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Adam Dunn, the importance of first base defense and the future

Morning brushback

The argument against signing Adam Dunn to a contract centers almost wholly around his defense at first base. General Manager Mike Rizzo is intent on building a stout, run-preventing defense, and Dunn, by any objective measure, stands in the way of that aim. Pick a first baseman at random, and, despite Dunn's progress this season, he is almost certain to be a better defender than Dunn.

But there's an important question to ask: How important, really, is defense at first base? To try to get at this, I enlisted the help of John Dewan of The Fielding Bible and Baseball Info Solutions, regarded as the leading expert on advanced defensive statistics.

Dewan's system ranks Dunn as "maybe the worst first baseman in all of baseball." In his limited time at first base last season, Dunn ranked 35th out of 35. This year, he is 32nd out of 35.

But we know Dunn's defense is not good. How much does that affect his standing among first baseman? Well, not much.

For first baseman, "the most important component is offense," Dewan said. It all matters, but first base is not a premium defensive position. "At first base defense is not critical as, say, shortstop," Dewan said "But it's still important."

In Bill James's Runs Created formula, which Dewan relies to measure how many runs a player produces on offense, Dunn ranks eighth in the majors. In Dewan's Total Runs formula - a measure that borrows Runs Created and, with a good degree of success, rates a player's total contribution - Dunn is the 10th best first baseman this year.

For a shortstop or centerfielder, that kind of disparity, Dewan said, would cause the player to drop below average. Dunn, though, has accounted for more total runs than all but nine first basemen.

"His offense is excellent," Dewan said. "Being in the top 10 among all first baseman is not bad."

If the Nationals really are considering trying to replace Dunn with a player like Carlos Pena, they may be overestimating the value of first base defense. Pena this year has saved nine runs - he's won a game or two with his glove alone. But, by Dewan's measure, Dunn has accounted for 25 more runs than Pena this season, which is worth about four more wins.

It is a worthy goal to build a run-saving, defensive-machine, and the Nationals would need to ditch Dunn if they want to prevent as many runs as possible. But it is a better goal to build a team that scores more runs than your opponents. In determining what they do with Dunn, the Nationals should keep that in mind.

FROM THE POST

The league finally made its ruling on Nyjer Morgan and handed down eight games total, rescinding his seven-game suspension and upholding all of his eight-game suspension.

After the Nationals took two of three, the Atlanta Braves are fighting for their lives, Dave Sheinin writes.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Potomac 10, Winston-Salem 2: The P-Nats took a 2-1 series lead, moving one game from winning the Mills Cup and the Carolina League title. Jose Lozada went 2 for 2 with a home run and two walks. Bill Rhinehart went 2 for 4 with a home run and a double. Jimmy Barthmaier allowed two runs in six innings on eight hits and three walks, striking out three. Sean Rooney went 2 for 3 with a triple.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Mark Zuckerman is already thinking about next year's opening day starter for the Nationals.

Nationals Baseball examines Ian Desmond's improvement in the second half.

The Nationals need to sign Adam Dunn, writes Box Seats blogger Ryan Korby.

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 17, 2010; 7:05 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brushback  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Nyjer Morgan suspended eight games [UPDATED]
Next: Today's lineup

Comments

Any normal team would have signed Dunn long ago, and proceeded to plan the additional off-season acquisitions. The question is not defense--that's the excuse. Yes, he is still learning his position, but it's the bucks with the Nats, as usual.

At least Lerner has lots of support behind him. Take this one: "Adam Dunn was horrible this year with RISP and to me that is the true measure of a clutch hitter..." as posted by dargregmag. It doesn't matter that his RISP numbers in 2009 were great or that he leads the club in RBI (and most other categories like 2B, HR, TB, BB, SLG and OPS). Every year you can find one "key stat" where supposedly a player falls a little short. But Dump Dunn? Replacing him with what old timer?

By not signing Dunn, the Nats are branding themselves as a bush-league organization, with no ability to attract quality players to come in here and complement the kids. Not that they would have forked over contracts to those quality players anyway. Moreover, the nats are branding themselves in their own clubhouse as a place where you serve your time and get out as soon as you can.

Posted by: EdDC | September 17, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Center on or revolve around. Never center around. The center, by definition, can't be around anything.

Posted by: DKB755 | September 17, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

It could be "around" in the sense of "in the general area of, near."
At least he didn't say it "begs the question." Man, I hate that.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 17, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

>Not that they would have forked over contracts to those quality players anyway. Moreover, the nats are branding themselves in their own clubhouse as a place where you serve your time and get out as soon as you can.

Posted by: EdDC

Rizzo's just a fee-simple idiot. No doubt in my mind anymore. It's more than just the Lerners. I honestly think that these clowns believe that Washington is an unsophisticated baseball market. Yet the TV ratings are miniscule, and ticket buyers are leaving in droves. Hell, I could show up to work and see mediocre, small minded and selfish people operate, why do I need to turn on my TV at night and watch the same damned thing?

Posted by: Brue | September 17, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

@Sec3mysofa
One should use "near" in that case, not "around."
I'm with you on the "beg to differ," though.

Posted by: DKB755 | September 17, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

"The argument against signing Adam Dunn to a contract centers almost wholly around his defense at first base."

Wrong. If the question was "Do you sign Adam Dunn to a one year contract or not?" that might be the argument. But that choice is not available. The choice is "Do you give Adam Dunn the four year contract he wants, or do you offer him two or three years?" His first base defense has nothing to do with it - unless you're talking about his first base defense in 2014, which the Nationals clearly do not need or want. Neither do they want his likely declining offense in 2014. But if they can get Adam Dunn for 2011, 2012 and maybe 2013, they'll take him. It's as simple as that. If they can't get him for those years, they'll move on. So the choice and the debate is all on Dunn's side, not on the Nationals side. Does he want to play first base, or does he want to DH? If he insists on playing first, he's not getting a four year deal - from the Nationals or from anyone else. So make up your mind, Adam, before the market makes it up for you.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 17, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

EdDC -- right on! And congrats to AK for waking up and smelling the coffee, even if it took months. He must've learned he'll have Nats duty again next season, and not Danny's Boys, and is concerned about the team scoring 75-100 fewer runs. Who wants to suffer through that in person? People are dropping out of my STH group (since Day 1), as they feel this team will not be worth watching any time soon, or maybe ever, and good seats will be available for any game that StanK hasn't sold out to the enemy.

Posted by: grclarkdc1 | September 17, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

"Moreover, the nats are branding themselves in their own clubhouse as a place where you serve your time and get out as soon as you can."

EdDc

A little hyperbole with your coffee this morning? Soriano is the only example that comes to mind as someone who drastically improved their lot in life after serving in the purgatory of Washington.

Does the whole franchise pivot on the fate of Adam Dunn? Some would have us believe that. Boswell's words yesterday certainly energized the chorus. When Dunn was a free agent two years ago what was it that the other 34 general managers missed when he was two years younger and had similar stats that forced him to sign with Washington? What was it that devalued his market worth when Rizzo had him up for auction this summer? The other general managers disclosed how much they would like to have him but when it came to actually giving up a high prospect they folded their hand. Hmmmmmm....

