illegal scouting practices in Latin America. “The Lerner families have a history of this. When I was the GM there, Joe Girardi was the selection of the baseball people there, a recommendation by me. The ownership was not willing to pay Joe Girardi what was fair, so Manny Acta was the manager, and that was the guy who ended up running the team. Joe Girardi went on to the Yankees and ended up having a world championship and a great career ever since. I think that history will repeat itself here. I think Bud Black is going to land in a great place, possibly with the Los Angeles Dodgers. If not, in another really good place, and I think we’ll eventually see him back in the postseason again, as we see Joe Girardi.”
[Editor’s Note: Black’s next postseason appearance will be his first.]
In October 2006, Girardi, who had been fired by the Marlins after one season in Miami, emerged as the front-runner to replace Robinson as the Nationals’ manager. Toward the end of Washington’s search, Girardi took his name out of consideration for the job, citing his desire to keep his young family together.
“I was very impressed, very impressed with Jim and Stan, the organization, the new stadium, the Lerners,” Girardi told The Post’s Barry Svrluga in a telephone interview at the time. “I think it’s a great ownership group, and the situation is going to be very good. I think it’s a wonderful job. But I think I came to the conclusion at this time that it’s not the right move for my family.”
Three weeks later, the Nationals introduced Acta as manager. “Time to Acta-vate, baby,” Bowden said as he turned the microphone over to Acta at his introductory press conference. After one season in the broadcast booth, Girardi signed a three-year contract with the New York Yankees in October 2007. Girardi remains the Yankees’ manager, while Dusty Baker will be the Nationals’ fourth manager since Acta was fired in the middle of the 2009 season.
“So, I think the baseball people of the Nationals picked two good guys in Black and Baker, Mike Rizzo I think had it lined up right, but they weren’t willing to pay,” Bowden continued on Tuesday. “And again, we shouldn’t be surprised. Ted Lerner, as owner, walked away from Aaron Crow, a first-round pick, over some dollars. He walked away from Girardi over some dollars. This is a pattern. They made hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate because they know how to negotiate, and by the way, they’re not afraid to walk away and have someone else have the job. If you don’t want to make this, there’s only 30 jobs. You don’t want this? Fine, I’ll get somebody else, because I’m going to pay you ‘X’ and that’s what I think the job is worth.
“Now, it’s hard for me to fathom, when you pay Max Scherzer $210 million and you don’t have enough to pay the manager. They didn’t pay Matt Williams, okay? They didn’t pay Davey Johnson, Jim Riggleman. They don’t want to pay the manager for whatever reason. I don’t quite understand it, but it is what it is. Now, it was interesting to see that Ted Lerner was actually quoted on this one. This is not normal here. He came out and, if you read the release from the club, he said Baker was the ‘best fit.’ And then you read Mike Rizzo’s quote, which is, we all look forward to working with Dusty Baker. Right? The GM didn’t come out and say the ‘best fit.’ Bud Black was a great fit because of the pitching. Bud Black is great with pitchers. He did an unbelievable job in San Diego. Look what happened to the Padres after he left, and there’s a better team there now than when Bud managed it. Bud won the one-run games. Bud knew how to run a bullpen, and a rotation and how to develop pitching, which is what the Nationals need. That’s what Bud does! This was a no-brainer decision. Pay him, get on with it!”