Thursday, August 5, 2010

Distracted? Not Adam Dunn

Photo by David Zuckerman / Special to Nats Insider
Adam Dunn belts the second of his two home runs in the Nats' victory.
PHOENIX -- For just about any ballplayer, the events Adam Dunn faced over the last week would be enough to drive you senile. At the very least, the constant barrage of trade rumors would weigh on your mind everywhere you went, especially when you stepped on the field not knowing if you'd be wearing a different uniform the next day.

By now, though, you know Adam Dunn isn't just about any ballplayer. At the plate, he does things very others do (like hit two gargantuan homers tonight to lead the Nationals to a 7-2 victory over the Diamondbacks). Away from the park, he also doesn't act like a typical ballplayer. Which is to say, he leaves his work at the office and doesn't spend a moment of free time worrying about such mundane things as where he'll be playing the next day.

"I really don't think about it at all," he said. "I mean, the only time I think about it is when people ask me or approach me about it. I don't ever think about it on the field. Other guys on the team will ask me, and I'll be like: 'I don't know. You guys probably know as much as I know.'"

Is it tough for Dunn to have that carefree approach to his professional life, or does it just come naturally?

"I mean, I don't go home and work on it," he said with a laugh. "My wife says the same thing, and she hates me for it sometimes. My mom, for instance, is the biggest worrywart in the world. She worries about everything. I'm serious, everything. And I'm like, why? You can't control any of it. I'm not going to stress out and lose sleep over stuff that I can't worry about."

Yet another reason for the Nationals and their fans to be glad they've got Dunn on their side for at least the next two months and perhaps more. How rare is it for an athlete of his stature to genuinely not stress over his employment status?

Remember how Dunn said back in spring training he didn't want contract talks to take place during the season because he didn't want the distraction? Sure doesn't seem like he's been distracted by it.

If anything, all those trade rumors seemed to spur Dunn to raise his game to new heights. Over his last 24 games, he's now batting .291 with 11 homers, 22 RBI, a .374 on-base percentage, a .709 slugging percentage and a stout 1.083 OPS.

"He's been through it before," Jim Riggleman said. "Every year, his name has come up at the trade deadline. He's a pro. He's at that point in his career where, I'm sure it concerns him and his family, but when the umpire says play ball, he's focused on that."

On a practical level, it's sobering to think where the Nationals might be right now without Dunn as a nightly fixture in the cleanup spot. As good as Ryan Zimmerman is, Dunn is the one leading the Nats in almost every offensive category: runs (63), hits (107), total bases (223), doubles (28), homers (28) and RBI (71).

The manager, though, never seriously contemplated life without Dunn.

"It was very unlikely," Riggleman said of a trade before the July 31 deadline. "People aren't going to overwhelm you too much with something they're going to give you. So to be honest with you, I never really scratched out a lineup on a napkin without Dunn in there. Mike [Rizzo] never gave me an indication that something like that would happen."

Players inside the Nationals' clubhouse didn't want to contemplate it, either.

"It would be difficult," said Craig Stammen, who earned the win tonight with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. "I think the biggest thing would be in the clubhouse. He's such a resounding presence. He's not rah-rah, sis-boom-bah, but he's our big leader. We look up to him and Zim as our best players. We love having him on the team. Hopefully we have him for years to come."

There's little reason to believe the distractions will disappear now, even with the July 31 deadline behind us. Word got out yesterday that the Nationals placed Dunn on waivers, a procedural move that happens to dozens of players every year but became cause for panic around NatsTown because of the player involved. There will be plenty more talk about contract negotiations over the season's final two months, and there's a pretty good chance nothing will be resolved when everyone goes their separate ways October 3.

But in the middle of it all, as everyone else wrings their hands and frets over Dunn's future, the guy this most affects will shrug it off as always.

Adam Dunn would much rather hit a baseball 450 feet than worry about getting traded or re-signed.

And the Nationals and their fans couldn't be happier about that.


Anonymous said...


