Monday, December 03, 2007

Dukes Definitely A Hazard

UPDATE: Our Washington Nationals traded Lefthanded Pitching Youngster Glenn Gibson to Tampa Bay for Dukes. Gibson, I thought, was an up and coming pitcher in Our System? So, Washington did give up, at least, something of value--interesting. Press Release now shown at the bottom of the post.

With Team President Stan Kasten now confirming to The Washington Post that Our Washington Nationals have traded for troublesome youngster--Elijah Dukes--from The Tampa Bay Devil Rays--Washington better not have given anything of value back to The Rays. Apparently, just a minor league player to be named later.

Finding a talented reclamation project is one thing--some consider Elijah a Five Tool Talent. And, Our General Manager Jim Bowden is The Leader in that respect. Credit is given for making the effort to find talent others will pass on. Acquiring a young adult like Lastings Milledge after making immature mistakes, is one thing. Dmitri Young's past problems, another. Remember, to Dmitri's credit--he also had serious health problems--affecting his thoughts. But, threatening to harm your wife, and impregnating a 17 year old foster child living with a relative--fully knowledgeable of the acts--are not exactly character traits that I am looking to root for at New Nationals Park. Dukes has committed both these sins.

Yes, everyone deserves a second, sometimes even a third chance. Our 2007 All-Star (Young) proved many wrong in 2007. Milledge was impressive in his brief introductory Press Conference with The Washington Media, this past Friday. But, Elijah Dukes has been in trouble six different times--so far--with the law. And, contains a driving furor inside himself, well documented--that seriously needs to be addressed. Dukes has a temper and can cause a tantrum like few others. Attempting to turn someone around, to make your baseball team better--has now reached a new level in DC.

Is he worth the time and effort? Is this the type of player you wish to represent The Nation's Capital? Is winning worth far more than questionable character traits? Does being selfish, and self-absorbed, make you a desirable player--no matter what your background, and history has proven?

When Sohna and I attend any game involving Our Washington Nationals, we always hope for a win and the best for Our Players. Never do we expect that any one player may harm another--or that one player, is in fact, dangerous. Elijah Dukes has us worried--because--as his background shows--no matter what the Spin Doctors Say--he is A HAZARD.

The African Queen and I are compassionate folks. Never do we turn our backs on those that are trying to pick themselves up. But, in this case, we shall be watching--very, very, closely.

The Offical Press Release from Our Washington Nationals:


The Washington Nationals today acquired 23 year-old outfielder Elijah Dukes from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor-league left-handed pitcher Glenn Gibson. Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcement.

Dukes went 35-for-184 (.190) with three doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 21 RBI in 52 games in 2007 as a true rookie with the Devil Rays. Dukes displayed advanced plate discipline as a rookie, as he averaged 3.9 pitches per plate appearance en route to earning 33 walks. Although he has pro experience at all three outfield slots, 37 of Dukes’ 38 starts with the Devil Rays came in center field.

The 6-foot-2, 220 lbs. Dukes—widely regarded as one of the best athletes in baseball—joined Kansas City slugger Alex Gordon (23) as one of just two American League true rookies to hit 10 or more home runs in 2007.

Originally Tampa Bay’s third-round selection in the 2002 First-Year Draft, Dukes was rated as high as the Devil Rays’ No. 5 prospect, according to Baseball America, entering the 2006 campaign. He entered 2007 ranked by the same publication as the top athlete in Tampa Bay’s system.

In four minor-league seasons, Dukes posted a .370 on-base percentage and averaged nearly 23 stolen bases per year. In Dukes’ Triple-A debut with Durham in 2006, in little more than half a season, he hit .293 with 30 extra-base hits, 10 home runs, 50 RBI and a .401 on-base percentage. Upon being drafted out of Hillsborough (FL) High, Dukes was named the nation’s best two-sport
athlete by USA Today.


Anonymous said...

According to “”:

Elijah Duke’s father is currently in jail for, according to Tampa police, killing a crack dealer who sold his wife $100 worth of fake crack.

kristen23 said...

After saying goodbye to two great guys on Friday, this is really hard to handle.

