Nationals GM Bowden resigns

VIERA, FLORIDA (TICKER) —Blaming the media and saying he has become a distraction, Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden announced his resignation Sunday morning.

Bowden’s decision to call it quits came a week after it was reported that he is part of a federal investigation into the skimming of signing bonuses given to prospects from Latin America.

Bowden met last year with FBI investigators.

“My resignation is based upon my realization that my ability to properly represent the Washington Nationals has been compromised because of false allegations in the press,” Bowden said.

“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 found any wrongdoing on my part.”

Nationals president Stan Kasten supported Bowden’s decision to end what had become an embarrassing tenure for the club’s only general manager since the franchise relocated from Montreal to the nation’s capital prior to the 2005 season.

“We greatly respect and admire the decision made today by Jim Bowden,” Kasten said. “He showed characteristic poise and maturity, and demonstrated his selfless love for the game and the Washington Nationals.

“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. 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.”

Bowden’s announcement also came just two days after Jose Rijo, a special assistant to Bowden, was fired by the Nationals.

While he decided to point the blame Sunday, Bowden can’t argue that his performance as GM was nothing short of horrific. In addition to his latest distraction, Bowden also was arrested and charged with DUI in April 2006.

On the field, the Nationals also have been brutal since Bowden took over, as they went 284-364 during his tenure, making head-scratching roster moves on a daily basis and generally lacking any type of direction as a franchise.

The Nationals went a major league-worst 59-102 last season.

In his final questionable move with the Nationals, Bowden signed strikeout-prone slugger Adam Dunn to a two-year, $20 million contract on February 11 - a surprising financial figure considering the current economic climate.

Prior to his stint with the Nationals, Bowden also ran roughshod over the Cincinnati Reds as their GM from 1992-2003. The Reds made only one playoff appearance during Bowden’s tenure before he was mercifully fired.

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Updated Sunday, Mar 1, 2009