Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Elijah Dukes Optioned To Syracuse

Once again, not wanting to be forced into giving up any player without perusing all opportunities--Interim GM has optioned Elijah Dukes to AAA Syracuse to add Nyjer Morgan to the 25-Man Roster. Our Washington Nationals were one roster spot short when they traded Joel Hanrahan off the active roster yesterday (along with Lastings Milledge) and received Morgan and Sean Burnett in return.

This decision is going to be a good test of Elijah Dukes and his work ethic. Struggling most of the past two months, Elijah has not played well, swung at too many bad pitches and, at times, seemed to not give 100% in the field. Will he take the demotion--as it's intended--to better himself for the future? Or, will Dukes make a lapse in judgment and not take the move seriously? There were some reports that Our Number 34 was sulky about his playing time in DC. What will he think about playing in Syracuse?

We hope Elijah rights himself and returns to The Big Leagues--taking advantage of all of his God-Given talents. Elijah Dukes has the ability to be a supreme Major League Baseball Player. He just hasn't figured it all out yet. Good move by Mike Rizzo to again be bold and make a decision few publicly considered. Our Interim GM is still able to maneuver for potential trades down the line--without sacrificing any current talent on hand.

Here is the press release from Our Washington Nationals:


The Washington Nationals today added outfielder Nyjer Morgan and left-handed pitcher Sean Burnett to their 25-man roster
and optioned outfielder Elijah Dukes to Syracuse of the Triple-A International League. Nationals Assistant General Manager and
Vice President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Morgan and Burnett were acquired on Tuesday from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for outfielder Lastings Milledge and
right-handed pitcher Joel Hanrahan.

The 28 year-old Morgan was batting .277 (77-for-278) with six doubles, five triples, two home runs and 27 RBI in 71 games
with Pittsburgh prior to the trade. Thanks to a career-high 29 walks and a .351 on-base percentage, Morgan has scored 39 runs this season, or two fewer than his career total in 86 games entering 2009. His five triples rank among NL (tied for second) and MLB (tied for third) leaders. Morgan paced the Pirates in batting (.322, 66-for-205) against right-handed pitchers in 2009.

Morgan is blessed with the brand of speed that the Nationals were lacking both on the basepaths and in the outfield. Morgan
currently ranks fifth in the National League with 18 stolen bases, and his eight swipes in June are just one less than the nine
registered by Washington in the month. Morgan played primarily left field for the Pirates. He currently leads all MLB left fielders in total chances per 9.0 innings and range factor per game.

Morgan’s patience (3.9 pitches seen per plate appearance) and batting eye (career-best walk ratio of one base on balls per
11.1 plate appearances) have both played a role in his breakout 2009 season.

Burnett, 26, was 1-2 with six holds, one save and a 3.06 ERA (11 ER/32.1 IP) in a team-leading 38 appearances for Pittsburgh
at the time of the trade. A two-time (2001 and 2002) Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Burnett is 7-8 with 14 holds, one save and a 4.54 ERA (81 ER/160.2 IP) in 109 games (13 starts) spanning three big league seasons with Pittsburgh.
Burnett sports a .200 (22-for-110) batting average against in 2009, and has been nearly equally effective against left-handed
batters (.189, 10-for-53, four walks) as those that hit from the right side (.211, 12-for-57, one home run). Burnett shifted exclusively to relief in 2008 and in 96 appearances since, has neutralized opposing left-handed batters with a stingy .178 (23-for-129) batting average against.

The Pirates’ No. 1 selection (19th overall) in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, Burnett is currently tied for seventh in the National League having allowed only four of 28 inherited baserunners to score. His .345 slugging percentage against is .067 better than the NL average of .412.

Dukes, 25, batted .244 (47-for-193) with 13 doubles, one triple, six home runs and 30 RBI in 57 games with the Nationals.


Anonymous said...

This was the easy move to make, however, the better move was to DFA Kearns. He is completely and utterly useless.

SenatorNat said...

