From Sporting News Today:

Federal investigators are looking into the skimming of signing bonuses given to prospects from Latin America, according to Among the people they are focusing on is Washington G.M. Jim Bowden. The investigation stretches back as far as 1994, when Bowden served a similar role in Cincinnati.

Two sources inside baseball said that Jorge Oquendo, 47, is the man who links the FBI’s investigations
of Bowden and his special assistant Jose Rijo to a similar investigation of former Chicago White Sox senior director of player personnel David Wilder. Last May, the White Sox fired Wilder and two Dominican-based scouts after allegations surfaced that they had pocketed money earmarked for player signing bonuses. Oquendo worked for Wilder in 2006 and 2007, as well as for Bowden with the Reds in 1994 and again with the Reds from 2000 through 2003. Oquendo left Cincinnati in 2005, two years after Bowden was fired. A spokesman for the FBI division handling the case refused comment when contacted by SI on Friday, and Bowden, who has previously denied any wrongdoing, did not respond to SI’s interview request.

UPDATE (by Chad): I’m linking to this post by Red Hot Mama only because I can’t get enough of that picture of Leatherpants on a Segway.

35 Responses

  1. per14

    Sheish. Why is this not at all a surprise.

    I really hope Jose Rijo did nothing wrong.

  2. Glenn

    Maybe his leather pants will keep him insulated, but I hope Bowden gets the chair.

  3. preach

    I thought maybe Bowden was under investigation for transporting material containing mad cow disease over state lines.

  4. GregD

    I saw this in the Enquirer, too. Wasn’t something like this reported last year? What’s new/different now than last summer? I don’t recall the details of last summer’s story…

  5. Mark in CC

    Wow,Rijo got sent home. Sounds like troubles must run deep.

    Only thing you can say about Leaherpants is GOOD.

  6. rpa

    ah, leatherpants, what have you gotten yourself into this time?

    seeing him actually get prison time might almost make up for:

    firing tony perez 40 games into a season, being responsible for bringing in lots of 5 tool guys who had no ability to actually use those tools (wily mo pena, d’angelo jiminez, deion sanders, etc, etc), comparing the prospect of a baseball strike to 9/11, hiring the worst manager in baseball history (bob boone), etc.

    build it and we will win. indeed, jimmy. last playoff appearance 2 years after you showed up and haven’t been back since. in large part due to the fact that the minor leagues were just destroyed by your incompetent drafting.

    as time goes on, i’ve decided that a really great manager won’t win you too many ballgames, but a really awful one can cost you quite a few. gm’s are more important and can do a lot more damage – a bad one can set a franchise back a decade.

  7. John

    I’m not sure Washington has any management. Any management worth a plug nickel would’ve canned Bowden long ago. But at least this way we get to see if he goes to jail. I wonder if they’ll let him take his leather pants and Segway.

  8. World

    I thought the Constitution offered someone the presumption of innocence in this country. Many of you contributors should take a moment and consider that.

    How much does it take for your name to be printed in the paper by way of false allegations?

    Give the man a break and see how it works out.

  9. World

    And I had to add this. The venom displayed here by some is petty and disgusting.

    I know Bowden and I think he’s a decent guy. How many of you who are spewing hate actually have ever taken the time to know the man? And how much do you know about the marching orders that he is under in Washington? I had to hear a lot of crying about Austin Kearns for a long time. Still hearing it.

    Oh, and if he’s a miserable failure in DC, how come the Nationals outdrew the Reds by 281,768 fans in one less home game in 2008?


  10. Y-City Jim

    I don’t think serving as the GM of a baseball team is a constitutional matter. It is quite possible that Bowden (and the others) could be guilty but not to the degree that warrants criminal prosecution.

  11. Y-City Jim

    Actually only outdrawing the Reds by that amount in a year when you opened a brand new stadium is pitiful.

  12. John

    World: Bowden wrecked the Reds’ minor league system and overvalued useless 5-tool outfielders instead of pitching. Maybe he’s not a bad person. But he’s a god-awful GM.

  13. Steve Price

    Like Bowden or not, it’s way too early to say he’s done anything wrong, other than having bad information, or relying on bad sources for information.

