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Dukes: The Aftermath

So the story in the $.35 edition about the trade of Glenn Gibson for Elijah Dukes has much to deal with Dukes's troubled past and far too little baseball. Boz, I'm sure, would have weighed in on this if not for Sean Taylor's funeral on Monday, and I would guess he would give the columnist's take later in the week at some point.

But for the purposes of this post, let's concentrate on Dukes, the ballplayer, and what it might mean for the Nationals on the field. (Of course, none of this can be in a vacuum, because if any player is a problem in the clubhouse, it can be a problem on the field, etc. But we don't know that yet. So, here we go.)

And, too, we'll get to the addition of Tyler Clippard, which could be as important (though not likely) as the addition of Dukes. The Nationals traded Jonathan Albaladejo (an effective reliever who went 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 14 appearances for Washington in 2007) for Clippard, a promising pitcher in the Yankees' organization. The trade is pending physicals for both deals, but for the purposes here, don't look at Clippard's 6.33 ERA in the majors last year, but check out his career minor league numbers of 640 strikeouts and 173 walks in 609-1/3 innings. That's kind of encouraging, and several people told me Monday night he'll be a candidate for the Nationals' rotation. Kind of a funky delivery, good curveball, better changeup, 88-91 on a sinking fastball. We'll see.

But back to Dukes and the outfield. The consensus is that this kid is more athletic, and loaded with more potential, than Lastings Milledge. And the outfield that has been suggested to me by those who would know is Milledge in left, Dukes in center - though he has played more right in the Dominican - and Kearns in right. That leaves Wily Mo Pena on the bench - for now.

Jim Bowden addressed the apparent surplus of outfielders thusly: "I think right now we look at it like we've got four really good young outfielders. ... I think we feel the players will help Manny make his decision on who is going to play. Certainly my experience has been that four outfielders ... all get playing time. Those decisions will be made in spring training, will be made on the baseball field."

He added: "With four young outfielders, if three succeed we're in good shape. If one gets hurt, we're in good shape. ... We feel comfortable with four good young outfielders that are developing."

Still, Bowden was open to more deals. Bill Ladson over at mlb.com suggests that Austin Kearns might be traded. I heard the opposite late Monday night. "I would not read that Kearns is going to be traded into this." This person should know what he's talking about. Obviously, with Bowden being as creative as he has shown - recently and throughout his career - nothing's off the table, but it sounds to me like they'll go to spring training with all four outfielders, and it will be left to Manny Acta to sort it all out.

With the four guys they have, they're not going to move Kearns - an exceptional right fielder - out of his spot. The key, if all are still here, will be finding the right amount of at-bats for Pena, Dukes and Milledge. Each is at a certain stage of his development, and they won't want to stunt that.

Here are Dukes's numbers in the majors and minors. Don't put much stock in the .190 major league average this year. He obviously had distractions, many of his own making.

Back off the field: It's also worth pointing out some stuff that Tim Tolman told me in a phone conversation about Dukes. He got ejected from a game for Licey in the Dominican winter league last week, and he went after the umpire. But Tolman said that Brayan Pena had been ejected from the game earlier, that it had been stopped because stuff had been thrown on the field, that emotions were high, that the home plate umpire was all over the place with his strikeout, and that Pena's argument was far worse than that of Dukes.

For what it's worth.

That completes Day One. There's much in store on Day Two. I have a lot of stuff left in my notebook that didn't get on the Journal or in the $.35 edition. So even if there's not another trade - and there's always a chance there will be - we'll have plenty of stuff to update you on Tuesday.

Check in throughout the day.

By Barry Svrluga  |  December 4, 2007; 2:33 AM ET
 
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Next: Nats-Braves on March 30?

Comments

Good work Barry - breakfast updates in the UK - just how I like them!

Posted by: Kirkie | December 4, 2007 2:50 AM | Report abuse

The Dukes deal I understand, though I think they're selling Gibson's potential short. He was unhittable for most of the short season, and finished with the best WHIP on the team.

Dukes has much room to grow. He was trying to make the jump from the Carolina League last year, to the majors. Makes me wonder though. Forget the fact that he is clearly a profoundly troubled young man. Is he really ready for the majors? I am thinking that a year at AA/AAA would probably do him a lot of good.

On the other hand, I do not get the Clippard deal. He was not a good pitcher last year -- certainly not someone who is ready for the majors. In contrast, Albaladejo probably should have been considered for the Nats' closer's job. Considering they could have gotten much more for Cordero, I would have preferred they deal the Chief, and give Albaladejo a chance to close. The odds of Clippard contributing this year? Not great. And the Nats have better prospects just a little farther down the road.

Posted by: FischFry | December 4, 2007 2:58 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Times' Thom Lovarro has a great column today on the Dukes' signing and how it sends the wrong signal about the future of this team.

Could not agree more with his remarks. One would hope the Washington Nationals -- the team representing the nation's capital -- could do better than to take on someone like Dukes.

Love Barry's jab at Boswell:
"Boz, I'm sure, would have weighed in on this if not for Sean Taylor's funeral on Monday, and I would guess he would give the columnist's take later in the week at some point."

Looks like the Post newsroom has a failure to communicate. Barry doesn't even know if the one columnist who writes about the Nats plans to, well, next write about the Nats.

Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 4:46 AM | Report abuse

As many others have mentioned elsewhere, we got Albaladejo off waivers last year, and Tyler Clippard was ranked as the Yankees' #7 prospect going into the year.

As for Gibson, it appears Clippard already is what Gibson might become some day. Gibson was even the Nats' #7 prospect going into the season, as well, and would have been #8 at this point, based on a recent BA article. Gibson is 20, Clippard is 22.

Posted by: Three more months | December 4, 2007 5:06 AM | Report abuse

As for Gibson, it appears Clippard already is what Gibson might become some day. Gibson was even the Nats' #7 prospect going into the season, as well, and would have been #8 at this point, based on a recent BA article. Gibson is 20, Clippard is 22.

Posted by: Three more months | December 4, 2007 05:06 AM

--------------


Exactly...Bowden replaced Gibson wi th a control pitcher who's more major league ready....not bad at all.

Posted by: LA Nats | December 4, 2007 5:41 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to think Bowden read my pleas to leave Kearns alone and changed his mind.

Thanks Jim.
___________
Barry: "Bill Ladson over at mlb.com suggests that Austin Kearns might be traded. I heard the opposite late Monday night. 'I would not read that Kearns is going to be traded into this.' This person should know what he's talking about."

"With the four guys they have, they're not going to move Kearns - an exceptional right fielder - out of his spot."

