Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Star-crossed Misfit: Nationals waive Elijah Dukes

Elijah Dukes represents everything the Washington Nationals USED to be. They were run by disgraced buffoon Jim Bowden and had total misfits. Not only were some of their players just not major league quality; they were also taken from other teams because their former teams didn't feel like dealing with their off-field issues. No player embodied the old way quite like Elijah Dukes.

Dukes came from the Tampa Bay Rays in a late 2007 trade. It was thought that this very talented individual needed a change of scenery from Tampa, where he got arrested multiple times for several different reasons.

Dukes certainly looks the part. He is a gigantic human being with muscles bigger than most people's heads, and athletic ability most can only dream of. I heard the Bo Jackson comparison athletically to Dukes multiple times. Dukes' two biggest problems during his time in DC were that he couldn't stay on the field because of injury, and that he couldn't hit baseballs classic pitch: the curveball.

Dukes struggled mightily at the plate. Writers like Washington Post Columnist Tom Boswell kept throwing out stats that were potential based. Boswell once estimated that Dukes had the potential to hit over 35 home runs with 130 rbi's. Okay, that's all well and great, but if you can't hit a curveball it really doesn't matter. Dukes is a career .242 hitter, and that just doesn't cut in the major leagues as a starter. Throw in the rest of the baggage Dukes comes with and there is really no point in having him around.

General manager Mike Rizzo has made it a point to get players on the Nationals who are good people as well as good players. Dukes and former outfielder Lastings Milledge represent Bowden's buffoonery in bringing in head cases and "me" players. Dukes may not necessarily be a "me" guy, but when you can't hit a breaking pitch at the big league level, you have no reason to be a "me" guy. I wish Dukes nothing but success in his life and for his baseball career, but the juice on him is definitey not worth the squeeze.

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