Washington Nationals' Elijah Dukes Gets Ejected...+ Rumorville.

Day 2 In The DWL For Dukes...

Elijah Dukes had three at bats to try to make sense of the junk that veteran MLB lefty John Halama was throwing this afternoon in the Sunday Tigres del Licey v Aguilas Cibaenas Dominican Winter League matchup. Dukes never did figure out Halama's offspeed and breaking balls, and after the third straight K, this one backwards, he got himself tossed for arguing about where the bottom of the strike zone was with home plate umpire Justin Vogel. The Nationals' 25-year-old cannon-armed outfielder's down in the DWL to learn how to hit the sort of stuff Halama was throwing. In his first DWL game last night, Dukes hit a two-run HR in his second AB with the Tigres, but today, Halama and a few questionable strikes got the best of the enigmatic outfielder...

• In what, at times, felt like an franchise-history-spanning intra-squad game between current and former Washington Nationals with Dukes, Halama, Wily Mo Pena, Bernie Castro, Daniel Cabrera, Emilio Bonifacio, Anderson Hernandez, Kory Casto and pitching prospect Atahualpa Severino all seeing action, the Tigres took and then immediately blew a 2-1 lead when Bernie Castro hit a two-run triple in the top of the fifth, followed quickly by Aguilas' first baseman Kevin Barker's RBI single and second baseman Hector Luna's three-run HR that made it 5-2 Aguilas after the home-half of the frame...

• Final Score - Tigres del Licey 2, Aguilas Cibaenas 8. MLB.com Box.

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• Rumorville (A Suburb Of NatsTown™): Trading The Untradeable.

BACKPAGE: 

• Rumorville (A Suburb Of NatsTown™): Trading The Untradeable.

In MLB.com's Bill Ladson's latest, "Inbox: Riggleman right man for job?", Mr. Ladson talks to several readers with ideas about how the Nationals can improve their middle infield, (Ronnie Belliard? Jamey Carroll?), and then entertains a question from a fan who wants to know if the DC fans should just expect an Ian Desmond/Cristian Guzman middle infield combo this season, with Mr. Ladson responding that he finds it hard to imagine the Nationals going with an Adam Dunn/Cristian Guzman right side of the infield, leading him to believe, in his own words:

"...that the Nationals will try to trade Guzman. It will be hard, because he will make $8 million next year.

As far as Desmond goes, I'm getting mixed signals. I know that Riggleman likes him, but there are other people in the organization who believe he needs more seasoning in the Minor Leagues."

Mr. Ladson quoted Jim Riggleman, in an article entitlted, "Riggleman: Guzman a second baseman" after Riggleman was promoted to full-time skipper, saying that in his opinion and Mr. Ladson's words, "...he wouldn't mind going into the season with Desmond at (short)", though the 24-year-old infielder will have to earn it, and Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell addressed the complaints about Guzman's defensive play and the possibility that someone out there will take an $8 million dollar deal off the Nationals' hands in a chat with readers back on September 24, 2009 entitled, "Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nats, Orioles and More", where Mr. Boswell responded to another Nats fan who brought up Jamey Carroll as an option before suggesting that Guzman's, "...poor on base percentage, marginal range and lack of power," should lead the Nationals to trade the soon-to-be 32-year-old outfielder, "...even if they have to eat half his contract," by stating that:

"Critism of Guzman's fielding is overdone. He has a strong arm, remains agile and WILL be part of the Nats middle infield next year, almost certainly. His $8-million contract makes him semi-untradeable. He's not worth that much. But he is worth having. Almost every SS who has moved to 2nd base has immediately been perceived as a much-improved fielder. Every great defender is put at SS. Those who aren't good enough move to 2nd. So, Guzman's competition is easier. Good Lord, Dan Uggla plays 2nd. Also, almost every play is easier at 2nd. Going left or right (especially left), you can leave your feet and slide to make a stop and still have time to throw out the hitter a high percentage of the time."

Another important consideration Mr. Boswell points out is the fact that Guzman's playing for his next contract this season, which is all the more motivation for Guzman to stay healthy and productive while projecting the image of a team player who's willing to do what's necessary for the good of the ballclub. The year before Guzman signed with Washington, the then-Minnesota Twins' infielder parlayed a .274 AVG, .309 OBP, .384 SLG, 31 doubles, 8 HR's and 46 RBI's into a 4-year deal with Washington worth $16.8 million dollars, (ed. note - "BOWDEN!!"), and after hitting .219 with a .260 OBP in 2005, missing all of 2006, hitting over .300 in 46 games in 2007 and posting a .316 AVG, .345 OBP, .440 SLG, 35 doubles and 55 RBI's in 2008, Guzman inked a two-year extension with the Nationals (in July of '08) for the $8 million he made last year and the $8M he's due in 2010...(ed. note - "BOWDEN!!") Should DC fans expect a lucrative bounce-back campaign from the Guz...?

(ed. note - "Guzman better be solid at second if he stays in DC and switches to the other side of the infield, because Adam Dunn, in the opinion of one Fangraphs.com writer, is the worst defensive player in the Majors. Fangraphs.com writer Matthew Carruth posted an article last Friday entitled, "Highs and Lows of UZR 2007-9: Dunn", in which Mr. Carruth looks, "...at the best and worst defensive performers over the last three seasons combined," and concludes that DC 1st baseman Adam Dunn has cost him team (-108.1) "runs against average" over the last three seasons...granted, most of the Dunn stats examined in this article would have been for him as an OFer, and there's little or no chance he's going back out there any time soon...")

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