It is true to say any angst over the Dukes release is over his potential not his production.
And it's also true that the most likely outcome is no real difference in production between Harris and Dukes in RF for 2010.
But this angst as it were is real. Essentially, the Nats FO decided they would rather have veteran mediocrity rather than gamble on finding a potential All-Star.
I'm not saying Dukes will develop into a feared middle of the order power hitter and model citizen elsewhere. In fact, he likely won't. But a player with his skill set (which included until 2009 plate discipline) has a chance to turn into a far above average player. The Nats NEED above average players. They have 1. One.
This continues the path this new FO has taken since they took over. A preference for veteran stability over gambles on potential. That's fine if you are the Yankees or the Red Sox but when you lose 205 games over two years, what do you have to lose taking big risks?
They didn't take a risk and sign Aroldis Chapman. They could have. Easily. They have plenty of spare payroll not doing anything useful. The Morgan trade was the same thing. Got older and less upside. Sure Morgan was undervalued but if his hammy's are barking, he less than useless.
Pudge, Marquis, Adam Kennedy . . . all the same thing. Old and average at best. What is the point of squandering playing time on them? What purpose does it serve?