Posted by: NatsNut | December 4, 2007 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Don't see why everyone is so upset about Dukes. Sure there's risk, there's always risk. But he's not any more messed up than Dmitri was when we signed him. Granted Dmitri was a veteran big leaguer but Dukes has more upside. If he pans out, we have a good to great player for as much of his career as we want him. If he doesn't, what do we lose exactly? An 88 mph 19 year old. Seriously, is that what we're upset about? I will take a risky head case who is ready to take a shot at the bigs w/ the talent to be a 3-4 hitter on a good team for a soft tossing 19 year old any day. Granted Gibson may be the next Greg Maddux but it's all about managing risk and this deal does that.

Also, like the trade for Clippard. We have an abundance of strong relievers and shortage of reliable starters, that's a good trade too.

I have had my objections w/ some of Bowden's deals but overall he's done great and these two deals are no exception.

Isn't wringing our hands over how four talented outfielders will all get playing time exactly the kind of problem we've been longing to have???

Thanks for all the great updates Barry, that was a gold mine to wake up to this morning.

Posted by: Avar | December 4, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

On Gibson, (and other Vermont pitchers) those were short season A ball hitters he was facing and blowing away with his 88 mph fastball. Not saying he's not a prospect, just not one of the family jewels.

On Albaladejo, a real sacrifice but remember he was picked up off the scrap heap last year and the fact that Bowden was able to recognize his value, nurture it, and trade him high for a potential starter is worth notice.

On Thom Lovero, the guy is one of the most negative columnists in the city. He was leading the charge for 'historically bad' last year. He whines alot. Is signing Dukes sending the wrong signal? I think it sends several positive signals: a) we are serious about getting better on the field, b) we will support players off the field (counseling, mentoring, etc...), c) we are willing to take chances. Remember, the Nats knew they would be criticized for this. They did not make this decision without putting controls and mitigations in place. As Steinbrenner once said, "Lovero is a BFT" (or was that someone else?).

On Kearns, keep him.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 4, 2007 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Guillen signs with the Royals. 3 years / $36M. Wow.

Guillen .290/23/99
Kearns .266/16/74

Can't remember what Kearns makes. Both are good rightfielders. Clearly Guillen is the more productive. I enjoyed watching him play. I love Kearns, but can he match Guillen's productivity? I think so, but when?

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 4, 2007 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Keep Kearns. Try to trade Cordero and others if necessary for a high-end middle infielder or the best starting pitcher you can get. Either that, or give me yet another reason to pull out my 2007 Prospect Handbook. This has been all I could have asked for so far.

As for Loverro? Hey, at least one of their columnists was available to comment on what should be a juicy story to jump onto. I look forward to what Boswell has to say, although he will have to write a Bedard trade rumor column first, I am sure.

Posted by: Three more months | December 4, 2007 8:15 AM | Report abuse

i'm excited to see some change. last years team was about tapped out. and we are definitely getting value on all these trades.

keep kearns. that's a nice outfield full of gloves and arms. if new stadium's fences are that much shorter and foul territory much less, they should be able to get to a lot of balls in play. maybe they can rotate dukes and wily mo at 1b since nick johnson has disappeared in all this.

baseball america's take on clippard:

Tyler Clippard, rhp Born: Feb. 14, 1985 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 200
Drafted: HS--Trinity, Fla., 2003 (9th round) • Signed by: Scott Pleis
Background: In his third full pro season, Clippard did what he has done every season--get better. He got off to a rough start at Double-A Trenton but recovered with a dominant second half that included the first no-hitter in the Thunder's 13-year franchise history. He led the Eastern League in strikeouts and ranked fifth in the entire minors.

Strengths: Clippard has figured out how put hitters away at every level without "wow" stuff. He frequently pitches backward because he can throw his curveball and changeup, both slightly above-average pitches, for quality strikes. His long arms and lanky body add deception to his delivery.

Weaknesses: Though he has filled out his frame to around 200 pounds, Clippard hasn't added fastball velocity. In fact, while he used to touch 94 mph, his fastball usually topped out around 92 in 2006 and sat at 88-90. When he misses, he misses up in the zone and is prone to giving up home runs.

The Future: Clippard still could use polish to tweak his mechanics and improve his fastball. He won't be an ace, but he should be a solid option as a No. 4 starter in the near future. He'll continue to move up one step at a time, heading to Triple-A in 2007.

2006 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Trenton (AA) 12 10 3.35 28 28 0 0 166 118 14 55 175 .200

Posted by: longterm | December 4, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

231 - Off topic - the Chris Carter in the Carlos Quentin trade is not the Chris Carter in the Fruto /Pena deal. He's still on the Red sox roster (and finished AAA last year) and will be in the running for Hinske's old job. The former CWS / new D-back Carter I think I saw on SoSH as a target in a Crisp deal alongwith other pieces, so my guess is this is not a cheap and he is at least intriguing, but have done no research. Yes, Quentin would have looked nice here. If he were a misogynist, then perhaps Bowden would have tried to get him.

Posted by: jon | December 4, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I look forward to what Boswell has to say, although he will have to write a Bedard trade rumor column first, I am sure.

Posted by: Three more months | December 4, 2007 08:15 AM

-------------

Oh snap!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 4, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Please keep Kearns. He is the only major league outfielder we have.

Ladson has a tendency to report his wishes and opinions as fact. (i.e. "Dmitri Young is the most important player on the Nats.") I pray that this is only more of Ladson's published opinion.

Posted by: Ray | December 4, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I'm a bit concerned about not giving WMP a full time spot in the field. His history is he takes a while to get on a roll. It'll be quite a trick for Manny to split the playing time and get Dukes / Milledge / WMP enough at bats. Maybe we should count on some suspensions, arrests, arraignments, and disciplinary actions to take care of that problem?

Kearns, OTOH, will 28 this May. I don't think it accurate to call him "young" in baseball terms anymore. A 3d outfielder on a quality team with some pop if he bounces back.

I forget who compared Kearns to Guillen afer Jose signed a 3 yr $36 m contract. Kearns is due $5 m in '08, $8m in '09, with a $10 million club option in '10 (per ESPN's report of his 2/1/07 contract). Thus, we are on the hook for $14 m (with his 1 m buyout in '10), and he's earns the 3d year only if he's a worth it.

Posted by: jon | December 4, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Based on how great everyone thinks Clippard is, why would the Yankees make that deal? They got tired of Yankee Clippard jokes?

