Jim Bowden Enjoying Last Spring Training As A Free Man. Not Really.

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The fallout from the Smiley Gonzalez fiasco continues to expand. Identity fraud on such a large scale rarely comes without some sort of financial scam attached, and it appears this one is linking back to last year's bonus skimming investigation involving White Sox scout David Wilder. Now thanks to the hilarious antics of former players Jose Rijo and Jose Oquendo, Wilder has been linked to bumbling Nationals GM Jim Bowden. Uh oh. Sound confusing? Let's refer to the newly minted muckracking wonders at SI.

Two sources inside baseball say that a long-time scout in Latin America, Jorge Oquendo, 47, is the man who links the FBI's investigations of Bowden and his special assistant Jose Rijo to that 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. (Bowden became Nationals GM in 2004.)

Oquendo says he's "totally shocked" that he was contacted by the FBI. His ties with Wilder go back to 1982 and he was one of the employees dismissed by the White Sox last year. Knowing that, you'd have to think "shocked" wouldn't be the first emotion that came to mind when the Feds called.

Rijo says that when the truth comes out he'll be vindicated, and Jim Bowden just denied any wrongdoing this morning. I guess he's not taking roster construction into account.

Without direct evidence linking Bowden to any of the skimming/fraud allegations you have to believe that it will be tough to link him to Federal crimes through chains of acquaintances. The story does have the potential to have some legs as a scandal. Wilder is a nightclub investor who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on a gay bar in Phoenix. What does that mean for Bowden? Probably nothing. But for people that write about it on the internet it equals more hits. GAY BAR, BASEBALL PLAYERS, GAY BAR, BASEBALL PLAYERS, GAY BAR!

(LOLBowden stolen from a McCovey Chronicles commenter.)

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Would a guy in a $3,000 skim bonus money? Come ON!

$3,000 suit.

Oh, there WAS a paper trail, but I don't want to be the FBI agent that has to sift through Dmitri's "leavings" to find it.

I'm the Nats GM? I've made a huge mistake.

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