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.