On a very busy day in NatsTown, those players assigned for the trip to Kissimmee were beaten by the Houston Astros 11-2.  One day after the "feel good" of sweeping split squad games, the Nats turn right back around and get pasted in every way imaginable.

The pitching was not very good.  The hitting was non-existant save for two solo home runs.  There was another error (by minor leaguer Danny Espinosa, over for the day from minor league camp).

And worst of all, the team gave up on Elijah Dukes, a talented 25-year old under team control for another season after this one.

I'm not going to go into Dukes' stats, cause you can look them up as well as I can.  He has shown tremendous power, a good batting eye, and a strong arm in right field.  On occasion.

It's true he hasn't really put it all together, but it's also true he's never had a full season's worth of at bats to do so.

GM Mike Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman both went out of their way today to say this was a "baseball decision" and it has nothing to do with Dukes' attitude or any new off-the-field incident.  But Rizzo also said that this move would help clubhouse chemistry.

That's the part I'm stuck on.  If you didn't want the guy in the clubhouse, and it's clear that is Rizzo's motivation here, why bring him to spring training?  Why cut him on the deadline to avoid paying his entire season's salary?

Mike Rizzo, the question to you, were I in Florida to ask it, is why did you ofer him a contract for this season if you feel the clubhouse is a better place without him?

Because if the Nats brass is sticking to the "baseball decision" reasoning, then it's a bad baseball decision.  Especially considering that the in-house replacements are all inferior baseball players to the one you just let walk away for nothing.


Winner:  Justin Maxwell, Mike Morse, Willie Harris, Chris Duncan, Roger Bernadina and maybe even Willy Tavares.  Their path to makingth eopening day roster just opened up a bit.  Someone (or someones) will have to play right field this season.

Loser:  Jim Riggleman.  He's put in the inenviable position of now trying to decide on a starter from a pool of a half-dozen two and a half weeks before opening day.

Winner:  Luis Atilano. One inning, no hits, no walks, two strikeouts.  He was the pitching highlight today.

Loser:  Jason Marquis.  In a word:  Terrible.  No, wait:  Embarrassing.  Three and one-third, eight earned on eith hits and four walks.

The Nationals are off Thursday, a chance to regroup and lick their wounds from another spring training loss.  And officially start looking for a new right fielder.

Bon Chance, Elijah Dukes.  Go prove them wrong.