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Stan Kasten interviews Adam Dunn

(By Toni L. Sandys - TWP)

I'm not sure how much you can learn about a pro sports executive from his sports radio style, but the recent performances of Stan Kasten and Vinny Cerrato makes me think you can at least learn a bit. When Cerrato interviewed Jimmy Clausen last week during ESPN 980's Inside the Red Zone, he asked short questions and mostly just let Clausen talk, ignoring all the obvious context and refusing to say anything himself about Clausen's skills.

Obviously Kasten's relationship with Adam Dunn is a bit different--Dunn actually works for Kasten, while Clausen is still in college--but the Nats's president's Tuesday interview with Dunn was completely different. While Kasten was guest-hosting the Mike Wise Show on 106.7 The Fan, he hardly let Dunn speak, instead using the interview to expound about the Nationals, as he's wont to do. But when he did ask questions of Dunn, they were hardly the softballs that Cerrato was lobbing.

"I think a lot of Adam's future hinges on the transition [to first base] he makes," Kasten said at one point. "And Adam, you know I've said this to you personally, you are so skilled at the plate, you are so athletic...but the rest of your career will be determined by how well you make the transition to first. Everyone on our team knows you can be a very good first baseman. If you do, you have a long future in the National League playing two ways. Otherwise, if you don't, you'll wind up having to be an American League player far too early in your career. Because as I said, I don't even think you're at the midpoint of your career now. And your ability to stay in the National's all gonna be dependent on how far you come in becoming a really good first baseman."

Not exactly a Jim Rome question there. I mean, the player does his boss a favor by calling in to his radio show, and all he gets in return is a lecture.

"Yeah, I definitely agree with you," Dunn said. "I know that. And that's why this spring training's really important for me."

Which is not to say that Dunn didn't say anything interesting. The one softball Kasten provided was about Dunn's first year in D.C., but rather than provide pap, Dunn brought the truth. Sort of.

"I think the first year for me was disappointing, because I knew and I know we have the talent to win," Dunn said. "This was a very disappointing season for me, and I know it was for the fans, and it should have been. But I can promise you that we have the right people in place, and we're getting some of the riff-raff out of there and kind of getting a main core together and turning this thing around. And it's not gonna be five years from now. I really believe the moves that you guys are making this year, it's what we needed."

Wow. Who was the riff-raff? And how does he like being in Pittsburgh?

Anyhow, Kasten's co-host Bill Rohland asked Dunn about moving to first base; "once I start getting my footwork down, I think it's gonna be a really easy transition," Dunn said. "I had a lot more fun over there than I thought I would. I like to talk; last year I had a lot of opportunities to talk with all the guys on first base. Hopefully it's not as many opportunities to talk this year."

And that's a fairly cheeky thing to say to your boss on his sports talk radio show. But that's ok, because Kasten has Dunn covered on the pitching front.

"If nothing else happens, 12 months from now we will be adding Stephen Strasburg into this rotation and maybe a lot sooner than 12 months," Kasten said a bit later, still while he was purportedly interviewing Dunn. "We'll be getting Jordan Zimmermann back into this rotation. We'll be adding Drew Storen to the back end. If nothing else happens, this team is on the brink of being really fortified with pitching, and we still have hopes this offseason of doing even more than what I've just talked about in pitching."

Dunn, at this point, was presumably checking his fantasy football transactions.

"Personally, I know he's gonna succeed, because he's that kind of athletic talent, he's that kind of determined," Kasten said later, while Dunn was presumably putting a roast in the oven. "This probably costs me money, but he was a great addition to our team, he was a great addition to our city. I don't think everyone knew that about him before he came to town, but everyone who came around him, on the team and off the team, had nothing but good things to say about Adam Dunn. I'm his biggest fan. I hate saying that publicly, because again it's gonna cost me money, but he really did a great job for us, and I also would like to see him stay here for a very long time."

Rohland offered to send a tape of Kasten's remarks to Dunn for negotiating purposes; "I've already been recording it," Dunn said.

Eventually Dunn hung up, after predicting Texas would beat Alabama in the BCS title game, prompting outrage from Kasten. And then the Nats' president praised his first baseman yet again.

"He has heard it all from me before," Kasten said. "If he allows himself to become a DH now--he's just 30--then he hasn't fulfilled his potential. I think he knows that. He loves D.C., I will tell you that. He loved being here in the nation's capital, he loved playing on this good, exciting young team with some good guys on it, he loved becoming a leader for really the first time in his career, and he loved being out there for nine innings offensively and defensively. He has an opportunity to do that. He could develop into a good first baseman. We see other first basemen that he could be at least as good as if not better, but it's up to him, and I think he will accept that challenge."

If nothing else, Kasten is several miles beyond Cerrato as a public speaker. I think he could have a real future in this sports talk thing.

By Dan Steinberg  |  December 16, 2009; 9:14 AM ET
Categories:  Media , Nats , Redskins  
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We agree, Stanny-boy. Stop talking, start signing.

Love Dunn. If he manages to wrestle 1b to even a draw defensively (basically league average), he's a poor man's Pujols or Teixeira.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | December 16, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't the riff-raff the same guy that gave Dunn his number last year?

Posted by: HowdyDCU | December 16, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I listened to some of Kasten yesterday and was really impressed. He had been good when interviewed, but I was surprised by his ability to interview and talk sports. There was probably more local sports discussion while Kasten was on than the entire existence of The Fan.

Posted by: sitruc | December 16, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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