Friday, December 3, 2010

Are Nats Dunn without Adam?

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Who can fill Adam Dunn's large shoes for the Nationals? No one.
Much as lots of people tried to cling to some faint glimmer of hope, realistically, everyone knew this day was coming. It perhaps came a bit sooner than most expected, before the baseball world gathers in Orlando for the Winter Meetings. But once a couple of prominent free agent dominoes started falling in the last week, the spending spree was on and it was only a matter of time before Adam Dunn's turn came.

So sometime this afternoon, Dunn will stand before a bank of reporters, cameras and microphones on Chicago's South Side and don a White Sox jersey and cap for the first time. Back here in Washington, everyone will sit back and watch and wonder why that press conference is taking place at U.S. Cellular Field instead of Nationals Park.

Why? Because both Adam Dunn and the Washington Nationals stayed true to their word. Each side may have said all the right things publicly to suggest they wanted this marriage to continue, but privately each side also was adamant it would have to happen on their

Dunn insisted on testing the market to see if anyone was willing to give him a four-year deal. The Nationals wouldn't go past three. The White Sox would. Dunn deal.

Neither side can be vilified for sticking to their guns. The Nats didn't want to pay a 34-year-old Dunn $12 million to $14 million to keep misplaying grounders in 2014 and perhaps see his until-now-consistent offensive production diminish. Dunn, meanwhile, simply wanted to ensure as much job security as the market would provide and thus avoid going through the annual trade rumor grinder that annoyed him to no end each of the last three summers.

All along, though, the Nationals knew they needed a fail-safe, backup plan if Dunn indeed walked away. Team officials can say whatever they want about the importance (or lack thereof) of one player out of 25. Adam Dunn wasn't just one player. You don't just replace him with anyone.

How many players have hit more home runs than Adam Dunn in the last two seasons? Two: Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. How many players have played in more games over those seven seasons than Adam Dunn? One: Ichiro Suzuki. How many active players have hit 38 or more homers in seven consecutive seasons? One: Adam Dunn.

How do the Nationals go about replacing all that? They can't, at least not with one body. Oh, they'll probably wind up signing either Carlos Pena or Adam LaRoche, and either guy will be perfectly adequate as a first baseman and middle-of-the-order hitter. But do either of those guys make the Nationals a better team now or down the road than they would be with Dunn still batting cleanup? No. Do either of those guys put fannies in the seats at what figures to be an empty Nationals Park in 2011? No way.

You can debate whether or not PR should play a role in a GM's roster decisions. But you can't debate whether unpopular decisions like this one create a negative vibe in the stands and in the clubhouse. Neither one of those should be discounted.

Plenty of fans have been insisting they wouldn't renew their season tickets if the Nats didn't re-sign Dunn. How many will actually stick to their word and follow through? We'll see, though with no Dunn and no Stephen Strasburg for the majority of 2011, there sure doesn't figure to be a lot of buzz on South Capitol Street.

And there doesn't figure to be a ton of optimism inside the home clubhouse among players who absolutely adored Dunn but more importantly want to feel like this organization is moving closer to realizing actual success.

Ryan Zimmerman is signed through 2013. He may say he wants to spend the rest of his career here, but you better believe he's not going to commit any more years to this franchise until it gives him legitimate evidence of on-field success by the time he's completed his eighth full season in the big leagues.

And what of other top-tier free agents who pique the Nationals' interest? Are they going to be more likely or less likely to want to come to Washington after watching this franchise let its cleanup hitter walk away? The second-tier players who signed last winter (Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Marquis, Matt Capps) all said they became sold on the Nats after seeing the organization make significant financial commitments to other players like Zimmerman and Strasburg.

Is swapping Adam Dunn for Carlos Pena going to convince Cliff Lee to spurn the Yankees and Rangers and come to D.C. instead?

For years now, we've heard about the Nationals' plan for building a championship-caliber franchise. Only six months ago, team executives didn't hesitate to suggest the plan could come to fruition in 2011, with a rotation anchored by Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann and a lineup built around Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Josh Willingham and Dunn. How's next year looking right about now?

Obviously, the Nats can't be blamed for assuming Strasburg's elbow would still be intact on Opening Day 2011. But they can be blamed if they didn't think they needed to bolster the roster they had already assembled with more key pieces. Instead, they've now removed one really big piece to the puzzle.

Sure, they can say two draft picks will help the organization in the long run, and they'll have more financial "flexibility" with Dunn off the books. Draft picks are no sure thing. Remember Alfonso Soriano leaving the Nats for a better deal with the Cubs? The Nats got two draft picks as compensation, which turned into Josh Smoker and Jordan Zimmermann. Smoker has been a bust. Zimmermann is finally poised to realize his potential four years later.

At what point are the Nationals finally going to commit to one group of players and say: "This is the team we're going to try to win with?" At what point are they going to retain the players they already have instead of trying to replace them with younger, cheaper alternatives?

Perhaps Mike Rizzo has looked at this group and decided it's not going to cut it. While the youngest guys on the roster (Desmond, Espinosa, Strasburg, Zimmermann, Drew Storen, Wilson Ramos, eventually Bryce Harper) may be the guys to build around, the semi-veterans in the current clubhouse (Dunn, Willingham, John Lannan) aren't. Stuck in the middle of it all is Zimmerman, who surely would be a vital piece of a championship club but can't be counted on to stick around beyond 2013 at this point.

If that's the case, the Nationals need to come out and publicly declare that this team isn't ready to win yet. They weren't afraid to admit that in 2007, 2008, 2009 or 2010. If it's what they truly believe, they need to be willing to admit it now.

Of course, an admission like that would turn even more fans away from an already frustrated base that has been pretty doggone patient for six years now but has just about had enough. They'll come back if this team wins. But until it does, they're happy to spend their hard-earned dollars elsewhere.

Would re-signing Adam Dunn have changed all that and suddenly turned the Nationals into contenders overnight? No. There are still plenty of other holes on this roster.

But that's the point. There are already several holes that need to be filled, both for 2011 and beyond. Now they've created another hole by letting Dunn walk, making the challenge of building a real winner all the more difficult.

Perhaps Rizzo can fill that hole and the others by the time pitchers and catchers convene in Viera in 2 1/2 months. Perhaps the 2011 Nationals will prove to be a better ballclub than the 2010 Nationals and position themselves to really make a move in 2012.

But it's an awfully big challenge staring Rizzo in the face right now. It already was a big challenge with Dunn coming back. It's a gargantuan challenge now with the big guy bashing homers on the South Side.


Big Cat said...

Good bye Adam. Much like Hondo in the 60's, you were fun to watch. I cheered you for your homers and cussed you for your many strikeouts. But one thing you played everyday. Good luck in the windy city

CoverageisLacking said...

More analysis like this, please, Mark. Great work.

The Nats not re-signing Dunn because of how he might play in 2014 is a great example of a tram letting its pursuit of the perfect serve as enemy of the good. Unless, of course, the "plan" is now for the Nata just to try to be good in 2014, and not before then.

Anonymous said...

Our season tickets group was dissolved last night. Is this how the Senators slid toward oblivion?

Sunderland said...

This is a big test for Rizzo and the Lerners.
9 months ago, Rizzo knew he was likely to release his right fielder as they went into training camp. And his backup plan, as it turned out, was rookies and retreads. Willy Taveras, Bernadina, Mench, Chris Duncan, any warm semi-able body.

He stated his #1 priority this offseason was to acquire a legitimate #1 starter. And the rest of MLB acted very quickly on the quality free agent arms, and there are few options left now, all of them a bit more expensive than they were a few weeks ago.

And of course, Rizzo had to know Adam Dunn was gone. That had to actually be his goal, his plan. So he has to have another component to this plan. Sure, pick one, Derek Lee, Adam LaRoche, Carlos Pena, he knows he can get one of them. But that's not enough.

First, as Mark Z suggests, we have to figure out if "the plan" calls for investing enough to make this team capable in 2011. Is the plan allowing for another 100 loss season? Surely it can't. That would be, well, one crappy plan.

So now we have a litmus test of sorts. Who out there in FA-land could replace Dunn's productivity and provide a jolt of excitement to the fan base and the clubhouse?
Carl Crawford.
No one else.
But that can't happen without out-bidding several accomplished and well funded MLB clubs.