I'm all for second chances and everything, but if you threaten to kill the mother of your children and your kids, and there's proof on a cell phone, on which you're insane enough to take the time to figure out how to upload a picture of a gun, shouldn't you be in jail? I'm sure that's were I'd be.

Posted by: mike | December 4, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

If the cheap owners can find a way to unload Kearns, it will be done.

Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I am the most negative poster on this blog, by far.

Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I would put more stock in the rumor that Kearns is being shopped than in JimBo's statements that he'd "be happy with four OFs". This is a classic misinformation campaign. If he publicly says he's trying to unload Kearns, that reduces his value.

Posted by: #4 | December 4, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Ironically, the acquisition of Dukes almost guarantees that they won't move Kearns during the off-season now. Too many intangibles. I can see starting the season with a three day rotation in LF and CF but I fall back on my question of yesterday - can Willy Mo play first base? Being away from DC I "saw" very few Nats games last season. But what I saw of WMP in LF wasn't a very pretty sight. If he hits like he did in August and September however, he'll need to play.

Posted by: lowcountry | December 4, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Where do i send my resume for being the psychiatrist/ probation officer for this locker room?
I can't wait for the Official or unofficial Gangsta rap coming from this team with Millege, Dukes, Logan, Guzman, Belliard, Young and Pena all on board.

Any confirmation that they are going to fly in Manny Ramirez as fashion consulting to show these guys how to dress or did Belliard master that last year?
Bowden is either trying to gain street cred and appeal to our inner city youth or he's putting together baseball's version of the Longest Yard. I hope he remembers he's running a baseball team and not a rehab program. Have another drink Jimbo!

Posted by: Gangsta Rap | December 4, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Oh please sign me Bowden! I promise to fit right in with Dukes and Millege!

Posted by: Milton Bradley | December 4, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Speaking for myself, I am having a hard time dismissing the character issues. I'm all for second chances, and I was apprehensive about Dmitri early last year. In his case, however, there was one domestic violence incident in which substance abuse and untreated diabetes played a role, and he paid his dues and cleaned up his act. In Dukes' case, there are many incidents over the years. I wonder how many of those who support his cause have had any exposure to victims of domestic violence. Those ladies do not always get a second chance. I hope that Dukes is able to turn things around, but as a female fan I am also troubled by the message that the team is sending.

---

Don't see why everyone is so upset about Dukes.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 4, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Steve Finley and Corey Patterson are both LH outfielders looking for a job. Niether are starters. Either would make a nice 5th outfielder for those days when you need an extra LH in the lineup. Finley can probably be had cheap. Patterson is still looking for a starting gig, but likely won't find a guaranteed one.

I really enjoyed watching Nook Logan develop this year. Even with the one step back, run, dive catches he was an effective centerfielder. Since he gave up LH hitting I guess he will be a luxory we cannot afford on the 25. Does he have options to be sent down or will they have to release/trade him?

Langerhans could still make the team I suppose. But you probably need a more productive bat in the 5th OF spot.

Other LH outfielders on the market?

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 4, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

If they trade Cordero and Kearns, they could remove $12 million from the payroll and get it to around $22 million. For the Lerner group, that would be better than winning three straight World Series.

Posted by: therealswanni | December 4, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I am the most negative poster on this blog, by far.

Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 09:30 AM
--------------------------------------------
You dont say!?!

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | December 4, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

We basically got Dukes for Albaladejo, because Clippard = Gibson + 1-2 years. They were both top ten prospects in their respective clubs, and they even have similar pitching styles (both were ranked "best changeup" by Baseball America).

Even looking at the deal this way, I support it. We have a lot of decent relievers, but not very many OFs with the potential to hit .300 with 30 homers and speed to boot.

Wish list for the rest of the week: sign Jennings, somehow find a middle infielder who can also bat leadoff.

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | December 4, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Yes.

In addition to this message, the Dukes acquisition continues Bowden's trend of picking players off the scrap heap. The Nationals are the second-hand store of Major League Baseball. Yes, it worked with Dmitri Young - for one season. I'm not a fan of making a habit of it.

Dukes sent a picture of a gun to his girlfriend after leaving a voicemail message telling her, "You dead, dawg." That's not exactly "Bend Ya Knees." You don't have to be a female fan to find that abhorrent.

I do think they keep Kearns, though, because it insulates them from a Milledge or Dukes implosion.

And with that, I return to my offseason lurking.

-----

Those ladies do not always get a second chance. I hope that Dukes is able to turn things around, but as a female fan I am also troubled by the message that the team is sending.

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 4, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

"I am the most negative poster on this blog, by far."

This may be the first clue you've gotten since you've been here, too.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | December 4, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Okay, that made me laugh.

-----

If they trade Cordero and Kearns, they could remove $12 million from the payroll and get it to around $22 million. For the Lerner group, that would be better than winning three straight World Series.

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 4, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I agree natsfan1a. And the potential success of this reclamation project appears to be more uncertain and riskier than Dmitri. From a baseball perspective, I understand the deal - but I am keeping an eyebrow raised and wathcing what happens. I'd like to see the organization take the lead in a crusade against domestic violence campaign this season.

Posted by: lowcountry | December 4, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I dont like giving up gibson, I think he was the kind of pitcher that could do surprisingly well, coming into the season ranked 8th in the system would make him a priority and could even further help his chances.

That being said, he's ranked as the 6th best pitcher in our system and the 4th best lefty. We have guys who look more promising then him and an abundance of young left arms. Not only does this trade give us another righty, but it gives us one more major league ready.

If you call gibson for clippard a push (might be undervaluing clippard because he was rated higher for the yanks, #7, then gibson was for the nats, #8, and the yanks have a far superior minor league system), then this becomes Albladejo for Dukes. A promising young reliever for a possible all-star. I'll take that deal every time, even with the risks.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | December 4, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Appreciate the constructive comments from natsfan1a and lowcountry.

The points about addressing domestic violence issues are well taken, and must be addressed in such a way that it's clear that no matter your tools, batting average (yes, Swanni, or lack thereof), upside, or whatever, you do not get a free pass.

There are pundits (Baseball Prospectus has a few) who project the message that fans don't really have any business caring about off-the-field stuff, from PEDs to salaries to criminal misbehavior. I can't agree with that, any more than I can damn Manny and JimBow for extending a chance.

Posted by: Hendo | December 4, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"In Dukes' case, there are many incidents over the years. I wonder how many of those who support his cause have had any exposure to victims of domestic violence. Those ladies do not always get a second chance. I hope that Dukes is able to turn things around, but as a female fan I am also troubled by the message that the team is sending."

