Archive: March 17th, 2010

Elijah Dukes Available

The Washington Nationals have released eternal enigma Elijah Dukes.

The remarkably talented outfielder was penciled in as the Opening Day rightfielder. According to GM Mike Rizzo, the move was NOT made due to a behaviorial issue.

From the Washington Post:

General Manager Mike Rizzo called Dukes’s release “a performance-based decision” and that “no singular incident” led to the decision. But Rizzo also implied that Dukes’s presence in the clubhouse adversely affected the Nationals, saying they “will be a more cohesive group” without him.

“The clubhouse will be more united,” Rizzo said. “We’ll have a better feel around the ballclub. We’ll gain just by that alone.”

I will be the first to say that the Mets do not need any potential headaches. I will also say that Dukes is beginning to look like another Milton Bradley: an outfielder seemingly oozing with talent, but one who may never fully realize his potential due to the simple fact that his on-field performance does not outweight his off-field issues.

Many people inside the Nats organization (including teammates) assert that the 25-year-old Dukes has matured drastically since arriving in Washington, DC in December 2007. However, his athletic skill has not translated into results; he hit only .250 with a .729 OPS and played poor defense in over 100 games in 2009.

I’m sure there are a few Mets fans out there who are interested in Dukes, so please voice your opinion in the comments.

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Does Figgy Deserve a Spot?

Spring training “competitions” are usually nonsense, no matter what message is spewed by the team’s management (this is in regard to all clubs, not just the Mets). Management has predetermined thoughts about the lineup and most of the spots on the 25-man roster, and so spring training is used to support their “prevaluations” made long before pitchers and catchers report.

For example, is first base really an open competition? Both Ike Davis and Chris Carter are hitting the snot out of the ball, but we all know that — barring injury — Dan Murphy is the Opening Day first baseman. Why? Because Murphy proved satisfactory to the upper levels of Mets management based on his 2009 performance — if he wasn’t, we would be watching Adam LaRoche in a Mets uniform right now. (Note I stated “satisfactory” according to Mets management, rather than my or the popular opinion.)

Similarly, Angel Pagan would have to seriously falter — and Gary Matthews, Jr. put on a Roy Hobbs demonstration — to lose his grip on centerfield. Yes, Pagan’s mental issues were frustrating, but after what he did in the batter’s box from July through September, you can’t not put him in centerfield come April.

But another individual who seemed to “earn” a spot on the roster based 2009 was Nelson Figueroa.

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