    Nothing should surprise us, but I’m not expecting anything to come of this.

    As for Bowden’s time in Cincinnati…I blame the ownership.. Frankly, I think Bowden tried to be creative in finding creative uses of limited (that is in budget) resources. The Reds were being set up for sales most of the time and more interested in keeping payroll down rather than winning.

    He knew how to find pitchers; not starting pitchers, but that cash wasn’t allotted. We had a bullpen…it’s when he left that our bullpen fell apart.

    I also think he was taken in the Griffey deal…I believe the Reds were rebuked for Bowden’s “recruiting” of Griffey and baseball made the Reds cough up more than many would have anticipated since it’s widely thought that Griffey was forcing the deal to the Reds anyway.

    That being said…we haven’t won anything, or been close to winning anything, since he’s been gone.

  14. John

    Looking back over the comments, I don’t see anyone calling him guilty. I see evidence that he’s really unpopular in Cincinnati. My guess is the decade of (mostly) losing has something to do with that, not Bowden’s character. rpa pretty much sums up Bowden’s tenure. That’s why he’s so unpopular.

    Bowden consistently showed that he could not cultivate starting pitching. We had a parade of Osvaldo Fernandez, Seth Etherton, Dan Serafini reclamation projects. Every year it was a new batch. Sign 20 pitchers and throw them all against the wall to see what sticks. Every few years, he’d catch lightning in a bottle (Pete Schourek, Pete Harnisch, Steve Parris), but mostly he was wasting money. We always had 5-tool outfielders who couldn’t hit a lick though.

    Bowden said several times that he was reluctant to sign quality pitching because they “only play every fifth day.” He favored position players, his teams put up big offensive numbers, and consistently had some of the worst pitching in the game so they rarely broke the top half of the division. You can’t blame ownership when the GM can’t manage money or simply doesn’t understand the value of good pitching or practices cronyism when he should be trying to win.

    Since Bowden left, the Reds have acquired Harang, Arroyo, and Volquez, mostly because the front office has turned over. True, they have not won much since Bowden left, but for the first time in a decade, this team has a starting rotation not held together with baling wire and duct tape. The open spots are not up for grabs for a slew of reclamation projects. They have a minor league system that Dan O’Brien and Wayne Krivsky helped to rebuild.

    True, the Reds have not won anything…but the Nationals are a complete disaster. Nationals fans know. Jim Bowden fans won’t admit it.

  15. Mr. Redlegs

    I really hate to defend Bowden but some of you couldn’t be more off-base with comments of how he destroyed the Reds. No, he didn’t. It was the ownerships. The Reds were run by two of the cheapest, petty, useless owners in recent baseball history. It’s a miracle the Reds weren’t in last-place team for 15 years.

    It wasn’ so much that Bowden drafted horribly; he was under a very tight budget gun on what he could spend on signing the drafted players. They often drafted players they knew would come cheap rather than the best talent.

    The year they drafted Sowers despite him saying he was going to college? They drafted him on purpose because they didn’t have the money to sign a first-round pick. The year they drafted Espinosa, Moseley and Sardinha in the first two rounds? They gave Espinosa and Sardinha spots on the 40-man because Bowden couldn’t give them bonus money.

    Say what you will about Bowden–and there’s plenty to say–but he was pretty resourceful in finding players because no agent was going to steer his client to the Reds when they were picking up loose change on the floor in the front office.
    All those pitchers they lassoed for spring training each year? How else where they to find pitching? Gullett used to make sarcastic jokes about the retreads and rehabs in order to squeeze a few innings here and there. They had to take chances on the Harnisches, Schoureks, Wilsonses, Shaws and Brantleys just to field a team.

  16. Steve Price

    I would submit that lf, cf, and ss starting spots are being manned by replacement level players (or near there), and catcher is one elder catcher away from being in the same boat.

    Last year we finally got some relievers back…and then went and signed an unnecessary closer.

    Bowden is the GM who traded for Aaron Harang (Jose Guillen deal).

  17. GregD

    I thought Harang for Guillen was one of the first post-Bowden deals?

  18. GregD

    Followed a day later by Boone for Claussen.