Anonymous said...

I agree!

There are better ways to build a team. Saving money at this high cost of character is a very disturbing trend. I have never been a fan of Jimbo and based on SBF's frequent recommendations I thought Stan was smarter than this. I am really questioning the line of BS we have been feed for 16 months about what this team will stand for.

Jimbo must go for me to stay a fan at this point!

Just as important as talent at this point of the teams development is character. A better way to go is pay for some high quality players instead of building a prison team on the cheap.

Anonymous said...

Remember the simpler days of Damian Jackson and Tony Womack?

Positively Half St. said...

I am pretty sure that no one writing about the team has more obvious love for the Nats than you and Sonha. If this experiment is going to work, we will have to work through our fear and unhappiness with this trade, and find a way to help support this kid (thug, problem, we'll see).

I am worried, too, but in the best of all worlds we get a bona fide star who eventually puts his horrible past behind him.

I'm trying here, you know?

Anonymous said...

I will reserve judgment on Dukes and Milledge until I see how they behave while in a Nats uniform. Until then, I will assume that Boden and Kasten knew what they were doing when they decided to make this deal.

Anonymous said...

Come on, guys. If the media can turn a thug like Sean Taylor into a saint simply because he took a bullet, surely we can give this dude a chance.

This is a classic high-risk, high-reward move. Dukes is getting a chance to wipe the slate clean. Let's see if he takes advantage of it before we condemn him.

Anonymous said...

Wily Mo? Milledge? Dukes? Nats now the home of young and talented reclamation projects? Maybe their hope is that there is a "diamond in the rough" or two between them that will turn into stars one day soon. I say give Dukes a chance. If he messes up here, dump him.

Anonymous said...

I don't like this one bit. Let's trade him for Eddie Brinkman.

Anonymous said...

/After saying goodbye to two great guys on Friday, this is really hard to handle./

It's called trying to put a competitive team on the field. Character issues or not, that's what Bowden is trying to do. All this, Schneider and Church were great guys, etc. Yeah, but they weren't all that good. (and lets not forget Church's comment about people of Jewish faith from a few years back. He was no saint.)

Reading this site you'd think Church and Schneider were the second coming of Grady Sizemore and Joe Mauer.

Anonymous said...

Well, I certainly made a bad call in asserting that getting Milledge had freed us from the prospect of being saddled with Dukes. mea culpa on that. I guess when Jimbo gets a hankering for a particular toolsy outfielder there's no stopping him until he satisfies that lust. See Pena, Wily Mo as an example.

Natzzzzzz, your comment about Church was uncalled for. He did not "make a comment about people of the Jewish faith." He was asking the pastor a question. You may not agree with the pastor's answer -- I don't either. But to cast aspersions on Church for that is based completely on ignorance.

Anonymous said...

a shaky outfielder in exchange for a future arm with decent stats?

I'm aware of the potential high reward, and with Milledge there too, naturally,one will do better than the other and I've had faith in Bowden before but on the surface this has to be the most skeptical trade i've seen from him yet

Anonymous said...

If Dukes becomes a solid citizen, well and good. It would be great if he takes advantage of an opportunity to put his past behind him and grow up. But the team chemistry last season made the whole greater than the sum of the parts. Since baseball is a team sport, the chemistry can't be ignored in the process of fielding a competitive team. So I hope neither Dukes nor anyone else is allowed to become a distraction. (And what is it with Bowden and outfielders? I thought we were about pitching, pitching, pitching...)

Anonymous said...

Quoted From the original Washington Post story-9/20/05:

"An article in Sunday's paper about Baseball Chapel quoted Church as saying that he had turned to Moeller for advice about his former girlfriend, who was Jewish. "I said, like, Jewish people, they don't believe in Jesus. Does that mean they're doomed? Jon nodded, like, that's what it meant. My ex-girlfriend! I was like, man, if they only knew. Other religions don't know any better. It's up to us to spread the word," Church said."

So, Simon-are you still going to ascertain that Church didn't make a comment about people of the Jewish faith?

Mine wasn't an "uncalled for" comment, i was simply stating what happened.

But i'm the ignorant one...

