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Thread: Nationals prospect falsified identity

  1. #1
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Nationals prospect falsified identity

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...nats.gonzalez/


    By Melissa Segura, SI.com
    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. Agent Rob Plummer negotiated with all teams on behalf of Gonzalez -- except the Nationals. Those negotiations were handled by Basilio Vizcaino, Gonzalez's buscon (a person who trains amateur youth baseball players in exchange for a percentage of future signing bonuses). Vizcaino is a childhood friend of Bowden's special assistant, Jose Rijo, and a protégé of Jose Baez, the Nationals director of operations in the Dominican Republic. The size of Gonzalez's bonus and the close relationship between Vizcaino, Baez and Rijo drew the attention of the FBI and Major League Baseball's department of investigations. (A federal investigation into allegations of skimming of bonus money given to Latin players has been going on for the past seven months.) It's unclear if anyone named Esmailyn Gonzalez exists or how the player's paperwork was falsified. Also unknown is whether Gonzalez, who is still in the Dominican Republic, will be able to obtain a visa to join the club for spring training.

    The revelation of Gonzalez's true age reduces his perceived value as a player. In 2008, his second season in the Gulf Coast (rookie) League, Gonzalez was named league MVP and won the league batting title, hitting .343. He was second in the league in on-base percentage (.431) and runs (42), and third in RBIs (33) and hits (62). One scout who has seen Gonzalez play, says, "Those are great numbers, but you should be hitting that well if you're that much older than your competition."

    Nationals representatives, Rijo and Vizcaino did not return calls from SI.com requesting comment. Kasten and Major League Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney declined to comment. Bowden and Rijo have previously denied any financial improprieties in the Gonzalez case.

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  3. #2
    Haunted by walks
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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    Truly the player to be named later.

  4. #3
    One and a half men Patrick Bateman's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    Jim Bowden described this guy as having the glove of Ozzie Smith, and the bat of Miguel Tejada the day that he was signed.

    I don't care if he did just age 4 years overnight, posted mediocre stats, and drawn poor scouting reports. A guy with those comps, and the support of Jim Bowden has me in his corner.

  5. #4
    Member blumj's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    A 23 year old with the bat of a teenage Miguel Tejada? Wait, was Tejada really still a teenager when he signed? Boy, this gets pretty confusing awfully easily, doesn't it?
    "Reality tells us there are no guarantees. Except that some day Jon Lester will be on that list of 100-game winners." - Peter Gammons

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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    Quote Originally Posted by Austin Kearns View Post
    Jim Bowden described this guy as having the glove of Ozzie Smith, and the bat of Miguel Tejada the day that he was signed.

    I don't care if he did just age 4 years overnight, posted mediocre stats, and drawn poor scouting reports. A guy with those comps, and the support of Jim Bowden has me in his corner.
    if Johnny Bench likes him better than Tom Seaver, then I'm with you.

  7. #6
    Member Strikes Out Looking's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    Why, oh why does Leatherpants still have a job?

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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    Bowden is making something happen again.
    "Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini

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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    Quote Originally Posted by Austin Kearns View Post
    Jim Bowden described this guy as having the glove of Ozzie Smith, and the bat of Miguel Tejada
    But he got them on eBay.

  10. #9
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nat...z_updated.html

    Report: Prospect Lied About Age, Name [Updated]

    In 2006, the Washington Nationals signed a shortstop from the Dominican Republic. They gave him a bonus of $1.4 million. They welcomed him with a press conference. The unprecedented ceremony was meant not just to announce this particular signing, but to underscore Washington's intent to scout -- and scout well -- in the Latin countries after years of inactivity.

    Today, the Nationals have learned that the gem of their Dominican scouting program isn't who he said he was.

    According to a report on Sports Illustrated's Web site, the shortstop once known as Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez has falsified his name and age. His true identity: Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo. His true age: 23, or four years older than the Nationals believed. According to current data, the Nationals list Gonzalez's birthday as Sept. 21, 1989.

    This morning, Jose Rijo, who owns the academy that the Nationals use as their Dominican base, said, "I don't know what to believe."

    Rijo declined to address why the team, when signing Gonzalez, dealt with buscon (or street agent) named Basilio Vizcaino, rather than with Gonzalez's then-agent, Rob Plummer.