  19. John

    Replacement level does not mean reclamation project.

    And Bowden did not trade for Aaron Harang. That’s incorrect. Bowden was fired, and then Brad Kullman and Leland Maddox pulled the trigger on that trade.

    Bowden is, however, the GM who signed Jimmy Anderson.

  20. rpa

    my recollection was that bowden was responsible for that harang trade, but it’s not important now.

    he DID make some good moves… bowden made something like 100 trades in 10 years and signed around 29578 re-treads. of course some of those worked out.

    but… the bad far outweighed the good, the way he behaved gave the franchise a black eye on more than one occasion (getting the bad press with marge schott looking over your shoulder is quite a feat) and it could be argued that regardless of the restrictions placed on the franchise by ownership his reign was an example of exactly how not to build a small-to-mid market team.

    i didn’t always agree with krivsky (most of the moves made some sense in isolation, but put together they didn’t seem to fit any kind of discernable strategy that i coudl see) and i don’t totally agree with what jocketty is doing (but at least he’s given the team some direction). both of those guys outperformed bowden every day of the week and twice on sunday.

  21. rpa

    incidentally, what is bowden’s contract like in washington? ownership might be waiting for him to be indicted and/or convicted so they can get out of the contract without having to pay him to go home.

    of course, i can’t believe that the kasten/bowden marriage has lasted as long as it has already. so who knows.

  22. Dan

    I do wonder what Kullman and Maddox could’ve done with the team.

    How long were they actually acting GM’s? They deserve a TON of credit for the Harang deal. They sold high an a moody outfielder (Guillen) in the middle of his career year, and got us our ace. Perfect!

    Where are Kullman and Maddox now?

  23. Dan

    I’m looking through the transactions list for the Reds, starting in 2000, to see if the Harang trade (which was indeed pulled off by Kullman and Maddox) is the best deal of this decade. I guess not, but I’d put it no worse than 3rd, behind the Hamilton and Phillips deals (both by Krivsky).

    Here are the ones that stand out to me as really good:

    June 15, 2001 (Bowden) – Traded Rob Bell to the Texas Rangers. Received Ruben Mateo and Edwin Encarnacion.

    July 19, 2001 (Bowden) – Traded Alex Ochoa to the Colorado Rockies. Received Robin Jennings and Todd Walker.

    June 4, 2002 (Bowden) – Drafted Joey Votto in the 2nd round of the 2002 amateur draft. Player signed June 5, 2002.

    August 20, 2002 (Bowden) – Signed Jose Guillen as a free agent.

    November 18, 2002 (Bowden) – Signed Ryan Freel as a free agent.

    December 6, 2002 (Bowden) – Signed Jimmy Haynes as a free agent. [Come on… he had one good year here.]

    January 12, 2003 (Bowden) – Signed Paul Wilson as a free agent.

    June 3, 2003 (Bowden) – Drafted Chris Dickerson in the 16th round of the 2003 amateur draft. Player signed June 9, 2003.

    *** JULY 29, 2003 – BOWDEN AND BOONE FIRED ***

    July 30, 2003 (Kullman/Maddox) – Traded Jose Guillen to the Oakland Athletics. Received Aaron Harang, Joe Valentine, and Jeff Bruksch (minors).

    *** OCTOBER 27, 2003 – O’BRIEN HIRED ***

    March 16, 2004 (O’Brien… though I don’t know if he really deserves credit for this?) – Signed Johnny Cueto as an amateur free agent.

    June 7, 2004 (O’Brien) – Drafted Homer Bailey in the 1st round (7th pick) of the 2004 amateur draft. Player signed July 22, 2004. [Obviously, jury is still out on this…]

    December 15, 2004 (O’Brien) – Signed Dave Weathers as a free agent.

    December 21, 2004 (O’Brien) – Signed Joe Randa as a free agent.

    January 22, 2005 (O’Brien) – Signed Rich Aurilia as a free agent.

    June 7, 2005 (O’Brien) – Drafted Jay Bruce in the 1st round (12th pick) of the 2005 amateur draft. Player signed June 10, 2005.

    January 8, 2006 (O’Brien) – Signed Rich Aurilia as a free agent.

