Thursday, November 11, 2010

Re-Signing Adam Dunn and a Special Thanks

First and foremost, on this Veterans Day 2010, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank all of those who have served and sacrificed for our country over the years to make this country what it is today. My ability to pontificate about baseball on a daily basis is because people have sacrificed for my right to do so over the last 234 years. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now on to Adam Dunn. Ever since... well... all season, Ryan Zimmerman has been Adam Dunn's biggest advocate. There's a lot to explain for Zimmerman's love for Adam. First, almost every player on the Nationals in 2010 has said that Dunn is a crucial element of the chemistry created in the clubhouse. He truly cares about all the guys on that team.

But just think about the kind of season that Zimmerman just had. He finished the season hitting .307, the best of his career by 15 points. His second best? The year before in 2009, where he hit .292. Sure, those numbers are partially due to the fact that Zimmerman is entering the prime of his career and should only be getting better over the next few years. But what else was different compared to previous seasons? The guy hitting behind him.

For most of Adam Dunn's tenure with the Nationals, Zimmerman hit 3rd, Dunn hit 4th. So when a pitcher is looking at that lineup card, there are some real decisions to make. Do they pitch to Zimmerman to try to avoid the slugging Dunn? Do they pitch around Zimmerman and get to Dunn with Zimmerman on base? That 3-4 didn't make it easy on anyone, and was one of the most potent 3-4 spots in the National League, except for Braun-Fielder in Milwaukee and Utley-Howard in Philadelphia.

So with the thought of Adam Dunn not hitting behind him for the first time in 2 years, Zimmerman is justifiably concerned. Who is his protection? Let's explore those options:
  • Josh Willingham: Willingham is a perfect 5 spot guy. He has a high OBP, but he doesn't typically hit for tremendous power.
  • Michael Morse: Morse hits lots of line drives and hit for good average this year, but he's not a home run hitter.
  • Free Agents: Whether you look at Huff, Peña, or really any other viable options at 1st base to replace done, none of them will replace a 40 HR/100 RBI hitter in Dunn, no mater how many strike outs he had (more than 200).
So it's truly no wonder that Zimm has been so high on Dunn. I'm sure the two have developed a great friendship as Zimmerman has said, but Zimmerman's numbers certainly play some part in the equation.


  1. Joe: Adam Dunn has been "the mule that pulls the cart" for the last two years; Zimmerman understands, and appreciates that. But with Adam all but gone, how do the Nationals replace that?

    The team could: 1)Find a LH/SH OF to hit #3 & move Zimmerman to #4 in the lineup, , move Morse to 1B and hope for better offensive performance from others (Desmond, Morse, Espinosa, Bernadina) to pick up the slack.
    2)Acquire a better fielding LH-1B (LaRoche, Lee, or [gulp] Pena) to replace Dunn at both 1B & possibly #4 in the lineup as well, again hoping for better offensive performances from others.
    3)Re-sign Dunn, and hope for defensive improvement from him at 1B.

    I'd honestly take options 1 or 2 over re-signing Dunn at this point, unless the addition at 1B is Pena (imo, he's absolute toast as a player).

  2. Mike Morse isn't a home run hitter? Where are we getting this from?

  3. Anon: Michael Morse has not proven himself capable of hitting 40 home runs or being good enough to provide protection for Ryan Zimmerman. That was my point.

  4. I would like to see what Morse can do with everyday playing time. He and Espi are my 2 to watch next season.

  5. I want to see what Morse can do too. Just not in the 4 spot.

  6. Morse did hit 16 home runs in only 266 at bats. He almost beat Willingham out for third on the team in homers. That extrapolates out pretty well over an entire season. Its the dearth of doubles that concerns me some. But yes one should certainly consider Morse a power hitter. I have read that Adam Dunn does. That should be sufficient recommendation for this crowd.

    Like it or not he probably is the best fielding and hitting alternative to start at first base for the Nats next season if they don't sign Adam Dunn. The trick for the Nats is to find someone for right field. I understand Justin Upton is now available? With Upton in right and an ace starting pitcher in hand 2011 looks promising, 2012 looks like the year. Imagine an outfield with Harper in right and Upton in left? Perez probably in center (he is having an exceptional winter).

    They need starting pitching, starting pitching and more starting pitching though.

  7. Upton is going to take Desmond and/or Zimmermann plus some other prospects, wouldn't be surprised if they asked for Norris, Ramos, or Marrero. No chance Rizzo would be willing to part with the future, he seems more likely to part with the present.

    Now, if we could get Upton for Stammen, Martin, Mock, and Maxwell well then I would just pull the trigger right now. I would even throw in a bag of balls.