Other Shoe Falls...Dukes to Minors -- The Plan™ is Dead

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, July 01, 2009 | , , | 4 comments »

Needing to clear roster space for two major league players acquired yesterday, the Washington Nationals demoted OF Elijah Dukes to Triple-A Syracuse this morning.

Dukes, 25, has struggled this season at the plate and in the field, getting shuffled between right field, his natural position, and center field, as the Nats tried to find an in-house solution to their biggest gaping hole in their defense.

Through 211 plate appearances, Dukes is hitting .244/.308/.415 with just six home runs and 30 RBI, all drastic departures from last season's promising .264/.386/.478 line in 334 plate appearances.

Defensively, it was obvious that Dukes was just as challenged in center as the man he replaced, and apparently following out the door, Lastings Milledge.

There are two big questions to consider at this point: 1) How does Dukes take the demotion? and 2) Who plays right field?

As for the first question, only Elijah Dukes can answer that. He has stayed out of trouble -- save for the occasional "Not paying his child support" stories -- since he arrived in DC, but it has been no secret that his general demeanor in the clubhouse makes it an uncomfortable place to be.

Should he accept the move in his head, bear down and get his swing straightened out, he still has all the skills necessary to be a very good major league player.

Should he go down and pout and get in trouble? Well, I don't envy Tim Foli, manager of Triple-A Syracuse.

So we're left with the big league lineup. I imagine to start with we'll see Dunn-Morgan-Willingham left-to-right, with Harris and Kearns off the bench and as defensive replacements. It's still nobody's perfect scenario, and far, far away from what club officials envisioned at the start of the season.

Regardless, The Plan™ is dead. With Dukes sent down and Milledge sent away, it leaves the Nationals with exactly one position player on the current 25-man roster younger than 26: Face of the Franchise Ryan Zimmerman. In fact, come Thursday when Nyjer Morgan celebrates his 29th trip around the sun, the team will have but three position players (Zimm, Gonzalez and Hernandez) younger than 29 on the roster.

The Nats are no longer in a re-building phase, they are at the beginning of another tear-down phase.

With the Mets floundering and the Red Sox losing Mike Lowell to the DL, Nick Johnson should have been traded away last weekend.

Cristian Guzman, with the range of a postage stamp, has to be moved before the deadline, even if the Nats have to send cash with him.

Tavarez, Villone, Beimel? All candidates for expulsion.

There's a new sheriff in town,"acting" or not.

"We're open for business," Mike Rizzo told a gathering of internet writers last weekend. Indeed.

Instead of going to Plan B, it's Plan R.



Photos 2009 © Cheryl Nichols. All Rights Reserved.

4 comments

  1. Anonymous // July 1, 2009 at 2:15 PM  

    Don't forget young position player Flores. Like Ahnuld, he'll..be..back.

  2. Anonymous // July 1, 2009 at 3:05 PM  

    I'd teach him how to play first base while he's up there in Syracuse. We'd lose a great arm, but he wouldn't be as uncomfortable as he seems to be out there in the outfield.

  3. Dave Nichols // July 1, 2009 at 3:21 PM  

    didn't forget Flores, just pointing out the roster ages currently, that's all.

    left alone to play every day, Dukes will be fine in RF, he just needs to play. hopefully he goes to Syracuse and takes his frustration out on minor league fastballs.

  4. Nike Dunks - Nike SB // July 2, 2009 at 11:20 AM  

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