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Washington Nationals hit the road in pursuit of momentum

Morning roundup

Before the all-star break, Ryan Zimmerman summarized the Nationals' mission for the second half by saying, in part: "It's important for us as far as building some momentum, some confidence that we can play with anyone. It could be a big stepping stone for us."

The Nationals, despite a loss that dropped them to 1-7 this year in extra innings, chopped some wood in that vein this week. They went 4-2 against the Braves and Phillies, continuing surprising success against the National League East -- the Nats are 20-19 this year within their division.

"I don't know why that is," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "But we play the National League East pretty well."

To build on their solid homestand and their 7-9 record since the all-star break, the Nationals will have to solve one of their most glaring issues this year: winning on the road. The Nationals are 17-36 away from Nationals Park, the fifth-worst road record in the majors. They'll have a chance to amend that for four games in Arizona against the owners of second-worst record in the National League, losers of 12 of their last 17 games.

The four-game series against the Diamondbacks continues a second half in which the Nationals can start to shift perceptions. Another half of the season as disappointing as the first half would do little to announce the Nationals have made progress since consecutive 100-loss seasons. If they can play .500 for two months, if they can play like they did this week, the Nationals could start to prove they are pointed in the right direction, even if not all players have that goal in mind.

"I don't think anybody on the team really looks at it like that," Desmond said. "We're going out, trying to win baseball games. Whatever they see out of it, they see out of it. We're going out there to try to win."

FROM THE POST

John Lannan returned, but the Nationals' 11-inning, 6-4 loss to the Phillies was decided long after he left.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 3, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 1: In his second game with Syracuse, Wilson Ramos went 2 for 4 with a home run. Shairon Martis allowed no runs in six innings on two hits and three walks, striking out five.

Harrisburg 12, Portland 11 (11 innings): Chris Marrero went 2 for 3 with a home run, a double and two walks. Devin Ivany went 2 for 3 with a walk-off home run and two walks. Aaron Thompson allowed six earned runs on 10 hits and a walk in 3 2/3 innings, striking out five.

Potomac was off

Greensboro 1, Hagerstown 0: Evan Bronson allowed no earned runs in 6 2/3 innings on six hits and one walk, striking out four. Destin Hood went 1 for 3. The Suns managed three hits.

Vermont 13, Lowell 4: Ronnie Labrie went 3 for 5 with a home run, a double and seven RBI.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Cristian Guzman needed to change his mind before accepting a trade to the Rangers, reports Anthony Andro.

The Nationals scored big by landing Wilson Ramos but should have done something with Adam Dunn, Jeff Passan says.

Joel Sherman labels the Nationals a deadline loser.

Joe Sheehan says the same.

This is in Spanish, but Yunesky Maya tells Jorge Ebro he thinks he'll be ready to pitch for the Nationals in about three weeks.

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 2, 2010; 2:10 AM ET
 
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Next: Josh Willingham's career year, interrupted

Comments

Jeff, Joe and Joel are only right about Dunn if we don't re-sign him before the end of the season.

So get it done already, Rizzo! Surely 3 years/45 Million with a club option for a 4th year doesn't make everyone want to vomit...

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | August 2, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Dunn wants $60 over 4. That doesn't sound far off to me. Anyway, Rizzo probably looked at that and thought it was in the ballpark of what the Nats could do. So it is likely Dunn will sign, otherwise he would have been dealt.

Building the club further, will Rizzo be treated better than JimBo, in terms of budgets to work with?

They both have been GMs with extraordinarily small budgets for a big market team.

JimBo was allowed to sign Dunn for $20 million. All Rizzo has been able to get from Ted Lerner was Marquis for $15 million.

Rizzo got Maya. JimBo never had anything like that in terms of dollars committed for international guys.

JimBo extended Zim. Rizzo extends Dunn. The salaries are comparable (assuming approx. $60/4 for Dunn), since some of the Zim money covered years under Nats control, and Dunn is more of a proven commodity than Zim was at the time..

Rizzo signs SS and Harper to the big bucks, while JimBo didn't get the little extra needed for his top pick.

