Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden Resigns
Courtesy of the Associated Press | 3/1/2009, 10:59 a.m.
VIERA, Fla. (AP) -- Jim Bowden resigned Sun. March 1 day after four seasons as the Washington Nationals general manager, leaving under the cloud of a federal investigation into the skimming of signing bonuses given to Latin American prospects. He has maintained his innocence in the matter, but said Sunday, "I've become a distraction."
No replacement was immediately announced. Bowden is the only GM the Nationals have had since the franchise moved from Montreal to Washington before the 2005 season, overseeing a team that went 81-81 in that debut season but has been below .500 ever since.
Last season, the Nationals were a majors-worst 59-102.
His tenure with the club was marked by such moves as the trade for Alfonso Soriano, the failure to re-sign Soriano, free-agent busts such as Paul Lo Duca and reclamation projects such as Dmitri Young. Bowden also drew unwanted off-field attention, including in 2006, when he was charged with driving under the influence after failing a field sobriety test while in Miami.
"Like anyone else, I have made mistakes in all areas of my personal and professional life, but I leave here with the true belief that I have done nothing intentionally to harm the Washington Nationals or Major League Baseball," Bowden said in a statement released by the team Sunday.
He met last year with FBI investigators looking into allegations of skimming of signing bonuses and it was reported last weekend by SI.com that Bowden's actions are being looked at as far back as 1994, when he was GM of the Cincinnati Reds.
"I am disappointed by the media reports regarding investigations into any of my professional activities," Bowden said in his statement. "There have been no charges made, and there has been no indication that parties have found any wrongdoing on my part."
Bowden's resignation came two days after Jose Rijo, a special assistant to Bowden, was fired by the Nationals.
That was fallout from a Major League Baseball investigation that determined a top baseball prospect from the Dominican Republic who received a $1.4 million signing bonus from the Nationals lied about his age and name.
"We all believe it is imperative that we honor the integrity of the game and that fans be able to concentrate their attention and affections on the game and players on the field," Nationals president Stan Kasten said. "Jim has maintained his innocence, but recognized that he had become a distraction, and with great grace determined to do what was best for the team and his players."
Full Statement released by Jim Bowden
"I am today resigning my position as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Washington Nationals. It is an emotional decision
that saddens me, but one that I feel is in the best interests of two of the things I love most - baseball and the Washington Nationals.
My resignation is based upon my realization that my ability to properly represent the Washington Nationals has been compromised because
of false allegations contained in the press. I am disappointed by the media reports regarding investigations into any of my professional
activities. There have been no charges made, and there has been no indication that parties have found any wrongdoing on my part.
At the same time, while I have done nothing wrong, I place a greater value on the love, respect, and best interests of my family, friends, the game of baseball -- that I've served lovingly and faithfully for close to 25 years -- and, the reputation and future of the Washington Nationals, which I'm proud to have been a part of since its inception in 2004.
I believe I have had one of the great challenges afforded to any general manager in baseball. I was hired in November 2004 to make day-to-day baseball decisions on an interim basis with no ownership group, no permanent place to play and no legitimate minor league system. There was little to no budget for a major league roster. But, with the help of some very special assistants, we persevered. Today, we have some of the best owners in the game. We have one of the finest new ballparks, with a beautiful view of the Nation's Capitol. And, we are headed in the right direction with the nucleus of a young, competitive and interesting major league baseball team that is capable of turning into a contender in a short period of time.
I'm proud to have had the opportunity to be part of such a special organization with so many tremendous people who will always be my friends, and am also proud of my contributions to Major League Baseball, the Washington Nationals and the game.
I wish nothing but success to the Lerner Family, Stan Kasten and the Washington Nationals organization, and to the very special players and front office personnel with whom I've built strong and meaningful relationships. I also want to thank all of the players, managers, coaches, front office staff and ownership for treating my family members like their own.
In closing, let me state this is a bittersweet moment for me. While I will always have the experiences and fond memories of my relationships with the Nationals, Stan Kasten and the Lerner family, who have always been gracious and fair in their dealings with me, I will also carry with me the cold hard realization that my life has been turned upside down by a news media that prints entire stories attributed solely to anonymous sources who refuse to be identified and who are free to allege anything they choose for any purpose without fear of retribution. One can only understand the impact of false allegations, insinuations and innuendos by the press if they themselves been the subject of those false allegations. However, I also want to thank the
many media members, who have dealt with me with fairness and professionalism, and they far outweigh the others.
Like anyone else, I have made mistakes in all areas of my personal and professional life, but I leave here with the true belief that I have done nothing intentionally to harm the Washington Nationals or Major League Baseball. The team, the fans and media can now turn all of their attention from the distractions off-the-field to where it belongs, on the baseball field for the Washington Nationals and their upcoming 2009 championship season.