The Elijah Dukes experiment, project, call it what you will, ended today with the outfielder's release by Washington.
In 188 games with Washington over two seasons, Dukes batted .256 with 21 home runs and 102 RBI.
Dukes was acquired by the Nats from Tampa Bay in December 2007 for minor league pitcher Glenn Gibson. Without getting into specifics, let's just say that Elijah was considered a somewhat volatile personality, and the Rays needed to find him a new home.
I liked Dukes. I thought he had a high upside, in terms of raw talent. But whether it was lack of focus, nagging injuries, or a basic failure to thrive, he never quite put it together. His release comes as no surprise.
What does this mean to the 2010 roster? Well, it's good news for players like Justin Maxwell, Roger Bernadina, Chris Duncan, Kevin Mench and Willy Taveras. One of those guys will be in the opening day lineup in right field. Thus far this spring, Mench and Bernandina have outhit the others, but with 2 weeks to go, it's still an open competition.
Elijah Dukes will likely get another shot elsewhere, and I wish him well. I'd hate to think he's played his last game at age 25.