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Morse, Slaten avoid arbitration

Jan 18, 2011, 5:06 PM EST

Updated at 2:44 p.m.

The Nationals have come to terms on one-year contracts with outfielder Michael Morse and left-hander Doug Slaten, avoiding arbitration with both players. Tom Gorzelanny, meanwhile, came to terms with the Cubs on his own one-year contract, which the Nationals will inherit once the left-hander's trade becomes official.

Today is the deadline for all arbitration-eligible players to either sign with their respective clubs or exchange contract figures in advance of hearings that will take place next month. With Morse, Slaten and left-hander John Lannan (who came to terms yesterday on a one-year, $2.75 million contract) now signed and Gorzelanny's case settled by the Cubs, the Nationals will avoid taking any players to arbitration for the first time since the franchise relocated from Montreal in 2005.

Morse's contract includes a base salary of $1.05 million, with the opportunity to earn up to $300,000 more in incentives based on plate appearances. The 28-year-old utilityman is coming off a breakout season in which he hit .289 with 15 homers and 41 RBI in only 98 games while earning only $410,000.

The Nationals plan to use Morse as the right-handed half of a left-field platoon with either Roger Bernadina or Rick Ankiel. He wasRead more »

  1. Doc - Jan 18, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    Interesting to see how good Wiggleman is at deploying our man Morse–he was a little slow at doing so last year. Guess he was just waiting for Nyj to catch on, to whatever Nyj was not going to catch on to.

  2. sjm 308 - Jan 18, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    I don't think it can be underestimated how important it is that we are NOT going to arbitration with any of our players this year. I realize they still haveto work things out with Gorzelanny but I can't imagine that will be an issue. I realize that Brunney was a disaster last year and you can't blame it all on the arbitration thing but it surely could not have helped. I am guessing that Morse got a contract at least as good as Ankiel and I agree that it will be interesting to see what kind of role he is given.Go Nats

  3. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Ankiel didn't have such a hot year last year. Was hurt a lot. Is a past steroid guy. Hmmmmm……I don't know if I'd put too much stock in him.

  4. sjm 308 - Jan 18, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    I am not saying Ankiel is the answer, what I am saying is Morse deserves a contract at least as strong as his and I think he signed for around 1.5 million. Have to love a jump from 400,000 to that kind of figure and hopefully he responds in kind.

  5. JaneB - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    I'm glad that Morse is getting a contract. I hope he gets a lot of time on the field.

  6. Ballinonabudget - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    I don't think it's fair to blame Bruney's terrible performance last year on the fact that the Nats took him to arbitration. It turns out they were right to not give him what he wanted, because he just wasn't that good.The arbitration process didn't hurt Sean Burnett's confidence at all, he pitched great and earned a 2-year contract. Rizzo has proven to be very shrewd when it comes to making contract offers. He had his price for Dunn – 3 years and 30-whatever million. If somebody else topped that, good for Adam, but the Nats weren't going there. It appears to be the same strategy with arbitration. Rizzo will negotiate to a point, but when it comes down to it, he has a limit to what he thinks a player is worth and he will not move from that number. I do hope the Nats and Gorzelanny reach an agreement without going to arbitration, but I will not cut players slack for poor performance due to having their feelings hurt in the process. They are professionals. If they think they deserve more, go out and prove it on the field, just like Sean Burnett did, and they will be rewarded.

  7. Big Cat - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    I like Morse. Good pop. Goes the other way real well, for power too. Something funny about him. He's been kicking around the minors for 9 years now. His best year by far was last year and that was in the bigs. Some of his years he played only around 50 games. Don't know if he was hurt or what. Maybe he got tagged as a "4th outfielder" Who knows. There are a lot of politics in baseball.

  8. DFL - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    Although Morse's utility is of great value and his signing important, I hope Nats fans don't expect Morse to be the second coming of Mark DaRosa. Morse was an afterthought for most of his career, a spray hitter of little distinction in Seattle, and cut loose from that light-hitting squad. More than likely than Morse hitting .300 and blasting 25 home runs is that Morse returns to form and hits ten or so home runs in utility duty. That would be a positive.