    (The Post's Barry Svrluga talked to Rijo, Gonzalez and Vizcaino in a December 2006 story that focused on the sometimes-unethical dealings between agents and MLB in the Dominican Republic.)

    Asked if he sought documentation at the time of the signing, Rijo said, "[Heck] no. That's not my job. That's why the major league has an investigation. Before we sign [a player] he has to go through them... You see a document, but you're going to see a, you know, a real or fake one either way. But that doesn't matter. It has to go through Major League Baseball before you can get the player signed. They do their investigation; they do everything."

    Gonzalez/Lugo is due to appear in Viera, Fla., by the time March 13 reporting date for Washington's minor league spring training. But it is unknown whether this revelation jeopardizes his status with the team or his ability to reenter the country.

    Washington team president Stan Kasten is planning to address the situation this afternoon in a conference call with media members. All other team officials have been instructed to decline comment.

    Gonzalez/Lugo wasn't invited to big league spring training this year, but he was listed just last month by Baseball America's as Washington's 10th-best prospect. He spent the last two seasons in the Nationalss organization, playing both years in the Gulf Coast League. In 2008, he hit .343 in 51 games and won the GCL batting title.

    The revelation about Gonzalez's age not only reduces his value as a prospect. It also provides a reminder about the perils of scouting in the Dominican Republic, where already the Nationals have a spotty track record.

    The FBI is currently investigating baseball's scouting methods in Latin America, looking into the allegations of money-skimming practices. So far, Washington is one of the team's to surface in the probe, with Gonzalez's signing drawing particular suspicion. According to numerous accounts, Washington gave Gonzalez a signing bonus twice as large as the next-highest bidder. Last season, as part of the investigation, the FBI interviewed Washington General Manager Jim Bowden, who has denied any wrongdoing.

  11. #10
    Member Crosley68's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    Quote Originally Posted by BCubb2003 View Post
    Truly the player to be named later.
    Great one BCubb
    Let's play two!!!

  12. #11
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...021903032.html


    Bowden May Wind Up Paying Again

    By Thomas Boswell

    The bucks stop on Jim Bowden's desk. All 1.4 million of them.

    When that bill comes due, will the Nationals' general manager pay with his job?

    For the moment, Bowden appears to have been the primary sucker in one of the most embarrassing scams ever used to defraud a baseball team.

    What is certain already is that a Nats franchise that shoots itself in the foot every time it gets a new pair of shoes has taken another painful public pratfall.

    Get a new city-built ballpark; don't pay the rent. Get a coveted No. 1 draft pick; don't sign him. Promise a better team to inaugurate a new park; lose 102 games. Expect sellouts in Southeast Washington; average 12,000 empty seats. Sign slugger Adam Dunn; have a scandal explode the next week.

    Now we have the mysterious case of what President Stan Kasten called the "player to be named later." It would be farce if it weren't so mortifying.

    Three years ago, Bowden was perhaps the game's most gullible executive, a bumptious hustler so eager to impress his new bosses, the Lerners, that he talked them and Kasten into signing a 16-year-old Dominican named Esmailyn González, who now turns out to have been a 20-year-old named Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo.

    The only thing the Nats seem to have gotten right was their shortstop's ironic nickname: "Smiley." Now, Alvarez needs a new moniker: the Real A-Fraud.

    "Could he be A-Rod's cousin, too?" one Nat asked.

    Bleak humor about the Nats now bounces all around baseball. But this case, as Kasten says ominously, "will have big repercussions." At one level, the FBI and Major League Baseball, both of which are investigating broad allegations of kickbacks to street agents and other improprieties in the Dominican Republic, will sort out the villains. The White Sox already have fired personnel because of the scandal.

    However, whether or not anybody in the Nats' front office comes up dirty, heads will probably roll. At least one executive, José Rijo, the team's Dominican head honcho, will almost certainly be fired. The bigger question is whether Bowden, the head dupe in this $1.4 million scam, may be shown the door, too.

    Right now, the heat is rising. A central figure in the fraud is Smiley's street agent Basilio Vizcaino, who is a lifelong friend of Rijo. Rijo, in turn, has been close to Bowden for 17 years. Did a chain of scoundrels in the Dominican fool Rijo who, in turn, sold a bill of goods to Bowden who, then, made the pitch to the Lerners and Kasten soon after they'd bought the team, but long before they were up to speed?

