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Elijah Dukes

Since we've had some recent talk about D-Rays prospect Elijah Dukes and what it may take to acquire him from Tampa Bay, RJ from SBN's DRays Bay was kind enough to offer the following summary of Dukes' case, which is a pretty interesting one.

The problem with Dukes is that he's a livewire. Think Milton Bradley, but to
an extreme. Most of this can be contributed to his father being jailed for murder when Dukes was around 13. He's a local Tampa product and has probably been given more chances than he deserves, the thing is he's perfectly normal and sane when he's talking to fans. One of the nicer guys you'll meet, yet he just snaps if a call goes against him.

Talent wise, he's probably better than Lastings Milledge right now. He's a 30+ home run guy who could hit for .300, he's more of a corner OF though and that may drive his value down some. Another problem is he's never hit more than 20 home runs in the minors, and only 10 or more twice, though he's still extremely young and he should develop more pop/bat speed with muscle gains.

What would it take to land Dukes? Well the rumored names have went from Zach Duke to Reynol Pinto and a package.  From the Orioles, I'd imagine either
Loewen, Penn, Ray, or Cabera. Basically a MLB ready pitcher.

In conclusion Elijah Dukes is a hell of an athlete, should turn into a very, very good player, but between an outstanding and young OF that he can't breach, his anger issues, and his semi-underachieiving self, he's found himself on the outs of the organization. If the team he goes to can manage his anger, and has a corner OF spot open, then I'd encourage them to take a shot on the kid.

I would trade Penn for Dukes in a second, but I'm not a Penn believer and I think that guys with Dukes' talent and workable issues are the type of guys worth taking a chance on. Maybe he's worn out his welcome in one place, but that doesn't mean he won't do well elsewhere. Milton Bradley didn't have a single real problem this year in Oakland. It may just take the right atmosphere.

Whether we have that atmosphere is not up to me to seriously weigh in on. We've heard reports of a somewhat volatile state in the Oriole clubhouse for two seasons, but there are a lot of guys -- Millar, Mora, Tejada, Roberts -- that have at many instances come off well as team leader types. Of course, Mora and Tejada have also come off as attitude problems, but personally I chalk that up to competitiveness with both of them. They want to win. We have a spot in left field, we have six starting pitchers, and Hayden Penn's value may very well never get better than a trade for Dukes. Rolling the dice on Dukes would be a move I applaud. I don't expect it, but I'd welcome it.

In somewhat related news, there has been a Rocco Baldelli rumor floating around. The thought is currently that the Orioles would have to part with Chris Ray and Adam Loewen to acquire Baldelli, which is highly unlikely. The Orioles may be interested in trading one of them for Rocco, but not both. Baldelli is 25 and he can play. Plate discipline isn't part of his package, and isn't ever going to be, but he's got decent power, he can run -- honestly, Baldelli is like a center field version of Shea Hillenbrand, but without the 'tude. He hit the hell out of the ball in 92 games this year, but his injury history is rapidly becoming a serious issue. On the bright side, he's locked up for a long time, and somewhat cheaply. It's another thing that I'm 99% sure will not happen, but I wouldn't write the deal off if it did. It'd be something I could be cautiously optimistic about.