  9. joemktg - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    How does a club approach arbitration for a newly acquired ballplayer? I've got to think that the case is relatively weak as the club does not have hands-on experience with the player, and as a result can only rely on published stats.On the other hand, a club can go into an arbitration case after a trade and use the trade components to support their stance, e.g., "We just traded 3 cans of beer for him, so the market dictates that he's worth three cans of beer."What's the strategy?

  10. Peyton Dowdy - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    DFL, I agree that Morse is a bit over hyped by Nats fans but you just pretty much discribed Mark DeRosa when you said afterthough most of his career and spray hitter. It really wasn't til Derosa changed organizations that he took off. I don't think Morse will sustain his batting average but I think his power lies in the Derosa ballpark of around 20 HRs with ability to play a couple of position.

  11. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    Anonymous 12:46, don't forget Morse is an identified PED user, too. Just keeping the playing field level for Morse and Ankiel… There are Nats fans who aren't that crazy about Morse.

  12. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    I think by the all-Star break Ankiel will be the primary LF with Morse being more of a utility guy.On the Gorzo trade, it is funny that most Nats fans are upset at giving up AJ Morris and most cubs articles think the two pitchers were throw aways and Burgess wil be playing soon at Wrigley!

  13. TimDz - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    My guess on Gorzelanny is that (based on the fact that they know little about him on the "hands on" basis noted by joemktg) both sides end up submitting arbitration numbers and then they split the difference.I won't be heart broken if they just agree today…

  14. Big Cat - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    Morse….steroids? First I heard of this. I would agree with DFL. It is more likely that we see the Michael Morse of 9 uneventful minor league seasons next year. I hope not though

  15. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    FWI, Morse was suspended for 10 days in September 2005 for using steroids.

  16. Will - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    Morse is one of a handful of MLB players to actually face a suspension due to PED use.But it happened over 5 years ago.

  17. JD - Jan 18, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    I think that Morse will have a very good year; I think he is better than Ankiel and Bernadina right now.

  18. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    I'm just saying don't criticize Ankiel and give Morse a pass. Both users, both guilty. Both Nats. Go Nats!

  19. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 18, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Now Heilman signs with the D-Backs…

  20. Stew Magnuson - Jan 18, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    Did anyone have the same experience I did at FanFest last year? I was in line to get an autograph from Pudge, but Bruney was sitting next to him. So I had Bruney sign my ticket stub just so he wouldn't feel left out.I'm putting that stub on eBay. Bidding starts at a penny.

  21. Ballinonabudget - Jan 18, 2011 at 7:35 PM

    Stew – Yea same thing. I had one ball. Signed by both Pudge and Bruney. One going to the Hall of Fame, the other…going to the checkout line at Target.I wonder what that ball will be worth in 20 years…also, apparently since the deal for Gorzelanny is not "official" yet, the Cubs came to terms on a $2.1 million contract, which the Nats then assume for the 2011 season. So…hurray for no arbitration cases this year!

  22. Mark Zuckerman - Jan 18, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    FYI: I've updated the post with the news that Gorzelanny came to terms today with the Cubs on a one-year, $2.1 million contract. The Nats will assume that contract once Gorzelanny passes a physical and the trade becomes official.

  23. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 18, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    Does this now mean we can have an idea about the final salary numbers for this years Nats?

  24. Mark Zuckerman - Jan 18, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    NatsJack: You read my mind. I just did the math and posted this on Twitter…If they don't make any more significant moves, the Nats' Opening Day payroll will be roughly $62 million-$63 million. Last year's Opening Day payroll was $66 million.

  25. Pilchard - Jan 18, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    – Any idea as to who the Nats dropped to make room for LaRoche and who the Nats will drop to make room for G'hanny? – Also, have no idea if Morse is still using PEDs, but is power numbers are no fluke. He is big guy. He is listed as 6-5 230, and would bet that he weighs more than that. He was much smaller earlier in his career, but he is legit power guy right now.

  26. Doc - Jan 18, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    JD, you're right on about comparisons of Morse, Ankiel, and Bernadina. Morse actually hits RHP almost as well as LHP–about .290. Biggest difference is how Morse hits righties, better than how Ankiel and Bernadina hit lefties. Don't think Uncle Jimmy has figured that stat out yet!

