In seven days' time, the Washington Nationals' most talented outfielder could be behind bars.
Elijah Dukes must show up in court on Jan. 23 with $40,000 in back child and spousal support or face a minimum of 90 days in jail. According to the outfielder’s attorneys, Dukes only receives his $392,500 salary during the season and has very little for himself during the offseason after paying support throughout the six months of the baseball year.
Little sympathy was shown towards Dukes, and he was found in contempt of court. Nationals GM Jim Bowden released a statement acknowledging that they are aware of the situation and that Dukes and his advisors are attempting to comply with the court’s ruling.
Washington can least afford to lose the 24-year-old outfielder after several attempts to improve the team’s abysmal offense have failed miserably. Big money offers to the likes of Mark Teixeira and Adam Dunn were turned away with extreme prejudice.
Dukes had a solid first full season in the big leagues, batting .264 with 13 HRs, 44 RBI, and a .386 OBP. He played a solid right field and is scheduled to compete with Lastings Milledge for the starting center field spot in 2009.
This case may only be the beginning of trouble for Dukes, as a total of four women are seeking court assistance in filing child support cases against the Nats outfielder.
Bowden must insert himself and pony up the $40,000 before next Friday and work out an agreement with Dukes’ handlers to pay back the money. The GM has done little to send this team upward, and losing a potential 20 homer, 20 stolen base center fielder will not be good for his or the Nationals' future.
Garland rejects offer
Still clueless on the current state of the baseball economy and his own self worth with his 4.90 ERA in 2008, Jon Garland has rejected an offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The deal was reportedly for one year with incentives that could have extended the deal to two or three years.
The right-hander is still a backburner choice for several teams, including the Mets, Dodgers, and Brewers.
Young does the right thing
Michael Young has had a change of heart and will take over as the Texas Rangers’ third baseman this spring.
Young will move a few steps to his right, allowing top prospect Elvis Andrus to take over as the new shortstop. Andrus has far more range than the slower Young and will provide superior defense, which may help keep the Rangers’ team ERA under 6.00.
Andrus will need a year or two before he provides any offense, but with the return from injury of 2B Ian Kinsler and power-hitting 1B Chris Davis playing his first full season, Texas has one of the better young infields in the American League.