Those ladies have reportedly been awarded child support from Dukes by the courts. If he's working and drawing a paycheck from the Nationals, there's a much better chance those child support payments get made than there is if no MLB team is willing to take a chance on him. That may not be a full second chance for those ladies, but it's part of one. So I wouldn't come down hard on the Nationals for doing their part for Dukes's victims, such as they are able to - being as they are a baseball team after all, not a social services agency.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | December 4, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

are you positive of that?
_______
I am the most negative poster on this blog, by far.
Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 09:30 AM

Posted by: Mr. In-between | December 4, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I like that idea, lowcountry.

---

I'd like to see the organization take the lead in a crusade against domestic violence campaign this season.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 4, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

While I don't dismiss the character issues, I see the baseball side of these deals and I agree with them. We've already established ourselves as the Ellis Island of the MLB by taking in and turning around Guillen, Carasco, Loaiza, Belliard and Young. And none of those players had the upside of Milledge or Dukes. If they pan out, we could have a couple superstars and if they wig out again, then we dump them without really giving up much. Risk v Reward. Like them or not, we now have top tier talent on the roster and a hell of a manager to nuture them. Let's give Manny and the gang a shot with these guys before we right these deals off. Major League Baseball is not the seminary. These guys aren't always good guys, but as long as they obey the law as a Nat, I'm all for forgive and forget.

That said, I like the idea of the team taking a stance against domestic violence. Perhaps involve Dukes in some way to help him as well as the team's image.

Posted by: 307 | December 4, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Well, we know not to mess with you, Mr. In-between. :-)

---

are you positive of that?

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 4, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for pointing that out, Sect. 419+1. Just to clarify, by domestic violence victims not getting a second chance, I was referring to their being no longer among the living, as domestic violence frequently escalates into murder.

---

Those ladies have reportedly been awarded child support from Dukes by the courts. If he's working and drawing a paycheck from the Nationals, there's a much better chance those child support payments get made than there is if no MLB team is willing to take a chance on him. That may not be a full second chance for those ladies, but it's part of one. So I wouldn't come down hard on the Nationals for doing their part for Dukes's victims, such as they are able to - being as they are a baseball team after all, not a social services agency.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 4, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I liked the Milledge deal, but Dukes, I don't know. JimBows' knack for baseball dumpster diving might be a stretch on this one. Referencing Dmitri to Dukes doesn't fit here. Dukes has an awful lot on his resume that doesn't smell good. Somewhere along the line the reclamation projects of JimBow could backfire, this might be the one.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | December 4, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Ausmus, B. Molina, Bard, Shoppach ????

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 4, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Secretariat is not going to catch a break anytime soon, but the opposing camps look set, and irreducible:
Either Dukes is an inexpensive low-risk shot at getting a very good player, with a probable one-time but bad PR hit if he can't turn himself around, or alternatively, NOBODY who seriously and REPEATEDLY threatens to KILL HIS OWN [RF]ing CHILDREN, AND their mother, can possibly be a good enough ballplayer to compensate.
Redemption is good. I hope he does see the light, for him and for his kids. I'll wait and see, but from home, not from a seat in the park.

Posted by: Cevans | December 4, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Ditto to natsfan1a comments (well, except for the part about being a woman).

There are character issues that I can accept as a fan (Jose Guillen being a total psycho as example). And while I wasn't crazy about picking up either WMP or Milledge, but I hope they work out now that they're Nats.

Dukes, however, is way over the line. I don't even care about the trade from a baseball standpoint; I want him fail here and get lost as soon as possible.

Assuming that we can't rid of him, this will be the first time that I can remember that I'll be activity rooting against a player on one of my teams.

Posted by: joebleux | December 4, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

When a contending team, ie METS, trade a prospect for veterans, they have a need to win now. The Milledge deal makes sense. When a team worse than the NATS gives up on a former top 10 prospect, age 22, you know the dude has real issues. Fred Smoot, fire up the love boat.

Posted by: JSmac | December 4, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I would suggest that anyone praising the signing of Elijah Dukes read this transcript of the death threats he left on his girlfriend's answering machine. It's bone-chilling.

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/05/23/Tampabay/Ballplayer_s_wife__He.shtml

I'm starting to think I might stick with upper deck tickets next year. This guy frightens me.

Posted by: Section 553 | December 4, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

thanks, jon. i saw the name "chris carter"and the position "1B" and the word "sox" and mixed them up.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 4, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Dukes is not going to help the season ticket drive, that's for sure.

Maybe the team next year could hold a few extra Ladies Nights in his honor.

Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

You know what's worse than biting into an apple and finding a worm? Finding half a worm. It doesn't matter how good the rest of the apple is, at that point.

Everybody gets to have their own line; taste is not objective.

Posted by: Cevans | December 4, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I could think of nothing better than having the Nats be the leaders of speaking out against Domestic Violence and raising money for that cause. Dmitri Young and Elijah Dukes could really show a lot of class by doing this. Heck I might even have to cheer for Dukes. Lastings Millege could make a new CD and donate all the profits from it to the cause. Just try to clean it up a little ok Lastings...

Posted by: NatsFan | December 4, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

so far it looks like adding dukes is the best thing we could do for milledge...

we got some big boys on this team now.

dmitri is about 260. wily mo is more like 275. dukes is about 250. kearns is about 250. i just hope people don't feel plunking dukes is open season. that could turn out bad. on the other hand if i was told to pitch high and inside to one of those guys i wouldn't be so excited about it.

Posted by: longterm | December 4, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I thought those of you ripping Dukes and excusing Dmitri might be interested in the following description:

"Between pleading guilty in domestic violence charges, yapping his mouth about his former team and teammates, and standing in the baseline to give baserunners concussions, Young is definitely one to be on alert for. His lack of self control and disregard for authority make him a baseball version of Terrell Owens."

That was written about him before the beginning of last season. Actually choking someone like Dmitri did - he pleaded "no contest" - and making horrible threats are two different things. While both are awful, the actual assault is much worse. I've seen only one poster who was able to say that he/she also doesn't root for Dmitri. I'll respect that consistency. Those openly rooting against Dukes should also call for the immediate and unconditional release of Dmitri. Anyone willing to do that? Otherwise, I think we all need to step back and give Dukes a chance.

Posted by: #4 | December 4, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

please nobody boo our own players. at least not in the beginning. but if something embarassing to the franchise were to happen i doubt you'd see whoever on the field again anyway. i'd expect that person to be cut and gone before the story broke. and to be honest i half expect that to happen with dukes. still i hope for the best.

new lineup projection?

i think it's doubtful these guys help our OBP much this year.

