Today's links were discovered while wondering if Kyle Farnsworth has a shot at the record for most relief losses in one season.
• The news of Brad Wilkerson's retirement reminds me (again) that just a few years ago, I thought the Nationals got fleeced when they traded Wilkerson to the Rangers for Alfonso Soriano. Granted, Soriano cost the Nationals $10 million in his one season of helping them finish last. But still.
• In the wake of Mark Fidrych's passing, Jeff Pearlman checks in with Ron LeFlore, another of Detroit's media sensations in the mid-'70s.
• Rich Lederer learns a good lesson about young pitchers.
• Big League Stew enumerates recent National embarrassments, the latest of which is the discipline meted out to Elijah Dukes for being five minutes late to work. Which brings to mind a question: Is Dukes the new Gary Sheffield? I was watching the game Friday night, and after Dukes absolutely ripped a liner into the wall in left -- yes, the ball actually stuck in the wall -- broadcaster Bob Carpenter said, "You just don't see normal people hit a ball like that."
Like Sheffield, Dukes had some real personality issues when young. Like Sheffield, Dukes takes a vicious swing at the ball. But Dukes arrived in the majors when he was 22; Sheffield was 19. Dukes was good in the minors; Sheffield was great. Dukes might hit .300 a few times; Sheffield won a batting title, and upon reaching his late 20s routinely batted around .300.
So, no: I don't think Dukes is going to hit 500 home runs. But if you can hit, you'll get a great number of chances, and there will be a great number of people interested in keeping you on the field despite your personal failings. I expect Dukes to enjoy a long and productive career.
• It's official: Ryan Zimmerman's got his big new deal. As I think I mentioned last week, I agree with David Pinto: Zimmerman's a good player, but I'd have liked to see one big season before committing $45 million.
• From S.L. Price, a disturbing primer on hard-hit baseballs and craniums.