Anonymous said...

What is the saying - "Innocent until proven guilty" or try "let those who are without sin cast the first stone". I have no problem giving the kid a second chance. As concerns Millege I am not ready to hoist him on his petard because he high fived some fans and recorded some trash called a record. He appologized for this crap just as Don Imus appologized to the Rutgers women's basketabll team. This team seems to be run by some decent individuals from owners on down to the manager. I will trust there judgement. Lastly I much rather have helped someone as opposed to casting them into the river.

Anonymous said...

Boy, you all must have short memories or want to live revisionist history.

And you all fell in love with Dmitri Young in 2007.

Dukes told his wife that she needed to die, Young pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend.

I see no difference in the behavior these two men engaged in.

Baseball is a business, and almost everyone seemed to sing Young's praises when he had an All-Star year, so stop the self-righteous sanctimony.

If Dukes screws up, he'll be sent on his way out the organization. However, if Dukes hits .300, you'll forget all about his past.

Anonymous said...

"An article in Sunday's paper about Baseball Chapel quoted Church as saying that he had turned to Moeller for advice about his former girlfriend, who was Jewish. "I said, like, Jewish people, they don't believe in Jesus. Does that mean they're doomed? Jon nodded, like, that's what it meant. My ex-girlfriend! I was like, man, if they only knew. Other religions don't know any better. It's up to us to spread the word," Church said."

What did Church say that is so deplorable? Presumably, anyone who adheres to a particular faith believes that it's in some way superior to other faiths to which the person does not adhere. Church was clearly paraphrasing what he interprested the chaplain as indicating in response to his question. The fact that he had a girlfriend who was Jewish is a pretty good indication that he holds no animus against those of the Jewish faith. I agree with Simon. Church is taking an unfair rap on this from people who are too thin-skinned for their own good.

Anonymous said...

Of the 40-man roster that came from Montreal, it's 34 down, 6 to go. And now, it looks like the GM has already grown tired of Lopez and Kearns.
A history lesson: The Cleveland Indians of the early 1990s signed their young stars (Manny, Thome, Omar, et. al.) to long term contracts. The fans knew that the core members of the team would be together for a many years. Day after day, night after night, those fans responded by filling Jacobs Field.
It's difficult for any fan to form a bond with a player on their home team when (on a whim of the GM) that player might be gone at any moment. If the GM continues this constant tinkering with the roster, Washington fans won't know who to root for.

Anonymous said...

couldn't have said it better, Old Nats. We listened all last year to the "building a team from the farm system up" "getting a core group of guys and adding to it" speeches. The ones we got that were telling us why they weren't going to spend any money last year?

We trade two leaders in the club house, the core spirit of the team in the catcher, and we pick up a young man that throws tantrums. and may be dangerous.

If they trade Maxwell, who is a quality young man through and through, I may have to be a fan of another organization. Building a team and a fan base is going to require care at this point, and this trade is pretty sad. A pitcher for ANOTHER outfielder?

Somebody get some of last year's quotes back out, I think I may be sick.

Anonymous said...

A slightly different perspective -

I actually returned to the "fold" of major league baseball after a 12year absence (cancelling the World Series did not sit well with me). My wife loves baseball and though we would take in minor league games, she really wanted to see the Nats. Last season I got a 20 game package and found that I really missed the excitement of baseball games played at the major league level.

I saw a team last year that played every inning as well as they could, given the talent available. The fans were told to be patient, that this year would start an improvement towards a competitive team. I know that the recent trades are ones that some folks don't care for because of the character of the players obtained.

I think that second chances and mentoring are quite important in life (which certainly includes baseball). Our country is replete with examples of redemption in many professions. However, because of the times we live in, we do not have to put up with the antics of players who become a hinderance, rather than contributors to the goal of a World Series. If they don't behave, they will be gone.

The front office is tasked with making the team the best that they can be. So far, I have seen a major upgrade in talent.

I would also remind folks that players like Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle (and I'm not making comparisons to the players we obtained) had some pretty unsavory moments in their lives. Would I like them on my baseball team? Um, yeah. But again, because of the time we live in, I don't believe they could get away with some of the things they did in their era.

