September 25, 2010
Stan Kasten announced that he will resign as president of the Washington Nationals at the end of this season. The news came as quite a shock, as the franchise is fraught with deep frustration and has so many uncertainties hanging around it. So what does this sudden departure really signify? Before it was even announced, Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell expressed a strong wish that Kasten would stay with the Nats, fearing the "vacuum" in the front office if Kasten were to exit:
If Kasten leaves -- even if he soft-pedals his departure, praises his handpicked GM Mike Rizzo and crows about the futures of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Danny Espinosa and the rest -- the Nats' reputation will take a hit within the industry. And they will have a hard time replacing his broad skill set.
Another possibility is that Kasten may be a leading candidate to replace Bud Selig as MLB commissioner. Outgoing Braves manager Bobby Cox raised that possibility, and he should know as well as anyone, having worked under Kasten for several years. See MLB.com.
Kasten was named as president of the Nationals in May 2006, when Major League Baseball announced that it was selling the Nationals franchise to Theodore Lerner and family. He has provided the ownership group with a veneer of credibility within the baseball world, and the pressure is now on the Lerners that they are serious about building a winning team, not just milking a taxpayer-supported oligpolistic industry for all its worth.
Was it just a coincidence that Kasten made his announcement just before his former team, the Braves, came to play in Washington last night? Who knows? The Nats extended their winning streak to four games last night, beating the Braves 8-3, powered by two more Adam Dunn home runs. Time to head up to D.C. and catch one of the last games of the season!