Give Nationals GM Jim Bowden and club president Stan Kasten credit for not being scared. They added Dmitri Young last year after his battle with addiction and traded for talented outfielder Lastings Milledge last week despite attitude questions. But yesterday's decision to deal minor league left-hander Glenn Gibson to the Tampa Bay Rays for troubled outfielder Elijah Dukes is much riskier. Dukes has had myriad legal run-ins and has demonstrated serious anger issues. If there's a change of heart in Dukes, it might be because of the Nationals' impressive manager, Manny Acta, who has shown a deft hand in handling all types of personalities.
HALL OF FAME SLIGHT
The Hall of Fame Veterans Committee announced the election of five men: former commissioner Bowie Kuhn, deceased owners Barney Dreyfuss and Walter O'Malley and former managers Billy Southworth and Dick Williams. Only Williams is still alive. All are deserving, but the committee dropped the ball on two others: former union chief Marvin Miller and former manager Whitey Herzog. Herzog, who won 1,281 games in his career and went to three World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, received 11 of 16 votes, falling one shy of induction. Miller, once the most feared man in the game, who revolutionized free agency, garnered just three votes.
PETTITTE LIKELY A YANK AGAIN
It appears left-hander Andy Pettitte will eschew retirement and head back to New York for one more season pitching in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees certainly could use him, but his decision shouldn't prohibit them from pushing hard for the Minnesota Twins' Johan Santana. Pettitte, who was 15-9 with a 4.05 ERA in 36 games last year, is still a solid option. But, at this point in his career, he is no more than a No. 3 starter. To compete with the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees need to add an ace. And Santana is the best. Period.
A SNOOZE ON DAY 1
The feeling coming into these winter meetings is that some big names may switch uniforms, but, for the most part, it could be a yawner of a week. In the first day, that held true. The big news was of the small trade variety, with the Dukes deal and one other: outfielder Carlos Quentin going from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Chicago White Sox for minor leaguer Chris Carter. The free-agent market is weak, and teams are now reluctant to give up a haul of prospects, which is what teams want for quality veterans. But one or two blockbusters will make everyone forget that things were slow on Day 1.