Posted by: longterm | December 4, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

If the Indians are talking about trading Cliff Lee and Kelly Shoppach for Jason Bay, would they be willing to offer the same for Kearns? This would solve the hole at catcher and bring an experienced lefty starter (back) to the Expos/Nats. Would be a typical JimBo trade -- taking a chance on a guy who had a down year (Lee) and an unproven young player on the rise. FLop and Barfield could be added if Indians would rather have a middle infielder than a backup 2B. Barfield is the kind of "tools" guy that JimBo likes. Not sure if the Nats want another pitching project and parting with Kearns would be tough in light of the combustible young OFs left, but Lee won 46 games in 2004-06 and is only 29.

Posted by: steve4nats | December 4, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

is a choke hold dmitri's definition of a short leash?

Posted by: longterm | December 4, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Initially, I thought the domestic abuse campaign idea to be a good one. Upon further review, however, I can't help be feel like it might ring a little hollow.

It's kind of like a public service announcement from an actor caught with drugs. He's not telling you to "just say no" because he feels like it's the right thing to do. He's doing it to avoid jail.

If Dukes is going to participate in such a campaign, he has to be the one to initiate it. Anything else would come across as contrived.

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 4, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

No, we shouldn't, and here's why.
Dmitri Young was signed to a nonguaranteed, minor league, one-year FA contract. The baseball risk was literally zero, and the media splash was a great deal less than this one. Still, a lot of people who were unenthusiastic about Dmitri were eventually won over, by Dmitri, in large part because he didn't ask for slack, and because there was a visible path (he quit drinking, got meds, got healthy). AFTER that became clear, people eventually came around, not before. And rightly so, because the odds are not good, and his actions were not acceptable.

Nobody is running Dukes out of town--he's on this team, period. We don't like it, and we're saying so. We get to do that. Nothing anybody says will fix this. Dukes has to do, not say, the right thing, for a long time, to change people's minds.

**********
Those openly rooting against Dukes should also call for the immediate and unconditional release of Dmitri. Anyone willing to do that? Otherwise, I think we all need to step back and give Dukes a chance.
Posted by: #4 | December 4, 2007 10:34 AM

Posted by: CE | December 4, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Okay, let me see if I have all this right after a weekend out of town with my Cubs-fan girlfriend (who is still pouting about Schneider)

Nationals trade a promising Level 1 talent pitcher (Level 5 being major-league) for a domestic-abusing, violent Level 4 outfielder that we think we can reclaim.

And a scrap heap reclamation Level 4 reliever for a Level 4 starter.

Seems like much ado about nothing. What has really been improved here? Isn't this just rearranging the deck chairs?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 4, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"I could think of nothing better than having the Nats be the leaders of speaking out against Domestic Violence and raising money for that cause. Dmitri Young and Elijah Dukes could really show a lot of class by doing this."

Those of you so keen on challenging the Nats, Young and Dukes to become crusaders against domestic violence need to give them credit for taking the first steps already toward doing that. The Nationals have provided an opportunity for two offenders to turn their lives around from their former bad ways. Young embraced that opportunity last year and made it work. Dukes has accepted the chance to do the same thing this year. As we have seen in the sad situation of Sean Taylor, image and perception often lag reality. Give the reality of the situation some time to set in for Dukes and the Nationals, please, before demanding a change in image and an instantaneous leap to an even higher level of reality. Dmitri Young is being given the challenge this year to mentor Elijah Dukes and straighten him out. If he and the Nationals can accomplish that, it would be a significant contribution towards eliminating domestic violence. Why not let them do that before expecting even more from them? Their primary reason for existence, after all, is to play baseball, isn't it? If they can't succeed at that and gain the attention of the community, any PR crusades for other "causes" they might undertake would be virtually useless. Let's wait and see how this situation plays out over the season, okay?

Posted by: Section 419+1 | December 4, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

#4, I'll disagree with you on this.

DYoung's issue was one event, arguably linked to health and substance abuse. Dukes has a long term pattern of abusive behavior towards women -- going into a school to threaten someone; sending explicit death threats -- those may be minor issues to you; they aren't to me. They're evidence of a complete lack of character.

longterm: it's too late; something embarrassing already has happened to the Nat's franchise: signing Dukes.

Posted by: joebleux | December 4, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

You make a good point, #4, and for the record, I've brought this up before. What Dmitri did was unconscionable, and I'm absolutely unwilling to give him a pass on that. As far as his "turnaround" is concerned, I still skeptically look at that as a work in progress. Nothing is proven yet.

I'm not "rooting against Dukes," so calling for Young's unconditional release is unncessary. I'm merely critical of the message this sends and of Bowden's scrap-heap mentality.

I do take contention with the assertion that what Dmitri did is "far worse" than Dukes' threats to his girlfriend. Physically, yes, the damage of the former is greater. Psychologically, the fear is exactly the same. Every time Dukes goes to visit his children, his ex-girlfriend has to look at the man that threatened to kill her. That is very real.

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 4, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

CE:

My comment was not directed to people who are willing to give him a chance - like you seem to be.

"Dukes has to do, not say, the right thing, for a long time, to change people's minds."

At least you are holding out the possibility of changing people's minds. That's all I'm suggesting.

What I take issue with was the person/ pople who stated that they are openly rooting for his failure.

Posted by: #4 | December 4, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

"Initially, I thought the domestic abuse campaign idea to be a good one. Upon further review, however, I can't help be feel like it might ring a little hollow."
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

It would ring hollow, Jon. But some very real good might come of it and therefore they should do it anyway.

Posted by: lowcountry | December 4, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

More on domestic violence: It's inexcusable. Dmitri knows it and doesn't make excuses. That's why we can embrace him, because he knows it was wrong, doesn't try to trivialize it by thinking he can say sorry and make amends, but realizes that the closest thing to forgiveness is to make sure nothing ever happens again.

We don't see that yet from Dukes. Dmitri has said he will mentor the young man. Good luck, Meat Hook. I'm not going to give him any more leeway than I gave you, which is to say none at all. May he walk the straight and narrow in your footsteps.

Otherwise, we should can him.

As an aside, good points related to Sean Taylor 419+1, but for those of you who haven't followed and just are getting a trickle of the coverage I wanted to make one thing clear. Taylor was never, ever accused of being at all violent or threatening towards women. Heck, he wasn't even a philanderer, he was in love with the same woman since high school. Important to point out given the "checkered past" and "no saint" euphemisms that we hear for all sorts of pasts.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 4, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Playing baseball is their job, not their reason for existence.

