FORGET WHAT I SAID ABOUT DUKES
[December 3rd] -- First, sorry it took so long to get on the Dukes trade. I spent the afternoon with a 102 degree fever and my finger on the ballparkguys refresh button watching the excitement unfold.
I wrote after the Milledge trade that there was no chance the Nats would go after Elijah Dukes. Just shows how little bloggers know.
First it was Elijah Dukes for Chad Cordero. Then it was Jon Rauch. Then it was "some guy to be named later," giving the impression that we didn't give up anyone of value for the .... um .... eccentric .... no, that's not it .... mercurial .... no, that's not it either ..... oft-arrested? ..... outfielder. Of course, it ended up being Glen Gibson, one of the many young pitchers who impressed this season at rookie-level Vermont.
There seems to be two camps in the Nat-o-sphere about this trade, just like the Milledge trade but with more passion on the negative side. The "I'm cool with it" camp likes Jim Bowden's attempt to collect young, high ceiling players for relatively little cost. The "WTF" community is mad because either 1] the team seems bent on collecting all of the available baseball-bad guys or 2] "The Plan" is a cover story for the team's penny-pinching ways.
I choose curtain #3, where you'll find Jim Bowden on the phone trying to make another deal.
Look, we're not exactly dealing from a position of power yet. The Nationals are - finally - better than an expansion team but aren't anywhere near being a middle-of-the-road franchise. The only way to get better without being fiscally irresponsible is to make a lot of these high risk, high reward deals.
Fast forward three years from now. Brian Schneider is a 34 year old defensive backstop with waning skills and Ryan Church is a 32 year old outfielder who is still a very good complementary player. Hopefully, possibly and perhaps even probably, Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge will become near stars, combining to hit .300 with 60 homers and 220 RBI's. The Reality, however, is that one of them - and I don't know which - will become a star, a .300-35-120 kind of guy. The other will either be out of the league or little more than a Church-like complementary player. So what if the trade ends up becoming Gibson, Church and Schneider for a star that'll still be playing in 2017? That's still a pretty good deal.
So, there you go; the Elijah Dukes trade is Beltway Boys Approved.
Some believe that the Dukes' deal is a precursor to other trades that will send one of the four starting four outfielders elsewhere. I don't think so. More likely, the Nationals will head to Spring Training and tell Austin, Elijah, Wily and Lastings, "The three best players start."
Yes, I'm worried about Dukes' attitude, but then again history has shown time and time again that 'problem players' often become model citizens. Dave Parker was the biggest ***** in the major leagues in the 1970's an 1980's. There was a famous photo of him smoking pot in the Pirates dugout in Spring Training. He was traded to Cincinnati, cut his hair and beard, an became one of the most feared power hitters in the league.
So Dukes could become an all-star, or he could become an inmate. Time will tell.
How good can these guys be? Here is what these four outfielders are capable of:
Wily Mo Pena: .275-35-120 --- Elijah Dukes: .290-30-100 --- Lastings Milledge: .310-25-100 --- Austin Kearns: .270-25-90
I'm just saying .....
So far, so good. Gibson wasn't a "nobody," but we've got a guy now just like him by the name of John Lannan.
He won't be missed.
UPDATE: Shows you again that bloggers are nothing more than fans with computers. After I just said that all four outfielders will battle it out for playing time this spring, and after Jim Bowden said exactly the same thing earlier this evening, reports are now surfacing that the Nationals are shopping Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez around for a starting pitcher, someone like Mike Pelfrey. That would guarantee both newbies a starting job in the outfield and Mr. Belliard (I'm too sleepy to remember if ours is Ronnie or Rafael right now) would be the team's starting 2nd baseman (which I love, he's the team's best option there).
I'd miss Kearns; we know what he can do while the Nationals' version of the "Lost Boys" haven't done diddly yet in the majors. Come to think of it, that starting three could just as easily hit 100 homers as they could hit 40.
I dunno. That would be a little scary - and uncertain - heading into the new park.
OK, with that out of my system, I like both of the trades, cause Milledge is a major upgrade and I'll take Dukes problems and potential over Kearns' potential.
Also.....what happened to Maxwell....I think he also deserves a chance for a staring spot; I thought he looked really good to me.
I've got very mixed emotions over the overall course the Nats are taking this off season. On the one hand, they are getting very cheap, talented players; but on the other hand I'm not sure if they are really making the team better. Are we going to better or worst....I'm just not sure what to think yet.
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