Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It Is Enough

This is the theme for today.

Elijah Dukes, no matter his potential, is not a great player.  Last year, he wasn't even a good one.  He was, frankly, terrible.  His non-existent WAR didn't even reflect the horrific nature of his craptastic base-running.

He's injury prone.  He's a bit of a headcase.  He hasn't seemingly wanted to put the extra work in to become a great player.

And you know that one guy in the office that everyone's sort of afraid of?  The creepy guy who you think's kind of unstable, and who could lash out at any time, so you just kind of smile and nod at him, rolling your eyes and shaking your head once you're out of his vision?  (My coworkers certainly do!)  Well, that's Dukes.  While he wasn't an active disturbance, it's not like you're able to avoid that creepy guy in a small clubhouse, charter bus, or plane ride.

Elijah's definitely the guy you're hoping doesn't sit next to you on Metro.  Now imagine trying to live with him for six months.

He's a guy who, because of the nature of his previous instability/immaturity, required special treatment.  How crazy is it that the team had to have an employee to go with him anywhere and everywhere?  A full-time chaperon -- is he going to the Sock Hop after the game?

He's a guy who's stinking hard this spring, after a season where his head was so far up his butt, not even Manny Acta could see the upside.  He's a guy who once showed promising command of the strikezone, but who seemingly lost all control.  Dude used to dictate ABs in a way only Nick Johnson could; now he's a swing-first hacker with all the self control of Alfy Soriano.

He's regressed, and he hasn't shown the ability to make the kind of adjustments -- either in actual talent, or in work ethic -- to demonstrate that he's ever going to pull out of the spiral.  So why put up with the extraneous crap?

He's never shown the ability to be reliable, either in his personal life or in his ability to stay on the field.  His constant injuries -- particularly to his legs, which often turn into chronic injuries -- took huge chunks out of his last two seasons.

He's been a terrible defender.  His former decent defense, thanks to the leg issues, turned him into a joke in the outfield.  On a team that's emphasizing defense to help out its young pitching staff, his glove out there would be big trouble.

He's a horrible base-runner.  Just one bone-headed move after another.  Then another.  And then when you think you've seen the stupidest play since Milledge was traded, he does something even worse.

And here's the other thing:  Yes, he's got options.  But, really, how do you think that Elijah Dukes is going to take it when you tell him he's headed to Syra-feckin-cuse?  Do you really think he has the character and strength to learn a lesson, apply himself, and really improve?  Isn't it more likely he rages and spins out of control, yelling, screaming, and kicking now, and for the next few weeks?  It'd just piss him off, and whichever team officials would end up wiping his ass in the minors.

So what choice did they have?  Sure, they could've traded him to, say, the Pirates for a 27-year old A-baller, but what's the point?  I'm sure we could just sign Josh Labendiera as a minor-league FA if we wanted to.

Releasing him cuts the chain, and gives everyone a clean break.  It makes a whole lot of sense.


OK, that's what the team could've said.  But they didn't, at least in so many words.  So we're left looking at them dumping a 26-year old with decent talent potential because Rizzo didn't like his aura, and left reading this lame type of after-the-fact tea-leaf reading.

If Stan Kasten had spent half the time explaining the move in these sorts of terms as he did fighting Jim Bowden's twitter feed, there'd probably be quite fewer pissed-off Nats fans tonight.


  • I'm not pissed off. Good Riddance. I feel like the only one who likes this move as a Nats fan.

    By Blogger Greg Pultorak, at 3/17/2010 11:13 PM  

  • Good move. At the right time. You're right, he had unfillable holes in his swing and he was a terrible baserunner. He'd hit the pinnacle of his potential. Time to try someone else.

    By Anonymous Sec314, at 3/17/2010 11:26 PM  

  • I don't have a problem with saying good riddance. Here's my problem. The offense was middle of the pack last year. Dunn is going to regress; your 3rd OF will be a significant downgrade from Nick Johnson; Guzman will struggle to match his numbers from last year; Morgan is not going to hit .351 for the year; Adam Kennedy is Adam Kennedy.

    When you add that to the unimproved pitching staff, we are looking at another bottom of the league finish.

    Did I mention that no one has a significant long term deal but for Zimmerman. No one. The Nationals are the Marlins but without any talent in the minors.

    By Blogger RPS, at 3/17/2010 11:35 PM  

  • I'm amazed you can completely write off Elijah Dukes after 364 at bats. I thought you were a little smarter than that.

    Look at Zack Greinke's 2005 season. He had the emotional baggage and needed babying, but the Royals stuck with him, and it paid off. Who knows, maybe Dukes would have the same Cinderella story, maybe not.

    There was no harm in the Nationals holding onto Dukes for the 2010 season. Demote him. If he throws a fit, then they're justified to release him. But simply giving away a player on a team that claims Nyjer Morgan as its fourth best hitter?! That's incomprehensible.

    When you're a team as shitty as the Nats, you collect as many players as possible and hope one pans out. You don't cut all ties as soon as things don't seem to be going well. It's a really stupid, short-sighted move, and reflects very poorly on Rizzo.

    By Blogger Will, at 3/18/2010 12:24 AM  

  • By all accounts, Dukes handled his demotion to Syracuse last year like a pro. There's absolutely no basis for saying that he wouldn't have done the same this year if that had been the decision, other than assumptions that have never really been borne out that he's a scary hothead. So I'm with Basil, there has to be more to this story. But with three beat writers digging and finding nothing so far, and Rizzo sticking with his story, I suppose we may never know.

    I must give you major kudos though for your choice of accompanying music for this post. A great aria, sung by one of the greatest baritones ever. Thanks!

    By Blogger Section 222, at 3/18/2010 12:46 AM  

  • I agree with your view of the situation, and am glad for the clean break. I think the closest the team has come to what you wrote was Riggleman saying he considers Dukes to be a "AAAA" player.

    My concern is mainly that Maxwell and Bernadina strile me as the same. I would rather see Willy Harris play every day.

    By Blogger Positively Half St., at 3/18/2010 5:13 AM  

  • In between double header games at NatsPark last season if you happened to go to the 7-11 during the 1 hour break you'd find Dukes getting a 40 and some swisher sweets. Obviously he was done for the day. But really that's a guy you want to bat .250 and get picked off all season.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/18/2010 10:03 AM  

  • Dukes is just another Kwame Brown; lots of promise, lots of hype but a head case who can never get beyond being a head case. Amen.

    By Anonymous phil dunn, at 3/18/2010 1:06 PM  

  • For the life of me, I cannot understand why such a sizeable percentage of Nats Nation is howling over Dukes release.
    Dawg's only upside was his potential to implode. He never seemed to learn from any mistake, which is astounding considering how many he made.
    If a co-worker at your office was so emotionally unstable that he/she needed a babysitter sitting alongside him in his cubicle...and his presence made division meetings uncomfortable for all of his co-workers...and he wasn't really producing much quality you really think you would shout out and demand that management keep him in a front office position?

    By Anonymous 1stBaseCoach, at 3/18/2010 6:11 PM  

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