Dukes Is Demoted

Outfielder sent to Triple A

Yesterday's trade between the Nats and the Pirates created a bit of a roster crunch.  With one major leaguer heading out, and two coming back, one of the current Nats had to go.  Despite some obvious candidates who are stinking up the park, acting GM Mike Rizzo surprised everyone and sent down Elijah Dukes.

On the face of it, it's a surprising move -- if only because there were so many other options on the team.

Austin Kearns is batting .197 and slugging .322.  Ronnie Belliard has zero range with a .204 on-base percentage.  Jesus Colome has a 7.07 ERA.  None of them have any long-term future.  And on a good team, none of 'em would have any short-term one either.

But Dukes has options.  So the team could send him down without having to release another player.  Although that begs the question of why the team would be concerned about losing any of those aforementioned mediocrities.

Dukes also has been slumping. After a decent start, he's down to a mediocre .244/.308/.415 line. The team says he needs regular at bats, and with Willingham's hot hitting, and Dunn's prodigious power, there's no room at the inn for poor ol' Elijah.

But the move probably has less to do with on-field stuff than it does with the circus of issues that follows Dukes wherever he goes.  Manny doesn't really like himRizzo's made plenty of noises about "high character" guys -- clearly a shot at Elijah's bow.

And he's supposedly been showing up late, even today, according to the  Times.

With the manager and GM on the same page for once, their decision was easy.

Now whether a team that's trying to develop players for the long-term is making the right decision when they send down a young player with his potential with so many other stiffs on the roster sucking up playing time is a completely different question.

It's not too hard to squint your eyes and say, "no!"  And you don't have to be too cynical to see how the team's leaders -- both of whom are fighting for their jobs -- could be pushing a win-now move ahead of the long-term interests of the franchise.

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
Contact Us