Simply because I don't want to flush 2011 in early December 2010, I stand firm in my belief that the Nats will sign Crawford, and soon.

bgib said...

We are Pittsburgh.

Anonymous said...

We could only hope to be Pittsburgh!!

By letting guys Dunn go over one contract year the Nats have regressed to 2008 levels when I believe rule 5 pick Matt Whitney was given a legit shot to play 1b. What do we do now, my suggestion is come out and write off the 2011 season and wait for 2012 when Strasburg and Harper unite to energize the team and the fan base. At 1st let's sign Jason Giambi to a one year deal and tell him he will platoon with Chris Marerro.

Jeeves said...

True, Dunn's 38 homers can not be replaced. But his RBI production can. He can also be replaced with someone who does not go through such prolonged slumps, or with someone who can hit better with men on base, who doesn't strike out so much, or with someone who can play better defense. With the money saved by not signing him, Dunn can be more than replaced. The question is will he be. I agree with Sunderland that Crawford might be more than a pipe dream. How about Pavano, Crain, LaRoche, and a trade for another pitcher. By the way, I feel that OBA is a highly overrated stat when applied to a cleanup hitter.

The Nationals Enquirer said...

Hear hear, Mark.

But do you think Rizzo really wanted Dunn back at all, even on a 3-year deal? In published reports, Rizzo's been hinting since mid-summer that he wanted to go in a different direction at first base, bring in better defensive players, etc. Almost feels like he's been stringing fans along for a while now -- if he'd just come out and been honest about his intentions, we might have a a little easier time swallowing this one.

Holding out hope that Rizzo knows what he's doing...and waiting for news that the Lerners have given their blessing to pour the money freed up by Dunn's departure into a bank-breaking deal for Cliff Lee.

Is it 2012 yet?

Anonymous8 said...

Anonymous said...
Our season tickets group was dissolved last night. Is this how the Senators slid toward oblivion?

Yah, I am feeling unsure about my STH too. This one hurts much like Soriano. I find it a slap in Zim's face too. Like Soriano going to Chicago, this could always turn out that the Nats were right.

In the long-term, I feel the team will be better off if there is a good solution to replacing Dunn and those compensatory Draft Picks turn out to be golden.

In the short term, we debated the pluses and minuses. I will miss his HRs but won't miss the lack of "clutch". I will miss his presence lurking in the 4 spot but won't miss his hard hands at 1st base.

P. Cole said...

I hear the White Sox still want to re-sign Paul Konerko. Great . . .

Mark, what are the chances we sign Derek Lee?

Anonymous said...

Too bad Hall of Famer Bill Veeck is long dead and no longer running the ChiSox. Future first ballot Hall of Famer Adam Dunn sure would look great in shorts, wouldn't he?

Jim Webster said...

Mark, you end a sad tale with an uplifting thought: pitchers and catchers report in 2 1/2 months. I renewed my season tickets some weeks ago. It's baseball, after all.

Anonymous said...

Oy! The Nationals without Adam Dunn. Why, that's like the Washington Times without the Reverend Sun Myung Moon!

Stew Magnuson said...

I was just in a group of two ticket holders with a 22-game package, but after six seasons we're done. We just can't see the advantage anymore. We'll go to games, sure, but just the ones we want to go to. We'll skip all the Marlins games the team was trying to pawn off on us (4 of those, compared to 2 Phillies games). I reckon I'll go to about 10 games next year, presumably some of them tickets people are giving away in the office. Plus, the Bobblehead nights and some good match ups.
(Yes, you can exchange season tickets easily, but they always give us lousy, less expensive seats)
But the Nats loss will be Frederick, Hagerstown and Bowie's gains. I used to go to a lot more minor league games before the Nats came to town, and now I'll have more freedom to do so again (never Potomac though. That park blows).
Dunn was not the deciding factor. Getting a bill from the Nats right before the holidays for Marlins and Braves games 6 months down the road where there will be thousands and thousands of available seats was, though.
I'm still a Nats fan, but I'll keep my money in my bank account instead of giving it to the Lerners where it would collect interest in their fat savings accounts for the next 6 months.
We were small potatoes for the Nats for sure. But the guy next to me at work with two tickets with a full season plan and $85 seats is out as well.

Obed_Marsh said...

I am angry the team did not sign Adam Dunn at this price. I don't want Nationals gear, I am questioning my season ticket group. I have never been this angry with this team.

320R2S15 said...

How upset will a of you be if they do land, say, Crawford? I wil jump for joy. I was NOT an AD fan, and am gad we are rid of him. I am shocked though that the chisox were willing to give him that deal. They will regret it.

Anonymous said...

A great piece of work Mark, the overwelming devastation of this to the franchise is well laid out and cannot be overstated.

I hope that someone today gets someone from the organization to explain how this makes the team better.

At this point I hope they use Mike Morse at first base and sign a front line outfielder for right field. Adam LaRoche will make it official: we are the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Anonymous said...

"I hope that someone today gets someone from the organization to explain how this makes the team better."

They really can't explain anything until after the offseason is over and all moves have been made. You want they should hold a press conference every time they release the likes of Wil Nieves to explain how that makes the team better?

Anonymous said...

Well, it's not really going to make the team worse. We did lose 93 games last year.

Anonymous said...

This is bad, bad news.

Adam Laroche. You are kidding me, right?

It's going to be fun watching Dunn hit #400 and #500 in Chicago while we experiment with Laroche, maybe Cori Casto, and perhaps Fick.

Zimmerman put his reputation on the line on this one. He lobbied for Dunn every day for a year, and his employer said, "Screw you." They told Zimm to sit down, shut up, lose every day again in 2011 until Strasburg returns (maybe healthy, maybe not) in 2012. Today is the beginning of the end for Zimm in Washington. It is heart-breaking.

The Redskins blow millions on the longest string of worthless free agents in history. And the Nationals have the most durable, consistent, productive, likeable baseball player of his generation--and they let him walk out the door.

We are in real trouble. Real trouble.

Anonymous said...

Not torn up that Dunn is leaving. Though, I wish we could have kept him for the next 2 yrs. One thing the Sox have that the Nats don't is a DH spot for him a couple years from now (when he warms to the idea). That allowed the Sox to go that extra year and provide the security for the big guy.

The best of this move will be seen 3-4yrs from now when either Dunn is still putting up 38 a yr and the 2 picks bust or Adam declines and we have 2 pieces of the winning puzzle or another combo that don't add to the Nats winning. Judgement now is speculation.

He was great as a Nat. I'll be cheering when next we see him this way.

bdrube said...

No one has yet mentioned that with the just-announced freeze in federal salaries combined with likely budget cuts mean that people in the DC area will suddenly have less money to spend watching a crappy baseball team.

My bet is there will be many sub-10K attendance games next year. Meet the new Expos...same as the old Expos.

Water23 said...

So, many say do not worry we will rebuild. And not to worry as Zimmerman is signed through 2013. Before the Nats, I was a Phillies fan. I mention this as they had an eerily similar situation in the last decade. An all-star fan favorite 3B, Scott Rolen who just got tired of the losing and finally said, I just want out. It crushed the fan base and but for a the luck in drafting 3 NL MVP players and building a new stadium things were looking ugly. I would love to have Rizzo hit a homer and have Espinosa, Desmond and Marrero become MVPs but that is very unlikely and we have our new stadium. I think we should start the "thanks for the memories watch" on Zim. People think he might re-sign but let's get real unless the the Nats start winning and soon (this year or next) Zimmerman will be glad to take $$$ from the BoSox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Angels who will all be glad to have another all-star on their rosters.

pdowdy83 said...

Mark, it sounds like you are overvaluing Dunn to an extent. He is not a good fielder, he strikes out too much and a lot of his RBI total is inflated with runs driven in in meaningless situations. He is not a clutch hitter and leaves men on base far too often. The offense was not good with him and neither was the defense. Adam Laroche drove in 100 runs too and he plays far better defense. Carlos Pena is just as capable of hitting 30 homeruns and driving in 100. Everybody needs to stop acting like this is the end of the world for the Nats.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps Mike Rizzo has looked at this group and decided it's not going to cut it. While the youngest guys on the roster (Desmond, Espinosa, Strasburg, Zimmermann, Drew Storen, Wilson Ramos, eventually Bryce Harper) may be the guys to build around, the semi-veterans in the current clubhouse (Dunn, Willingham, John Lannan) aren't."