JimBo's highest-paid player he got in trade, under Ted Lerner, was the Hammer, who made close to MLB-average in salary at $2.95. I don't think Rizzo has been allowed to trade for anyone close to earning a MLB-average salary.

It is about a wash in terms of getting money to work with. Both JimBo and Rizzo have had to operate on cheap budgets.

Considering the value of Dunn, Soriano, Maya, Capps and Hammer, and what they can bring to the team in either wins or prospects--and considering that the club gave up nothing to get these guys except money--you wonder why the Nats are not more active than they have been? A bigger budget would be a nice vote of confidence for Rizzo. An MLB-average budget would be nice for this medium-to-big-market club. Is that expecting too much?

Posted by: EdDC | August 2, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I still don't understand why Morgan doesn't try to steal in the bottom in the ninth instead of making Bernadina give the out away; I'd rather us try to use our 'burner' to steal second and sacrifice him to third then what we did. If he gets caught at least me make an aggressive out instead of once again giving an out to the other team, relying on Harris and Dunn to bring a guy home when Harris can't hit his weight and Dunn dissappears with 2 out and a guy in scoring position. It's not like we are keeping Morgan in the lineup for his arm.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 2, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-With you, Ed.Pretty much across the board.
As I mentioned a few posts back, the Nats have the resources to sign Dunn at 60/4-that is merely the going rate. They will still have enough to sign a premium FA middle infielder AND an arm (if needed)as well.And you know what? We have the resources for the Dunn deal to be a BUST! This is NOT KC, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, etc.I'm all for spending prudently, having a "plan" (like no other team does?), blah blah blah. And with a basically brand new and re-tooled FO, I think we actually have a good shot of succeeding WITH "the plan".
But...why'd it take the Slows so long to PUT a real GM with a real FO in place? Ahhh....Jimbo could do it-for less!How'd that work? (Is Mark still shagging flies pre-game in the outfield?)
Still...Phillies are getting older, Braves will have a new mgr., same for the Fish...and the Mets are the Mets. With the right moves and the right fortune...I say we can win the division next year.(I also said we'd win 85+ this year-just gives me the opening to be real bitter with their underachieving this year!)
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | August 2, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-and while I'm at it....absolutely, SCNat. THEN maybe Roger can bunt him to 3rd. And MAN-it was a lousy bunt! Even worse was his attempt leading off the game! It landed BEHIND the home plate premium seats!
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | August 2, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I realize that you can't be a legitimate "national" baseball columnist without cranking out a spur-of-the-moment analysis of trades and non-trades that might take years to understand, but all of these columns to which you link seem heavy on superficial "conventional wisdom" and a bit short on actual understanding of the 2010 Nationals, as opposed to the Nationals of the past several years. This team is not contending yet, but it is closer than it has been since its return to D.C. and these hot air machines seem not to acknowledge that. Moreover, what precisely is it that they think the Nationals were offered for Dunn? Absent a little bit of supporting information, these opinions don't carry much weight, at least with me.

Posted by: flotsam3 | August 2, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Thing about not trading Dunn basically shows the timidness of the organization to declare a direction for the team. They were acting as sellers, yet they didn't sell everything they should have. They could have gotten something decent back, but what they were afraid of is that the return wouldn't be major league ready, and they'd be left with this gaping hole in the lineup. As was said, the only value Dunn had at the deadline was in other players, because he's not going to help the team go anywhere the last two months, and they could conceivably re-sign him next year. Kilgore's article sums it up - if they start winning, they appear as contenders, if they go back to the norm, they look like losers again. It's the same old thing, the team isn't a contender, they're just not 100-loss bad, and if they traded Dunn, it would look like they've given up (to the ones that can't figure it out), and they can't sell tickets. The organization needs bodies because they have so few. Once again, the organization doesn't think that the fans are sophisticated enough to understand which they situation the team's in - contenders or pretenders. But I think the real situation is that if they did the right thing - trade Dunn - the fans would have seen it as a weakness that was created by the team, unnecessary because a) they should have signed him for four years originally, it would have been so easy and b) they'd come off as cheap. Now they can pretend they're not. Btw - no way in hell they sign him before the end of the season. Dunn's probably licking his chops thinking about some of the numbers he'll get.