    Bowden says so. He points out that other clubs, including the Texas Rangers, also were fooled and that the Rangers offered Smiley a $700,00 deal.

    However, Bowden has other problems. What sets the Nats apart was how totally they were duped. According to multiple sources, they were told that they were being "outbid" by some team that was offering $1.6 million or $1.8 million; they believed the false intelligence and raised their offer from $1.2 million.

    For this snafu alone Rijo should be fired. The "outbid" tale either came from him or should have been vetted by him. Rijo is on the payroll because he's supposed to know everything that happens in the Dominican. As a former World Series MVP who earned more than $30 million in his playing career, he's a prosperous national hero. It's his job, especially considering his relationship with Vizcaino, to get the straight dope for the Nats. Instead, he's dumb or dirty. We'll find out which when investigations conclude.

    Often, in a crisis, a team circles the wagons. But sometimes, it gets out the team bus -- and drives it over somebody. On Wednesday, Kasten squarely placed primary responsibility for Smiley at Bowden's feet. Will Bowden join Rijo under the bus? He's certainly vulnerable.

    Bowden's fortunes, so high after he helped prep the Nats for sale with a pennant-chase 81-81 season in '05, have been a roller coaster ever since. After fielding the worst team in baseball last season, then seeing a hot farm system turn cold, Bowden's signing of Dunn last week and his earlier trade for Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham may not be enough to save him.

    Watch the standings. The case for canning Bowden is now sufficient, but not conclusive. But wins may yet save him. As long as Bowden comes out of the Smiley case looking like a sucker, but not a flimflam man, then promising young players with his stamp on them -- like Lastings Milledge, Jesús Flores, John Lannan and Elijah Dukes -- may yet vindicate him.

    "I'm extremely angry, just as mad as everybody else," Bowden said yesterday. "None of us knew. We were all fooled, including MLB [which vets date of birth and identities in the Dominican]. And our team was defrauded."

    Others were fooled. But it was Bowden's job to sign off on whether Smiley was worth $1.4 million. No matter who fooled whom, when you double the next highest bid, you look like the pigeon in the poker game.

    When the Nationals first reported to Viera, Fla., in the spring of '05, Bowden and Manager Frank Robinson posed for a picture, standing behind a draped table. Bowden, shorter than the Hall of Famer, was suddenly taller than Robinson. I looked under the table. Bowden was standing on his tiptoes.

    That's how desperately Bowden wanted to make a good impression, how much he wanted to keep the GM job. It beat ESPN's "Cold Pizza," his previous gig after being fired as Reds GM. Bowden cultivated the Lerner family, who wouldn't be awarded the team for another year, especially Mark Lerner, who wanted to learn the game from an insider.

    Since the Nats came to town, I've been of two minds about Bowden. On even-numbered days, I think he's a smart, screwy, funny workaholic who had a sleazy rep in Cincinnati but is just the kind of hustler a team needs in the early years of its construction. Given few resources, he often milked them well. And his mistakes cost peanuts. In a GM world now full of Ivy Leaguers, he's just as smart if not as bookish. Besides, I like scoundrels. Always have.

    However, on odd-numbered days, I just say: "How on earth can the Lerners and Kasten have Jim Bowden as their GM? This is the oddest marriage in baseball."

    In coming weeks and months, we'll find out how the pecking order and the allegiances inside Nationals Park really work. In assistant GM Mike Rizzo, the Nats have an obvious successor in waiting. How tight is Bowden's friendship with Mark Lerner? How highly does Kasten, who always praises Bowden, really value his GM?

    We're going to find out how the people who run the Nats really feel about Bowden and whether they truly want him around for the next stage of their development.

    Because if, deep down, they want him gone, they've got more cover, and cause, than they need.

  13. #12
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...iling-anymore/

    THOM LOVERRO: Bowden not smiling anymore
    Thom Loverro (Contact)
    VIERA, Fla.

    Just when you think the Washington Nationals might be out of comic material, baseball's whoopee cushion delivers a side-splitting gem.

    The club's highly touted, $1.4 million international prospect - the one who now will be known as the player formerly known as Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez - is really Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, according to a report on SI.com.

    And while Smiley Gonzalez - a fictional character apparently - is supposed to be 19 years old, Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo really is 23 years old.

    The best, though, may be yet to come: Maybe neither Smiley nor Carlos actually got the $1.4 million the Nationals said they paid.