That's exactly what's happened. Add to that a calculation that Dunn's future value in the latter half a four year deal would be seriously declining and the two, then three, year offer makes sense. We'll miss Dunn no doubt, but not when all the pieces have been acquired. (and no I don't know who they are ...)

Golfersal said...

I have always been neutral on Adam Dunn, I saw both the advantages and disadvantages of resigning him and thought this out for the last nine months. But I can tell you this morning was a hit in the gut to read that Dunn is gone. I always thought that between Dunn and Rizzo they would work it out. I always thought that there would be some common ground.
Last year at this time with the signings of Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Marquis, Matt Capps and the understanding that Strasberg was just a June call up away, we had a lot of excitement and hope. Last year I was able for the first time to get five people to help pay for my season tickets.
But with the disappointment of the year, with the advent of Stubhub being a cheaper choice for getting seats instead of being part of a group, the market has dropped. Four of the five have said no to my season tickets for 2011 and frankly I wonder if it's worth while to spend the $7,400 for season tickets.
It's not the Dunn deal, I could understand the reasons why Dunn was not worth the four years. What is bothering me and many other Nats fans this morning is the total lack of respect that Rizzo and the Lerners are showing us, the season ticket holders. The Nats season ended 2 months ago and the powers to be at the Nationals haven't shown us one good reason to write a check for $7,400. They have shown us how a cheaply run team will trot out a team of retreads and possible young guys that could have a future, but will go off to better teams with better offers. They are trotting out the Nyjer Morgans that will be cheap but will have no love of the fans.
Yes many will criticize what the Colorado Rockies did in showering Troy Tulowitzki with such a great contract. But I see this as a good will jester to help bring loyalty to not only the players but the fan base. Stuff like that will never happen at the Nationals who have proven in the last year to care more about the moment line and not what is right for the fans. I am not basing this on the Adam Dunn deal but the way they treated Ryan Zimmerman, who in reality didn't get that great of a deal for a future hall of famer.
With the way the last couple of months have gone I changed my mind a couple of weeks ago on Dunn. I felt that since Rizzo hadn't signed any starting picture or anyone of substance, that he would have to sign Dunn, or risk a revolt of the fans and seaon ticket holders. I am hearing that almost a third of last year's seaons ticket holders have not paid up a penny for '11 tickets, despite the fact that we had to put a big deposit on them November 1st.
Sorry but this is the seventh year of the Nats in Washington and we are seeing no improvement whatsoever. We saw some promise last year but it seemed the dream died in Philadelphia when Strasburg hurt himself.

All I can say as a season ticket holder, I hope the Lerners and Rizzo know what they are doing and will clue us ticket holders and possible ticket holders very quickly on their thoughts because I can see a very poor season ahead with very poor moral from the fans and players like Ryan Zimmerman who looks ready to jump ship right now.

JD said...

'The Washington Nationals, who never had serious interest in bringing Dunn back, get Chicago's first-round pick and a sandwich pick, both welcome additions for GM Mike Rizzo, who is still gradually restocking that farm system and coming off a very strong 2010 draft. Giving Dunn four years would have made little sense for a club in Washington's position. By the time the Nationals are competitive, he'll be approaching the overpaid portion of the contract.'

This is an excerpt from Keith Law's analysis which should be considered because it is an independent analysis not based on raw emotion which most of the posts here are.

Bote Man said...

At what point are they going to retain the players they already have instead of trying to replace them with younger, cheaper alternatives?

Never. A team is always a fluid concept, between injuries, varying performance throughout the season, and perhaps even the owner's or GM's whims.

Witness the Giants who started 2010 with a number of faces who were different from those who clinched the World Series. It's a fact of life in modern baseball.

I don't see Peña being worth pursuing, if he is even on the Nats' RADAR screen. It'll be interesting to see how this off-season pans out.

Phil dunn said...

.Are we sure Bob Short doesn't still own this team?.

Anonymous said...

"You want they should hold a press conference every time they release the likes of Wil Nieves to explain how that makes the team better?"

No. No one was clamoring for Wil Nieves. I'm not saying hold a press conference. I'd like to see some assurance from Mike Rizzo or the Lerners that they are committed to winning. That they are prepared with a plan more palatable than Adam LaRoche or bringing back the non-tendered Lastings Milledge. Some assurance that, no, we aren't the Pittsburgh Pirates. How 'bout a quote from someone in the organization?

As Mark detailed, this wasn't just another player leaving. People are angry. Not all of them, but many of the most loyal fans and customers. The effects of this need addressing by Nationals management officials.

Interesting parallel with Rolen, but the key difference is that, like Soriano, Rolen didn't want to stay. Dunn did.

Mr Baseball said...

What did the fans of Washington do to deserve two of the worst owners in all of professional sports. First, Daniel Snyder in football and now the Lerners in baseball. Dear old Bud Selig showed he wanted to prove again, Washington dosen't support or want baseball. I've lived through Calvin Griffith, Bob Johnson, Bob Short and now the Lerners. There has to be someone out there who cares about putting a good product on the field, in Washington. Bud doesn't want that because we would prove we will support the sport with good ownership and for once a successful team.

JaneB said...

Anon at 9:00, you forget that we CAN be worse.

Thanks for this great analysis Mark.

We re-upped our full season plan weeks ago even though none of the people we shared it with wants to come back. Now, neither do I. We do now have a gargantuan hole. And no track record of spending the dough to fill it. And a FO that no player should trust. Look how they treated Zimm! So who would want to come here. So, Im getting out of those seats. Like others, I'll buy a seat here and there. Even with Crawford.. For whom we'd have to trade away the supposed building blocks of our future... We don't have the pieceswe need. But what we really don't have is ownership that cares about the game, the players or the fans. We HAVE been patient.

Remember the list of the ten worst days in Nats history? Yesterday us now number one. Even if you didn't like Dunn, you have to see that thus move cannot on any level improve this team. Not even if we start the " be patient while we build" clock back another six years.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Jane about yesterday being the worst day in Nats history. Like a kick in the teeth.

Stranded_in_Philly said...

I'm no so sold on the Nationals being finished without Adam Dunn. Yes, it hurts the clubhouse. And yes, the home run production drops. And yes, some fans will turn against the team for this decision (though I can't understand why). Dunn's WAR for the past 5 seasons is sometimes underwhelming for the heaps of praise he gets from fans:
2006: 0.6 2007: 3.0 2008: 1.7/0.4 2009: 0.9 2010 (Contract year): 3.0

Compare that with Prince Fielder, who's last 4 seasons are 3.8, 2.6, 6.4, 3.8

Carlos Pena's numbers are comparable to Dunn's... and (assuming) for less money, it could work out being a much better deal.

Add that to the fact that Dunn's body and skill set are the type that don't age well, and that he has never played on a winning team... I think we're seeing a bit of overreaction here.

Now I'm not hating on Dunn. I loved watching him in a Nationals' uniform. However, his departure is not the end of the world, and looks to me like it could be a good business decision. This year's draft class is loaded, and 56 million dollars over 4 years is a lot of money to commit to any player.

Softball Girl said...

We are not the Senators. The Senators KEPT Hondo as a crowd pleaser without improving the team for the long term.

This may have hurt as much as Soriano, but looking how he fared in Chicago, aren't we all glad we didn't invest in him?

I think they can punt on '11 and count on pitiful attendance with the knowledge that Harper, like Strasburg, will pack the house in '12 and get interest in DC baseball back.

At that point #37 will *hopefully* be back to form and we'll have a year of seeing what Znn can do on the mound and Ramos can do behind the plate. Plus Flores for that matter. We'll also know how Norris, Lombardozzi, Solis, Desmond, Espinosa, Storen, etc. etc. fit in. Will they all succeed? No. But there's depth there.

I mean, come on. This organization is leaps and bounds from the days when Marrero was spun as the next pujols and Nats Access was doing features on Matt Chico and Collin Ballestar as our future.