Posted by: Brue | August 2, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

The only national columnist/broadcaster with an actual feel for this baseball market is Bethesda raised Tim Kurkjian - and he feels that the Nats were actually winners in the run up to the trade deadline. And that's because he knows that fans here want Dunn to stay - and for this team to gain traction, the Lerners need to be able to keep a guy that fans will pay to see. I think that everyone saw the proof of that on Saturday night, when Dunn was given a massive ovation before his first AB (even in a stadium that was 2/3rds Philly).

The rest of the national columnist/talking heads only see a simple equation from the outside... bad team + soon to be free agent, in demand player = get prospects for him. They don't understand the complexities of our situation with Dunn.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 2, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

flotsam, I think you nailed it on the head about the inability of so-called analysts to think outside of conventional wisdom.

Buster Olney is particularly hilarious about this; he was practically stomping his tiny little feet and in tears over the Nats not either signing or trading Dunn before the deadline. Because, of course, the baseball world will come to a screeching halt and begin to spin backwards on its axis, if, god forbid, the Nats sign Dunn -after- the trade deadline rather than before.

Posted by: joebleux | August 2, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-Yup and yup, Kev and Joe. And Brue, while we disagree some this time, I always appreciate your knowledge and analysis...for the zillionth time, it's the Gang that is the only consistently winning aspect of this team.
An interesting take up over at Nationalsbaseball

http://natsbaseball.blogspot.com/2010/08/nats-are-losers-but-not-because-they.html

Pretty accurate, IMHO...although I'd happily give Dunn 4 years.
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | August 2, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Btw - no way in hell they sign him before the end of the season. Dunn's probably licking his chops thinking about some of the numbers he'll get. Posted by: Brue | August 2, 2010 11:08 AM |

Your sources and Dave Sheinin's sources are saying two different things. Sheinin says Dunn will take $60/4. If the Nats hold out for $45/3, why wouldn't Dunn want to go into the off-season market? The closer we get to the end of the season, the more likely it is that he walks. Judging from Dunn's OBP, he is good at walking.

Posted by: EdDC | August 2, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm happy to have Dunn still and would be happy to have him for three more years, too. The Dunn hate is perplexing. It seems to be based on the principle that being one of the top offensive players in the league isn't good enough, only one the top offensive players of all time will suffice. That and all players must be the same, you can't have a big bopper and a guy that hits for average, it must be the same guy.

I dunno, it's nonsensical. Rizzo is doing a better job running this team than internet commenters, surprisingly.

Posted by: Section506 | August 2, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-took today off to "accomplish" things...looks like I'm succumbing to the Force! Here's a nugget to chew on:
"Josh Willingham has not homered since July 2nd and has not had a multi-hit game since July 10th. His OPS was more than 200 points better in the first half last season, and right now his first half OPS is more than 400 points better than his second half."
And like I mentioned yesterday, the Nats haven't won on a Sunday since June 13th.
OK...I've GOT to get away from this computer!
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | August 2, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo was certainly playing with fire but he now knows exactly how much Dunn is valued by both AL and NL teams and how much it will take to sign him. In a lot of ways, this is a brilliant move. He also go the PR bonanza of the post-trade deadline ovation for Dunn which surely warmed the cockles of his heart. heh.

At the same time, Dunn now knows exactly what he is worth and also can compare himself to Mr. Overpaid, Ryan Howard, given that Rizzo laid the groundwork.

Give Dunn a fair offer for 3 years with an option year, and a slight hometown discount. If he doesn't take it, he wasn't sincere about wanting to play here, and take the picks.

Posted by: GoNatsTerps | August 2, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Give Dunn a fair offer for 3 years with an option year, and a slight hometown discount. If he doesn't take it, he wasn't sincere about wanting to play here, and take the picks. Posted by: GoNatsTerps | August 2, 2010 11:43 AM

I'm just curious why you would not want to give Dunn market value, rather than insisting on a hometown discount, however "slight"? Why should a player have to take a cut in salary (compared to his market value) to have the privilege of playing for a last-place team? It shows no lack of sincerity to want to play for a playoff team.