    *** JANUARY 23, 2006 – O’BRIEN FIRED ***

    *** FEBRUARY 8, 2006 – KRIVSKY HIRED ***

    February 14, 2006 (Krivsky) – Signed Scott Hatteberg as a free agent.

    March 20, 2006 (Krivsky) – Traded Wily Mo Pena to the Boston Red Sox. Received Bronson Arroyo and cash.

    March 21, 2006 (Krivsky) – Traded Bobby Basham (minors) to the San Diego Padres. Received Dave Ross.

    April 7, 2006 (Krivsky) – Traded a player to be named later (Jeff Stevens (minors)) to the Cleveland Indians. Received Brandon Phillips.

    April 24, 2006 (Krivsky) – Traded a player to be named later (Ben Kozlowski) to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Received Cody Ross.

    October 30, 2006 (Krivsky) – Rich Aurilia granted Free Agency. [This led to a conditional pick which led to Todd Frazier.]

    December 7, 2006 (Krivsky) – Drafted Jared Burton from the Oakland Athletics in the 2006 rule 5 draft.

    December 7, 2006 (Krivsky) – Purchased Josh Hamilton from the Chicago Cubs.

    etc… OK, this is getting old… and I’m probably going to get fired for taking the time to do this…

  24. Dan

    Whoa… OK, sorry for the outrageously long post…

    My point is, I think Kullman and Maddox pulled off the best trade the Reds made between the years 2000 and 2005 (Harang for Guillen)… and they did it in their SECOND DAY on the job!!!

    That is unbelievably impressive!

    Where are they now??

  25. Bill

    I think I read the other day that Johny Cueto is the only Reds player that came out of the Rijo Academy….

  26. RiverCity Redleg

    One of my favorite Marty lines a couple of years ago;
    Hal McCoy: I just ran into Bowden a minute ago. We shook hands and….
    Marty: Did you check that you still have your watch?

  27. Steve Price

    I wasn’t in the room, but I find it pretty hard to believe that a trade was completed in one day, especially in this day of contractual discussions.

    I don’t see any possible way that two “assistants on the job” would’ve gone that kind of clearance in an afternoon for that kind of financial transaction.

    There may be evidence to the contrary, bragging rights where someone took credit and described the deal, but logic doesn’t follow…do admit, that truth is stranger than fiction.

    My guess is the deal was being done, and it was announced after Bowden was gone.

  28. Steve Price

    Oh…irony about Maddox’s name coming up.

    Reading the stories about Bowden’s problem…it seems Maddox may have been closer to the Dominican connections than Bowden.

    This is truly speculative, but for all that had been said about Maddox and his future, he was just gone one day in a personnel move that had taken me by surprise….and Cueto was signed a few months after Bowden was terminated.

  29. Steve Price

    Kullman was a stats guy…I’m not sure when he left but he had no future with the hirings of Krivsky and Jocketty, two scouts guys.

  30. Steve Price

    Found this in the New York Times. John Allen made the trade for Harang?

    After calling Jim Bowden on Monday and later learning that the Reds had fired him as general manager together with Manager Bob Boone, Beane began discussions the next day with Leland Maddox and Brad Kullman, the assistant general managers who replaced Bowden. Beane realized the Reds were interested in young pitchers, which John Allen, their chief executive, mentioned after dismissing Bowden and Boone.

  31. Bill

    From today’s Sporting News daily edition:

    In the wake of the FBI’s investigation into possible skimming of
    signing bonuses for Latin players, The Washington Post reported some members of the Nationals’ ownership group want general manager Jim Bowden out. Bowden told the newspaper he is innocent of any wrongdoing. Jose Rijo, a special assistant to Bowden, recently stepped down because of a separate incident involving a $1.4 million signing bonus paid to a player who later was discovered to be using a false name and lying about his age.

  32. GregD

    ESPN is reporting that Rijo, currently on a leave of absence from the Nats spring training, is going to be fired and their going to move their Dominican Republic team academy that is a part of Rijo’s academy complex.

    It notes that the Tigers also use Rijo’s complex, and their agreement runs through the end of this season.

    An interesting note: “The Milwaukee Brewers are the only organization without a Dominican academy”