It would be most interesting to note how far apart Rizzo's offer would be to what Dunn's agent is asking. Is it the money or the length of the contract? Up to now all we have to go on is heresay.

Posted by: driley | September 17, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I'm all for signing Dunn. Rizzo is just playing a game of chicken. In the end, Dunn will be faced with either signing for fewer years, or becoming an AL DH.

Posted by: nitcat | September 17, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, what driley said. The non-signing of Dunn is a mystery. Most seem to blame Rizzo, including, up to now, me. But how much is Dunn contributing? More info re terms offered/asked pls.

Posted by: RLFWDC | September 17, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

"It would be most interesting to note how far apart Rizzo's offer would be to what Dunn's agent is asking. Is it the money or the length of the contract? Up to now all we have to go on is heresay."

We'll find out when the FA arbitration offer is made. I don't believe that those offers are limited to one year contracts. Recall that Soriano was offered 5 years $75M by the Nats before he bolted to the Cubs. My prediction is that the Nats will offer a two or possibly even three year deal at good money, and Dunn will need to decide if he takes that or gambles that some other team will give him the four year deal he wants.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 17, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

To further Ddriley's point, how many of the "chorus", had Dunn as their last choice two years ago and said they if the NATS signed him, it would illustrate once again that the Lerners are cheap. Driley is also correct in stating that all opinions what is being offered to Dunn or what he wants is suppostition. Again, I do not see the logic of basing one's ticket plans on one player. Dunn gone yes, but Zim, Espo, Des, Ramos,, Livo, double n Zim, etc will (presumably) still be around next year and the team will be better.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | September 17, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

At the risk of annoying people, I cannot get over the fact that Rizzo could have gotten Daniel Hudson plus apparently another almost-ML ready player for Dunn at the deadline.

If Rizzo knew all along that he didn't really want Dunn for next year (which is getting more apparent by the day, this non-trade would be almost as bad a move as anything Bowden ever did.

I hope Rizzo faces a lot of heat if Dunn does not re-sign at a reasonable price.

By the way, in nine starts (six against teams still in the playoff race) for the Dbacks Daniel Hudson has pitched 7 or more innings in all but one game (in which he still went 6). His ERA with the Dbacks: 1.67. WHIP: 0.9. K:BB ratio 5:1.

How's that for a starting pitcher, Rizzo? You could have gotten that for two months of Adam Dunn.

Posted by: amo36 | September 17, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Does the whole franchise pivot on the fate of Adam Dunn? Some would have us believe that. ...Posted by: driley | September 17, 2010 8:23 AM

Dunn has been the only $20 million free agent the Nats have signed under Lerner (I no longer say "the Lerners" cuz I believe Mark will be much better than Ted). That's not a hefty sum for most clubs, but for our Nats, Dunn is the only moderately expensive free agent they have ever had. So with this one quality addition who has performed so well, naturally much of the fan base is energized to keep him, and so are the media. And why not? Who else do we have as a breathing player you can identify whom the Nats are deciding whether or not they can afford? It's not like the Nats have signed a half-dozen, and we have to sift through whom to keep and whom to discard.

The reported signing numbers are reasonable, especially for a club that has been saving money for so long.

Maybe the lesson for Lerner is this: don't sign anyone of value. That way, the fans and media won't want you to extend the player's contract for more than you are wiling to pay.

It is most amazing that some Nats' fans are obsessed over what they know will be a down year for Dunn in 2014, when Dunn is 34. The obsession is so great that the fans are willing to (1) sacrifice 2011, 2012 and 2013; and (2) fans are willing to accept an old-timer to come in and replace Dunn this season, so they don't have to worry about a 34 year-old manning the position in 2014. It would be too perfect if the Nats picked up Derrick Lee at age 35 to replace Dunn for 2011.

Posted by: EdDC | September 17, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Using AK's numbers above, lets say Dunn accounts for three more wins a year; if you have to sign Dunn for 4 years but Pena will sign for two, is the cost savings worth it for 6 wins over two years to not be tied to a contract you might feel is too long?

Do I want Dunn here? Yes, but I understand the financial reason to not sign him. The same people who are screaming you must sign Dunn at all costs were probably screaming the same when Soriano left and signed with the Cubs - and how did that work out?

My issue isn't with resigning Dunn, it's in what they do to replace him should he leave. Last year anyone would have taken Pena over Dunn; this year it's completely the opposite. Who knows when that decline happens to Dunn but it's mgts job to make that call.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | September 17, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Amo36--I think Rizzo was holding out for Dayan Viciedo and Hudson. The Brewers turned down Hudson for P. Fielder so we were not the only ones unconvinced Hudson was worth the bet.

So far all that AK has talked about on the free agent front is Carlos Pena. The cream of the crop is Konerko. He is coming off a great year and at 35 is unlikely to put up those numbers again, but how good is HIS defense. I tend to credit Rizzo and Lerner more than most and think that the comment that they are playing chicken with Dunn has a ring of truth. What about Marrero. Does he still figure in the plans of the Nats? How is his defense? The analysis here is pretty paper thin.

The supposed choice we have is Pena or Dunn. Dunn makes sense in that context, but this is more complicated than that. Do they want to hold Dunn to two years? Do they think they could make a run at someone else better? Would you rather spend the money on Crawford to lead off and spend less money on a first baseman?

My favorite comment is about how many here singing Dunn's praises talked about what a boneheaded deal it would be when Bowden was GM. Guilty.

Posted by: Juliasdad | September 17, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

This is about money, 100%. Rizzo is creating cover for the Nats' inability to make a financial commitment. This supposed desire to shore up the D at 1B is a sour grapes campaign of the first order.

They want it to play out like this for the fans, critics: Why will the Nats not ink Adam Dunn, b/c they made a measured baseball decision that the club will be better with a slick glove less pop guy at the position, and their research shows that players of his size wear down significantly over time. Which is complete BS.

Rizzo knew at the All Star break that Adam's D was substandard (I take some issue with the worst in MLB tag as he's only below average in a lot of metrics, but, whatever, I get it, he's not Keith Hernandez), but when Adam was white hot in July and clubs all over the league were looking for big lefty bats, Rizzo could not make a deal better than compensation picks come the off-season? Maybe that is the Lerners' fault, but man Mike looks bad. The Nats lacked the guts to sell him at the deadline and they lack the guts to buy him now.

So, this talk of some big need for the great glove on TOP of the guy being the consistently high producing anchor of the lineup, never getting injured, being low maintenance off the field, etc., is part of a smoke screen to cover the club's lack of will or skill to produce a roster that is something better than DOA every April Fool's Day.

Posted by: dfh21 | September 17, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Interesting stuff this morning, gang. I think there's one ironic point that's been unstated in the debate over Dunn. Some commenters (correctly) point out that there was widespread criticism of signing Dunn in the first place two years ago. So why do people want to keep him here now?