Posted by: EdDC | August 2, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

The Dunn hate is perplexing. It seems to be based on the principle that being one of the top offensive players in the league isn't good enough

Posted by: Section506 | August 2, 2010 11:39 AM

Who on earth hates Dunn? Every team in the league seems to want him and fans love him (though not a few weirdos in Cincy who thought he dogged it). And it's not about hate (or love), it's about the realities of baseball. How much do you want to pay him, for how long and what could you get in return if you don't agree on how much and how long? Why do people need to make this some sort of black/white issue when there are about a million shades of gray?

Posted by: Kev29 | August 2, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

It goes back to being sellers or buyers - yesterday was a classic example of what sitting on the fence does for you - they unload their closer, which, in and of itself isn't a crime, but if you're contending (buyer), you want to keep him, right? So you move in Ballester, who promptly blows the game in extras, and you lose. The only reason the Dunn situation is complex is because the front office is lying to themselves if they think they're a contender, and that keeping him will help the team win. The problem is, they don't really think they're going to win, they're hoping they can with the same team they've had all year, but they know they probably won't, they just don't want the fans to walk on them. That's all it is. It's got nothing to do with making the team better. I also think they're hiding behind the two draft picks because they got high on getting J. Zimmerman in the Soriano deal. If they had drafted Zimm normally, without the comp. picks, you never would have heard the fallback position of 'getting two picks'. It's all spin. You never know who you're gonna get in the draft, and they prove it year after year with very little hitting in the organization. If you trade him, you have a few new players AND the chance to get him back. Now all you have is the chance to get him back OR two players. Who cares if he finishes with 40 homers and the team gets 70 wins? Stank, so he can sell tickets?

Posted by: Brue | August 2, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Everyone says that Dunn wants 4/60 and the Nats are offering 3/45.
I was wondering what Dunn would do with an offer of one less year, but more money on average. Say 3/50 and have it front-loaded (18/17/15)?

Posted by: TimDz | August 2, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Brue,

One thing we know is that as soon as a club starts talking about a surplus of pitchers, they get burned.

I'm happy for the catcher, and the salary dumps were OK with me in those two cases (Capps and Guz), but there never is a surplus of pitchers, in relief or otherwise. Especially 26 year-old All-Star pitchers.

I remember years ago, the O's traded for Glenn Davis out of what they called their surplus of pitchers (trading young guys Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch and Steve Finley to get him). It soon became obvious that there was no surplus.

Posted by: EdDC | August 2, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Everyone liked the Ramos trade, though. Shouldn't we get some credit for that?

Posted by: 202character | August 2, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Everyone liked the Ramos trade, though. Shouldn't we get some credit for that?

Posted by: 202character | August 2, 2010 12:42 PM

Yeah, but everything on TV, radio and online has to be boiled down to a good or bad "take". Thank you very little, creators of Pardon the Interruption. Oh sorry, "PTI" - even that has to be shortened to nothing.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 2, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The Ramos deal was a perfect example of what it would have taken for Dunn to be traded. Rizzo said he had to have his socks knocked off, and apparently no one took him seriously. The Capps/Ramos trade has all the makings of one of those deals that people look back on ten years later and say "wow, that was a great move!"

Posted by: twinbrook | August 2, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

The Ramos trade was a good trade and a salary dump, both at the same time. I am glad for it.

The Dunn signing will keep the status quo. You have to build from there, and not think you have become contenders. If the Nats are as fearful as NJ posters are of that fourth year (already it seems to be a big disaster and we have not even played the games of 2014 yet), then the Nats may just have to take a giant step backwards and lose the slugger. If you are in last place, and take a giant step backwards, where does that leave you?

Posted by: EdDC | August 2, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"Say 3/50 and have it front-loaded (18/17/15)?"

Since MLB contracts are guaranteed, having it frontloaded or backloaded or just a straight salary across X number of years makes no difference. The player gets the same total money and the team spends the same total money either way. If the sticking point is that Dunn wants four years and the Nats only want to give him three, the reason for that is because the Nats don't want to pay him that extra amount of money for a year in which he's not providing value. Not signing him for that fourth year but putting the money from it into the earlier years does not resolve that issue, because they're still paying him to not produce value for them in the fourth year, just in this case he's not around for it.