This hurts, but it's the right thing to do. Frankly, instead of dreaming of what Zimmerman could do in the playoffs for us anymore, I'm dreaming of the type of player jackpot he could
return in a trade.

Sure, I'm not looking forward to the show my partial ST will afford me this year. I only wish I lived close enough to central PA to trade them in for a full season of Senators games.

SpringfieldFan said...

Personally, I'm going to give Rizzo a chance to finish making deals. And I already renewed my season tickets. If it comes down to it, I like Morse a lot and would love to see what he can do when he really plays every day.

LoveDaNats said...

Thanks, Nats FO for the big poke in the eye. I am angry that the Lerner's and Rizzo think so little of the fans that they are willing to have the most loyal base ready to walk. (And yes, I have taken crap over the years for being a die-hard Nats fan.)

I was going to upgrade my season tickets for next year, now I may not renew them at all.

Thanks, Mark for saying in print what I've been stewing about for the past 24 hours.

You think Zimm is gonna want to stay after watching this?!

Fellow Nats fans, I love you all but we just got royally screwed.

Water23 said...


Rolen = Zimmerman not Dunn. Zimm is gone in 2013 or 2014. Why you ask?

1) He will be fed up with losing and make as much or more money on a winning team.


2) He will get the Dunn tag. A decent player but does not know how to win as his teams are always near or at the bottom of the league. So, we would be better off with a mediocre 3B and two Draft picks.

JD said...


There is no getting around the fact that you MUST build your farm system up before you can sustain success and in order to do that you can't pour resources into declining assets such as Adam Dunn.

It's not Rizzo's fault that Jim Bowden mismanaged the team for years; this is only his second year at the helm. Yes the Lerners screwed up big time by giving Jimbo the keys but with all due respect his failings were not because he or the Lerners were cheap but because he poured money into Soriano, Guillen, Young, Belliard, Guzman, Kearns and at the same time drafted gems like Smoker, Willems and McGeary.

I don't care to see 40 HR's a year if it means losing 100 games a year; unfortunately Ryan Zimmerman can't see the Forrest from the trees because his buddy won't be there; well it's time to grow up Ryan and stop playing amateur GM. Zimmerman is signed for 3 more years and it's his job to keep performing well; if he feels the same way in 3 years then he may have options but Mike Rizzo can't worry about this now or we will be stuck in the mud for ever.

SteveRep44 said...

Boz still writes of the Lerners being uber-controlling of every piddlin' expenditure this team makes -- down to things like office supplies.

For each player they don't sign, or allow to get away, that will make it that much harder to convince the next one to sign/stay here. They're at a point where they pretty much would have to overpay to get anyone of significance, but that would set a bad precedent. You'd set yourself up to be expected to do that for the FAs after that as well.

The ice they're skating on gets thinner as each of these fan-favorite, yet certainly not optimum, players are allowed to go elsewhere.

And heaven forbid if they botch this to the point where we see #11 in someone else's colors three years from now.

Section 223 said...

I am not ready to get too worked up about what our team will look like next year when the winter meetings have not even started. I actually see the exit of Dunn as a sign that the owners are willing to start doing what Rizzo wants to do. I believe the owners wanted Dunn and Rizzo said not for four years. It was a deal breaker for both sides, but I think it will work out for both sides.

As an aside on someone like Cliff Lee, I think the allure of the Yankees is money and years. It can't be a 36 year old shortstop who does not have gold glove defense any more.

jcj5y said...

I think the analysis in this piece was right on the money, except that a key point made in the beginning---that this was partly Dunn's choice too, because he wanted 4 years---wasn't made part of the conclusions. Part of Rizzo's decision was not just filling a hole in 2011, it was potentially creating a hole in 2014. I always thought that all things considered, a four-year deal was worth the risk. But I can certainly see how someone would come down on the other side of that debate.

What should happen now? The offer to Dunn was around $12 million per. Take $7m of that and give it to Pena (hopefully not LaRoche), put the other $5m on top of the $20m you budgeted for an offer to Lee. The team really needs something spectacularly good to happen this off-season to give the fan base and the players some hope for 2011.

Raff said...

Our STH group hasn't re-upped for 2011. We've been waiting on this decision. Now, we're unlikely to do so.

Dunn's value is evident: he adds 4 wins (WAR) with his bat, his fielding is just about average (-0.3 wins), and he is enjoyable to watch.

Let's see...Carlos Pena? Well, his sub-Mendoza Line batting average, 1.5 offensive WAR (less than 40% of Dunn's), and -0.4 defensive WAR -- THAT'S RIGHT: HIS FIELDING IS RATED WORSE THAN DUNN'S -- don't make me want to spend beaucoup dollars on another season of watching the Nats get pounded by the Marlins.

The Nats' owners have decided that they don't want to spend their $ on Dunn. That's fine. But I think a lot of people are now going to decide they don't want to spend their $ on another year of the loser Nats.

Tricky Ricky said...

Here's a silver lining: You can't replace the 38 homers, but if you get a guy that in there that can hit .320 or so (LaRoche? Berkman?) you'll get just as good if not better production.

Will said...

My biggest problem with all of this is Rizzo's lack of long-term vision. It seems as if he had very little interest in resigning Dunn. That's fine. Dunn isn't the difference between the Nats and the playoffs.

However, if he was committed to not keeping Dunn, then it was imperative he trade him before the deadline. For all intents and purposes, Daniel Hudson and a lower-level prospect or Edwin Jackson would have been a much better deal than 2 compensatory picks, because
1. It would have helped the Nationals out immediately fill a current need, instead of 2-3 years down the road.
2. Hudson/Jackson is better talent than you can hope to get with the #23 pick.

Mark said...

Can you folks that are saying the "Dunn has never been on winner" explain your logic? Can you explain the relevance? Why would you blame Dunn, who did his job, and not blame the Luis Atilanos and the crappy starting pitchers. Why do you not blame Morgan and Guzman for not getting on base. Why do you not blame Pudge's 25 GIDPs?

And do you understand that Clutch hitting does not exist?

You cannot compare Dunn to Alfonso Soriano. When Soriano ended up with an 8 year deal, no one said that the Nats should have offered that contract to Fonsie. Maybe you don't like Dunn getting 4/56, but it's a fair deal. Even fairer if you believe that Dunn would have accepted a smaller 3 year deal had the Nats offered it in July.

So, rather than (possibly) overpay Dunn in the fourth year of his contract at age 34-35, they're going to go out and bring in a decling 35yo to replace him. Can anyone make that make sense to me?

NatsJack in Florida said...

Boy, does the Winter doldrums bring out the depressed masses!

This was all discussed in great detail last July and there were a group of us who actually expected this scenario. I am suprised (and glad)that Adam got what he was looking for although he is going to have to accept his role as a 50% (at a minimum) DH instead of a full time 1st baseman.

The organization is committed to building from within and establishing pitching and defense first is the priority. And while Dan Hudson would have been nice, the draft picks will have to do.

Having watched the Tampa franchise do a complete turnaround with new ownership that built the foundation for the organiztion with high and astute draft picks, I will remain patient that the Nats are taking the same approach.

This may or may not include Ryan Zimmerman in years beyond 2013 but I firmly believe the franchise will flourish, despite all the Lerner haters.

dc.coyote said...

This just makes me sad. I've been a 20-25 game a year fan from the beginning, and Dunn brought excitement to some horrible, horrible teams despite his way too frequent strikeouts. And, an extremely important factor, Ryan loves the guy. Now I see the possibility of the dominoes falling toward Ryan's leaving in three years.
The Nats have got my season ticket money for 2011 already. I feel like a fool. I am the opposite of excited. I wish I had left the Nats management in the position of having to show me they can play before I decided to pay. I wonder how much my 300 seats will get me on StubHub. I'm guessing not nearly as much as I paid for them. No new Nats jersey for me.

Anonymous said...

The true believers who call them themselves Nats Fans are delusional. Do you really believe any big name talented free agent would want to come and play for such a tinker toy operation like the Nats? Get real! Sure people will sell out for money, but there are limits.

Milo said...