That being said, I really haven't sorted out the whole "reason for existence" thing, so I could be wrong.

-----

Their primary reason for existence, after all, is to play baseball, isn't it?

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 4, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

So what have Logan, Guz, & WMP done other than wear their hair different than you might? I suppose if you were around in the 70s you would have rooted against the A's because of their mustaches.

---------
Where do i send my resume for being the psychiatrist/ probation officer for this locker room?
I can't wait for the Official or unofficial Gangsta rap coming from this team with Millege, Dukes, Logan, Guzman, Belliard, Young and Pena all on board. --Gangsta Rap

Posted by: Section 307 (former 418) | December 4, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Opening Day (Night) 2008:

PA Announcer:

"Now battering -- uh, I mean batting -- second for your Washington Nationals, Elijah Dukes!"

Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I was wondering the same thing, 307.

By the way, the A's players were paid $300 to grow moustaches for the team photo. How cool is that?

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 4, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Prediction:

If the Lerners don't allow Stan Kasten to start spending some real money by 2009, he will cash in his stake and leave.

Despite the propaganda thrown around by Screech (AWOL) Boswell, I'm not buying that either Kasten or Bowden would bring in a O.J. wannabe unless they had no choice thanks to payroll restrictions.

Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

It's absolutely unfair to lump Guz, Pena and Lopez with Milledge and Dukes.

Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

This projected 2008 lineup...

CF Dukes
LF Milledge
3B Zimmerman
1B Young
RF Kearns
2B Belliard
C Flores
SS Guzman

is not dramatically better than the opening day 2007 lineup:

2B Lopez
SS Guzman
3B Zimmerman
RF Kearns
1B Young
C Schneider
LF Church
CF Logan

but it is better. And it could be dramatically better by end of 2008.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 4, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Part of the 2008 lineup might be more likely to be found in a criminal lineup before the season is over.

Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I understand any concerns and cautions being thrown out. Problems like domestic violence dont tend to be one-time deals, or easily corrected bad habits. Typically domestic abuse is a consistent and recurring problem which shows patterns similar to drug and alcohol abuse.

That being said, Dukes seems to have one thing going for him at this point: baseball talent. If nobody takes a chance on that talent then he will most likely be left as another unproductive member of society. I believe in caution but I also believe in giving the benefit of the doubt and a fresh start. If this fresh start doesn't work... dump him, get him as far away as possible, but try. Give him a chance.

In baseball terms we seemed to swap the equivalent of a high minors reliever with a low ceiling for a high minors outfielder with almost no ceiling. If the fans can rally and show support for dukes then maybe we can help him earn it. Opening day I plan to cheer for dukes, even if he strikes out, even if he goes 0-for, even if he struggles to adjust. I cheer for the nats and everyone they put on the field because that's what fans do. I plan to cheer for him the entire season and his entire career as a nat.

This assumes of course that he can put his problems behind him. If he cant, he wont be a nat and I wont have to cheer for him.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | December 4, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

When Kearns gets a shipment of the same steroids Guillen allegedly took.

-------------
Guillen signs with the Royals. 3 years / $36M. Wow.

Guillen .290/23/99
Kearns .266/16/74

Can't remember what Kearns makes. Both are good rightfielders. Clearly Guillen is the more productive. I enjoyed watching him play. I love Kearns, but can he match Guillen's productivity? I think so, but when?

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 4, 2007 08:15 AM

Posted by: Juan-John | December 4, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Having just finished Ball Four (read it!) I can't say I feel terribly high on the quality of baseball players as people.

As far as the decisions of management go, however, Bouton has it right that they'll stand behind you no matter if you're a child-rapist as long as you hit .300...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 4, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Swanni, I think it is unfair to lump Milledge with Dukes, too.

On the other hand, I hope Wily Mo, Dmitri and company raise some lumps on Dukes' head if he even thinks about stepping out of line next year.

Posted by: Brewer | December 4, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

But what happens if the child rapist (or, in this case, wife beater/threatener, etc.) hits .190?

Seems to me that people are forgetting that this guy hit just .190. Joel Hanrahan can hit better than that.

Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

By the way 307, one of the longstanding issues that tends to cause similar recurring behavior to domestic abuse and drug abuse is racism. Think about how you classify people when they are different from you.

Also, rap has a stigma, but its a creative form of music. Think about what people first said about rock, now its as mainstream as any music.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | December 4, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I just want to chime in. I think the only way to handle Dukes as an organization is zero tolerence. Period. I think we are all entitled to our opinions....and I agree he is a clubhouse risk, and at the same time a great talent. However, I'd rather be the organization trying to fix a problem than the organization that turns its back on a problem. And by no means do I think the Nats should be a refuge for every troubled player.

Posted by: stats | December 4, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

He hit .190 in his first partial season in the majors. If you look at his career stats he's got a .284 average with a .370 obp and a .454 slugging. This looks better then what most of the nats have done offensively.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | December 4, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I was ignoring the rap comment as well, but as long as we're bringing up music I would say that "put a boot in your posterior" and other such country music lyrics are just as violent and dangerous to the soul of America as "gangster rap" (whatever that is), possibly more so. Reminds me of Catch-22 when Yossarian thinks it's crazy that people he doesn't know are trying to kill him.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 4, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

It has been so eventful since Friday that I am now feeling impatient for the next move. Remember, too, that on Thursday the Nats have two roster spots they can fill with Rule 5 draftees.

Before that happens, though, I fully expect one more deal, likely more on the scale of the Lastings Milledge trade than the other two. More players we might be sad to see go will be gone before Thursday, I am sure. Hopefully more good players will come that can take our minds off Dukes a bit.

That would be the best for us and for him. Almost three months before Spring Training will be a long time to chew this over.

Posted by: Three more months | December 4, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Ah! yes Yossarian - only here at NatsJournal. Thank you, 506.

Posted by: lowcountry | December 4, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"I'm not buying that either Kasten or Bowden would bring in a O.J. wannabe unless they had no choice thanks to payroll restrictions." -- Swanni
Interesting question about Kasten, I believe Bowden would bring in Dukes regardless of team payroll.

----

On the issue of zero tolerance, if you are going to bother to bring in a guy like Dukes, you need to give him some leeway or he'll completely tune out those trying to talk sense to him. Texting his babies mamas pictures of guns is obviously out, but knives or axes should be OK.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | December 4, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

You guys/gals gotta stop it with this domestic violence stuff. His ex-wife is a teacher. What was she doing with this thug anyway? When he was showering her with gifts and money it was all good. When he is true to his nature now she's a victim. Bad recruiting on her part. If you are going to be involved with a thug, your eventually going to need a restraining order. If you make it that far.