Anonymous said...

THIS WEEK he was on Tim Tolman's DOminican winter ball team. Got into a heated argument with officials and got ejected. and has since left the team. LEFT the team.....This week.

and we traded for him.

Sarah said...

At this point, I'm trying to trust that they are making the best moves for the team and preparing myself for the possibility of seeing an entirely different team take the field in April than I saw leave it in September.

The loss of Schneider hurts, and I'm not yet ready to anoint Milledge (as my Mets friends tell me I should), and the Dukes trade has the possibility of being quite scary. But for now I'm just hoping it's for the best. Of course, ask me again in April and I might have an entirely different answer.

Anonymous said...

I'm much more interested in the fact that we traded for Tyler Clippard. Anyone have any thoughts?

paul said...

I don't have a problem with acquiring guys with questionable character, especially since we from afar usually can't judge these guys' character traits anyway. Besides, I have a totally different take on this kid. He seems to have overcome apparently minimal parenting to accomplish a lot. Who knows; with some mandated therapy, some mentoring from DY and Manny, and some food from Red, Hot,and Blue, Mr. Dukes might settle down. And I imagine Bowden and Stan told him: one incident and you're outtahere. It could be an incredible steal.

Anonymous said...

Almost too much to digest all at once.

The FO is busy, and I applaud their busyness (and trust Manny's and JimBow's judgment). You can't say they won't take a chance.

What does bother me is how they plan to address fans' concerns, particularly about Dukes' past.

Anonymous said...

talk of Lopez and Kearns being dealt...

If we lose Austin Kearns, I don't know what I will think of management. I really think he could have a break out year with the bat in the new park. And his defense has always been stellar

Anonymous said...

In the end i don't have much against Church and Schneider, Church did make those comments, and i stand by what i said. If nothing else, he can be accused of not being very smart. But i do agree that both were good teammates from what i saw, but i'm willing to bet that as of this time next year, you all will have forgotten all about them (unless they turn out to have spectacular seasons, which is highly unlikely).

I'm just saying instead of writing these new guys off immediately, which some of you seem to be doing. These guys may have a past (even though Milledge's is hardly one to get worked up about), but maybe Dukes can turn it around. If he can't, trust me, he won't be around for long. Especially not with Manny Acta.

Anonymous said...

Paul, you bring up an interesting point. With DYoung, Bowden explicitly stated to the press that Young was given the 1 strike you're out ultimatum. No such comments for Dukes.

I'm much more concerned about Dukes than Milledge. Hell, I'd love to get some high fives from a player who just hit a home run to tie up a game (particularly if it was his first HR).

Michael Anthony said...

Racists typically prefer anti-Jew white players to fun-loving black guys like Milledge. It's just a fact of life.

Anonymous said...

First of all I am not condoning the actions of Young, Millege and Dukes. As I said in my earlier post I would much rather have recovering social delinquents that to merely toss them aside. There does not seem to be much forgiveness in some of these posts. I hope Anonymous can hold himself/herself up to the same standard he/she seems to hold everyone else.

Yes baseball is a business. If Dukes and Millege hit 300 all will be forgotten. However if they are trouble, notwithstanding the 300, Kasten seems the type to rid the team of these guys. He seems to have a high standard for his teams. Also I do not think the owners would want their name sullied if these guys stepped out of line. Remember respect begets respect. The Nats have showed respect to Dukes, Young and Millege. They just might reciprocate. If not the team can take solace in the fact that they gave these kids another chance. If it does not work out the Nats are not really any further behind. As much as I like Schneider and Church and are nice guys, we were not going to win with them. I do not think Maxwell would a major downgrade from Church. Also I can live without Schneider's 230 average. Also I do not think his defense and game calling won us that many games. I always preferred Barrett (opps another head case).

I have been a fan since 1969 so I know this team intimately. I have seen it all. Kasten strikes as one the better leaders this team has ever had. I am glad he keeps Bowden in line. If it was Bowden running the show I would be worried but Kasten is there.

An Briosca Mor said...