I'm a season ticket buyer and will continue to be. I own a Dunn jersey. I wish him well in Chicago. But - I am tired of watching him not play defense, not be able to run, not be a selective hitter. Other than home runs, there is no there there. I understand why the Nats would not want to purchase that for four more years and I approve. Carlos Pena has only five years in the major leagues and he will be fine for a year, particularly because he can catch balls thrown to him, even if he actually is on the down slope of his skill set which has yet to be confirmed, actually. I hope the Nats sign him.

JayB said...


Your twitter feeds are you are coming around to the point of view that the Nats have to act boldly, decisively and effectively and they need to get into the game.....Less than a week ago you told me to chill and nothing happens until winter meetings so no worries.....very interesting progression there.....

Water23 said...

Rizzo et al talk about building a team and spending money properly. So, pass on Dunn if you must but show me you are committed to your plan. Signing international players is like having tons of fully developed #1 picks. Nishioka for Japan or a bunch of Dom Rep and other players are available. You can bolster you talent with a bunch of these moves and all it will cost is a few $$$. Heck, for $14 million you may have so many decent minor/major league ready prospects so trading for a Greinke is not an issue.

I want to believe but the Nats have not made substantial inroads into the wealth of international talent available. They talk about buildi

Section 223 said...

Wow, I remember tinker toys. Good times and I never did poke my eye out.

Sorry, back to the conversation.

I'm never going to think one player is a make or break for a team. (Different sport, I know) The Cleveland Browns did okay without Jim Brown when he retired in his prime. The Dodgers did okay when Koufax retired.

If I ever give up my tickets, it will be because of a collective aspect that I don't agree with, not any one player.

dale said...

"Look how they treated Zimm!"

Oh come on now. Ryan Zimmerman has been treated royally ever since he first signed. I really don't get the hero worship for Adam Dunn, especially the part where the Nats are going to fold like a deck of playing cards without him in the lineup. And all you season ticket holders who are now cancelling, ask yourself this question "If Strasburg was healthy and returning this year, would you have kept the tickets?" I think most of you would have answered yes. SS was the one who put the fans into the seats and created the buzz, not Adam Dunn. The Nats' future hinges upon the likes of Strasburg, Zimmermann, Zimmerman, and some new guy they just drafted this year. The Lerners have committed to Ryan Zimmerman in a manner that they never committed to Adam Dunn. Saying that RZ will leave the Nats just because of his friend's departure is absurd. There will be enough money to keep him here.

Feel Wood said...

"I think the analysis in this piece was right on the money, except that a key point made in the beginning---that this was partly Dunn's choice too, because he wanted 4 years---wasn't made part of the conclusions."

Dunn wanted four years and he wanted money. The Nats offered the money ($12M+ per year) but not the years, the Orioles (who came in at 4 yrs/$40M according to the Baltimore Sun) offered the years but not the money. The White Sox offered the money and the years (although not as much money as Dunn really wanted). Hard to find fault with any of the parties in this negotiation. Although it would have been interesting to see which Dunn valued the most, the money or the years, had his only choices been Baltimore or Washington.

JD said...


Nice to see some common sense here. As you know I have often used the Tampa example in my posts. BTW they are losing Crawford, Pena, Soriano, Belfour ++ and I bet that they will remain competitive with Yankees and the Red Sox because they have players like Desmond Jennings etc. ready to step in. That's how you do it if you are not the NY Yankees.

NatsJack in Florida said...

JD.... Not to mention a minor league system just loaded with solid arms.

Anonymous said...

Fine posting, except for "any more"...

Anonymous said...

"Adam got what he was looking for although he is going to have to accept his role as a 50% (at a minimum) DH instead of a full time 1st baseman."

It will be interesting to see how Dunn's non-workout ethic helps keep him from becoming rounder than Prince Fielder when he's spending 50% or more of his time sitting on the bench as a DH. I don't get the impression that he'll be the kind of DH who goes back into the clubhouse to ride the bike or hit the cage between ABs. Also, it will be interesting to see how sitting on the bench most or all of the time will affect his defensive skills. Will he be out there taking infield on the days he's DHing? In short, I could easily see Dunn turning into another Dmitri Young after a year or two as a DH. But that's the choice he made.

Anonymous said...

I agree with every thing Mark wrote, but this especially stands out, as it is the question I have been asking myself:

"At what point are the Nationals finally going to commit to one group of players and say: "This is the team we're going to try to win with?" At what point are they going to retain the players they already have instead of trying to replace them with younger, cheaper alternatives?"

It seems to me that you fill the seats either by winning or by building a team that fans love, win or lose. We are stuck with a Titanic of a team that keeps throwing established players with whom the fans relate overboard. They are replaced by younger, cheaper players that rarely live up to expectations, and if they do, they get injured or traded.

Waiting said...

When you are in a big market like Washington, building through the draft means we're in it for the money, when you're a big market like Washington you should build through the draft and spend big money on free agents.Washington should not be compared to Tampa they should be compared to Philadelphia.The Expos did'nt have much money and didnt sign free agents but at least they new how to developed players.

N. Cognito said...

Softball Girl said...
"We are not the Senators. The Senators KEPT Hondo as a crowd pleaser without improving the team for the long term."

Much easier to do then. There was the reserve clause and no free agency.

Anonymous said...

The Nats could use a good PR department this morning. They really need someone to be the face and voice of the franchise,someone who could verbally hold the fort until the offseason is over. I know this isn't about players which, in the long run, is the key thing. But fewer ST holders means less revenue. And that means more difficulty in signing FA's (esp. if you believe the Nats will have to overpay to sign those players). The owners/FO are close to creating a cycle that will be tough to break. Trust issues... Thus the need for someone to speak up and calm the waters (to the degree that is possible). I am hearing Nats fans making the move from fear to anger. And people act on anger. Baseball expertise is great. Heck, it's essential. But you also have to know how to take care of your customers. fpcsteve

JaneB said...

The browns and the Dodgers had their other ducks in a row. We have gaping holes instead.

I get the build from the inside idea. We didn't buy season seats because of SS; we were in from the beginning, and bought the li e that it would take a few years to become competitive. So, how long before that happens? These owners would need to buy a real hitter and a real pitcher, both of whom can play now, to put us in position ti BEGIN to be competitive by 2013. That they would actually land a real pitcher while we had a hitter was one leap of fan faith. I took it. Without a real hitter to keep things's a grand canyonesque leap.

I grew up a Mets fan, and I know from disappointment and loving your way through decades of "wait till next year!"s. So maybe its just the cumulative disappointment whacking my head, now nearly bald from hair pulling.

DC Tom said...

I'm very sad to see Adam Dunn leave this team -- but I'm happy that he has finally gotten the recognition for his remarkably steady and consistent run production, which is among the league's elite. Not to mention that he will get to play on a contending team in a city that likely will love him.

As for the Nats, the big key now is to see how they spend the $5-7 million/year difference between what they offered Dunn and will end up paying to Carlos Pena (and more if the choice is LaRoche). Sadly, that's not that much money in today's market -- it might buy you a Jeremy Bonderman, a Brad Penny, a Chris Young. Not what one would call game- or franchise-changing upgrades.

Anonymous said...

- I'm fine with Dunn leaving and think the Nats made a rational choice given what he wanted.
- I've re-upped my full season ticket plan and hope some of you are in front of me so I can move closer - I fully plan on being there for a playoff game in the next 5 years.
- For me, Mark Z. hit the nail on the head with the post yesterday about the effect of Strasburg's injuury. The trickiest/hardest thing Rizzo has to deal with now is getting this team ready for '12/'13 with Strasburg only being able to pitch a full year in '13. I totally admit that it's not clear he can do that but I'm not giving up based on anything that happens this offseason.

Adam Dunn was a replaceable piece - as much as I loved the idea of being there to watch him hit one off the scoreboard, I spent many, many more at bats grinding my teeth watching him flail away. The only metric I'm concerned about is W's and I don't think we're going to be materially better or worse in '11 without him.


Anonymous said...

As always, well written and insightful Mark. I'm going to miss Adam Dunn for sure. I sure hope someone in the FO has a plan - this faithful fan sure is getting weary!

Section 223 said...

Good point about other teams having their ducks in a row when a star player leaves. But, since the team knew several months ago that Dunn was likely to leave, I imagine they are working on something. I don't think ownership is going back to the Dollar Store for free agents this year. I feel good about Rizzo and his collective in Florida next week and I'll reserve judgement until Spring training rolls around.