You are a writing machine. Great insight into the Nats and timely. I don't need the Washington Post Sports section anymore (my home edition this morning still had the story of the previous night's Scott Olsen game).

Richard said...

One reason to get excited about the Nats is Adam Dunn. One really ugly part of baseball, for me, is the "seller" vs. "buyer" trade debate that rages in the summer. Fans of sub .500 teamns are forced to realize that a extremely valuable part of the team, one of the few reasons to have an interest in it and pay the price is expendible and may be traded for "prospects" or "almost major league ready" talent. He'll be "rented" maybe for two months after which, no problem, he'll feel like rejoining the SOBs who traded him. Total B.S. The fantasy-baseball types on sports radio love this stuff. They don't understand the intangibles that make baseball interesting for so many. Some of this was expressed last summer by Cleveland fans. You want to have a little pride in the team and Adam Dunn is one of the few on the to be proud of. Keeping him is justified both from the heart and the head. He's a reason to buy a damn ticket. I promise this is my last vent on this subject. If Dunn can ignore it I guess I can too.

Roberto said...

Richard: Please continue to vent. I feel exactly the same way.

Nats fan in NJ said...

I'm begging Rizzo to sign Dunn. His bat is irreplaceable in the line up. His presence is great in the locker room. The fans love, Love, LOVE the big guy. Please, Rizzo, from one adult to another, please sign Dunn.

Oh, and Mark - I presume the "special to Nats Insider" photographer with the same name as yours is your brother/uncle/other relation. Enjoy visiting family on your sojurn to AZ!

Kevin Rusch, Section406 said...

Roberto and Richard --
I _think_ differently, but I feel the same as you also. Fortunately, I think Rizzo understands that. I mean, suppose you could get Youkilis and Pedroia for Dunn. You take that deal! But otherwise, his value to the team is very big, and that's why he's still here.

Anonymous8 said...

Adam Dunn said..."I mean, I don't go home and work on it," he said with a laugh. "My wife says the same thing, and she hates me for it sometimes. My mom, for instance, is the biggest worrywart in the world. She worries about everything. I'm serious, everything. And I'm like, why? You can't control any of it. I'm not going to stress out and lose sleep over stuff that I can't worry about."

Come on Adam. Are you for real? You are now a highly coveted player and you claim in all seriousness that "you can't control any of it"?

Sure you can. You pick up the phone and call the agent that works for you and get involved. If you don't like what your agent has to say, Fire him and hire me because I will get you 3 years at $40,000,000 with incentives and I will work on a 4th year option.

So yes, you have a lot of control.

In case you lost his number, here is your agents info: Greg Genske, LS Legacy Sports Group, (949)720-8700

Doc said...

Considering what the Nats were supposed to have offered Teixeria, it's goofy not to get this deal dunn with AD.

He's worth the price of admission, and then some! Bottom line, they'd have no one to replace him, at any price! Move on it Rizzo!!!

Anonymous said...

Exactly the point. They have no one to replace him, not even close. An earlier post was also on the money. The fantasy league stuff in part drives these discussions about trades. It is a shame, however, that the Nats seem determined to lowball Dunn and get him for the lowest possible salary.

Big Cat said...

The only drawback to signing Dunn, is that would pretty much cancel out Chris Marrero's chances with the Nats.

HHover said...

Big Cat

Since Marrero doesn't seem to be developing as well as the Nats initially hoped, that may turn out to be a plus, not a drawback.

Anonymous said...

Richard et al,

I'm sorry but you miss the point. It's not at all about fantasy baseball; it's about winning. Fans fall in love with players but then rant when their ream can never get to .500 let alone contend. Adam Dunn is a wonderful hitter; no discussion but a GM has to look at the big picture and if trading him makes the team better for whatever reason he has to consider that. You can't take the salary out of the equation because it represents an opportunity to do other things; every team operates within a budget (except the Yankees) so if you allocate X to Dunn then you have your budget -X to do other things. That's life.

Anonymous said...