I don't think its a great message to send to the fans though.I didnt mind Milledge. But this one seems like the risk is huge. If he hurts a woman in the DC area are the Nats an accomplice? This ones gonna be interesting.

Posted by: the truth | December 4, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

PowerBoater69,
Probably right about Bowden -- he's the type who would bring in anyone regardless of the baggage.

But I don't recall Atlanta being the last stop for criminals and misfits when Kasten was running the show. This is out of character for him.

Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

As long as we're on the Soapbox:
www.risemagazine.org/issues/Issue_6/There_is_another_way.html

A view from the other end of all that work, running down the basics of what Dukes et al. has to do.

The writing isn't sophisticated, but the story is straightforward, and rings true to me.
*************
I don't care if Lastings records a cover of "Under My Thumb," or stars in "Taming of the Shrew." Not in the same class as abuse.

Posted by: cevans | December 4, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

You ARE kidding, right?

**********
You guys/gals gotta stop it with this domestic violence stuff. His ex-wife is a teacher. What was she doing with this thug anyway? When he was showering her with gifts and money it was all good. When he is true to his nature now she's a victim. Bad recruiting on her part. If you are going to be involved with a thug, your eventually going to need a restraining order. If you make it that far.

I don't think its a great message to send to the fans though.I didnt mind Milledge. But this one seems like the risk is huge. If he hurts a woman in the DC area are the Nats an accomplice? This ones gonna be interesting.

Posted by: the truth | December 4, 2007 11:59 AM

Posted by: CE | December 4, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Knowing that others are currently correcting this terribly flawed thesis, I will simply say:

the truth is out there.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 4, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

While I support the trade and look forward to seeing Dukes mature, I do NOT agree with any position that argues that its the victim's fault or that the victim was asking for it. What century is this?

Maybe the allegations are not true (although they are not disputed), or maybe the spouse is also a jerk, but to say that the victim is somehow accountable. I repeat: What century is this? Stupid. Really Stupid.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 4, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

My thoughts exactly, NatBisquit.

---

While I support the trade and look forward to seeing Dukes mature, I do NOT agree with any position that argues that its the victim's fault or that the victim was asking for it. What century is this?

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 4, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

i'm getting worried the marlins gonna leap frog the nats next year. sounds like they are getting some hefty offers for miguel cabrera...

Posted by: longterm | December 4, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Re. Milledge and rap, I'm not a fan of the music myself (particularly when it has a misogynistic or violent message), but his having recorded one song doesn't cause me to be really apprehensive. Don't some players use rap songs for their at-bat music?

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 4, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"Don't some players use rap songs for their at-bat music"

Including Ryan Zimmerman's "This is Why I'm Hot"

Not as bad as Schneider's emo which included the line "Sugar we're going down swinging"

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 4, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Nationals Farm Authority has some interesting info on who we might go after in the Rule 5 draft. What a great week!

Posted by: G-town | December 4, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Second chances, yes but Dukes has already had multiple second chances--he is a repeat and evidently progressively worse offender. I won't root against him, but this deal is simply offensive to women fans. Regardless of baseball potential, bad move, wrong message, Nats.

Posted by: NatsFly | December 4, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Okay, if it IS offensive to women to bring in Dukes, then you can't root for him.

I'm very wary about all this. I want to give Dukes a chance to prove things are different. But I want him to prove it.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 4, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm looking forward to seeing MILLEDGE mature.

Hitting people & threatening your family with a gun is not immature behavior, they're sick/criminal/immoral (take your pick depending on your viewpoint). On the other hand, acting like an overly cocky 21 year old might be immature but is none of those other things.

[NatBisquit, you're 100% right]


-----------
While I support the trade and look forward to seeing Dukes mature, I do NOT agree with any position that argues that its the victim's fault or that the victim was asking for it. What century is this?

NatBisquit

Posted by: Section 307 (former 418) | December 4, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

As another female fan, I support the comments made earlier on by natsfan1a.

Posted by: #1 Lurker | December 4, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

To Long-term -- No doubt, after the '06 season, Clippard was a hot commodity in the Yankees system. His last two months were simply phenomenal -- even topped BA's "Hot Sheet". Then, '07 happened. He stuggled at AAA, still got called up but did not exactly impress with the Yanks, and then was sent to AA, where he continued to struggle.

If he's a contender for our rotation in the spring, we're in big trouble again. This could pan out, but I think folks here are underselling what the Nats gave up. Albaladejo may have been a nobody before the season, but he was the best we had at the end.

As for Dukes, I don't think you give up on the guy -- you let the legal system take care of those outside issues -- in that vein, it's silly to talk about the Nats helping out with all his child support payments. They've got a real project on their hands. This guy is out-of-control, with no sense of responsibility or consequences. But, he is here to play baseball. The question is whether he's ready to hit in the majors, which he did really badly, last year. It might be a bit precipitous to be giving him the starting job.

Posted by: FischFry | December 4, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Micheal Richards to be Nats New Mascot "Nancy" -- Screech DFA'd

Posted by: not yet | December 4, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Not rooting against someone does not necessarily mean that one is rooting for them.

---

Okay, if it IS offensive to women to bring in Dukes, then you can't root for him.

Posted by: resident semantician | December 4, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

New post up

Posted by: Anonymous | December 4, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

NEED. MORE. MOVES.

Winter Meetings are like crack and JimBo is my dealer.

Posted by: Wes Mantooth | December 4, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

i'd like to cut/paste something more recent but baseball america started with NL teams this year. anyway, he projects better than Chico. and moving to NL could help him a little bit.

i'm not so excited about him but i like that trade. right now i'd rather see tyler clippard than redding, lannan, or hanrahan in the rotation. detwiler and balester can't be ready fast enough.

Posted by: longterm | December 4, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Thom says it all....


"He is 23 years old and talented, but it wouldn't matter if he was Mickey Mantle. Sometimes the juice just ain't worth the squeezing."

Posted by: 6th and D | December 4, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Easy to be critical at this stage, but the Dukes move--in the context of the larger Nats picture--seems underwhelming. Others have listed his character traits as challenged, and while he seems to have the tools, he was less than impressive offensively in his early season last year (clearly, he was hitting home runs for his average!). So now we have four potential starting outfielders, each of whom bats from the right, and only one of whom can reasonably be described as proven by full-time work (Kearns).