  27. Nattydread - Jan 18, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    "Adam Dunn got a $25,000 Gold Glove incentive from the White Sox." So that's why he left DC. He wanted to be taken seriously as a fielder!

  28. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    Just read Nichols on Gorzelanny:Sigh, the only guy who wrote a reasonableanalysis was Sue Dinem and then Yoder.Like it or not Livo should NOT be the opening day starter. The Nats aren't George Llen Sr's team. They shouldbe getting better and younger.Gorzelanny is a step in that direction. He may still become a reliable powerpitcher starter. He has as much potentialfor that as Mock with more experienceand a general upward trend since thePirates wrecked him by pushing himto 200ip before he was ready.Bill James, the guy Nichols likesto tout sees a 4.79 FIP for hissoft tossed Lannan. A 4.01 FIPfor Gorzelanny. In a perfect Natsworld Detwiler replaces Lannanwho continues to decline aspredicted by FanGraphs.Gorzelanny is a lefthanded power pitcher who willgive you 25-30 starts. Somethingthe Nats have yet to develop. Orfind.It's hard to imagine but given Marquis, Livo in2009, Lannan, Jzimmnn, Detwiler, and Mock.Then Maya. With so many unknowns andpossibilities Gorzelanny could end up as theace until Stras returns. And if you are a Nats fan you know that is not outside therealm of possibilities.

  29. DFL - Jan 18, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    Big Cat, Morse gets so much support here and at Nats JOurnal that I think his girlfriend/wife posts to both sites. You'd think he was the second coming of Babe Ruth.

  30. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    "Adam Dunn got a $25,000 Gold Glove incentive from the White Sox." Actually, someone told him that they give a Gold Glove for DH, and he believed it.

  31. David - Jan 18, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    Armando Galarraga is available. One day after agreeing to terms with him on a $2.3MM contract for 2011, the Tigers have designated for assignment.I wonder why they would take the time to workout a non-guaranteed contract just to DFA him the next day. Also I didn't realize that he was one of the players that was traded to bring Soriano to Washington.

  32. Slidell - Jan 18, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    Morse may not be the greatest thing since sliced bread; but he certainly performed better in 2010 on a day-to-day basis than either Bernie or Nyjer. It would be nice if he could bust out in ST and force Riggs to play him regularly. That's probably the only way we'll ever find out how good he is.

  33. Knoxville Nat - Jan 18, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    "It would be nice if he could bust out in ST and force Riggs to play him regularly."It would be nice if he became a better defensive outfielder. Right now he is not that much of an upgrade over what Adam Dunn was in left field.

  34. DFL - Jan 18, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    I am willing to bet one of the following will happen in 2011- 1) Bernandina will spend time in the minors due to poor hitting or 2) Ankiel will be dropped due to poor hitting + no role on team. Morse may very well get a shot. Or the whole outfield situation may explode if Morgan, Bernadina, Morse and Ankiel fail to perform well. Is Chris Duncan or Kevin Mench available. Can Brian Bixler play the outfield? Where did you go, Pete Orr?

  35. NatsJackin Florida - Jan 18, 2011 at 10:01 PM

    You're forgetting Corey Brown.

  36. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    Why did we trade Willie Harris for Alex Cora?Why did we let the Mets pick which one they wanted, and we took the one that was left over?Why did we agree to pay Cora $900,000?(Is the answer to all 3 "Boras")?Not that Willie Harris is all that.

  37. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    And he's forgetting Jeff Frazier who hit 25 homers in AAA lastyear. Rizzo's got it covered. It's still the pitching …

  38. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2011 at 10:23 PM

    Willy Harris thought he should be a starter … at 2nd base. Letthat sink in. Harris was not the Nats best 2nd bagged lastyear.