If it's really a case of him wanting 4/60 and them only offering 3/45, I would say a compromise between the two would be pretty simple. They'll split the difference in total dollar amount, and then either arrange it over three years or four years depending on what Dunn prefers. That's how negotiation works. No side ever just throws out a proposal and has it accepted as is. The other side counter-proposes and eventaully you meet in the middle somewhere. By all accounts, Dunn's side has thrown out a starting offer but the Nats have not yet responded to it. Now that the trading deadline has passed, they will, and I would expect they'll agree on something fairly soon - although maybe not until after Bryce Harper is signed.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 2, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Negotiations do not always work that way. If Dunn is asking for $60/4, I see nothing wrong at all in just sticking to that, all the way to the off-season and free agency. The Nats can split whatever differences they want.

Posted by: EdDC | August 2, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Look at it this way. If Harper doesn't like the Nats' offer, he goes back to junior college, which would probably seem like a BS let-down to him.

If Dunn doesn't like the Nats' offer, he has to settle for playing for the White Sox (who are in 1st place in their Division) or some equally fun experience elsewhere, and probably for more money than Dunn is now asking for.

Posted by: EdDC | August 2, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

In a weird way, I think the season's just about to start, which may be why Dunn wasn't traded. In the next few weeks, we'll see J. Zimm again, Marquis will return and Maya will make his debut. We'l probably have a better idea if we'll ever see Wang pitch here (I have my doubts).

Between then and the end of the season, Rizzo will have to figure out how good this team is with something resembling a starting rotation (Strasburg, J. Zimm, Marquis, Maya, Detwiler, Olson, Livan, Lannan, etc.). Is Storen ready to be the closer? Can they hit and field adequately (probably yes on the hitting, probably no on the fielding)?

To me, these pieces probably add up to a team that could win 75-80 games. Better but not good enough to contend. There appears to be no real help coming from the minors for next year (Espinosa will get a look but are we ready to push another middle infielder in there if they're not ready?) and there certainly isn't anybody here who's ready to replace Dunn's bat next year. Whatever other help you add will have to come from elsewhere.

I can't imagine Dunn would accept arbitration even when they offer it. Would he actually sign before the end of the year? Maybe, if the money is right and if he believes more help is coming. If he goes into the winter as a free agent, I'd be stunned if he comes back; somebody will throw enough money at him to go somewhere else.

I think if the pitching staff comes together, Rizzo will push to sign Dunn and try to push this team above .500 next year. If it doesn't, they'll let him go and take the picks and we'll have to hope that the A and AA prospects improve fast.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 2, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Excellent comments here today. @flotsam and @Kev29 are so right that these national commentators and supposed experts don't know what they are talking about. Here's a classic from SI's Joe Sheehan:

Sure, maybe the Nats get draft picks for him if he leaves as a free agent ... but he's not guaranteed to leave. The Nats have to offer arbitration, and the last time Dunn was on the market, he had to settle for two years/$20 million from a bad team, so maybe he accepts, and now the Nats are paying a quarter of their payroll in a non-contending year to a 32-year-old first baseman who isn't having as good a season as he did last year.

This is like shooting fish in a barrel. Of course the Nats will offer Dunn arbitration. He'll never take it, but if he does, they'd be overjoyed. The holdup with signing Dunn is the length of the contract. A one year obligation would be fantastic, almost regardless of the cost. And I don't think the Nats and the fans are wrong not to view Dunn as "a 32 year old who's not having as good a year as last year." He's only 2nd in the NL in homers, 4th in SLG and 5th in OPS. His skills sure aren't declining yet, it's the 4th year out that's the concern, especially since he'll be a 10-5 guy by then, making him harder to deal. I agree with many commenters that there's a deal to be made with Dunn. It probably will be alot more expensive for the Nats than it would have been if they had tried harder to conclude it early in the season, but that's life. Dunn deserves the money he earns. As has been said many times before, guys who hit 40 HRs for 7 straight years don't grow on trees.

On yesterday's 10th inning, I agree that Riggs' strategy was sorely lacking. It would be one thing if, as was the case with the Phillies in the 11th, the pitcher's spot was due up after Morgan got on. But calling for a sac bunt was a poor move, and almost backfired when Bernie hit the bunt way too hard. I'm not sure I would have called a steal, but Bernadina should have been allowed to hit away. Maybe you try a hit and run. This was the wrong spot for such a conservative move, especially with Willie Harris due up in the 2 spot.