In part, it's because the Nationals made him a first baseman. If Dunn is a bad first baseman (and he is), he was an even worse outfielder, probably one of the worst I've ever seen. And without looking at the stats, I would argue it's better to hide a bad glove at first than in the outfield. The Nats certainly reached that conclusion and a bunch of other teams will agree with them, by pursuing Dunn as a first baseman, not an outfielder.

Playing Dunn at 1B enhances his value, it doesn't diminish it. (Of course, making him a DH would probably make him one of the 20 best hitters in all of baseball, but that's an argument for another day)

Posted by: baltova1 | September 17, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

BTW, I totally agree with those that say the focus on defense is probably a smokescreen for the fact they don't want to give him the contract he wants. But I don't blame Rizzo for coming up with an alibi.

I do blame Rizzo for not trading Dunn during the season, instead of settling for draft picks. I wouldn't have traded him straight up for Hudson (you have to get more than that for one of the top five power hitters in the game) but I would have traded him.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 17, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Memo to "Brue". You appear very negative and bitter toward the team. Bet your a Federal worker.

Posted by: boyn4884 | September 17, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse


Some of you are so prudent, weighing X wins vs. Y dollars. To me, it is more than that--it is a willingness to make the commitment to major league baseball. No, it doesn't have to be Dunn, but letting him go decreases the franchise's ability to attract and retain others.

If Dunn is not affordable, what about bringing back Willie Harris?

Posted by: EdDC | September 17, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo could not make a deal better than compensation picks come the off-season? Maybe that is the Lerners' fault, but man Mike looks bad. The Nats lacked the guts to sell him at the deadline and they lack the guts to buy him now.

Posted by: dfh21

Yeah, I think the argument's about more than just spending money, Rizzo's incompetence rises to the surface every time something important comes up, people are just so distracted by the Lerners being cheap that they think Rizzo's automatically a victim of the situation, where I see him as a key component of the misery. I mean, the roster he put together this year is as dysfunctional as you can get. He had at least four players whose best position was second base - Kennedy, Harris, Guzman, Gonzalez. And at the end of the season NONE of them is playing there. If he knew Espinosa would be pretty much ready to come up at the end of the year, why is he signing a full bench compliment whose strength is second base? That's just one instance. The starting rotation was trash, and he had to have known it, if he didn't then he's dumber than dog****. The fact that he provides cover for the Lerners is merely one symptom of what's lacking in the guy.

Posted by: Brue | September 17, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Okay say for sh*ts and giggles, the LernerStank decide to drop the Dunn and Rizzo pulls off say....a Birkman/Crawford combo or a Kernerko/Crawford combo or at worst a Pena/Crawford combo how much ranting and raving would there be then?

Having the track record for dumpster diving over for the past few years I would say that Crawford is off the table. Birkman, Kernerko and Pena will probably be to rich for the LernerStank liking, so doing the annual winter "deep dive" say hello to your Washington Nationals 2011 first basemen "Troy Glaus".

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 17, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t the Nationals in… and have been in… last place for much of Dunn’s time in DC? The Rizzo-plan is to get the Nats to play relevant games in the very near future. John Dewan’s advanced defensive statistics are based on irrelevant games.
In late-inning, high-stress, consequential September/October games… his defense will be exploited by the opposing manager. To me this means we haven’t seen the worst of Dunn. Assuming he is even IN THE GAME in those situations. The manager will have quite a quandary on his hand. All that money on a player he’s unsure of…in unchartered waters.
What position will the pro-Dunn Nats fans take when the season is in the balance, a once in a lifetime opportunity arises, the game is tied and a southpaw specialist that makes life miserable for lefties is called in to face Dunn with 2 outs and runners in scoring position? Or after expected outcome occurs… how comfortable will Nats fans (or Nats pitchers) be when Dunn walks back to defend his position in the 8th or 9th ? My feeling is they will wish their position on pre-contract Dunn was based on something more relevant!

Posted by: FaNATic1 | September 17, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I just heard Paul Konerko yesterday, saying, "Yeah, I'm really hoping to go to a non-competitve team next year, so I can end my career on a losing note. The Nats would be perfect, they have no chance of being good until my kids are in college."

Posted by: mike8 | September 17, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t the Nationals in… and have been in… last place for much of Dunn’s time in DC? The Rizzo-plan is to get the Nats to play relevant games in the very near future. John Dewan’s advanced defensive statistics are based on irrelevant games.
In late-inning, high-stress, consequential September/October games… his defense will be exploited by the opposing manager. To me this means we haven’t seen the worst of Dunn. Assuming he is even IN THE GAME in those situations. The manager will have quite a quandary on his hand. All that money on a player he’s unsure of…in unchartered waters.
What position will the pro-Dunn Nats fans take when the season is in the balance, a once in a lifetime opportunity arises, the game is tied and a southpaw specialist that makes life miserable for lefties is called in to face Dunn with 2 outs and runners in scoring position? Or after expected outcome occurs… how comfortable will Nats fans (or Nats pitchers) be when Dunn walks back to defend his position in the 8th or 9th ? My feeling is they will wish their position on pre-contract Dunn was based on something more relevant!

Posted by: FaNATic1 | September 17, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Lot's of opinions this morning, i don't give a rat's azz about what the stat geeks say i've watched Dunn around the bag for what? almost two years now and like batlova1 says he's not very good, the question, can we field a team next year that can compensate for Dunn's short comings? (if we resign him) that is, starting pitching,defense,(other than first bs.) clutch hitting(by everybody) the bullpen appears to be solid with the closer role TBD. This team needs an edge and by that i mean someone to emerge as a leader on and off the field imho that was the difference this year between 8-10 more wins.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 17, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"He had at least four players whose best position was second base - Kennedy, Harris, Guzman, Gonzalez. And at the end of the season NONE of them is playing there. If he knew Espinosa would be pretty much ready to come up at the end of the year, why is he signing a full bench compliment whose strength is second base?"

"If he knew Espinosa would be pretty much ready to come up at the end of the year," that would make him a mind reader. And were the Nats not supposed to play somebody at second base while they waited for Espinosa? Probably would have made it tough to turn double plays, in my opinion.

And how many of these "players whose best position was second base" are going to be here next year, when Espinosa will probably be the full-time second baseman? One, maybe two as utilitymen (which is really the best position for Gonzo and Kennedy at this stage of their careers). So what's the big deal about signing them to play this year? And how is that some sign of his incompetence?

Posted by: baltova1 | September 17, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I don't have stats handy, nor do I have access to the inner workings of the minds of Rizzo or the Lerners. However, I do have an opinion (you know what they say about everybody having them ;-)). My opinion is "sign him already" (though that is seeming less likely as time goes by).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 17, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

balto -- my theory is that Rizzo is covering for the club not being willing to pay Dunn the coins he'll demand in FA, merely a theory.