  39. JD - Jan 18, 2011 at 10:50 PM

    I think it would be a mistake to give anyone other than Livo the ball on opening day; Whether or not he's the best pitcher is irrelevant; this is a ceremonial honor and it should be reserved to the pitcher who had the best year last year. If Gorzelany is our ace we are in deep trouble; this is a no. 4 or 5 starter with 'just OK' stuff and less than OK command.If he is an upgrade over Stammen and Detwiler he's not much of one. I am not against adding depth to avoid pitching Atilano, Mock et al. but let's not pretend that we're getting Roy Halliday. Things will be good if the rotation is led by Zimmermann and Wang and if Storen settles into the closer role. If the stars align we may just get to .500 in 2011 with a lot of young talent on deck for 2012.

  40. Anonymous - Jan 18, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    I'm hoping for George Springer in the draft. Check him out. Any word on his defense/arm etc?

  41. natsfan1a - Jan 18, 2011 at 11:27 PM

    Wonder whether the Tigers may be looking to trade Galarraga? Interesting rumor posted elsewhere (cough…Nats Journal comment) re. interest in Coffey. If he did become a Nat, and given his trademark sprint to the mound, perhaps he could also do the occasional spot start as a racing president.

  42. Sunderland - Jan 19, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    JD, IMO, Wang will not be pitching before June, if he pitches at all. If he was ready, he'd have pitched some winter ball. He's not ready, he may never be.

  43. Anonymous8 - Jan 19, 2011 at 12:33 AM

    Mark Zuckerman said… If they don't make any more significant moves, the Nats' Opening Day payroll will be roughly $62 million-$63 million. Last year's Opening Day payroll was $66 million. I remember a few people saying the Nats payroll would end up around $55 million for this year. It seems the mid-60's give Rizzo some more flexibility in adding a big pitcher acquisition after the season especially with Marquis salary dropping off after the season.

  44. Anonymous8 - Jan 19, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    Mark – Did your numbers for 2011 include Werth's $3 million bonus?For 2012 the Nats have many players that are due contractual raises.Werth – $3 millionZim – $3.075 millionLaRoche – $1 millionBurnett – $900,000Stras – $500,000So roughly $8.5 million will be added to the 2012 payroll and if Marquis is replaced by equal money then the payroll will almost certainly go over $70 million for 2012.In 2013, if LaRoche's option is picked up the payroll goes to $85 million and should go closer to $90 million depending on Jordan Zimmermann and others get in their arbitration.

  45. raymitten - Jan 19, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    Not sure why the Nats would want Todd Coffey – I sure hope he's better than he was in his Reds days. Phil Wood reports that the Nats remain in talks with Jerry Hairston. Makes me think that Joey Cora may be the replacement of Alberto Gonzalez and Hairston the replacement for Willie Harris. Probably a good move on both counts. I'd like to get Galarraga. I'm not sure why the Tigers would want to get rid of him.

  46. Anonymous - Jan 19, 2011 at 1:37 AM

    The Tigers DFA's him, so clearly they will get rid of him

  47. Steady Eddie - Jan 19, 2011 at 2:48 AM

    Mark,About the Cora vs. Hairston choice, it was disturbing to read that the Nats backed away from Hairston because of his higher salary expectations. One Nats blogger (Ladson?) went so far as to say that a last place team shouldn't be spending $2+ million on a backup player. But if a million or two was really the only difference between a washed-up has-been and a potentially decent bench player, that strikes me as the kind of thinking that keeps a team in last place. My question, was it really about the money or was that code for "Hairston is not going to want to ride the bench and accept a backup role, and the last thing we need is to buy another Guzman/Adam Kennedy situation"? Thanks.