Posted by: Section222 | August 2, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"Negotiations do not always work that way. If Dunn is asking for $60/4, I see nothing wrong at all in just sticking to that, all the way to the off-season and free agency. The Nats can split whatever differences they want."

Sure, if he wants to take the chance that some other team will pay him that. But there's no guarantee that any other team would. He wanted four years two years ago, and no one would give it to him. He had to settle for two years. Same thing could happen again. What, you say the market's different now? Sure it is. But Dunn's also two years older now, and his numbers are beginning to decline. This year will be the second in a row that he won't hit 40 HR. What makes him think that some other team is going to just plop down 4/60 because that's what he's asking for? He'll be negotiating with someone. It might as well be the Nats. And on the off chance that a bidding war for him does erupt, the Nats will be in on it - even if it requires 4/60 or more to land him. However, there is absolutely no reason for them to just bend over and give him that now.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 2, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

SCNatsfan: You my friend are 100% right about the bottom of the tenth your fastest runner and best base stealer is on with no outs! why not let him steal instead of giving up an out, again poor game mgmt.by Riggleman Zimm saved his behind saturday night with the walkoff after Riggs inexplicably put Clippard in the game and he promptly gave up the go ahead runs this game was theirs for the taking and they blew it thank's to Riggleman.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 2, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Here's another example of a national baseball "expert" saying things I think are dumb:

mlbtraderumors.com lists a bunch of Nats as guys who would clear waivers and could go in trades between now and the end of the season. They have Jason Marquis on the list. He's due $7.5 million for next year and has pitched three games this year before undergoing elbow surgery. Now, I think he can bounce back from that and I'm sure the Nats will give him every chance to do so since they're paying him, but who's going to pick him up in a deal where you have to pay him $7.5 million next year?

They also have Pudge on there. Pudge is guaranteed $3 million next year. Now I'm glad the Nats signed him and I expect him to come back and help break in Ramos and work with the young pitchers, but his bat has slowed down considerably in the summer. Who would trade for him knowing you're paying him for next year?

Does that make sense? Do these guys know the contact status of the people they're writing about?

Posted by: baltova1 | August 2, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I agree - excellent comments by flotsam and Kev29. The national media seems to think that teams like the Nats and other 2nd tier teams owe it to the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Phillies and other big market teams to surrender their players for "prospects". It just creates this unending cycle that the Pirates are stuck in now where you never move forward ... just keep loading up on "prospects" - many of which don't pan out. Rizzo made the right move with a high asking price because that's what our situation called for.

Why does everyone assume that the FA market for Dunn will be that much different in 2010 that it was in 2008, when he went unsigned into February? He's having his very typical strong year, but he's limited value to many teams. If he doesn't want to DH full-time, that takes the AL out of the picture, and how many NL teams are willing to take a defensively challenged player like him? I think that he enters the market as a 1B this year instead of as an OF works to his advantage ... but I don't necessarily see a big market for him in free agency.

Posted by: dlombardo1 | August 2, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Dunn's also two years older now, and his numbers are beginning to decline. Posted by: FeelWood | August 2, 2010 2:15 PM

HRs are down in the NL this year. Dunn at 25 HR is tied with Pujols for 2nd in the NL and is two HR ahead of Ryan Howard. Dunn's BA is up. Are Pujol's numbers beginning to decline? You are not in decline at 30.

Dunn is a better offensive threat than is his replacement, Adam Kennedy, or anybody else you can name who is obtainable by the Nats. If you don't think so, then continue to devalue him!

Posted by: EdDC | August 2, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"Dunn deserves the money he earns. As has been said many times before, guys who hit 40 HRs for 7 straight years don't grow on trees."