I also blame Rizzo for not either signing Dunn long term in the Spring when the club had a chance at a discount and/or not moving Dunn at the deadline when he value was very high and there were a lot of clubs willing to move players. Inexcusable.

Any club that would have acquired Dunn would stand to get the draft pcik compensation in the off-season should they offer arb and he decline so any comer with an offer for trade would have to go above that base line value. There had to have been offers out there for Adam. And there were wide spread reports that Rizzo was not shopping Dunn at all, not making counter-offers, not actively testing the market for the guy. I have to ask why the Hell not??

Combine that damning failure (in my eyes at least) with Mike's amazing on-air MASN comments in August about how it took soooo long to build the D-Bax back in the day, how hard it was, and how we the fans should have patience (while not mentioning how AZ ownership went out and got All Star and CY Young caliber talent for the MLB roster and won a freaking World Series in the mean time), has soured me on Mike's potential in this role.

He may know baseball talent as well as anyone, but the horse-trading aspect is something he has not really shown any mastery of yet.

Posted by: dfh21 | September 17, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

BTW, what's funny (sort of) about this debate is that it's the wrong debate. This team, with its record, shouldn't be debating about keeping talent. It should be debating about adding talent.

If you kept the current roster intact, with young players getting better and better health/performance from Lannan, Marquis and Maya, the Nats could probably win about 75 games and close in on .500 with some luck. Depending on how they replace Dunn, they might do about the same.

Are we supposed to be satisfied with that? Shouldn't the Nats be telling us how they're going to make some moves to do better than that?

Posted by: baltova1 | September 17, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t the Nationals in… and have been in… last place for much of Dunn’s time in DC?
Posted by: FaNATic1 | September 17, 2010 10:03 AM

Yeah. Are you trying to suggest that the Nats are in last place BECAUSE of Dunn?

If not, then what's your point?

Are you trying to suggest that if the Nats only had, oh, say, Mark Teixera at first, they'd be in the playoff hunt?

If not, then what's your point?

A few questions:
1) How many runs does Dunn create with his bat?
2) How many runs does Dunn cost the Nats with his glove?

Now, subtract the result in 2) from the result in 1). Is there someone out there that can give you a bigger number for an answer? If so, then sign that guy and let Dunn go.

Names?

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 17, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

It is all about the money, or rather Ted Lerner's unwillingness to re-invest the profits he is making from us, and not the defense of Adam Dunn. The team will go dumpster diving again. With a smaller season ticket holder base. And even smaller stadium crowds.

The owvers/managers of this team have zero credibility. They have been saying "trust us, give us time to build" for too long while showing a complete willingness to remain cellar dwellers. They could at least make some effort to field a decent (non-contending but decent) team in the meantime. They won't do that because Ted would rather keep the profits than make an investment. For soon-to-be-former season ticket holders like myself, the non-signing of Dunn has become the symbol of that unacceptable attitude. I hope Ted Lerner doesn't kill baseball in Washington.

Posted by: NatsFly | September 17, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to take the other side of this debate just for a moment. If any normal, "professional" team FO would have already signed Dunn then why hasn't some other team done that before? He's only been doing the exact same thing for 7 years! Why did Cincinnati trade him? Why did Arizona non-tender him? Why did we get him for such a "steal" after a prolonged dance in which he sat out on the market for quite a while? Why do FO executives all around baseball remain so mixed on the guy?

I think it really comes down to value. Adam Dunn thinks he is worth more than the Nats FO thinks he is. I think there are valid arguments to be made on both sides, but I don't think its unprofessional or bush-league to be taking this approach.

You can criticize them for not trading him, but then again we never really know for sure what the details of the trade proposals were. If Rizzo had made a terrible trade just to get something back we'd all be ripping him apart.

Rizzo is a professional, and he knows baseball. Those should be considered undisputed facts. He has surrounded himself with a professional baseball staff. Whether he is ultimately a successful GM remains to be seen, but I personally see many reasons to have confidence in him just based on the changes he has already made.

Now to take a step back. I really, really like Adam Dunn. I'll miss him if they don't sign him to an extension. I hope they do. Then again, I'm a computer nerd and I don't know anything about running a baseball team (or much in general for that matter). So in conclusion, I have no conclusion. Go Nats!

Posted by: autobits | September 17, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Ryan Howard is a measurably worse defensive 1B than Adam Dunn is. One wonders how much of a concern that is to the Phillies.

Troy Glaus is a measurably worse defensive 1B than Adam Dunn is. That has to be haunting the Braves as they scrabble to stay in the wild card hunt.

It is unfathomable that the Nats would let Dunn walk just because he doesn't happen to be Keith Hernandez.

Posted by: Hendo1 | September 17, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"He had at least four players whose best position was second base - Kennedy, Harris, Guzman, Gonzalez. And at the end of the season NONE of them is playing there."

Revisionist history. Or given the source, just plain stupidity. Before Kennedy was acquired, Guzman - who had never played 2B in his life - was here along with two career utility guys, Harris and Gonzales. The same fee simple idiot who just made this statement would have been screaming to high heaven last winter if Kennedy - or more preferably Orlando Hudson - had not been brought in. And guess what? Even though they're not playing much at the moment, both Kennedy and Gonzales are likely to be back next year to back up Espinosa - if he makes the team.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 17, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

dfh21, I agree with much of what you say, but I would say this about Rizzo:

Remember that his public comments about players don't always reflect the eventual decisions made about them (case in point, Elijah Dukes). And also note that Adam Kilgore pointed out this week that Riggleman's behind the scenes attitude toward his players isn't the same as the patient, public demeanor we see in those MASN interviews.

I think both guys will always put the best face on every situation, whether it's the team's record, on field play or budget. Rizzo just isn't going to come out and say, "We're doing the best we can with the amount of money we have to spend." He'll spin the best he can.

My hunch, and that's all it is, is that Rizzo didn't reach an agreement with Dunn in the spring because the offer he was allowed to present by the Lerners wasn't good enough to get Dunn signed, either in terms of dollars or years in the contract. And given the year Dunn has had, his demands haven't come down any. Therefore, I think Rizzo had no chance to sign him, then or now. He's just not going to admit that.

Now, trading him's a different story and that's where Rizzo is open for criticism.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 17, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

It is unfathomable that the Nats would let Dunn walk just because he doesn't happen to be Keith Hernandez. Posted by: Hendo1 | September 17, 2010 10:27 AM

You of all people ought to know that if Dunn does end up walking that won't be the reason why.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 17, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

How can anyone make an airtight argument regarding Dunn without hard information? I haven't heard anyone say that they know for sure what Dunn is asking for in terms of a specific number of years and/or dollars. That same information seems to be lacking from the Nats' side of this equation, too. Who knows what they are offering? The critique of the owners and FO probably should wait until those facts are in and/or the deed is done. That said, the part of this morning's posts that are most interesting center on the issue of age. If Dunn (in theory) will be too old to be productive in 2014 at age 34 and doesn't deserve a 4 year deal, signing someone older this offseason really does seem crazy. Boswell's argument against Pena yesterday was solid. And I haven't heard anyone say Marrero is the solution at 1B. He seems to be a DH type (good bat, no glove). If we end up with Pena or Lee, let the criticiam begin in earnest.