What Richard said. I'm very annoyed that they have not signed him yet and look like they are ready to let his production and his intangibles walk. Its going to damage the morale of the team, and the fan base if you let this guy go. You aren't going to replace Adam Dunn.

Tegwar said...

I'm all for signing Dunn to 3 years or less and if it were up to me I'd overpay for a 2 year contract. As for Marrero he just turned 22 in July and he is having a very good year in AA hitting for both avg. and power. I don't think Marrero can replace Dunn's bat and so far he does not look like a better first baseman but I expect to see him in the show by the end of next year, although maybe not with the Nats.

Anonymous said...

You are talking about intangibles and morale? there are about 45 million reasons why that can be fixed very quickly,
I agree with your approach (more money for less years); as for Marrero; he doesn't have to be anywhere near as good as Dunn, you can use the money you are not paying Dunn to plug another hole with some serious quality (2nd base? right field?).

HHover said...

I wish the Nats had re-signed Dunn by now, but I don't see the need for all this hand-wringing.

The point of Mark's post is that Dunn himself doesn't seem overly distracted or bothered by the delay, and the team has played some of its best baseball in the last week, all the "will they trade him/re-sign him?" brouhaha notwithstanding. So in the short term, I'm not seeing the negative effects.

In the long-term, the Nats either will re-sign him or they won't. If they do, come next season, it won't really matter for "morale" or "intangibles" whether they did it a few months sooner or later. If he ends up leaving, what really matters for the club will be the fact of his absence, not when the Nats failed to re-sign him.

So in other words, maybe we could all take a page from Dunn himself and chill out. He's here for at least another 2 months, which is reason enough to buy tickets and watch for the rest of this season.

Anon-e-must said...

Anon at 9:45. Good points and that is the other side of the coin.

And yes, even the Yankees have their limitations as you will see this off-season with Jeter, Mariano and Posada and like you saw with Alex Rodriquez 3 years ago. Every team has budgets including the Yankees.

If Dunn wants to be an every day player and stay in DC, then the deal will get done. If he wants to hold out for the last dollar, then it probably won't and the Nats can get Jayson Werth and a new 2nd baseman.

phil dunn said...

Rizzo has no more control over re-signing Dunn than I do. It's totally in the hands of the tight wad Lerners so you can probably kiss Adam Dunn good bye after the season is over.

Eric said...

Marrero needs more seasoning in the minors. He just turned 22, which is still young for AA. There is no need to rush him.

A September call up would not be a bad idea so he can get a taste, but he needs more time in the minors to develop consistent power, plate discipline and improved defense.

Anonymous said...

This team has a lot of needs and the first is Bryce Harper and Cole. After that, Rizzo can work on getting Dunn's deal completed.

Anonymous said...

Phil Dunn, is there a bigger a$$ on this blog than you?

We know you hate the Lerner's. It is obviously deep seeded with you.

Start your own blog somewhere else. At least JayB's posts make sense. Yours is about one thing, hatred of the Lerner's and the moths in their wallets. Same old song, different day.

Anonymous said...

If the Nats sign Dunn, Marrero likely becomes part of a future trade package. He will be blocked here because 1B is apparently the only position he can play modestly well. He may be an AL/DH type. But as long as he keeps ringing up the stats he has produced this year, his value increases. Good points about budgets and the likely solutions that come at other positions if Dunn isn't back nect year.

Steve M. said...

First, I applaud Anon at 10AM for calling out Phil Dunn. He adds no substance other than name calling. I think the Lerners put aside the tightwad image when they got Strasburg and Wang and signed Zim last year to the extension. Yes, without a salary cap floor and ceiling, some teams will not spend what we as fans think they should.

I also agree with Anon8 that Dunn does have a good amount of control in his deal. Take it, don't take it, but don't sit here and whine that your wife and mother are upset and you have NO CONTROL. Pick up the darn phone and earnestly knock out a deal. Rizzo is a fair man and knows the market. There is no way the deal could be that far off.

