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11/21/07 Nationals Hot Stove Lukewarm At Best...Andruw Jones? Torii Hunter? Church Again?

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     With a scarcity of news heading into the holiday, one must peddle in rumor, so I decided that maybe I'd source a few, track them back and assess what if any credibililty could be attached to the names and deals that are out there...

     I go straight to the source...

     mlbtraderumors.com...

     It seems that Tampa Bay outfielder Elijah Dukes is in the Nationals sights. mlbtraderumors.com points to mlb.com's Nationals writer Bill Ladson who quotes an unnamed source who seems "pretty sure" that the deal will go down. (It actually does seem credible, though, despite how that might just have sounded).

     This can't be a Cordero or Rauch deal. I'm just gonna state that as fact...(no source), but it really can't be. Dukes, who hit just .190 in 52 games and 184 at bats in '07, managed 15 extra base hits out the 35 he connected on, with 21 RBI's, but the twenty-three year old ended the season with all kinds of (well-documented-elsewhere) personal problems detracting from his first MLB campaign. But Dukes has impressed Nationals coach Tim Tolman, who is currently managing Dukes with the Dominican Winter Baseball League's Licey Tigers.

      (According to http://www.licey.com/licey.asp "Estadísticas Colectivas" Dukes is currently (as of 11/21) hitting .250 with 3 doubles, 1 triple and 2 HR's with 6 RBI's and 13 hits in 52 at bats over 17 games so far)...

     ...The 74th pick in the 3rd Round of the 2002 Draft by the (D)-Rays, Elijah Dukes has hit 81 doubles, 18 triples, and 45 HR's with 225 RBI's in 418 games in the Rays' system...

(the writers at Draysbay.com, the SB Nation's Rays sight, have their own perspective on all the Dukes talk...)

http://www.draysbay.com/story/2007/11/21/233735/66#commenttop

     Mr. Ladson writes that the Nationals have been interested in Dukes since 2005, and in fact on 6/26/2006, Mr. Ladson reported, in an article entitled, "Nationals agree to terms with top pick", that the Rays might be interested in Nationals prospect Larry Broadway, in a deal that could have sent Rocco Baldelli or Dukes to DC.

     Broadway underperformed offensively last Spring and as a result, the soon-to-be twenty-seven year-old first baseman now finds himself behind Dmitri Young and Nick Johnson (if and when he returns) in the organizational pecking order at first, and the Rays have Carlos Pena there now, who hit .282 with 46 HR's and 121 RBI's last season, so they probably don't need Broadway anymore, but that's a good idea of what the Nationals might have to give up for Dukes...(Didn't you draft him in our fantasy baseball league?" my brother Scout, Braves fan and Source for All Things Baseball asks about Dukes. "Yeah I had high hopes," I respond.)

     Rocco Baldelli, Elijah Dukes, Wily Mo Pena, Nook Logan, Ryan Church, Justin Maxwell? The Nationals know you can only play three outfielders right?...or two of these six along with Kearns, who seems to have right sewn up for now.

     ...Or maybe the rumor that once again surfaced on mlbtraderumors.com that has Ryan Church going to Chicago to play the outfield for the Cubs will help the Nationals choose. The article sited by mlbtraderumors.com is by Daily Herald Staff writer Bruce Miles who writes, in his article, "Hendry hot on trail of Matsui" that:

          "Outfielders Carl Crawford (Tampa Bay) and Ryan Church
          (Washington) also are on (Cubs GM Jim) Hendry's radar,
          but neither of their teams is easy to deal with in trade
          talks."

     No mention of what the Cubs might give up in return anywhere that I can find. But that's not all the talk that's out there about the Nationals...    

      The Nationals are reportedly one of five teams that have offered a contract to free agent outfielder Torii Hunter. mlbtraderumors.com points to a Chicago Sun Times article by Gordon Wittenmeyer entitled, "Hunter's List may start with Sox" in which Mr. Wittenmeyer lists the White Sox as the front-runner to sign Hunter, and simply confirms, "The Kansas City Royals and Washington Nationals also have made offers."

      ...AND...according to an article at espn.go.com by Jerry Crasnick entitled, "Agent says Jones compares favorably with free agent CFs" (which doesn't sound great Mr. Boras)...an, "executive with a big league club in the market for a center fielder" as Mr. Crasnick describes his source, states:

          "Not only have I not heard what [money] Scott(Boras) is
          looking for on Jones; I haven't heard anyone other than
          Washington talking to him about Andruw..."

     Brand new stadium. Familiar Team President. Familiar face in Bench Coach Pat Corrales. Brand new center field to patrol...Huh? Huh?...Andruw? Huh?...Could it happen?

...oh, one more thing...according to this report on mlbtraderumors.com...

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2007/11/chavez-would-wa.html

...Eric Chavez of the Oakland Athletics has the Nationals listed as a team he won't accept a trade to in his contract. Whatever Chavez!!...Whatever! The Kids Call Him Zim!! Alright?...("Maybe that's why?" my brother Scout offers. "Maybe?" I respond.)

*Links to the Rumors* (Read for yourself...)

mlbtraderumors.com's article, "Nationals Still Pursuing Dukes":

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2007/11/nationals-still.html

Bill Ladson's article "Dukes on Nationals' radar" at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071121&content_id=2306541&vkey=news_was&fext=. jsp&c_id=was&partnered=rss_was

Dominican Winter League Baseball's Licey Tigers official website:

http://www.licey.com/

Elijah Duke's stats at thebaseballcube.com:

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/D/elijah-dukes.shtml

dailyherald.com's Bruce Miles article, "Hendry hot on trail of Matsui":

http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=81702

Chicago Sun Times(suntimes.com)'s Gordon Wittenmeyer's article, "Hunter's List may start with Sox":

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/whitesox/660754,CST-SPT-torii21.article

espn.go.com's Jerry Crasnick's article, "Agent says Jones compares favorably with free agent CFs":

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3120831