Posted by: fpcsteve | September 17, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

fpcsteve: You (and others) who are saying that we do not have all the facts are, of course, quite right. However, I got a call from the Nats earlier this week as an early reach-out on ST renewal. So, we are being asked to make a decision, and the facts I do have, and which are bothering me, are that they have not signed Dunn, they have an extremely low payroll, and they have a history of dumpster diving and presenting the results to us as jewels rather than...er, not jewels.

So I will wait as long as I can, but if the facts I do know are not countered by a LOT of better facts, then I see no reason to renew. And that is sad, because I have put up with a losing team for years with the expectation of re-building and I would actually like to stay if there is any reasonable hope of a watchable team. But enough already,

Posted by: NatsFly | September 17, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

"Rizzo is a professional, and he knows baseball. Those should be considered undisputed facts. He has surrounded himself with a professional baseball staff. Whether he is ultimately a successful GM remains to be seen, but I personally see many reasons to have confidence in him just based on the changes he has already made."

-aoutbis

Ok, Rizzo knows baseball, no argument here. But as to the changes he has made, which is what counts? To a historically awful 2009 club he added two part time players with questionble tread on the tire (Pudge and Kennedy), added Marquis, whom even if he had stayed healthy was expected to be an innings eater not a front of the rotation guy, and added Capps. Rizzo then moved Capps in a good move to get Ramos, but the jury is long out on that deal (as Storen may not be closer material for all we know and Capps was arb eligible for 2011). Rizzo came out of camp last year with yet another very thin rotation (even with Marquis), with the never played a full season in the bigs CF Morgan and with no RF at all. They changed-up positions all over the diamond and plugged prospects (some of midling perceived upside) into the MLB roster and made a bunch of very well intentioned prayers to St. Jude (Patron Saint of Lost Causes) that it would work out to some extent. And we're yet again sitting pretty in Last Place City. Stras and Harper are great and all, but those were no brainers.

Anyway, it is hard to argue that the body of work for Rizzo in his tenure is Class A GM work. And when the GM does not at least actively test the market to see what he can get for a guy in Dunn's situation? I've gotta wonder whether he knows what he is doing.

Posted by: dfh21 | September 17, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Why are you guys so adamant about signing a guy who in 2 years will be an aging power hitter. I don't have the time to go find the stats but if any of you are interested enough, look up the stats of pure power hitters once they get into their 30s and up to around 35 those home runs become fly outs. Also, what people are failing to understand is that 1st base defense isn't just about fielding the balls that are hit to you. With all of Desmond's range at SS, he's going to be making off balance throws over to 1st base, some of which won't be to the 1st baseman's chest. Dunn makes the entire infield worse because of his inability to pick the ball out of the dirt and his poor decisions of when to come off the bag and just catch the ball. You will never see him come off the bag, he's always stretching trying to get to it.

Posted by: RT99 | September 17, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Whoa, FaNATic1, back up off my name. Been here since the inception of NJ, although the vitriole has lessened my posting rate lately.

More germanely, however, I disagree with the contention that Rizzo did not actively test the market to see what he can get for a guy in Dunn's situation. That's precisely what he did - we never would have heard of a Hudson + prospect deal if he weren't actively testing the market. The trade rumor mill was full of other supposed discussions revolving around Dunn, and where there's smoke, there's frequently fire. I believe that dfh21's argument as to inactivity at the trade deadline on Dunn fails on its face.

Posted by: faNATic | September 17, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

fpcsteve (and others):

Marrero might be the answer to "Who plays 1B" sometime in the future, but probably not in 2011 with the Nationals. He's only 22, a RH hitter with moderate power (18HR & 77RBI with Harrisburg, IIRC), but had 18 errors at 1B as well.

I personally believe that it eventually comes down to money; Dunn is likely asking for somewhere between $14-16M/year, and the Lerners' have balked at paying in excess of $10M/year for any player. Sure, they've offered more, but never had to put ink to paper.

Posted by: BinM | September 17, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

It would be interesting to know what MLB players think of the Nats (team and organization). Are we up and coming? Or are we stuck? The answers to those questions will likely determine in part who plays here and how much progress we make. Perception is everything. NatsFly, I understand your point. When I was in Tulsa, ST to the Drillers (Rox AA) were an easy buy because the team was always good. Bad team? Different story. KC is reachable from here, but I don't go.

Posted by: fpcsteve | September 17, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

The trade rumor mill was full of other supposed discussions revolving around Dunn, and where there's smoke, there's frequently fire. I believe that dfh21's argument as to inactivity at the trade deadline on Dunn fails on its face.

Posted by: faNATic | September 17, 2010 10:58 AM
-----------------------------------------------
Had a history prof who was fond of saying, "Where's there's smoke, there's usually a smoke-making machine."

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 17, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

My best guess is that the gap between Dunn's agent and the Front Office is not centered around whether or not Adam should be a Nat next season nor a dollar amount of the next contract but it is about contract length. I am sure Dunn wants 4 or 5 years and the Front Office probably sees 1 or 2 years as being a more sound return on their investment.

That being said there are problems on both sides of the equation: For Dunn, he wants to play the field and most teams that would be interested in a multi-year deal would be AL teams who want him as a DH. For the Nats, they need a 1B who can play in the majors and a cleanup hitter if Dunn walks that will not be cheap hole to fill and the Nats need to fill other holes in the OF and possibly on the mound.

Posted by: markfd | September 17, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Unless Rizzo wants to negotiate in public, I don't think we'll know what he offers Dunn. As I understand the process, if the Nats and Dunn don't reach agreement on a new contract by early December, the Nats must offer him arbitration in order to preserve the possibility of getting compensation if he signs with someone else. It is only if Dunn accepts arbitration that the team makes a (public) one year contract offer, and Dunn makes his (public) counterproposal, with the arbitrator picking one. If he refuses arbitration, the Nats have to sign him by January 7 or they can't talk to him until May. So the bidding war (or the crickets chirping) will start once Dunn refuses arbitration, which the Nats will certainly offer him if they don't have a deal by early December.

My guess is that (1) No deal for Dunn before December because he wants to see if he can get a longer term contract than the Nats are willing to offer; (2) the Nats offer arbitration; (3) Dunn refuses it; (4) Dunn tests the open market in December and early January to see what he might be able to get and decides whether to try to reach agreement with the Nats; (4) Dunn either signs with us by Jan. 7, or he's gone. He signed with us in February 2009 so by then he was done talking to the D-Backs.

I'm in the camp of very much wanting to sign Dunn. I'd even be willing to offer a four year deal, perhaps with a lower annual figure or a buyout (Austin Kearns style) for that year. There has to be a way to work around the uncertainty over what kind of player he will be at that point, but I think he's far better than anyone we're going to be able to get at 1B for the next two seasons.