We have no credible left-handed outfielder without Church, and no realistic expectation of finding an impact player among that crowd to help protect Zimmerman in the line-up. It's not clear how we'd get D. Young in the line-up consistently if we assume Nick Johnson is back and healthy (not that Young was realistically an outfielder).

I'm still waiting to see how all of this relates to the famed Lerner-Kasten Plan (for those interested in A Man With A Plan, see the movie--a cult classic about a Vermont farmer entirely unrelated to baseball but with a DC angle!). We need a Soriano-styled spark somewhere in the line-up, and we need to be prepared to spend money to get it. A new ballpark only provides so much excitement . . .

Posted by: Carl in 306 | December 4, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

From ESPN: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=kurkjian_tim&id=2916835

For all of those yelling about domestic abuse, see the article above about Young.

I'm not excusing what Dukes has done (IMO, he is nothing short of a sociopath), but before we start a lynch mob, I suggest you all perhaps do a search on Dmitri on Google.

A lot of the fervent bloggers online seem to forget about Young's issues before he became a National.

The last I remember, assault on someone was a serious crime, and considering it was his girlfriend that was attacked, doesn't make Young cuddly and warm in my eyes at all.

He hit over .300 and became a fan favorite, but yet, we have glossed over his past.

Posted by: Fair and Balanced | December 4, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

The Dukes trade has happened and all the postulating, predicting and prognosticating in the world ain't going to change that fact. I think what needs to happen is that Dukes needs to be told: NO SECOND CHANCES and the "unacceptable" behaviors need to be spelled out clearly. I don't condone what he has done, said or intimated in the past, but I am willing to see if he is serious about turning over a new leaf. It has been written that Dukes has contact with his children and has a dialogue with his estranged wife. Lets give the kid a chance; like I said, there is no choice at this point.

Posted by: TimDz | December 4, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

With all of Dukes prodigious talent, maybe he could be the next two-sports star. The Redskins could sign him too. After all, the NFL seems have a soft spot for "accused" double murderers. The Juice is in the hall, and #52 in purple up the highway is an All-Pro.

Posted by: JSmac | December 4, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

My God. If this discussion were even a little bit more overtly racist, I'd be afraid of what I would be reading.
I have seen a few common ideas in these threads, which perhaps are best distilled down to:
- Black = bad
- One black guy is okay, but watch out if you get a bunch of them together.
- Lets hope that the white guys can keep the black guys in line.
- Black = thug (and everything else entailed by hip hop and gangsta' rap).
- Black = unredeemable

The tacit racism has been unbearable. I'm inclined to believe that this whole discussion would be different if Dukes (or Milledge for that matter) were white or hispanic. While I do not excuse Dukes's actions, I wonder what this discussion would read like if the majority of the participants weren't white, middle class suburbanites. As much each of us is a product of our environments (and you are, in terms of parental involvement, education, college, wealth, employment connections, access to the legal system etc), so is Dukes. And I bet that if you grew up under similar circumstances to Dukes, that you'd view his behavior differently. And that your understanding of what to do in some of these circumstances would differ.
Of course in the broader society, we recognize the abhorrence of his actions, and we should hope we can change them, not only for the benefits of having a potential star outfielder (which granted is why the Nats are bothering), but for him as an individual. I'm glad that he is getting counseling. I'm glad that he will have teammates from similar backgrounds who can be positive rolemodels/friends in his life. I hope that things do change for him and that he can "break the cycle" for his benefit and for the benefit of his children. (Though of course, I am sickened and saddened that he gets access to these benefits simply because he's an athlete).
So perhaps a second chance and a move to a new environment is exactly what he needs. And we should be happy about this, both as fans and as members of society in general. And if not, so be it.

So I ask, would our criticism be the same if he were white instead of black?

(and no, I'm not asking for everyone to defend himself or herself from the charge of racism, but rather, has anyone else noticed this and acknowledge that perhaps race is a factor in our criticism of Dukes to some degree?)

Posted by: racism? | December 4, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I agree with fair and balanced, Dmitri was given an ultimatum when he arrived last year and produced. The only difference between him and Dukes is that this is was a trade and we got Dmitri when nobody wanted him.

Posted by: kryptoNATS | December 4, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Mine would. As I said the other day, see also Brett Myers of the Phillies. After he attacked his wife on the streets of Boston, the Phillies chose to start him despite public outcry (contending being more important to them). Again, as a female fan, I'm beginning to wonder whether MLB condones domestic violence, or at least does not see it as an issue.

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So I ask, would our criticism be the same if he were white instead of black?

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 4, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I think you're grasping at straws here, dude.
As far as keeping other's in line, Dimitri Young is mentioned as being the primary role model/big brother for Dukes. Last I checked, Dimitri is Black.
Most posters here are defending Milledge as just an immature kid.

You make valid points regarding a change of scenary, a second chance and a lot of support, but you lost credibility when pulled out the race card.

But to answer your question: YES, I believe the criticism would be just the same if it were a white player. I doubt that will make a difference to you, since you have already formulated your opinion.
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Posted by: racism?
My God. If this discussion were even a little bit more overtly racist, I'd be afraid of what I would be reading.
I have seen a few common ideas in these threads, which perhaps are best distilled down to:

One black guy is okay, but watch out if you get a bunch of them together.
- Lets hope that the white guys can keep the black guys in line.
- Black = thug (and everything else entailed by hip hop and gangsta' rap).
- Black = unredeemable

Posted by: TimDz | December 4, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I agree that there's some serious racism and jumping to conclusions going on here (didn't anybody learn anything last week?). I don't understand why WMP and Lopez have been grouped in with Young, Dukes and Milledge, other than they're, you know, ethnic. Lopez may be a bit prickly, but no more than, say, Ryan Church, who many of you all appear to have man crushes on.

And thanks for clearing me up on "rap" music. The kind Milledge makes is bad, but the kind Zimmerman has for his at bat (for two years now) is OK. Thanks for the insight.

Posted by: mike8 | December 4, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

If you're referring to my posting, the point was that, while I don't care for rap music personally (due to misogynistic and violent lyrics), I was not troubled by Milledge's venture into it. I mentioned that other players use it for at-bat music to illustrate that it was already a part of baseball.

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And thanks for clearing me up on "rap" music. The kind Milledge makes is bad, but the kind Zimmerman has for his at bat (for two years now) is OK. Thanks for the insight.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 4, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Yawl are missing the point with Dukes. JimBo ain't so interested in rehab or run production. It's all about making Cristian Guzman feel like HE ain't the "augghliest" lookin' dude in the ballyard anymore.

Posted by: chin_music | December 5, 2007 6:14 AM | Report abuse

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