Nationals sign Walker, Duncan, and James

The Nationals signed three players today to minor deals today.

Chris Duncan – 1B/OF – Minor League Deal

Duncan was a productive part of the 2006 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals in his rookie season. In just 90 games Duncan hit .296/.363/.589 with 22 homers and 43 RBI en-route to winning the 2006 National League Rookie of the Year. His 12.72 AB/HR rate was third in the majors behind only David Ortiz and Ryan Howard.

2007 saw a 26-year-old Duncan return for a solid sophomore season where the outfielder/first baseman batted .259/.354/.480 with 21 homers and 70 RBI in 127 games played. While his slugging percentage slipped and strikeout rate rose eight percent, his walk percent went up three percent and he finally had a full major league season under his belt.

Duncan battled injuries in 2008/2009 and saw his numbers fall dramatically. While defensively he may be a worse outfielder than Dunn, there is a chance he could be solid defensive back up first baseman for the Nationals.

Tyler Walker – RHP – Major League Deal

Tyler ‘The Gobbler’ Walker had arguably his best season in 2009 where he posted a 3.06 ERA in 32 appearances for the Phillies. Walker posted career bests with a 3.00 K/BB ratio and a 2.29 BB/9 mark.

In 2005 Walker served as the closer for the San Francisco Giants after Armando Benitez suffered an injury, and closed 23 of 28 games successfully. After season ending Tommy John surgery he lost some of the velocity of his fastball and never served as a closer permanently again. Now at the age of 33 Walker tosses a fastball that averages 91 MPH, a low 80’s slider, and a high 70’s change-up. The slider has been Walkers bread-and-butter pitch over the last two years, and he throws it nearly 40 % of the time.

Chuck James - RHP – Minor League Deal

“James, to hear those who’ve been around him tell it, is to a good attitude what Marion Barry is to ascetic restraint. He blew away the Sally League last season, but occasionally had trouble with his control. Despite his semi-gaudy K rate, his stuff is average, and he projects as no better than a back-end starter at the highest level. There’s a good chance he’ll one day be on the business end of a highly publicized clubhouse ass-beating. So that’s something.”- Baseball Prospectus

I did some research to try and learn some more about Chuck James. He’s a fly ball pitcher who throws in the high-80’s. He’s had moderate success for Atlanta but a bad 2008 which found him non-tendered. I couldn’t find why he didn’t pitch in 2009.

I did find out however that:

-In the weeks before the MLB draft James broke both his wrists attempting to jump off of a roof in to a swimming pool.

-In college he got bit by a copperhead snake and never sought medial treatment.

-Was denied a promotion in 2004 after his exploits in a brawl in the Sally League All-Star Game.