Dunn too much to afford
Defense, demeanor, salary too costly
By Paul Daugherty • firstname.lastname@example.org
• August 12, 2008
The Reds, who are exciting only when they're not playing, traded Adam Dunn to the Arizona Diamondbacks Monday for a 23-year-old Class-A starting pitcher named Dallas Buck who, in another life, died in old Western movies. Cincinnati also will receive two players as yet unnamed. Unless the pair throw like Seaver or hit like Perez, you have to wonder what's up.
As insignificant as Dunn was to winning here, 40 homers and 100 RBI don't appear magically every March. After the club traded Ken Griffey Jr., the brass wanted to see if Dunn would emerge as a clubhouse presence. Apparently, after 11 days, the brass had seen enough.
Regardless, Dunn's tax bracket didn't match his production, at least not here. He'd have wanted too much money for what he provided. Dunn was who he was: a guy who could hit a baseball 400 feet more often than almost anyone else, but couldn't produce a two-out RBI single.
He was slow, he had a mediocre arm, he played a dangerous left field. He was a big man whose bigness could give the impression he wasn't trying. Baseball wasn't his passion. It was his job. He played it that way.
"Another day closer to retirement," Dunn said once a few years ago, around the batting cage before a game. That was Dunn. His teammates liked him, but he didn't lead. Laid back should be a character trait, not a career choice. Not when you're making $13 million.
It's doubtful Arizona will keep him after this season. Dunn will be the prototypical DH in '09, when his adventures in Left Field Land won't be duplicated.
Did you really want the Reds to lock up $60 million for Adam Dunn? Did you want them to offer him arbitration and hope he'd decline it, so the club would get two draft picks? What if he accepted? (Hint: More of the same.)
Did you see anyone involved believing a one-year deal was worth the effort, given Dunn's (and the team's) track record during his stay in Cincinnati?
If the Reds paid Dunn for four years, they'd wreck any chances of fundamentally improving the team, unless they jacked the payroll considerably, which they aren't going to do. You'd also wonder how a 28-year-old, chronically overweight player would get better, or even maintain his current pace.
The optimum would have been for the Reds to move Dunn before the trade deadline. Nobody wanted him. That's why Mark Teixeira was dealt, and Jason Bay and Manny Ramirez and Xavier Nady, while the Big Donkey stayed a Red.
Dunn's value was always seen as greater in Cincinnati than elsewhere. To be dealt to Arizona, Dunn had to clear waivers. Any other club could have claimed him and the trade would not have been made. None did. Because J.P. Ricciardi was wrong to say what he said about Dunn doesn't mean what he said was wrong.
You could say the rest of Major League Baseball was being nice to the Reds and the Diamondbacks. Or you could suggest Dunn ain't all that.
I suggest the latter. More to the point: Dunn never improved. He went through a steady stream of hitting coaches, none of whom could change his style or approach. After coach No. 3 or 4, you start to believe it was the hitter, not his coach.
Those enamored with numbers couldn't get enough of Adam Dunn. Stat freaks genuflected at the foot of Dunn's on-base percentage, while dismissing his detractors as ill-informed hacks.
Forty Homers! Hundred RBI! Hundred Runs! Look at that man ... Walk! The standard argument was, and is, "How do you replace numbers like those?" We're about to find out.
This is further evidence that Walt Jocketty evaluated the '08 Reds and became ill. He has, in 11 days, removed the twin heads of the patient. Griffey and Dunn are elsewhere. Will the Reds be better without them? Could they be any worse?
Time now for the clubhouse culture to undergo a sea change. Who wants to win? Who wants to prepare to win? Anyone? Elvis and his sidekick have left the building. Who wants the footlights now?