Oh, and I grew up an Astros fan (just after the Colt 45s), so I am quite familiar with baseball masochism. I'm still not over Joe Morgan being traded. lol

Anyway, speculating is fun and probably therapeutic. I enjoy rumors and reading other thoughts, even if I might not have the same point of view.

Anonymous said...

I don't think its the end of the world. Norris, if converted to first base, has a potent bat and looks ready. Morse might be enough of a stopgap while waiting for the OF prospects to rise from the minors and looks like he might just hit 30 homers. Desmond could be moved to center field. Lombardozzi could come in to play second with Espy moving to short. We still don't know what Ramos will do offensively given more playing time, but we do know he is an excellent defensive catcher. They can field Morgan, Bernadina and Maxwell. There's a lot to be said for going young given their current situation.

sjm 308 said...

I read how many season ticket holders are jumping off buildings and Rizzo has not even left for the winter meetings.

What if (and I realize that this is a big if) we sign Crawford (Jane B we won't have to give up a thing, he is a FA), move Morse/Willingham to first, and package Desmond,Detwiller, one of our young catchers and any bullpen arm not named Storen for a quality starting pitcher, and then sign Hudson or Eckstien for a year while bringing up Lombardozzi. How many of those season ticket holders would come running back?

Our group is upset about Dunn but it is not the end of the world. I watched us finish in last place just about every year in the 50's and will continue to go to games with my son and keep hope that at sometime in my life I will actually see a playoff game (World Series would probably send me into some sort of catatonic state) in my home park.

Go Nat's!!

Anonymous said...

How did Wang do last year? Opps, he was paid $1 million and never threw a pitch. Dunn is now bye-bye. If the Nats sign Pena to play first, that will be a nightmare. The guy strikes out a lot and is very inconsistent at the plate. Oh, well, John Maine is available. He won 15 and 10 games back-to-back a few years ago, but has been toast since. Rizzo's hands are tied by the money-pinching Lerners. I don't think anyone will have trouble finding a good seat in 2011 at Nats Park.

Wally said...

Well, I have spent more time thinking about the Nats the last few days than anyone who likes to pretend that he has a life should have done. Pardon the rambling riff, but I have a few thoughts that I feel the need to share. Part 1
(1) Mark – add my small voice to the chorus of appreciation for your reporting. I liked you calling them out on this. How can I start following you on twitter?
(2) Dunn – I liked him and wanted him back, but his leaving isn’t the depressing point, it is the utter lack of belief we have that the Nats will make a sufficient financial commitment to field a competitive team (solely spending $10m a year on the draft won’t be enough, imo). I think that Adam meant more to us than other players precisely because they stink - big guy, long home runs, high profile failures. He was an interesting distraction from an otherwise lousy team. If the Nats make enough moves so that they essentially perform at roughly the same level with more players to dream on (or better), than I am going to be ok with the move. And as much as I liked him and am glad he got his contract, I firmly believe that any time a player says “I want to stay here”, what he really means is that “I hope this team gives me my best financial offer”. Meaning Adam was going to follow the money, and I don’t blame him at all.
(3) Zim - I don’t think that this particular move has any lasting impact for Zim. Any extension for him will still depend on the overall prospects of the team at the time they are negotiating it and how well the financial terms meet his expectations of the market.

Wally said...

Part 2 (sorry about this)

(4) The Lerners – boy, their ownership tenure has been really, really bad. Bowden, Natinals, Smiley, all those horrible retreads from 2006-2008, 300 losses over 3 years. It doesn’t mean that it is always going to be this bad, and I don’t even know where to put the blame, but sheesh. As inauspicious debut as I can imagine (from a fans perspective, I am sure Bud’s old boys club likes them just fine). They remind me of the Brown family of the Cincinnati Bengals. Smart business guys, and when I invest in the stock of a business, I definitely root for the business guy to be a good business guy (cut costs, be efficient, …). But not the attitude that a fan wants to see from an owner. I want a reason to believe that I am going to have a good baseball team to watch, not that I am a fan of the only team to ever avoid a bad long term contract. Like someone said a few posts ago, I want the guy from Detroit. The Lerners treat it too much like a normal business, when a professional team is a different animal. I can’t help thinking that revenue sharing helps them be this way – how much really are they going to lose if attendance drops to 1 mil if the Yanks still have to give them $20m?
(5) Lerners (pt 2) – I am surprised at the number of apologists the Lerners attract on these message boards (the anti Lerners Are Cheap crowd). I don’t know what causes it? Even a cursory look at their tenure has to explode that myth – bottom 10 in payroll every year they have been here; the lowest paid manager in baseball; what has to be one of the lowest paid GMs in baseball; only 1 (maybe 2) drafts where they spent top 5 money; only two international free agent signings of note in 7 years; Mark’s Moonie article from a few years ago about how they micro managed every expense (apparently updated by Boz). All while being in a big market, charging high relative ticket prices, and spending amongst the least amount of their revenues on baseball operations. On the other side of the ledger is Zim’s contract (which is a bargain), Strasburg’s bonus (also a bargain), Harper. How is it not patently clear that their history is one of extreme fiscal conservativeness? We are fans, for cryin’ out loud, not stock market analysts. I am starting to think that the biggest thing that we should be rooting for these days is for old man Ted to turn over the keys to Mark. I have a feeling that he would loosen the purse strings (but probably bring back Bowden, or maybe try out Vinny Cerrato).

There, I feel better. Thanks

Will said...

Carl Crawford would be an idiot to sign with the Nationals. He has offers on the table from the Red Sox and Angels. The Nats would have to be the highest bidder by several million dollars per year to even have him consider their offer, which is unlikely considering they've already apparently skimped on contract offers from other recently signed SPs and Dunn.

Don't even think about Crawford when talking about the Nationals offseason plans. We have a better chance of signing Cliff Lee, because Rizzo has stated SP is the Nats priority. There aren't any indications that the Nats are pursuing any batters, except at first.

Raff said...

Milo said...
... Other than home runs, there is no there there. ... Carlos Pena has only five years in the major leagues and he will be fine for a year, particularly because he can catch balls thrown to him, even if he actually is on the down slope of his skill set which has yet to be confirmed, actually. I hope the Nats sign him.

Milo, let's do a Dunn vs. Pena comparison:

• On-Base + Slugging: Dunn wins, .892 vs .732 in 2010, .902 vs .841 career
• On-Base Percentage: Dunn wins, .356 vs .325 in 2010, .381 vs .351 career
• Slugging Percentage: Dunn wins, .536 vs .407 in 2010, .521 vs .490 career
• Batting Average: Dunn wins, .260 vs .196 in 2010, .250 vs .241 career
• Home Runs: Dunn wins, 38 vs 28 in 2010, 40 vs 35 career 162-game average
• Wins Above Replacement: Dunn wins, 3.6 vs 1.1 in 2010, 2.71 vs 1.29 career season average
• Defensive Wins Above Replacement: Dunn wins in 2010, -0.3 vs -0.4 in 2010, the only season he was primarily a first-baseman.
• Age: Dunn wins, 31 years 0 months vs. 32 years 6 months

So if there's no there there with Dunn, why exactly are you hoping the Nats sign a guy who is objectively worse than him in every measure?

Anonymous said...


I don't quite understand why most of the fans are yelling because Dunn is going elsewhere. Look at the W-L record of the teans he played with.
2001 Reds 66-96
2002 Reds 78-84
2003 Reds 69-93
2004 Reds 76-86
2005 Reds 73-89
2006 Reds 80-82
2007 Reds 72-90
2008 Thre teams
2009 Nats 59-108
2010 Nats 69-93

Total with the Reds and the Nats : 641-816.

Oh boy ! Oh boy ! Dunn never won anything anywhere. Bye Bye Adam

We want winner. Good guys finish last.

K.D. said...

Well, lots of comments. I have been a baseball fan for 25 years, my favorite players have been let go or traded many times and guess what? I still love it, baseball games will still be played.
I liked Dunn for what he brought, bombs and a likable persona, but he can and will be replaced with someone (or two) who is as talented but perhaps in a different way. I am going to give Rizzo a little time and who knows how the money he had offered to Dunn will be spent, pitching I hope. I am surprised by Zimm not being professional and giving Rizzo the benefit of the doubt until the winter meetings are concluded, but understand his personal disappointment.