Posted by: Section222 | September 17, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I'll vouch for you, Original FaNATic (accept no substitutes ;-)), and I understand re. the tone of late and posting rates, as I've also backed off.

---

Whoa, FaNATic1, back up off my name. Been here since the inception of NJ, although the vitriole has lessened my posting rate lately.

Posted by: faNATic | September 17, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 17, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

RT99 -- I notice all of the stretching by Dunn too. And the guy is 6'6" tall so those throws have to be WAY off, no?

The Nats should focus on getting infielders that can catch and throw the ball to the 1B without having the guy have to ake some kind of balet move for every throw in order to make DUNN look good, not the other way around. (Maybe someone should tell Zim that chicks do not dig those underhand throws he seems to want to make on every play.) Dunn's job is not to make the entire infield better. His job is to catch the ball when they throw it to him and to hit like the slugger he is.

This is all we need to know:

Alex Gonzalez may be the best SS in the bigs, stellar defender and nice all around game. He costs less than $3M/yr and he's never made more than $6M per. We can get guys to shore up the infield D and bring all around value with relative ease (Ryan Howard is under contract for something like $145 Million).

Posted by: dfh21 | September 17, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Man...been out of the loop since Monday (when my cable went out...took Comcast until TODAY to get here to fix it...), looks like a whole lot has been going on...

The Morgan suspension, fair or not, has at least been determined. Guess we will see how the team fairs without him for the week.

I still believe Dunn signs here once he realizes there is no way he sees 4 years and 60 million. I think Rizzo is calling his bluff. If Dunn can get 4/60 elsewhere, that team can have him.

Posted by: TimDz | September 17, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

"I personally believe that it eventually comes down to money; Dunn is likely asking for somewhere between $14-16M/year, and the Lerners' have balked at paying in excess of $10M/year for any player. Sure, they've offered more, but never had to put ink to paper."

They're paying Dunn $12M for this year, and they'll be paying Zimmerman $12M in 2012 and $14M in 2013. So clearly it is not the per year dollar value that is keeping them from agreeing to Dunn's contract demands. It's the number of years he's asking for, plain and simple. If he wants $14-$16M per year, they would surely give him that for two years, maybe for three years, but not for four.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 17, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

@dfh21
I think I would counter some of those arguments with the following:
1. They also made a $25mil play on Chapman. They are serious about adding talent. Especially pitching talent.
2. Rizzo completely remade the bullpen, which looks like it could be a strength for several years, and remains very good without Capps.
3. The Capps for Ramos thing was a no brainer. Who knows what type of player Ramos will be, but still a very good trade because it was highly valued young talent for a guy we would not have resigned.
4. Adding cheap short term vets while you gradually import young talent has a way of paying off in the long term. Adding lots of high priced FA when you are not ready to win usually blows up in your face. Only the Yanks and Red Sox can afford to act that way. How's Lowe working out for the Braves? He was considered top of the heap on the market a couple years back.
5. I still don't know who exactly we missed out on that we should have brought in. Most of the FA and trades I hear mentioned are fantasy stuff. I'll give you my marginal AAAA SP for your treasure kind of stuff. Plus front line players are hard to acquire. There's not many of them, and everyone wants them.

Rizzo has really only had the team for what a year and a half? Bowden left a wreckage behind. We had holes/deficiencies at C, 2B, SS, CF, RF, SP and all over the bullpen last year. This year we have promising players at C, 2B, and SS, and the bullpen it quite good. The SP isn't great, but it has the potential to get a lot better very quickly. That seems like progress to me.

I'm not telling people they have to buy season tickets. It's tough to make an investment like that for a losing product. Fair enough. Still I think Rizzo is moving the team forward. There are plenty of signs if you want to look, and you can't expect every move he makes to turn to gold. Every time you make a move it's an educated guess. I still feel like Rizzo has shown enough progress to warrant feeling positive.

Posted by: autobits | September 17, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"dfh21's argument as to inactivity at the trade deadline on Dunn fails on its face."

-faNATic

Let's be clear, I did not say there was inactivity at the deadline regarding Dunn, I said that Rizzo was not looking for a potential deal and Mike himslef backs me up. From AK's blog on why Adam Dunn wasn't traded . . . Rizzo: "We were on the receiving end of the calls. We weren't making the calls."

Posted by: dfh21 | September 17, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"if the Nats and Dunn don't reach agreement on a new contract by early December, the Nats must offer him arbitration in order to preserve the possibility of getting compensation. It is only if Dunn accepts arbitration that the team makes a (public) one year contract offer, and Dunn makes his (public) counterproposal, with the arbitrator picking one."

It didn't work that way with Soriano. The Nats made a 5yr/$75M offer that was publicized. Presumably that was the arbitration offer, since they were awarded the compensatory draft picks. And Soriano signed with the Cubs on Nov. 19, 2006.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 17, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The Nats have been dead last the two seasons Dunn has played here. I know it's not his fault, but if you're last with him, how can being last without him be any worse?

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | September 17, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Feelwood: That is b/c Soriano declined arb. The 5/75 offer was reportedly made -- and I think that it was actually made -- and he declined, before the arb decisions were made.

Posted by: dfh21 | September 17, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Hey all, great stuff.

I'd like to offer that Rizzo is making slow progress getting Lerner to invest more in personnel. The main evidence of that is comparing the 2009 draft with the 2010 draft.
In 2009, after Strasburg, the next few picks were under slot guys, guys we could have gotten much later in the draft and who signed for cheap.
In 2010, after Harper, Rizzo was allowed to draft the best guys available, knowing some would need over-slot contracts to sign.

Yes, building through the draft is cheap.
But this is progress, albeit smnall progress.

Also, as many others have noted, we know nothing about the negotiation, and that's appropriate. Rizzo says publicly what he wants heard publicly, but keeps quiet about what's really going on.

I'm not ready to adopt Brue's position of Rizzo. I want to see the whole of this winter's makeover, and see where we stand in March.

Posted by: Sunderland | September 17, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Sunderland - -I agree. I have my doubts, serious doubts about Rizzo, but I'll give the guy to the spring and we can see what he does with 2 full years under his belt. The club needs to find an identity, to date they have played most everything very conservatively and to date their results have been terrible; I hope that Rizzo goes bold, tries to give us a club that has a chance to make noise now not when Bryce Harper is old enough to drink beer.

Posted by: dfh21 | September 17, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Re: Arbitration.
For a player to accept arbitration, they have to be willing to play under the one year contract that comes with arbitration.

Soriano was not willing to accept that, so he declined and immediately became a free agent.

I would expect Dunn would do the same thing.

1a - we miss you.