This team does have Bryce Harper, and AJ Cole to sign which will take some big signing bonuses as well as getting in the offseason a 2nd baseman, right handed RF and a 2 year deal with Cliff Lee would be nice while I am dreaming.

TimDz said...

anon @9:57 makes a good point. Cole and Harper are probably taking up much of Rizzo's time at present. Since we don't know whether or not Dunn was claimed on waivers or if he has cleared them for a while, that puts everything else on hold. If he clears waivers, that will delay things until August 31st. I am guessing that he will sign in September if he hasn't been traded (which I see as highly doubtful).

Anonymous said...

Steve M.

2 year deal for Cliff Lee? Are you kidding? you will be bidding against the Yankees and maybe the Red Sox for this guy; you are talking 5 years $100 million at minimum.

rogieshan said...

Former Blue Jays GM JP Ricchardi was adamant in his view several years ago that Dunn is not a "winner" and that his "carefree approach" made him an unattractive commodity for most teams. Dunn's numbers and support from teammates seem to suggest otherwise, but I wonder if Rizzo isn't thinking: Is Dunn the shining example we want the young players to emulate?

Stew Magnuson said...

Another important factor is that Dunn seems sincere in wanting to stay here. Blue chip free agents don't always want to sign with teams that don't have a winning tradition.
I hope the Lerners take advantage of that and find a solution. We know how everyone feels about Dunn staying here, the players, the managers, the fans, Dunn himself. The Lerners are the only mystery.
I'm just guessing that they have some interest in making a deal or he would have been traded.

Anonymous said...

Espinosa from AA to the bigs? It could happen. Tulowitzki made that jump from Tulsa (AA) to Colorado and never looked back. But he was dominating Texas League pitching (hitting .300 plus with great power stats). Espinosa, on the other hand, is hitting .262. But if he stays hot and gets to .285-.295 by September, who knows? Maybe the September callups will show us that thet MI solution is closer at hand than we thought.

Mark said...

Anon at 11:24 with respects to Cliff Lee, Steve said while he is "dreaming" so he was obviously joking.

Cliff Lee will break the bank somewhere and probably Boston as NYY have their own internal Free Agents. I do see NYY driving up the price for the 3 or 4 teams that will bid!

Anonymous said...


I don't think that it has anything to do with the Lerners because if they don't spend the money on Dunn they will spend it elsewhere; it's just a question of how much for how long based on a players projected value over time. If they didn't value Dunn greatly they would have traded him; I think that they are reluctant (and rightly so) to do more than 2 guaranteed years.

Anonymous said...

Question: If Dunn's age is a concern, why does Werth continue to come up in discussions about next year? He is 32. Doesn't that make him less attractive as a FA acquisition? Just asking.

Steve M. said...

Anon at 12:09PM, interesting that you think the holdup is 2 years as the offer on the table as I would think the Nats would give him 3 years.

Yes, part of owning a team is risking a ton of guaranteed dollars on medium and long-term contracts. So if Dunn wants 4 years and the Lerners want 2 years, then you hope they settle on 3 years.

As many have pointed out, Dunn signed last winter and took a 2 year deal so back then he was willing to compromise and take the 2 years as he didn't have many options. This time around he can make more demands as he has the upper hand in the negotiations at this point in time. If Dunn files for Free Agency, then he could end up at this same place he was at in Free Agency after the 2008 season, there weren't that many teams wanting his services. It is a calculated gamble. Do you take the sure thing with the Nats or hold out for a long-term deal in Free Agency?

Steve M. said...

Anon at 12:16PM, I think Werth will get about 65 to 75% of what Dunn gets and probably no more than 3 years. So it isn't as large of a deal probably in the $28 to $32 million range with incentives so if they are wrong it is like the Kearns deal, $8 million hurts a lot less than $15 million.

The Corey Hart deal which the Brewers just signed Hart to a three-year extension worth $26.5 million is a good level to compare Werth to.

I think Werth is probably in that same slot of $8 to $9 million a year for 2 to 3 years.