    I'd say you can't make this stuff up, but apparently you can when it comes to Dominican players.

    NatsTown - where you can be anyone you want to be.

    But there may be nothing funny about the ramifications of the SI.com report, which claims Gonzalez is a fraud, part of a larger ongoing federal investigation into suspicions of skimming bonus money from Latin ballplayers.

    If the report is true, this incident should cost Nationals general manager Jim Bowden, who has enjoyed the protection of his buddy, owner Mark Lerner, his job.

    Even if Bowden had no knowledge of any scam, it happened on his watch and marks yet another embarrassment for a franchise that already is the laughingstock of baseball.

    Too many dubious deals and incidents will have occurred during Bowden's administration to let him continue to run this franchise.

    Bowden was arrested in Florida's South Beach in 2006 for driving under the influence. A string of wasteful, multimillion-dollar contracts followed: Dmitri Young, $10 million; Paul Lo Duca, $5 million; Austin Kearns, $17.5 million.

    The club has struggled under the Lerner ownership with a series of public relations blunders and in 2008 suffered a forgettable, 102-loss season in their first year at Nationals Park.

    Now this.

    The SI.com report claims the Nationals paid the player formerly known as Smiley double the offer of the next-highest sucker, the Texas Rangers. (Please note: The former Washington Senators franchise shows that you can take the team out of Washington, but you can't take Washington out of the team.)

    The report states that an agent named Rob Plummer handled the negotiations with all suitors for the player formerly known as "Smiley" - except for the Nationals. Those negotiations instead were handled by Basilio Vizcaino, Gonzalez's buscon (a person who trains amateur youth players in exchange for a percentage of future signing bonuses).

    Vizcaino is a childhood friend of Bowden's special assistant, Jose Rijo, and a protege of Jose Baez, the Nationals' director of operations in the Dominican Republic, according to the report.

    The falsification of ages by Latin players is hardly news. It happens, and it usually results in little much more than a chuckle and some red faces.

    But when the player in question represents the club's signature statement about the future of the team, it goes beyond just an awkward mistake.

    (This is a team, by the way, that last year wouldn't spend the money necessary to sign its No. 1 pick, Aaron Crow. Or maybe he wasn't Aaron Crow. Maybe his name really was Pincus McCoy.)

    When the player in question is part of both an internal investigation by baseball's recently formed investigative unit and a federal probe, it goes beyond just a laugh and fleeting embarrassment.

    NatsTown - where age is just a number.

    Team president Stan Kasten said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters that he is "very angry."

    "We've been defrauded. And make no mistake: This wasn't a college kid with a fake ID that came in and did this," Kasten said. "This was a deliberate, premeditated fraud with a lot more to this story, and we are going to get to the bottom of it. There were many, many people involved in this premeditated fraud. ... I can assure you this is going to have serious repercussions."

    Kasten, who said Major League Baseball had approved the name and age listed on documents from the signing in 2006, made a clear line of demarcation for the bulk of the responsibility for this embarrassment.

    Kasten pointed out that he and the Lerner family had just taken over ownership of the franchise in July 2006 when this deal was presented to them by the front office that had been running the baseball operation since the team moved from Montreal in 2005.

    That would be Bowden.

    Kasten was asked specifically if those who were in charge of the team when the present ownership took over were responsible for this mess.

    "For today, there is nothing more I can say about that kind of stuff," he said. "I have an idea where you are going. I am just not ready to talk about that just yet. There is an ongoing investigation continuing, and I really need for that to play out first."

    Bowden was in Arizona on Wednesday for arbitration hearings.

    He's not far from Mexico. Maybe he can make a run for the border on his Segway.

    NatsTown - sort of like the Yankees, except nobody cares.
    The Rally Onion wants 150 fans before Opening Day.

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  14. #13
    Moderator RedlegJake's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    Bowden is an absolute laughing stock GM. It amazes me the Nats have stuck with him.

  15. #14
    '92 Les Paul Custom Az Red's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    But I bet he loves seeing his name in the press this much...
    Hope Springs Eternal

  16. #15
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals prospect falsified identity

    I'm a tad confused here. If the contract was signed unde false pretenses, why not simply void it, recover as much of the money as possible and move on?

    Or am I missing something?
    Suck it up cupcake.


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