N. Cognito said...

Anonymous said...
"DUNN and the LOSERS
blah, blah, blah"

I've seen a lot of stupid posts, but this one is certainly near the top.
Please explain how any one player on a baseball team is solely responsible for the record of that team?

upperdeck4 said...

Great column, Mark. I've renewed my season tickets, but as much as I love baseball, I don't know how much more of this I can take. Bad management, dealing for a 23rd pick plus a sandwich when we could have had a major league ready player last summer.

Anonymous said...

You play big bucks to a player who will bring you to the top, not to a player who will keep you at the cellar.

Like anybody, I know that one player does not make a team by himself. But I also know that a star can bring a team to a championship

The great player did it. Dunn is good, but is not great, and does not birng a team to a next level.

So, DUNN and LOSERS does not sound stupid at all, just a little bit to swallow at the corners.

N. Cognito said...

upperdeck4 said...
"Bad management, dealing for a 23rd pick plus a sandwich when we could have had a major league ready player last summer."

What if it's a really good sandwich?
Sadly, Henkels is no longer around.

N. Cognito said...

Anonymous said...
"Like anybody, I know that one player does not make a team by himself. But I also know that a star can bring a team to a championship"

Thank you. Your stellar logic is inspiring. Now I realize, had Babe Ruth played for the St. Louis Browns, he would have been a LOSER.


JD said...


You had asked me yesterday how San Diego gets 6 picks in the 1st 2 round next year.

1) Their own pick (1st round)
2) Compensation for not signing their pick last year (1st round)
3) compensation for Jon Garland (Sandwich)
4) compensation for Torrealba (Sandwich)
5) compensation for Correja (sandwich)
6) their own 2nd round pick.

Anonymous said...

All will be water under the bridge when the Nats have A-Gon and R-Zimm at the corners for years to come.

Anonymous said...

I don't think putting Alberto Gonzales at first base for an inning, much less years to come, is a very good idea. But then what do I know? I'm not Jim Riggleman.

Souldrummer said...

Wow. Great article. It's one thing when we fans gripe about this team on the message boards. It's another thing when independent bloggers and media voices start to hold the franchise accountable.

Exile to Potomac, Frederick, and Bowie for winning baseball is what they wish to inflict upon us.

souldrummer said...

@Raymitten 8:34AM
"I hope that someone today gets someone from the organization to explain how this makes the team better.

At this point I hope they use Mike Morse at first base and sign a front line outfielder for right field. Adam LaRoche will make it official: we are the Pittsburgh Pirates."
Great minds think alike. If we're signing Pirates rejects, we're really down the road to utter and total mediocrity. What I'd be really impressed with is if they used the money they're saving to make an acquisition that adds to longer term needs, either in the starting rotation or in the outfield. Adam LaRoche or Carlos Pena are stopgaps that advance our franchise forward not one iota unless they are flipped at the deadline for assets like we should have done with Dunn.

For me, letting him walk just for draft picks says that they want us to wait four years to contend, not one or two years, unless they make serious upgrades with the savings on the contract. But we would have had that savings even if we had traded him.

Bad, bad execution that really seems to point towards the internal dissension Boswell was writing about that may have made this whole thing so clumsy.

Anonymous said...

MLB Trade Rumors say Natinals stepping up interest in Webb. Lord have mercy! We get to use the Dunn "savings" on Webb's surgically repaired shoulder. That will save this pitching staff! Here's looking to a years worth of articles about tendons and ligaments and whether there is specific or general soreness in some area.

N. Cognito said...

Anonymous said...
"I don't think putting Alberto Gonzales at first base for an inning, much less years to come, is a very good idea."

Anonymous said...

This isn't just about not re-signing Dunn, but the way it went down.

Plenty of teams don't bring back FAs, even the Yankees and Jeter are airing some things out publicly. In this case, we had the owners pretending it was all the GM's decision, while the GM made silly statements in the press, and lashed out at the fans for not getting it like the "industry" did. Even the Pirates don't treat their fans this badly.

If you look at perenially bad teams that become good, it's never because of a hot player. Greinke didn't make the Royals good, neither did Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay did nothing to improve the Pirates. Rather, it's a change in management or better, ownership. Orioles saw this with Showalter, Rays with Stu Sternberg and Andrew Friedman. (note to the Lerner defenders who always think it's Anti-Semitism, the Rays owner and GM are Jewish and have done a fantastic job)

This franchise is done. Hopefully, within 10-20 years, there will be new owners, otherwise it will probably be a new city.

Steve M. said...

Been away for a while and just want to know if this was a Rizzo decision or Lerner?

I hear Rizzo wanted to change up the team philosophy which is fine if you go pitching and defense since last year was: no pitching, no defense, and mediocre offense.

So unless they get Cliff Lee at this point, where is the upgrade in pitching and defense???

Last year was the first year of progress. All they needed to do is re-sign Dunn and improve the bench and find a solid #3 starter and the team would get closer to that elusive 82 wins and find themselves in the hunt for the future.

This is really a head scratcher and most importantly I feel sorry for Ryan Zimmerman.

Farid Rushdi said...

I was tinkering with some numbers regarding Dunn and Adam Laroche.

Over the past two seasons, and based on playing 162 games, Dunn has averaged 192 runs produced (107 RBI & 85 runs scored) while LaRoche averaged 182 (99 RBI and 83 runs scored).

That is a difference of ten runs over 162 games,so Dunn produced an additional .006 runs per game than LaRoche.

LaRoche's defense is much better than Dunn's and (again, comparing numbers assuming a 162 games played), drove in just eight runs less.

Dunn made $12 million last year while LaRoche made $6 million.

And Dunn isn't great in the clutch. With two out and runners in scoring position, he went .169/.344/.366 with 4 HR & 26 RBI. LaRoche was much better, going .274/.338/.575, 6 HR & 36 RBI.

When his team was behind, Dunn batted .237/.333/.377 (6 HR 26 RBI)and LaRoche hit .252/.335/.446 (9 HR 36 RBI).

I liked Dunn and am going to miss him, but Dunn cost the Nats $12 million last year and LaRoche cost the D-Backs $6 million.

Other than his moon-shot home runs, I don't see how Dunn helped his team any more than LaRoche helped his.

Am I missing something?

Rodeorob said...

Do I wish the Nats resigned Dunn? Yes. But let's be honest: Dunn did not bring in the fans. The only player on this team who has energized the fan base is Stephen Strasburg. Not Zimmerman, not Desmond, not Pudge, and not Adam Dunn.

I think they made a mistake, but not a fatal one. The Giants just showed us how important having a strike-out slugger as the centerpiece of your team: it isn't. Good pitching beats great hitting every time. The problem is the Nats don't have good enough pitching. This team lost more than 90 games each of the past two years with Adam Dunn hitting 38 home runs. I will miss him, no doubt. He played the game right and wanted to stay. It sucks that he didn't. But we're not talking about breaking up the '27 Yankees, or even the '05 Nats. This has been a bad team for a long time, and Adam Dunn's departure or return doesn't make them any better or worse.

Anonymous said...

@ Rodeorob: And a day old bagel isn't all that great either, but try telling that to the homeless guy pulling it out of the trash can. We're a cruddy team. We need anything we can get to keep us going. Give me a choice between Dunn and the empty pair of spikes currently occupying 1B and I'll take Dunn. He makes me smile when I'm at a game. The rest is pretty miserable. Give a dog a bone!

sparky said...

Has Zimmerman ever played on a winning team?
I guess we should get rid of that LOSER as well.

Wally said...

Fangraphs had two Nats articles this afternoon, and neither was on Dunn! The puzzling non tender of Peralta and the value of Desmond and Espy.

N. Cognito said...

Farid Rushdi said...
"Am I missing something?"

Yes. The intangible. The popularity of Dunn to many fans.
It will have an impact, but fans will return when the team wins. Always have, always will.

Any free agent 1B selection for this year is a short-term solution, good for at most 2, maybe 3 years: Dunn, Lee, Pena, Konerko, etc.

Ernie said...

