Until Major League Baseball finally determines which of the 8 competiting consortiums will be allowed to purchase the Washington Nationals, the team remains at a competitive disadvantage argues the NY Times’ Murray Chass.

Bob DuPuy, the president of Major League Baseball, told reporters at the recent owners meeting in Milwaukee that the delay in selecting an owner isn’t affecting the Nationals. But of course, it is. No matter how well the staff representing the current owner is doing its job, the eventual owner is being deprived of a chance to make his own player moves.

If there’s a free agent or two a new owner may covet, if there’s a trade or two a new owner may want to make, the moves cannot be made. The incumbent regime is not empowered to spend someone else’s money.

For example, the caretaker regime would like to sign the free-agent pitcher A. J. Burnett. The Nationals have spoken with Darek Braunecker, Burnett’s agent, but they have not made an offer. They will probably not be able to make a competitive offer because no new owner is in place to authorize it.

General Manager Jim Bowden (above) and before him Omar Minaya have had to stay within a budget dictated by baseball, forcing them to make difficult choices and pass on players they might have wanted.

Commissioner Bud Selig has said that all teams face similar decisions. But the owners of those teams are free to make decisions. Bowden and Tony Tavares, the Nationals’ president, are not similarly free to make decisions for their team.

If Jerry Reinsdorf wanted to give Jermaine Dye $10 million to play for the Chicago White Sox for two years, he was free to make that decision, a good one as it turned out because Dye was the World Series most valuable player. If Frank McCourt wanted to give the oft-injured J. D. Drew $11 million a year to play for the Dodgers for five years, only to see injury limit him to 72 games this year, it was his money and his prerogative to do it.

The Nationals are not free to be smart or foolish.