They're also not named Adam Dunn. He's had only five years of 40 or more HR in his career. Last year he only had 38, and at his current pace this year he'll be doing good to match that. It's a good bet that if the Nats balk at giving him a fourth year, so would every other team in MLB.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 2, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Opinion writers get paid to pontificate and need to fill the space allocated to their precious column. Most of it is hot air backed by little or no actual reporting or investigation. Just the facts of life in the age of the 24/7 new machine. There's always an element of risk with fre aagents in a contract year. Not trading him doesn't necessarily close the door to resigning him. If he really wants to stay then they probably can work out a deal. Going to a new team certainly has its risks so I don't think money is the only factor.

Posted by: Natmeister | August 2, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"Are Pujol's numbers beginning to decline? You are not in decline at 30."

If his numbers are going down, then by definition they are declining. The unknown factor is whether or not the decline will continue, and if so by how much. But no one can argue that there's no possible way a decline might have started if the numbers are in fact going down. The only way to avoid that discussion is to have a career year in your walk year - like for instance Soriano did.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 2, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"They're also not named Adam Dunn. He's had only five years of 40 or more HR in his career. Last year he only had 38, and at his current pace this year he'll be doing good to match that. It's a good bet that if the Nats balk at giving him a fourth year, so would every other team in MLB."

38 HR years don't grow on trees either. This isn't the 90s or early 00s anymore. Around 40 HRs with high 3s OBP is nothing to take for granted.

You also gotta consider that Zim doesn't see as many good pitches when there aren't credible threats hitting behind him. He's reasonably patient but not like Bonds-level, so if they pitch around him he's going to be tempted to swing and his numbers will drop.

Posted by: 202character | August 2, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

"They're also not named Adam Dunn. He's had only five years of 40 or more HR in his career. Last year he only had 38, and at his current pace this year he'll be doing good to match that. It's a good bet that if the Nats balk at giving him a fourth year, so would every other team in MLB."

38 HR years don't grow on trees either. This isn't the 90s or early 00s anymore. Around 40 HRs with high 3s OBP is nothing to take for granted.

You also gotta consider that Zim doesn't see as many good pitches when there aren't credible threats hitting behind him. He's also gonna get less patient when he thinks he's gotta produce all the runs. Willingham's good but he's not Dunn-good, and then your #5 is a big step down.

Posted by: 202character | August 2, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Excellent point about 10 and 5 for Dunn. That is why 3 should get it done. Maybe they can get 2 if they give a no-trade. But Kasten doesn't do that.

Posted by: GoNatsTerps | August 2, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Yunieski Maya gives a lot of props to Livan ... then Contreras and Baez. So, Livan had some part in getting him on the team. Yep Livan is back in the rotation next year ... almost has to be now.

As for Dunn ... it all makes sense from the Rizzo perspective. Marerro will likely never amount to much of a first baseman in the major leagues. His bat might be there but his fielding and range are worse than Dunn's. And he is only 22. That can't be good.

Next up: probably Justin Bloxom. (Not Tyler Moore). Bloxom is a switch hitter and that apparently takes a little extra time to get major league ready. By the time he is Dunn is a DH.

I think Rizzo is taking the long view ... trying to allow his draft picks and younger international signings to make their way to the majors to fill some of the gaps ... but it'll take time.

Rizzo couldn't wait on catcher given Flores attempts at rehabilitation. Norris is a ways off both offensively and defensively. Freitas might leap-frog him but he probably needs even more work defensively. So, in the end Rizzo made the right deal just in the nick of time to get a top major league catching prospect. I saw this as the teams most glaring need. Right field just didn't seem all that important ... either Morse or Bernadina seem fine out there. And Rizzo himself says Espinosa is half a year away so that takes care of the MI.

With Dunn, Willingham and Zimmerman in place for another 2 years, plus improved power pitching at the top of the rotation with Strasburg, Zimmermann, and Maya plus perhaps a health Olsen and Detwiler; plus Livan the innings eater, they should be competitive next year with some positional adjustments to improve the fielding. Hopefully, we'll finally see starting pitching into the 7th inning and beyond. And they will have plenty of backup in Syracuse.

Posted by: periculum | August 2, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Morse needs full playing time..He could hit 20 plus if given the at bats.
Riggleman blows another one sunday with his double and triple switches. What a jerk

Posted by: chiro1623 | August 2, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Please name one 1B who you believe would sign with the Nats for $60/4 who would be better than Dunn over the next 4 years.

Posted by: EdDC | August 2, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

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