Posted by: Sunderland | September 17, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Nats do have a max per player $10 million a year limit, as suggested by BinM. Looking over actual contracts, who do you see who is higher than that? And yes, the Nats offered more for Teixeira, but with full knowledge that they would not have to pay out that amount. They came in second on Chapman too, though the Reds are paying $5 million over six years for him. (And it does seem likely that Chapman will give up at least one earned run this year, though it hasn't happened yet in 8 games.) So the Nats are willing to talk more money. On actually paying, BinM is correct so far.

I see some advantages in this approach: easier to sneak into the pricier seats, more space to dangle your legs, less competition for foul balls, shorter concession lines, a less-crowded Metro, and you usually can leave in the 6th or 7th inning on work nights, since the games' outcomes don't matter.

Posted by: EdDC | September 17, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe the Nats do have a max per player $10 million a year limit, as suggested by BinM. Looking over actual contracts, who do you see who is higher than that?"

Dunn 2010 $12M
Zimmerman 2012 $12M
Zimmerman 2013 $14M

Maybe EdDC does not have a clue, as suggested by, oh, pretty much every word he's ever posted here.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 17, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Adam Dunn makes 12 million this year. Albert Pujols makes 14 to 15 million this year. Perhaps we should pay Dunn Pujol's wages? After all, it is all only about payroll. Just overlook the fact that they are not in the same stratum of players.

I just love the supposition that the Lerners know what the other general managers are offering (as in the Chapman case) so that they can PLAN on coming in second. If they truly knew then they could go into the office and offer one dollar more than the Reds. But then that would not neatly fit into those conspiracy theories that keep echoing around here.

Posted by: driley | September 17, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Over the past few weeks, I've noticed a media slant against re-signing Adam Dunn. It's almost like the Nationals are using the media to see if the fans would revolt over a boring defensive strategy.

All Dunn has done as a National is give them a chance to win every time he steps into the batter's box. The man scares opposing pitchers and puts fans on the edge of their seats on every pitch.

Coaches can teach defense, but hitting is a rare gift.

Sign Adam Dunn yesterday and enjoy the 35+ HR's annually.

Posted by: clandestinetomcat | September 17, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks the Nationals can use the media to advance any kind of strategy clearly hasn't been paying attention for the last six years.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 17, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

@driley
I second your comments about conspiracy theories. The simplest explanation is almost certainly the right one here. It's a question of value. I think the Lerner family wants to win AND make money. That is their right. Fans can decide if they want to spend money on the product.

The FO and ownership group have started showing over the last couple of years that they will spend the money on players if they believe the value matches up.

Fans, including myself, routinely overestimate the value of individual players. Maybe the the owners, Kasten, and Rizzo's whole crew are undervaluing certain players. I don't know. Time will tell. I do believe that they aren't making elaborate attempts to trick the fan base though.

Posted by: autobits | September 17, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Sheesh the cynics ...

I believe Rizzo is authorized to pay Dunn ... that's the impression I get when anyone asks Mark Lerner. Rizzo's an ex-scout, and a guy who helped build franchises through the draft sticking with mostly younger players ... he wants Dunn ... but not for 4 years. You can't convert him to a DH as you can in the AL. And, as many here have observed, he might be very difficult to trade in 2 years.

For once look at it from a true baseball expert's perspective. There's a reason why Cincinnati let Dunn go. His name is Joey Votto.

In the end I believe Dunn will acquiesce because no one else will start him at first base ... every day. TB might just to "respect him" but not every day. Everyone else with money to burn want him for DH. Many see him as the reincarnation of Frank Howard (well probably a combo between Howard and Boog Powell) so he has that. I doubt that anyone could find such a mirror to the distant past.

Posted by: periculum | September 17, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

http://www.masnsports.com/mike_rizzo/2010/09/-welcome-to-another-edition-1.html

Posted by: periculum | September 17, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"I think the Lerner family wants to win AND make money. That is their right. Fans can decide if they want to spend money on the product. "

I think you have the Lerner goals in reversed order of importance, but I am sure they would like to do both. It is just that winning is way behind making money. And I fear the fans are deciding to keep their money. I go to games regularly, and with two exceptions, the stadium has never been more than half full. The exceptions were the opening series when the Phillie fans filled it, and the first Strasmas (and a wonder that was!).

The risk the Lerners are running is that by the time they finally field a contending team, too few will be interested anymore. There was great buzz when baseball returned and again when the new stadium opened. MLB failed to capitalize on the first event, and the Lerners the second. I HAVE seen progress, and I think Rizzo has done far better than Trader Jim, and I am willing to wait awhile for a contender to be built. However, they could field a watchable team for a moderate payroll in the meantime, and they have not done so. That is a choice they are making, and the fans are acting accordingly. Remember when the Nats used to proudly announce their ST numbers? They have not done that for the last few years, and there is a reason for that.

Posted by: NatsFly | September 17, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Although Adam Dunn is no Mickey Vernon, or Roy Severs,( I am probably showing my true Loyalties). I am an old "Knot Hole Gang" member, fro Griffith Stadium. I still think he is worth his investing another contract. It is bad enough struggling to score a run here and there. At least when Dunn is at bat he can keep you in a game.

Posted by: nickava | September 17, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Good old Ockham's razor, which my husband is forever citing to me (not that there's anything wrong with that). :-) I'm inclined to agree with driley and autobits re. conspiracies (doubts about the existence of).

And thanks, Sunderland.

---

The simplest explanation is almost certainly the right one here.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 17, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I didn't think there was any "free agent arbitration." Why would a player go to arbitration if he can go to an auction?

Posted by: markfromark | September 17, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

FW,

You have to average those salaries. Yes, any given year may be over $10 million, but not on average. Take Dunn, $8 million the first year and $12 the second. That's $10 million average. You always gain by pushing higher amounts into the future. (And if the Nats had traded Dunn in his second year, they would have saved more by loading much of the the contract on the second year). Same for Zim, $45 over 5 years, an average of $9 million. If a contract is back-loaded, that's just good cash management. If Zim wants out, maybe the Nats will help him in a future year, and not have to pay some of the back-loaded amounts.

OK, take Teixeira: $180 million over 8 years. His salary is back-loaded a little too, but he is still making $20.6 million this year, and his average salary is $22.5. No ambiguity as to whether any given year is over $10 million--they all are double that. The Yankees have 9 players who average over $10 million, with others pretty close. The Nats have none. The Nats do not have to be the Yankees, but should be able to stretch for a player or two every once in a while..

Posted by: EdDC | September 17, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"Remember when the Nats used to proudly announce their ST numbers? They have not done that for the last few years, and there is a reason for that."