I still think the Nats may have their own Werth/Hart prototype in Michael Morse if they play him everyday to find out what they really have. Morse is 28 years old and really hasn't played every day in his career.

By the way with Morse, Riggleman should pencil him into the lineup last minute all the time as Morse seems to respond better to that!

Mark Zuckerman said...

Nats fan in NJ said...
Oh, and Mark - I presume the "special to Nats Insider" photographer with the same name as yours is your brother/uncle/other relation. Enjoy visiting family on your sojurn to AZ!

Father. Though my uncle was seated next to him at the time!

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Mark, tell your dad he's an excellent photog! Maybe he's got a future in the blog business as well. Seriously, this is wonderful. I hope you are enjoying your family visit in the daytime and they are enjoying the ballgames at night. Now, let's grab three outta four.

Thanks to all the Zuckerman Family for this wonderful site. You're the best.

Anonymous said...

Dunn's signing has NOTHING to do with Marrero. Dunn would be signed for 3 or 4 years, at most. Marrero is 22. He'd be 25 or 26 when Dunn contract is up.

Hopefully, he'll be ready by then but I'm not optimistic.

This is nothing like the Mauer/Ramos deal. Nothing like it.

Anonymous said...

If Marrero isn't ready in three or four years, he is definitely trade bait. If he is ready sooner, they have to find a place to play him. Defense doesn't sound like an area of strength for him.

court said...

Jordan Zimmermann threw 3 scoreless with 3 K's and a walk for SYR this afternoon.

Good times.

natsfan1a said...

I'm with those who hope that a deal gets Dunn at some point. (I also think that it's kinda creepy to post the agent's name and phone number here, but that's just me.)

On another note, I was just catching up with posts (though not comments, of which there are many) after having been out of town for some time. The post on Capps' departure was beautifully written (and I wish him and Guz well). A special "thank you" to Mark for reminding us from time to time that players are human, too.

Tegwar said...

It seems to me that neither side really has much to gain by signing until the season is over. The Nationals most likely have made an offer and do not want to bid against themselves. They also would like to keep their options open in case they might be able to trade Dunn, something I would think is less likely now however Dunn did clear waivers 2 years ago. Furthermore, the Nats can offer a contract something I think is likely and receive the two draft picks.

Dunn and his agent are probably thinking they might as well see what the market is like and if offered more to play somewhere else they could ask the Nats to match it.

I know Dunn could get injured and the nats might get out bid or he might not give them a second chance but I think both see the possible reward as greater than the risk. Remember 2 years ago Dunn did not get the offers that he though he would and the Nats got him relatively cheap. I think the Nats want to see if history will repeat itself and if it doesn't they will tell the fan base that they offered Dunn a contract and he chose to take another offer. As for me I say overpay him for two years and trade him in a year or a year and a half when a clearer picture of what the teams needs are in focus.

David Lint said...

Hey Rogieshan, what's J.P. up to now-a-days? Oh, that's right, he got fired and is now a talking head on ESPN.

J.P. got panned for those comments and for good reason. He doesn't speak for those that actually know and respect Dunn.

I expect Dunn extension talks will really heat up on Aug. 17, the day after signing day.

I will say this though... if Dunn walks, and no improvements are made to cover for his loss, this will be my last year as a fan. Love the team, but if they're not interested in winning, I'm not interested in watching.

Anonymous said...

"As for me I say overpay him for two years and trade him in a year or a year and a half when a clearer picture of what the teams needs are in focus."
Good idea. Buys Dunn's services and time. Win-win solution.

LoveDaNats said...

I had been missing your posts! Welcome back.

natsfan1a said...

Thanks, LoveDaNats!

Big Cat said...

Marrero....3 or 4 years? Come on people, this kid is ready to play and hit well in the bigs right now. You will see in September.

Anonymous said...

>>>Marrero....3 or 4 years? Come on people, this kid is ready to play and hit well in the bigs right now. You will see in September. <<<

No he's not and his defense is atrocious. Three or four years is being generous.

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