Dukes leads the NL in put-outs and I have seen no noticeable lapses in the field - indeed, he is superior to Willingham, and of course Dunn (I am superior to Dunn). I am surprised at this move, in light of Clippard and Colume still on the roster. And, of course, the 3 ton elephant in the room, Mr. $8 million Man who cannot hit ML pitching. Langerhans now to play perhaps regularly for Seattle replacing Beltre on roster - they could not use Kearns with Nats splitting his $4 million balance?

Team apparently weary of a powder keg in Dukes that can blow at any time. Compare his manner with Njyer Morgan's comments that he is flattered, speechless actually, "that a team like the Nationals" would want him - how overwhelmed might he be if a team not on course to equal the 1962 Mets record for putridness would he have been?! What a guy! If he plays well, fan favorite out of the gate.

And Chico is right - Riz ridding himself one-by-one of the high wire acts brought into the circus by Bow-Bow. I might try to look at Dumbo the Clown in left -dealing him to American League if you really want to get rid of all the freak shows, too...

Dukes move may signal blockbuster deal arriving soon with Mets or someone similarly riddled with injuries to key players - multiple players involving Johnson, Kearns, Colume, etc. from us for prospects and reliever.

That is my considered guess. The Plan now, as reconstituted: Grow a Starting Rotation that is young, and second to none: build rest of the team with good speed and defense around Z-Man and Flores. Go-Go Nats.

Trust in a Diamondbacks approach for the next decade. With Strasburg and Zimmerman as Johnson and Schelling. All Riz.

yazzy1956 said...

If anything this can be seen as a vote of confidence by the owners and Kasten in Rizzo since he appears to be re-making the Nats into his team. It is pretty clear now that he has begun to purge all of the "special projects" that Bowden brought onboard in the hopes of rehabilitating their careers. Dukes, Hanrahan and Milledge are only being paid in the $425,000 range, so its clearly not a salary dump.

Anyone know where Dmitri Young is? He must be in the federal witness protection program because no one ever talks about him and the $5M he is eating up this year.

An Briosca Mor said...

SenatorNat, are you just advocating Dukes over Willingham because his name is easier to spell? And after all that time you spent finally getting Willingham's name right...

NatsGuy said...


Kearns is a person therefore he does have value. He also is a good defensive outfielder.

The Nationals kept him because they are arranging the pieces for something bigger to come. Try to think ahead like in chess. It appears thats what Mr. Rizzo is doing.

In the future don't get so personal with your shots at the players. I suppose you have never had some bad times. I bet no one ever called you worthless for everybody to read and see.

NatsGuy said...


Dukes leads the majors in outfield assists not putouts.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Yazzy--Dmitri is on assignment to AA Harrisburg. Soon to head to Syracuse for AAA Action. The team is probably going to decided real soon what they will do with him.

yazzy1956 said...

Thanks for the Dmitri update. He is a really good guy and a great personal story. Perhaps if the Nats trade Nick and Dmitri gets himself back into playing shape he could fill-in at 1st until the end of the season. No matter what he weighs, Dmitri can hit in his sleep. It would be nice if we got something out of him for our $10 million over two years.

Anonymous said...


You are right; everyone has value and perhaps I should not have used the words I did. However, you cannot truly believe keepin Kearns on the team is a good thing. He has not hit since he got here and he is only holding back others. I am glad Manny is finally seeing that he cannot start Kearns over Willingham or over anyone for that matter. If you want him as a 5th outfielder fine, I just think his spot on the roster could be used bettter.

Record digger said...

Kearns has got to be the luckiest guy alive! How does he continue to hold on???

Wrong move Nats.

NatsGuy said...


Something will probably be done with Kearns but the pieces are being worked out for other deals.

Sorry to jump on you but I have gotten very frustrated with the venom on other sites and just want to keep this one civilized. Its all I've got left to communicate with fellow Nats fans.

Anonymous said...

Horrible move on Dukes and in 100% agreement with the 1st comment.

Yes, clearly Eckstein's tinkering with Dukes batting approach hasn't worked and Dukes has tried recently to go back to what works for him so a shame he got sent down as you could see the turnaround on the offense. His arm in the outfield is unmatched by anyone else on this team.