  48. Anonymous - Jan 19, 2011 at 3:11 AM

    I think it would be a mistake to give anyone other than Livo the ball on opening day; Whether or not he's the best pitcher is irrelevant; this is a ceremonial honor and it should be reserved to the pitcher who had the best year last year.I entirely agree, but after that its time to give Livo as many accolades as possible for all he has done for this franchise … and then like Pudge, its time to mentor his replacements in the rotation. Don't you think?If Gorzelany is our ace we are in deep trouble; this is a no. 4 or 5 starter with 'just OK' stuff and less than OK command.If he is an upgrade over Stammen and Detwiler he's not much of one. I am not against adding depth to avoid pitching Atilano, Mock et al. but let's not pretend that we're getting Roy Halliday.His projected FIP by Bill James if 4.01. Lannan's is 4.79. I think you know what that means? Yes, he is their best starter short of a another run of the magnificent seven with Livo as Yule Brynner? Now, it is possible that Maya could prove his mettle. That seems a more likely scenario at this point. Zimmermann could continue to progress in his recovery from TJ and live up to his projected potential. Still, THEY WILL LIMIT HIM. That is only right and prudent. So, in a sense he can't be their ace next year. Nor can Strasburg in 2012. He too will have to be limited to be on the safe side … why does no one here put on their thinking caps? Didn't anyone ever watch Tom Terrific?So, if I am a betting man the possibility of getting a good amount of quality starts from this left-handed power pitcher seems higher than for every other pitcher except for Livo and perhaps Maya. Its much less likely we will see that from Detwiler who may start in AAA. And Maya might be there as well. And honestly I wonder if Jimmy Barthmaier (another Pirates cast off and power pitcher) might have something to prove in Syracuse as he comes back from Tommy John's? Given Marquis last year can you really expect to rely on him? NO! Mock? You're kidding right? Who else is there beyond Lannan and Fangraphs did an entire analysis of Lannan last year that showed he may have been the beneficiary of extraordinary luck in 2008 and 2009. Seems that may have been proven in 2010?So, who are you down to? Tom Gorzelanny. But I suspect Rizzo isn't even close to done yet. Noting that there are still 2 slots to open on the 40-man.

  49. Anonymous - Jan 19, 2011 at 3:16 AM

    I'd like to get Galarraga. I'm not sure why the Tigers would want to get rid of him.Deficient in both quality starts, K's/9 and BB/9. In other words Rizzo made the right choice in Gorzelanny. I suspect and expect he is after another starter who is even better. The Rays have two prospect starters ranked similar to Strasburg as "A's". Have to wonder if Jimmy Shields might be next to go?

  50. Mark Zuckerman - Jan 19, 2011 at 3:57 AM

    Anonymous8 said…Mark – Did your numbers for 2011 include Werth's $3 million bonus?No, I didn't include Werth's signing bonus (which is actually $4 million). If you include that, then the payroll total goes up to around $66-$67 million, which is right where last year's Opening Day payroll was.Steady Eddie: I haven't heard or read anything specific about Hairston's contract demands. All I know is that he made more than $2 million last year with the Padres and wound up with 476 plate appearances (his most since 2002 with the Orioles). My hunch is he's looking for a team that can offer him both money and playing time. The Nats couldn't guarantee him anything more than a backup job and probably aren't willing to pay more than $2 million for someone holding that role.

  51. DFL - Jan 19, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Actually, I hope that Corey Brown has a fine spring training and ousts Morgan from centerfield. As Brown is not a born leadoff hitter, perhaps the Nats could sign Scot Podsednik to play left and bat first.

  52. SpashCity - Jan 19, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors gave a link to a Jon Heyman tweet that the Nats were close to signing Todd Coffey. "The 30-year-old right-hander posted a 4.76 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 62.1 innings with the Brewers last season. They non-tendered him in December after Coffey earned $2.025MM in 2010."Any word on this Mark?

  53. Sunderland - Jan 19, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    DFL, I'm completely with you on Brown pushing out Morgan, but I think the odds of it are as slim as a Detwiler complete game. I also hold out hope that Brown could be the leadoff guy. After his 34 game struggle at AAA last April into May he was sent to AA. From that point to the end of the season, including a week back at AAA, his OBP was .417.And on the full MiLB season, he had 22 steals and only 2 CS.I just think it's way too much to ask Rizzo to give up on Nyjer in March.

  54. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 19, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Unless Nyjer continues with his tired act and aloof attitude towards fans. If he's not a "changed man", I expect to see him "Elijah Duked" around March 15th.

  55. Ballinonabudget - Jan 19, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    I was under the impression that Elijah Dukes' various run-ins with the law, capped by a final transgression that was never disclosed, is what forced Rizzo to cut him point blank. Dukes was on a zero-strike policy, and he messed up.While Morgan has had his on-field issues, including throwing tantrums, starting fights, and bickering with the manager, I have not read or heard anything about him having legal issues like Dukes had/has. I think Rizzo will give Morgan a legitimate chance to prove that he can play like he did in '09. I think Morgan will get at least half the season to show whether he can be a successful lead off hitter.

