Elijah Dukes and Carl Everett are independent ball teammates

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Elijah Dukes is a 26-year-old former top prospect with good speed, experience in all three outfield spots, and a .771 OPS in 240 career games, but he’s apparently such a horrible human being that no MLB team is willing to even sign him to a minor-league contract and stash him at Triple-A.
Dukes has been out of work since the Nationals surprisingly released him during spring training and yesterday he signed with the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League.
It’s often said in sports that being talented trumps being a bad guy and that’s definitely true for star-caliber players, but Dukes is providing an example of how that isn’t always the case for merely good players. At the very least he’d be a solid, cheap fourth outfielder and could certainly start for plenty of teams, but when the upside is “good regular” rather than “perennial All-Star” the 30 general managers have seemingly decided it’s not worth the hassle. And it’s tough to blame them.
Former big leaguers Willie Banks, Daryle Ward, Edgardo Alfonzo, Scott Spiezio, Brian Barton, and Vince Perkins are also listed on the Newark roster, but here’s the really amazing part: Dukes is now teammates with Carl Everett. I suspect that within the first week they’ll either become inseparable lifelong friends or kill each other following an argument about dinosaurs.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.