Center Field in DC...Goes To...?
As far as I'm concerned, the biggest news out of Washington yesterday, (solely in terms of baseball news, of course), was in MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Nationals miss out on Bradley", about the free agent outfielder Milton Bradley's decision to sign with the Chicago Cubs instead of becoming the Nationals' center fielder, but the big news didn't concern Bradley's spurning DC, (or the teased Nationals-related story on the MLB Network that never materialized last night)...but instead what the Nationals said in the wake of their 3-year/$30M dollar offer to Bradley being rejected, as Mr. Ladson wrote:
"According to baseball sources, the Nationals have decided to let Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge compete for the center-field job."
So the idea of moving Milledge to a corner spot is put on hold as he competes for the center field spot with Dukes. What happens to the loser? Do they go to right field? Go to the bench? I was pretty sure Dukes had a place in the '09 outfield, but Mr. Ladson cites Dukes' string of "right leg problems" last season as the reason why Dukes, the better defensive center fielder in Mr. Ladson's opinion, hasn't just been given the job in center since the team has said since the Fall that they see Milledge in a corner spot.
Buster Olney Doesn't Think Dunn's Coming Either...
The Nationals might be on the verge of going 0 for 3 with a swinging K in this winter's free agent market according ESPN.com's Buster Olney's latest post entitled, "Ten things to keep a close eye on", where Mr. Olney speculates that in spite of the Nationals' interest in bringing Adam Dunn to DC, for the free agent...:
"...to sign with Washington, Dunn would have to be at peace with the idea that he would be returning to almost the same kind of situation that he had in Cincinnati: He would be playing for a team that will probably struggle (for at least the next couple of years), a team lacking in the kind of pitching needed to contend..."
I probably have a higher opinion of the Nationals' young pitchers than Mr. Olney does, but, admittedly, most scouting reports on the starters in the Nationals' organization seem to place DC's arms in the middle or back of potential Nationals' rotations of the future, though hopefully the drafting and signing of Stephen Strasburg this season will give the Nationals their first true ace...(Sorry, Livan!)...but I share Mr. Olney's opinion of Adam Dunn's situation. What does DC have to offer Adam Dunn...the money hasn't been enough to bring either the Yankees' new first baseman or Milton Bradley to DC, so what makes you think Adam Dunn's going to be any different?
WINTER LEAGUE PLAYOFF UPDATES...
Dominican Winter League - The Tigres del Licey beat Aguilas Cibaenas 8- 2 Monday night with Anderson Hernandez starting at second, walking twice and going 1 for 4 to improve his DWL Postseason average to .375 after 8 games in which the Tigres are now 5-3. Ronnie Belliard recovered from a mini-slump following a recent HBP to go 1 for 4 with a run scored, 1 RBI and 1 walk.
Puerto Rican League - The Leones de Ponce pounced upon the Criollos de Caguas Monday night for a 6-1 win with the Criollos' one run coming on DC OF prospect Justin Maxwell's 7th HR of the winter, third-best in the PRWL. Maxwell was 1 for 2 with 2 walks, the HR, and now he's hitting .225 in for Caguas. Garrett Guzman was 0 for 4, lowering his AVG to .264 after 41 games. According to MLB.com's Caribbean League Roundup entitled, "Araguas' relievers shut down Caracas", the Criollos de Caguas will, "...host the Indios on Wednesday for the last postseason slot," in the Puerto Rican League Playoffs.