  56. JD - Jan 19, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    NatsJack, I couldn't agree with you more; sometime you have to add by subtracting. I think Nyjer will (should) be on a very short leash this spring. From everything I read I am not sure Corey Brown is the answer but when we let Dukes go there was no answer either.

  57. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 19, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    "Elijah Duked" references being unceremoniously dumped from the roster with no reference to legal issues. And Dukes was dumped because of a continued display priveleged attitude with no display of improvement on the field. That and a locker room dust up with Justin Maxwell spelled his demise. The legal stuff came after the fact.

  58. JD - Jan 19, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    Ballinonabudget, It's not only about under performing (although there was plenty of that with Nyjer); it's about embarrassing the organization time and time again; it's about refusing to take ownership of his mistakes and it's about making the same ones over and over again.

  59. Slidell - Jan 19, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    NatsJack 10:10— First I've heard of "the cause" behind Dukes' sudden release. Thanks for the info. Given the size and condition of those two, it could have been quite a display, with someone getting seriously hurt.

  60. Steve M. - Jan 19, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    The last few comments on Nyjer is all guesswork at this point. I am with Ballinonabudget as far as Rizzo will give Nyjer every opportunity to make it. The question will be what if Nyjer has a poor Spring Training and Corey Brown has a great Spring Training?Corey Brown has no MLB experience so no way does Rizzo bring him up to start Opening Day in CF and leadoff. Won't happen. Here is what I see if Nyjer doesn't perform. I see Nyjer moving to a backup role on the bench until June 1st and then calling up Corey Brown if he is excelling in AAA and Nyjer gets DFA'd. So if Nyjer is moved to the bench from Opening Day to June 1st, Plan B goes into effect and Werth starts in CF, Morse in RF, and Bernadina in LF vs. LH pitching and vs. RH pitching Werth in RF, Ankiel in CF, and Bernadina in LF.

  61. Anonymous - Jan 19, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    NatsJack – Sorry, your info is wrong. There was no dust up with Dukes and JMaxwell in Viera. They were actually friendly (on the surface) until Dukes was released then Maxwell opened his mouth to reporters about Dukes release which didn't sit well with Dukes as you can imagine. You can find references to Maxwell's comments if you Google it. Funny how Maxwell moved up a notch in the depth chart with Dukes DFA'd as he looked to be the odd man out before Dukes release. There were times in the 2009 season where Dukes had dinner at Maxwell's home and they would hang out. If you asked Dukes before he was DFA'd he would tell you from his perspective there was never a problem with Maxwell.Dukes father passed away in November 2009 and when he arrived in Spring Training he wasn't the same guy. Lost weight, lost strength, wasn't in game shape. His release really was mostly about the lack of performance but do I think other factors of a certain player blowing smoke in Rizzo's ear played into it, my opintion is Yes, and rumor has it that his teammates weren't upset when he was cut loose. Baseball clubhouses aren't much different than normal workplaces. People backstab, look for promotions and help push the competition aside by making up stories, and do underhanded stuff.Dukes has a checkered past but kept himself clean in Washington and when you have the financial obligations of a proper funeral for your father and you have no money and huge child support obligations, this guy could never get on top of the money issues which losing his job and income sure didn't help. Its amazing the lack of friends you have on the way from the penthouse down to the poorhouse.I feel sorry for Elijah and wish him well.

  62. Steve M. - Jan 19, 2011 at 4:15 PM is a good write-up on the Dukes DFA. A shame this is being rehashed again.He wasn't well-liked in the clubhouse, according to sources. Maxwell said there were "distractions" with Dukes in the past, though he wouldn't elaborate on what those were….Rizzo said "no singular incident" contributed to Dukes being released, a comment echoed by team president Stan Kasten in a statement. Kasten also said people who think otherwise "don't know what they're talking about" – a tacit rebuke of former general manager Jim Bowden…"We just didn't see the progress we hoped to get," Rizzo said. "This was not a knee-jerk reaction on several spring training at-bats. We spoke about this throughout the winter internally. We had a game plan in place to see who was going to claim the job, and we thought we should go in a different direction by releasing Elijah.""For me, he was always cool," Bernadina said. "I never had a problem with him."But Bernadina's opinion wasn't uniformly held around the clubhouse; a number of veteran players have privately expressed displeasure with some of Dukes' on-field behaviors, whether it was taunting fans at Shea Stadium in Sept. 2008, arguing with then-manager Manny Acta on the field earlier that season, showing up minutes before batting practice or refusing to talk to reporters about a mistake he'd made in a game.

  63. DFL - Jan 19, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Sadly, Dukes' sojourn on this Earth is not likely to be successful or happy.

  64. NatinBeantown - Jan 19, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    In other news, Coffey is a Nat, per MLBTR.Out: Toolsy knuckleheadsIn: Power bullpen arms

  65. Peyton Dowdy - Jan 19, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    I am slightly confused as to why people continue to be down on Gorzelanny. A lot of people were mad when the Nationals didn't sign Jorge de la Rosa. Last season there numbers are nearly identical with a slight edge in ERA, FIP and WAR going to Gorzelanny. Their K/9 and BB/9 rates are very similar and Gorzelanny kept the ball in the park at a better rate, although that could be due to de la Rosa starting at Coors field some. The other difference is Gorzelanny is a year younger and a lot cheaper for the same length of time. De la Rosa started to get attention around the same age as Gorzelanny so while he is no ace for sure Gorzy could turn into a solid starter for the Nats.Rizzo obviously liked de la Rosa but he seems to have found a similar pitcher in Gorzelanny.

  66. Sunderland - Jan 19, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    Enough on Dukes. Like many, I really wanted him to make it. Steve M, the problem with the scenario you paint with Nyjer coming off the bench is that we do not have a leadoff hitter. And so it makes it even harder to displace Nyjer. Benching a guy who has a possibility of being a decent leadoff hitter, in favor a guy with virtually no chance of being a decent leadoff hitter, is not going to happen.If Nyjer's on the 25 man roster, he's playing CF and batting leadoff on March 31.

  67. Sunderland - Jan 19, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    Adding Coffey would seem to lock down 6 bullpen spots.ClippardStorenSlatenBurnettRodriguez (out of options)CoffeyThe 7th would likely be one of our starters as the long man, Stammen or Detwiler I would guess.It would also seem to leave no room for Cole Kimball.<>

  68. natsfan1a - Jan 19, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    Out: Teddy's losing streak (hey, a fan can dream).In: Sprinting to the mound.and…the Captcha is "spend"—NatinBeantown said… In other news, Coffey is a Nat, per MLBTR. Out: Toolsy knuckleheads In: Power bullpen arms

  69. Theophilus - Jan 19, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    The carping about Brown or anyone else not being a bona fide lead-off man is not productive. Heaven knows the Nats have not had a proper lead off man in their history with the possible exception of Morgan's fever-induced two-month burst of productivity in 2009. After he proves this Spring that July-August '09 was a fluke, the object will be to put the best eight players in the line up every day, whether one of them is the ideal lead-off man or not.No way an unreformed, uncoachable curve ball-flailing Morgan is one of the Nats eight best, or even 10 or 11 best, position players.The best defense for Morgan is that last year's BABIP is said to show he was "unlucky." This is how statistics screw up assessments of talent. For that argument to have merit, you'd have to show me his stat for Percentage of Pitches Made Contact, Percentage Of Batted Balls That Left The Infield, and Percentage Of Bunts On The Correct Side Of The Pitcher's Mound. His execution in 2010 was just a total disaster and in line w/ John McKay's assessment of the original Tampa Bay Bucs.

  70. Anonymous - Jan 19, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    If Coffey comes sprinting out of the bullpen towards the mound in Philly, might he get tased?

  71. Big Cat - Jan 19, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Gonna be very interesting with Kimball and Rodriguez this spring. I think they are very high on Kimball and they say Rodriguez is throwing 100mph

  72. Pilchard - Jan 19, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    Kimball will have to clearly out-pitch Rodriguez to get a spot as the Nats lose Rodriguez if he does not make the active roster unless the A's would be willing to give him up, which I doubt.





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