I wonder how much correlation there is between regular attendance at the game and disappointment at the Dunn news. I get the sense that those of us who attend regularly are more disappointed by the TV and number-crunching folks.

I know I'm pretty down right now, but I am willing to come around if it turns out that Rizzo does something to improve the team instead of coming close to signing lots of talent but not changing anything. We've got something like 70 more days until pitchers and catchers report. That's a lot of time to play whatver he's still got in his hand. I know that when I renewed my tickets it was NOT to hear the name "Justin Maxwell" every night I go to the park. Change is fine. But right now it feels more like erosion than like building.

Sunderland said...

Rizzo's cookin' up something.
And right now, since it's incomplete, when you smell it or taste it, you don't like it. It makes you cringe. And you say, "I ain't gonna eat that".

But when it's fully cooked, it'll be OK.
Maybe not great, but also not putrid.

Just give the chef some time.

Farid Rushdi, I don't think you're missing much at all. IMHO, the ire and despair displayed here is not so much about Dunn leaving (c'mon, that was a foregone conclusion by mid-August).
It's that the Nats are clueless, uncaring, cheap, and oblivious, and we, as fans, have only 2 choices. Love' em or leave 'em. And right now, neither of those two choices are pleasant.

Anonymous said...

I think this offseason is a nefarious plot that will make it possible for Mark Lerner to play the outfield. He has the uniform already. And he has been known to catch fly balls with HIS FACE.

kgwhit said...

Dunn was not going to make the Nats the Phillies. The problem is they have almost nobody that makes you want to go to the ballpark to see them play.
If you are not a winner, and they aren't, then you need to entice people to the park. The league turned a blind eye to steroids because people wanted to see homeruns.
Dunn hit tape measure home runs. You didn't go get a beer with Dunn up because he might hit one.
What is the excitement for 2011, Nyjer mis-playing a ball off the wall or getting picked off?

Feel Wood said...

"This isn't just about not re-signing Dunn, but the way it went down.

Plenty of teams don't bring back FAs, even the Yankees and Jeter are airing some things out publicly. In this case, we had the owners pretending it was all the GM's decision, while the GM made silly statements in the press, and lashed out at the fans for not getting it like the "industry" did. Even the Pirates don't treat their fans this badly."

Huh? Here's how it went down, plain and simple. From the beginning, Dunn said "I want four years" and Rizzo said "We can go three years at most." Neither side ever backed off from their opening positions. It was like a game of chicken, and thanks to the ChiSox Dunn ended up winning.

As for "the GM made silly statements in the press, and lashed out at the fans for not getting it like the "industry" did.", I don't recall any of this happening. Can you provide quotes or references? No? That's what I thought.

Anonymous said...

"Any free agent 1B selection for this year is a short-term solution, good for at most 2, maybe 3 years: Dunn, Lee, Pena, Konerko, etc."

Which is exactly why the Nats didn't sign Dunn for four years. Why is that so hard for people to understand?

N. Cognito said...

There's a good chance Dunn will not be very good in his 4th year, which would mean the ChiSox would be paying Dunn almost $19 million a year for 3 years.
If Dunn is a key piece to a run at the World Series, that risk might be worth taking.

Raff said...


I like your analysis: trying to measure Dunn's production per dollar vs. LaRoche's.

I would measure their value differently, since runs and RBIs are so dependent on your teammates. and both have a # called Wins Above Replacement. It factors in the position a player plays, his batting, his baserunning, and his defense, and produces one #: the # of extra games his team wins because it has him, not someone they picked up from, say, AAA or the waiver wire.

In 2010, Dunn had 3.6 WAR for $12m: $3.33m per WAR. LaRoche had 1.2 WAR for $4.5m: $3.75m per WAR. They are 3 days apart in age. Thus, unless there's some reason to think Dunn will fade faster than will LaRoche (perhaps men of Dunn's size break down earlier than men of LaRoche's size? Has anyone seen that kind of analysis?) or that 2010 isn't indicative of their relative worth, I'd take Dunn.

NatsFan2005 said...

Not signing the irreplaceable Dunn was a major blunder, but not the worst by this team by any means. The worst by far is keeping the 163-games-under-.500 Riggleman as manager. Almost as bad is having anything whatever to do with N. Morgan, an undiscipined, angry, mean, self-centered player who lacks the most basic baseball skills, as center fielder/leadoff man. Poison, pure poison.

Cap it off with the likely signing of a complete has-been in Brandon Webb (all the good starters except the unattainable Lee have already been signed) and you have regression, not improvement. Face it folks, Rizzo is a lousy judge of baseball talent, period. A more open wallet by the Lerners would make not a whit of difference.

No matter what moves Rizzo makes next week, or for the rest of the off season for that matter, the remnants of what once had hoped to be a baseball team will lose another 100 games. Can't miss.

And for all you out there who claim to know baseball suffering for having been Mets or Astros fans, try my lot: Cubs fan since they won the pennant in 1945. That's suffering. The Nats can't hold a candle to that frustration, but they're trying hard.

No, I've beeen suckered enough. Six seasons with no appreciable improvement means only one thing: the ownership/management could not care less about fielding a competitive team. Add me to the growing number of non-renewing season ticket holders.

FOTB said...

If the team wins, then fans will fill the seats. If they lose, then fans will stay home. IMHO, the presence or absence of Adam Dunn will not make that much difference in terms of attendance.
Maybe I picked the wrong games to go to this past season, but my recollection is that Dunn was a huge disappointment at bat. There may be no such thing as a "clutch" player, but I have plenty of memories of him striking out (meekly sometimes) or otherwise failing to deliver with runners in scoring position late in the game, and few memories of him delivering in these situations.
His absence will not stop me from going to games.

Milo said...

Carlos Pena - Gold Glove at 1B 2008 for Tampa, AL HR Co-Champ 2009 for Tampa, still young. Bad year in 2010 after breaking two fingers in September 2009.

Adam Dunn - lots of monster shots on losing teams his whole career, no there there.

Anonymous said...

For the guy in Florida criticizing our reactions, YOU'RE IN FLORIDA! Most of us by contrast are living here and pay top dollar to go to see this mess year after year in the team's taxpayer-funded stadium. Therefore, don't presume to lecture us as we express outrage when team ownership cheaps out on paying market value to a proven slugger who's just turned 31. Better yet, lecture Ryan Zimmerman, who apparently feels the way we do.

NatsNut said...

I agree with others that it's not so much that Dunn was the savior of this team, it's what losing him symbolizes.

It's a step backwards, plain and simple, because there's nobody out there better. The only reason I can think of for letting him go is that Rizzo is a little too excited about the draft picks, perhaps forgetting that he's in charge of many, many other components that make a winning team now.

Shoot, I don't even need a *winning* team. Just an improved team with a front office that appreciates and supports it (read: pays for it) would be fine.

I renewed my 20-game package-I'm not quite ready to give that up yet. But I go to about 15-20 MORE games than that, bringing friends who spend money with me. It's not a huge amount of money, but most of that will be missing from the Lerners' pockets this year.

I'll only change my mind if Rizzo does something really cool in the next couple of weeks.

JaneB said...

Anon@3:22... That's the first time I've laughed since yesterday at about 5:00. Thanks. And right on Sparky.

Raff said...


Oh, now I see the light! If you hadn't pointed out that Pena once received an award whose meaning is degraded more each time Jeter gets it, I might not have realized his fielding greatness.

Also, if you hadn't pointed out that Pena's a winner and Dunn's a loser, I might have mistakenly though Pena's .118 batting average in the 2008 World Series meant that he doesn't deserve a lot of credit for being such a winner.

Finally, if you hadn't pointed out that Pena tied for AL lead in HRs once, I might've mistakenly thought that the extra 124 HRs Dunn has hit in his career compared to Pena meant somthing.

When you say there's no there there, are you certain you aren't referring to your own argument?

Anonymous said...

Go get Lance Berkman, get a strong offensive outfielder who can play a little defense, and get a healthy starting pitcher. Let's start acting like a big market team now that MLB's stooge is no longer around to ensure that the team fails.

You know, Bowden would never have let this happen.

cbushea55 said...

I saw the senators as kid and was so excited when the Nat's finally came here.But this is a sad day because we now know that the FA is either really stupid or doesn't care.

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