MLB.com writer Bill Chastain offered the following assessment of Elijah Dukes talents in an article entitled, "Rays Opening Day outlook" at tampabay.rays.mlb.com last March 30th, on the eve of the '07 season:
"...Elijah Dukes, CF: Dukes is a potential five-tool player
with plenty of speed and power. Center field is his best
outfield position, but he might experience some trouble
adjusting to Major League hitters."
When that was written, Elijah Dukes had just earned a spot on the (Devil)-Rays Opening Day roster by hitting .367 with 22 hits in 60 at bats, 3 doubles, 1 triple and 7 RBI's in 25 Spring Training games. In his fifth professional season, Dukes was set to make the jump from Double-AA ball to the Majors.
Elijah Dukes did not disappoint, homering in his first official-at-bat off New York's Opening Day starter Carl Pavano. (Remember him?). The next day Dukes notched number two, this time off reliever Scott Proctor.
Dukes starter his rookie campaign slowly, batting .238 in April with 3 doubles, 3 home runs and 4 RBI's in 63 at bats, but it was in May that Dukes took off...while striking out 26 times in 85 at bats with a .212 AVG, Dukes also managed to hit 2 triples, 7 HR's and collect 15 RBI's...
...then Elijah Dukes hit in just 2 of his next 36 at bats.
MLB.com writer Bill Chastain's coverage of the rest of Elijah Dukes was unfortunately told mostly through the titles Mr. Chastain chose for the next few weeks' articles on Dukes:
May 23, 2007 | Report: Restraining order filed vs. Dukes
May 27, 2007 | Rays still undecided about Dukes
May 29, 2007 | Notes: Dukes regrets disturbance
May 29, 2007 | Dukes seals Rays' comeback win
May 31, 2007 | Dukes' wife gets restraining order
...And then after Elijah Dukes had hit in just two of thirty-six at bats in twelve games in June...
6/22/2007 | Rays option troubled outfielder Dukes
6/23/2007 | Rays notes: Sternberg to assist Dukes
Elijah Dukes was optioned to the Minor Leagues and placed on the Inactive List shortly thereafter. The next I heard of Dukes, who I followed in Tampa out of interest in his talent, (in spite of the tabloid headlines above), was when Nationals GM Jim Bowden first expressed interest in the Rays outfielder last month. (When mlb.com's Nationals writer Bill Ladson quoted a source saying on a 1-10 scale, a deal for Dukes was a 6 or 7.)
At the time, and in Mr. Ladson's article, "Dukes on Nationals' radar" which was subtitled, "Talented Rays outfielder comes with plenty of baggage" Mr. Ladson wrote about Washington's third base coach Tim Tolman's interaction with Dukes on the Licey Tigers Dominican Winter League team on which Tolman was coaching the young outfielder.
Aside from mentioning the support a fellow-formerly-troubled star Dmitri Young could provide Dukes in DC, mlb.com's Bill Ladson, in his article today entitled, "Nats acquire Dukes from Rays" also quotes Nationals Manager Manny Acta, who states:
"I think it's never too late to become a better person, and
this kid is not 91 years old. This kid is 23," Acta said. "I'll
feel better going to bed knowing that we could give this
guy another chance in life instead of not doing it."
I like Nationals Manager Manny Acta more and more with each quote. Maybe DC is the place for Elijah Dukes to finally get back to becoming the five-tool star the Devil Rays were so eager to welcome just eight months ago.
On ESPN's Baseball Tonight Winter Meeting Special...
"I'll bet you Steve Phillips thinks all the Nationals moves are mistakes," my brother Scout, Braves Fan and Source for All Things Baseball offers by way of prediction.
Surely the coverage will lead off with the one of the two actual trades...
Like...The Washington Nationals acquiring Elijah Dukes from the Tampa Devil Rays for Minor League Pitcher Glenn Gibson...Right?
Of course not.
It's Yankee talk. Andy Pettitte's back. The Yankees have given the Minnesota Twins a "deadline" to accept their offer for Johan Santana...Midnight tonight!!(Which passed with no trade announced.) But remember the Yankees were not going to negotiate with Alex Rodriguez...
Alright...here it is..The Nationals trade for Elijah Dukes is... "...not a huge trade." (Thanks ESPN!)
"Fits Jim Bowden's history of deal-making, trading for high-ceiling talent." - (ed.- quoting Buster Olney as fast as I could type.)
...That's all on the trade from ESPN(before I turned on the Boondocks). Don't forget GM Jim Bowden's words from Barry Svrluga's washingtonpost.com article entitled, "Schneider, Church Dealt for Milledge,"
"We're not done."- Washington GM Jim Bowden.
and with that in mind, Bill Ladson has some ideas about what might happen with the excess of outfielders...
...more on that tomorrow, it's late...
*LINKS AND LINKS AND...*
mlb.com's Bill Chastain's article, "Rays Opening Day outlook" at tampabay.rays.com:
mlb.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Dukes on Nationals' radar" at washington.nationals.mlb.com: