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The case for the Mets signing Elijah Dukes

Mar 17, 2010, 6:15 PM EDT

As soon as Elijah Dukes was released today people starting snarking “just watch, the Mets will sign him.”  Howard Megdal of the New York Baseball Digest doesn’t consider that to be snark at all.  The upshot: Dukes is better than Gary Matthews, who the Mets will probably start, so at the very least he’d fit in as a backup, right?

I think Dukes is still capable of being a good player, he’s certainly inexpensive and he is probably worth a flier. Just not by the Mets. If there’s something a guy with Dukes’ history doesn’t need is an alternately bored and rabid press like that which covers the New York teams.  How about someplace quiet like Kansas City or Pittsburgh or some other island of misfit baseball toys? Places where he’ll (a) represent an upgrade; and (b) won’t be subjected to the kind of scrutiny that he, quite frankly, doesn’t want and doesn’t need.

Of course, given my biases and rooting interests, if the Mets are hellbent on signing him, far be it from me to get in their way . . .

  1. Old Gator - Mar 17, 2010 at 8:53 PM

    Swell idea. Elijah has learned the errors of his ways and will doubtless become the most contented Mutt since Juan Samuel.

  2. Howard Megdal - Mar 17, 2010 at 9:25 PM

    Hey Craig,
    Thanks for the link! I’d just love to follow up. Since we agree that, purely from a baseball perspective, Dukes is worth a flier, and that the Mets aren’t overstocked with talented outfielders, the one issue is: New York.
    To which I say: what exactly is the fear here? That the Mets will get off-the-field distractions? That the media will, at times, focus beyond the team’s won-loss record? This happens now. This happens with David Wright. This happens no matter what the Mets do- as long as they don’t win. Same with the Yankees.
    If Dukes brings them closer to winning, and there really isn’t a baseball argument against him doing that, then bringing him in helps to make off-field distractions less likely, in my view.

  3. acoustic567 - Mar 17, 2010 at 10:10 PM

    In response to Howard’s post, I’d like to say this: The Washington Nationals, who are if anything *less* well stocked with talented outfielders than the Mets, have not only given up Dukes despite his still-low price tag; they didn’t even bother trying to trade him, instead cutting him loose entirely. The Nationals are no longer run by buffoons; they clearly had some good reasons.
    Whether or not we would say the Mets are overstocked with talented outfielders, I am not in favor of making an acquisition or signing that puts further roadblocks in front of Fernando Martinez. Jeff Francoeur deserves at least a couple of months before we conclude that he will always be the same old Francoeur. If we then want to pull the plug on Francoeur, FMart should be next in line. (By the way, despite all the contempt everyone has for Francoeur, I wouldn’t sit him down for Elijah Dukes.)
    Adding bodies, even talented bodies, *can* impose costs. I really don’t want Dukes around waiting for playing time and being a pain in the neck; he’s a weird dude at best, a walking time bomb at worst.

  4. Aaron W - Mar 18, 2010 at 12:30 AM

    Elijah Dukes will look like Willie Mays out there if compared to other in-house option, Angel Pagan. Elijah Dukes going to the Mets is a low-risk, high reward proposition for the team because he’s not going to add much to the payroll and is still young with upside. For Dukes, however, it’s a high-risk, high-reward proposition because if he succeeds in NY, he’s succeeding in a big market under the big market microscopr of the New York press. If he does not succeed, his lack of success will be chronicled blow-by-blow by New York’s finest in sports punditry, making him all but certain to be playing in some organization’s AAA affiliate come 2011.
    If Dukes is willing to play through 2010 on a losing team like San Diego, he may have a bit smoother go of it. It really comes down to whether or not this kid is smart enough to see this release as the wake-up call that it is. If he stays on good behavior and doesn’t say stupid things to the press, his athleticism should take care of the rest. I wish Dukes the best because his next choice is likely to determine the next several years of his career as a ballplayer.

  5. enough already - Mar 18, 2010 at 7:44 AM

    Yuck! I forget who said it yesterday but I just threw up a little bit in my mouth. First of all, the Mets have plenty of talent in the outfield. Second, didn’t we all learn our lesson with Lastings Milledge? (All except you, Craig, that is.) Blah! What a way to start the day. Seriously, if there were a major league team in Alaska, this guy wouldn’t be able to handle the media scrutiny.

  6. enough already - Mar 18, 2010 at 7:46 AM

    PS I am totally with you on Francoeur.

  7. Jonny5 - Mar 18, 2010 at 8:34 AM

    I’d say that the Nats must have had a good reason to sh–can the guy. They looked past his off field shenanigans, which were totally unacceptable btw, and still kept him playing. Imo he must have told someone who’s his superior off, or fought with another player. Something had to have happened beyond his insane personal life. If I were a large market team I’d stay away. Especially the Mutts, since management is already under (and well deserved) scrutiny.

  8. Joey B - Mar 18, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    1-He might be better than Matthews, but it might also be only marginally better. Do you really want to bring in a headcase for some marginal improvement?
    2-It’s not that the NYMs are picking up a lot of Matthews’ salary, but if they cut Matthews to sign Dukes, then they paid $2M for not even one AB. They’d probably prefer to be worse than to be embarrassed.

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