Dunn chats up Jocketty
Could schmoozing lead to a long-term deal for the slugger?
BY JOHN FAY | JFAY@ENQUIRER.COM
SAN DIEGO - It looked like a formal job interview in an informal setting. Adam Dunn was sitting in the lobby bar at Marina Marriott here. He was surrounded by manager Dusty Baker, general manager Walt Jocketty and coaches.
The coaches and staff had been sitting around together talking when Dunn happened by on his way back from the ballpark. His wife, Rachel, and son Brady were with him. They stopped by to say hello. After chit-chatting, Rachel and Brady went to the room, but Adam stayed.
It would have been a good night for Dunn to make his case for a new contract. About an hour and half earlier, he had turned around a Trevor Hoffman fastball for the winning home run in the Reds' 3-2 victory over the San Diego Padres. The win snapped a four-game losing streak and had the club feeling a whole lot better about itself.
Dunn wasn't making a case for himself.
"We talked about a lot of things," Dunn said. "We were talking about everything - but really nothing baseball related."
Dunn and Jocketty have a cordial relationship - "I know my wife loves him," Dunn said - but Dunn and Jocketty haven't had the talk, where Dunn's future as a Red is discussed. "We haven't talked about that," Dunn said.
It sounds unlikely that Dunn would initiate such talks.
"We'll see what happens," Dunn said. "I'm not going to go out and track him down."
But Dunn is making a pretty good case from himself on the field. Friday's home run extended Dunn's nine-game hitting streak. The streak has been testimony to what Dunn can do when he gets locked in. He had hit .444 with six home runs and 11 RBI over the streak.
The home run was the 250th of his career, leaving him one short of Ted Kluszewski's club record for left-handers, and Dunn is only 28 years old.
He leads the Reds in on-base percentage (.395) and slugging (.531). His batting average was at .248 entering Saturday. That's his career average. He's on pace for his usual 40-home run, 100-RBI, 100-run season.
His errors (two) and strikeouts (34) are down. He's impressed his new manager.
"It's beautiful," Baker said. "He's getting his RBI. He's playing good defense."
Baker sounds like he wants Dunn on his team. The Reds have to make a decision on Dunn soon. He is a free agent after this year.
If they decide against keeping him, they've got to try to move him. Letting him walk for draft picks would be silly. Dunn, after all, is one of the few draft picks in recent years that turned into a productive big leaguer.
The decision on Dunn is tied to the decision the club faces on Ken Griffey Jr. The Reds hold an option on Griffey.
Jay Bruce is waiting to take one of the corner outfield positions. He's probably best suited for playing right field.
The decision ultimately could come down to Dunn or Griffey.
Dunn is a lightning rod for fans.
To some, Dunn is a below average defender who strikes out too much and doesn't hit in the clutch. To others - particularly those who look at the numbers beyond batting average and RBI - Dunn is the Reds' most productive player. His on-base plus slugging was .926 going into Saturday. The next closest regular was Brandon Phillips at .849.
Dunn isn't going to hit winning home runs every night like he did Friday.
"I think that's kind of coincidental," he said. "I've been getting pitches to hit in those situations and I'm not missing."
When he's doing that, he's a very valuable guy to have around.
Valuable enough to sign long term?
That's a big question the Reds are going to have to answer soon.