"With DYoung, Bowden explicitly stated to the press that Young was given the 1 strike you're out ultimatum. No such comments for Dukes."

Stan Kasten said this to the press Monday afternoon (as quoted by a member of the press, Barry Svrluga of the Post, in his blog): "Our expectations for this player, our standards for this player are the same and will remain the same as we have with all our other players. Nothing less will be acceptable. We've explained that to Elijah."

Sounds to me like the "one strike, you're out" rule applies here as well. Pretty clear, even without the StanSpeak translation skills of Captitol Punishment.

Michael Anthony said...

I just don't see how Milledge is a "social delinquent". He's young and cocky, with tons of talent. Sort of like Gary Sheffield, but more light-hearted. And even if he does end up like Kevin Mitchell as opposed to Sheff, that's still 6 or 7 years of good baseball.

SenatorNat said...


Trust in Kasten. And the U.S. penal system...And applying Paul Simon's line that he needs a "shot at redemption" to anyone willing to earn it...And keeping hitting, fielding, and running the only trilogy in baseball worth debating...

An Briosca Mor said...

"What does bother me is how they plan to address fans' concerns, particularly about Dukes' past."

What might you realistically think they could do to address these concerns, Hendo? What did they do to address similar concerns when they brought Dmitri aboard last year? Nothing, they just let the situation play itself out, and happily it played out well. The concerns over Dmitri were probably just as great in terms of the type of past behavior he exhibited. It's really splitting hairs for some commenters today to be asserting that attempting to strangle a woman is much, much worse than e-mailing her a picture of a gun, or vice versa. They're both bad acts, and concerns should be just as high for both of them. The difference between signing Dmitri last year versus trading for Dukes now is just that Dukes has a higher profile as a player than Dmitri did. "Outstanding prospect" is always going to be higher profile than "seemingly washed-up veteran", and that's the case here. That's why there's more uproar now over Dukes than there was over Dmitri. It's not based on the relative scope of their past mistakes at all. But still, what can the Nats do now other than what they did last year? Let the season play out, and hope for the best again. Obviously there is some basis for such hope, or the Nats wouldn't have traded for Dukes. Kasten, Bowden and Acta aren't fools, and they all signed off on this trade.

SenatorNat said...

Amazing that the Nats were able to acquire the famed "Yankee Clippard"! We now have the kind of players to sing our own version of "We're Talk'n Base...Ball": Willie and the Dukes - the Clippard and big Rauch (pronounced for purposes of the song: Rooch...)

Anyone interested in purchasing a nice shiny "Ty Clippard" at the Washington Dream Foundation store to go with your new $77. plus $5 regular delivery Curly W raspberry tie for the Holiday Season?

Trust in the Gaylord Opreyland lobby, and Lori Morgan...All Good.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for giving "social delinquents" a chance when they show by their behavior they deserve it. I am not putting Milledge in the same category as Dukes at all. All he did was get excited at his first great play.

Dukes, on the other hand, according to the Post, walked out on a team last week. and impregnated a 17 year old girl in foster care with his relatives. Miles apart.

dasz said...

Welcome to Camp Rehap (a/k/a the new Nationals Stadium). LM is looking not so awful now that we have Elijah Dukes. At least Dmitri had some experience with humility (clipping hedges for community service while his Twins were playing w/o him in the World Series). Has Elijah experienced any type of rehabilitation?

Anonymous said...

There is a rumor on a Mets blog, one of the ones that was less than happy with the Church Schneider trade. It says that the Mets may have a deal going for Bedard, and the trade would be for Church, Gomez, and Heilman. Interesting.

Expose said...

Found your blog while looking for comments on the Milledge-Church-Schneider trade.

Highly interesting blog and very accurate comments.

Keep the good work.

Oxhead said...

This guy sounds like a powder keg ready to blow. I don't want him on our team.

I'll admit, I was not keen on getting Dmitri here, either, but of course, like most people, I changed my tune pretty quickly--but not because of his good playing abilities. I came around on Dmitri because he seemed genuinely contrite and even had (can you believe it?) a positive effect on the club.

The "Duke of Death" will not be a positive addition to the Nationals. I hope his stay is a short one.