He’s old AND he stinks

What’s worse: that the Nats gave a big signing bonus to a guy who has been found out to be four years older than they thought he was, or that the guy wasn’t even all that good to begin with:

A top Washington Nationals prospect and recipient of the largest international signing bonus in team history is not who he appeared to be. Esmailyn Gonzalez, who is listed as 19 years old on the team’s roster, is actually 23-year-old Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, four sources have told SI.com.

The Nationals, owned by the Lerner family, gave the shortstop from the Dominican Republic a $1.4 million signing bonus on July 2, 2006, and trumpeted his arrival as a sign of their commitment to acquiring top-tier talent. (Players from Latin America are not subject to the draft and can sign with the team of their choice.) “This signing is symbolic of the Lerner family’s and incoming club president Stan Kasten’s pledge to become an industry leader in scouting and player development,” Washington general manager Jim Bowden said at the time of the deal.

Gonzalez’s signing, however, immediately drew suspicion from baseball insiders. There was considerable skepticism about the team’s description of him as a five-tool player. “He doesn’t run all that well, and has an average arm,” an executive with another team said this summer.

The Texas Rangers were the next highest bidder for Gonzalez, offering only $700,000.

Sometimes I toy with the idea of really getting into Nats baseball because (a) I used to live in and love D.C.; and (b) the field is wide open — no one could accuse me of being a front-runner. But then I realize how demoralizing it would be to have to follow a team with such an inept front office. I mean, even the Braves were making a lot of good and interesting decisions back when they were losing 100 games a year.

Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel for Nats fans?

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  1. APBA Guy said...

    My DC buddies with partial season ticket packages, down from full season ticket packages 2 years ago, cannot get friends to attend games with them anymore. They’ve already stopped trying to resell individual games as a way to offset package costs. Two of the guys, out of 6, have already decided not to renew for 2010.

    These are guys that love baseball, but they are so disillusioned by the Lerners that they’d rather buy the MLB package on cable.

    Of course, their tolerance for a clown-show front office was greatly reduced because of their prolonged exposure to the Angelos circus. They’ve already seen this act, and they didn’t like it the first time.

  2. Jeff M said...

    Don’t forget, in contemplating the oddity of the bid, that Mr. Bowden was connected to a kickback conspiracy in international signings.  A little something to consider when wondering why they bid an extra $700K

  3. Jon said...

    I love going to Nats games when a real team is in town.  I’ll definitely be going to see Albert Pujols this year, and I got to see Johan Santana last season.

    The stadium is nice, Ben’s Chili Bowl is awesome, it’s four Metro stops from my house, and good seats are still available.

    Or were you asking if there was a reason to be a Nats fan?  Because I don’t think there is.

  4. kranky kritter said...

    Yeah, I miss the expos. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    Isn’t it an especially Washingtonian trait to fall in love with taking actions that are “symbolic” of important popular ideas?

    I think it wold be great for baseball to have a strong Washington franchise. A good way to do that would be to worry less about whether an action symbolizes international competence and more about whether it actually EXERCISES such competence.

    One thing is for sure. The Nats are not going to get better by annually losing the chase for top free agents and then subsequently overpaying for guys at the next tier down. This didn’t work for the Devil Rays or anyone else. The Rays finally got a good team when they developed internal young talent.

  5. smsetnor said...

    I have the Nationals and Esmailyn in a sim league.  Here’s the only way I could think to spin this on my trade block.

    The guy is a veteran who works great with youth.

    Man.  Thankfully I’m a Cubs fan first, Nationals fan second.

  6. Jake said...


    When one tries to sneak someone past the authorities, the choice of a less attention-getting name might be prudent.

  7. Sutton said...

    Has anyone followed the investigation of Nats front office personnel taking kickbacks on Latin American signings? Is this signing part of that mess?

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