I don't have much to say about this move. I don't like it, of course, as one of the biggest fans of Dukes around. He's in a slump, but between his solid right-field defense and rare combination of patience, power, and contact skills, he's arguably the most valuable player on the team after Ryan Zimmerman.
I also think that with Morgan in the fold and Harris available as another back-up infielder that there's no value in keeping Ron Belliard around. He's done and needs to retire.
Still, it's hard not to recognize that Josh Willingham is having the best year of his career, judging by rate stats. He deserves to play.
Really what needs to happen is the team needs to finally unclog this logjam and make a move. And that move seems imminent. Unfortunately, it appears that it's Dukes, the most talented and youngest player among the glut of corner outfielders, who's on his way out.
Maybe that's not right. Rizzo insists it's a baseball move resulting from Dukes's slump and Hammer's hot streak, and that they just want to make sure that Dukes can play every day. And if this is a short-term move while the team figures out how to move Josh Willingham, then that's fine.
But with all the talk about "changing the culture" and bringing in "good clubhouse guys," it's hard not to think Dukes is done in DC.
Which is a shame. Jim Bowden did some good things here, and getting Dukes for next to nothing was the very best single move he made. It's still impossible to imagine the team getting equal win value for Dukes, given all the baggage he still carries, despite more or less two years of model citizenship with the Nationals.
We still have to withhold judgment, but if the team is sending off its most talented players in favor of nice guys who show up on time but can't hit a lick, fans have reason to worry.