They never proudly announced their season ticket numbers. The media kept trying to beat it out of them, in order to support whatever Nats Fail Theory du Jour they were trying to advance, until finally the media realized that there was no more point to it. After all, where can you go to read up on all the other MLB teams' season ticket numbers? Nowhere. No one cares. So why are the Nationals season ticket numbers such a big deal? Answer: They're not. What matters is total attendance, a number which is readily available in each day's box score. AVERAGE attendance at Nats games this year is 23,336 - 55.7% of capacity. So there goes your little theory that with only two exceptions the stadium has never been more than half full. Want a stadium that IS less than half full nearly every night? Go up to Baltimore, where the average attendance this year is 20,698 - only 43% of capacity.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 17, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

When the Nats compete for players' signatures, it's not a sealed bid process, where the envelopes are opened at midnight on a certain date. You try to stay in close contact to figure out what it takes to get a player. It's not a conspiracy or anything, just business. You can finish second if you want, for the sake of appearances. If an agent says, "I'm afraid it is going to take a lot more than $25 million to sign my guy," you can start the process of trying to find out how much that is, or you can stand pat and call the agent's bluff. Believe it or not, agents have to have integrity and credibility too, so they can't outright lie too often and get away with it over the years.

Posted by: EdDC | September 17, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Hey Natinal fans, at what point this season do you all expect The Fighting Showalter's to pass the Natinals in terms of having a better record?

1/2 a week?
Full week?
1 1/2 weeks?


hahahahhahahaha

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | September 17, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

@NatsFly
I think you have made fair points, but I'm not sure what most fans feel is an acceptable or watchable product. Is that 70+ wins? 80+? Contending?

As Boswell has amply documented it is exceptionally rare for a team to make giant leaps in one year. I think Rizzo did his job this year. Now next year is something different. If we haven't made significant strides (in the neighborhood of .500 in my mind) by this time next fall then I think it is open season on the whole FO. With the right moves that should be achievable even with boy wonder's arm in a sling. If the Nats could go from bottom of the heap to middle of the pack in two years under Rizzo, with Strasburg and Harper coming along, then I personally would be pretty happy.

Then we can more realistically talk about those fun fantasy moves that might take us the rest of the way.

Posted by: autobits | September 17, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

FeelWood: I could have sworn I remembered them announcing ST holder numbers up until 2 or 3 years ago, but maybe I was wrong. Anybody else recall that?

As for your comment: "So why are the Nationals season ticket numbers such a big deal? Answer: They're not. What matters is total attendance, a number which is readily available in each day's box score. AVERAGE attendance at Nats games this year is 23,336 - 55.7% of capacity. So there goes your little theory that with only two exceptions the stadium has never been more than half full." Sorry, my friend, but the announced attendance is for tickets sold, which includes st holders (and others) who didn't come that night. For the Nats, the number actually coming to see the game is generally below, often well below, the announced attendance. Among other reasons, THAT is why ST holders matter, and why the team tries so hard to get them--they help carry the team in the lean times. In addition, I specifically limited my observation to the games I have attended. For the games I have attended, the attendance was as stated. Not a theory, just an observation.

Posted by: NatsFly | September 17, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

@autobits,

However, Rizzo knows that the key to his whole plan ... the veritable keystone if you will, is top of the rotation starting pitching. Top top-of-the-rotation starting pitching to be precise. He has said as much numerous times and in his MASN blog just recently indicated that was where his priorities would be for the offseason.

By my count they really have one guy who looks like he may be able to give them consistent quality starts in one of the top 3 slots and that is Yuniesky Maya. Zimmermann and Detwiler are inconsistent, have had few major league starts, and are working their way back from injuries. Garrett Mock anyone?

I agree with @Sunderland. We have to wait and see what Rizzo is able to accomplish this winter and then review those moves in March to determine if they will progress or regress yet again.

Posted by: periculum | September 17, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that one move may be to replace Jim Riggleman with someone like Tim Foli perhaps?

Posted by: periculum | September 17, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

>I just love the supposition that the Lerners know what the other general managers are offering (as in the Chapman case) so that they can PLAN on coming in second.

Posted by: driley

Nobody knows if they offered ten cents for Chapman. All people know is what line they used for losing out on him, if indeed they even tried. Just because you say you offered something doesn't mean you did. It's just way too convenient to say 'we tried, and here's what we did' when you didn't spend anything. Anybody can do that. There's no second place when it comes to losing out on players, there's only first and s.o.l. It's like MLB opening up their books - they don't have to, so they can lie all they want about who makes money and how. Notice that a lot of high-earned clubs were pissed at the amount of corporate welfare they were ultimately giving the also-rans. MLB even lies to half of the teams!

Posted by: Brue | September 17, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

"FeelWood: I could have sworn I remembered them announcing ST holder numbers up until 2 or 3 years ago, but maybe I was wrong. Anybody else recall that?"

There's a difference between "announcing" something and answering a question that is asked. The media has been asking the Nats for their season ticket numbers from day one (pre Lerners). Initially, they answered the question. Later, they answered grudgingly. A couple of years ago, they quit answering. But the Nats have never "announced" their season ticket numbers. No MLB team does. In most markets, the press does not even bother asking, because it's a meaningless question. Total attendance is all that matters.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 17, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

FeelWood is correct, it's not about money or defense, it's about length of contract.

Dunn wants a 4-year deal, Rizzo only wants to sign him for 2.

Rizzo hopes Marrero is ready in 3 years to take over first base.

But yes, Dunn's defense is atrocious.

Posted by: rb-freedom-for-all | September 17, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

http://www.masnsports.com/mike_rizzo/2010/09/-welcome-to-another-edition-1.html

Posted by: periculum


>BG: Where does he project from here? Is it fair to say he's mastered Potomac with what he did there this year? Is the next step Harrisburg?

Mike Rizzo: Certainly, he goes to spring training with an opportunity to make Harrisburg, or better. Where he's at developmentally, with his offensive game, he could be a guy that could skip a level in his career. Defensively, he's come a long way, and that's really the reason he was at that level the whole season. We wanted him to work on his defense and master that. We felt comfortable with the bat all along. But he's come a long way defensively, also.

Ah yes, Tyler Moore must be a first baseman. Or be converted to one. Beating the 'defensive improvement' drum. Rizzo bs detector says he's setting people up for the arrival of Tyler Moore in a year or two. Who needs Dunn? They've got a guy who got hot for three months at single A.

Posted by: Brue | September 17, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

autobits -- The Nats need to forget that jazz Bos spews about clubs having to look to be to be midling before they can get to be contenders, because it is crap. The difference between a decent but not in the playoofs club and a club that makes the wild card is often a handful of wins, an odd injury to a key guy on the downside (Youklis for Boston this year) or surprising performer on the upside (Latos for SD), it is not some wild categorical difference between levels of competitiveness. Usually at the All Star break about half the clubs are in the running for the playoffs. The Nats have no reason not to be one of those clubs next year.

The club is in a new publicly financed park, in a big, rich market that is in a great city that happens to be a good location for Latin talent. Payroll is in the bottom third, ticket prices in the top third. Ownerhsip has been in power for going on 5 years now with a whole lot of losing done on the cheap. They need to stick a crow bar into Ted's fat, dusty wallet and go buy some actual healthy, proven MLB caliber players not knocking on 40 that can make this club legit for 2011. No more excuses, no more off the scrap heap players, or wild long shot hopefuls. No more arrogant speeches from Stan about having the patience to do what it takes and building it the right way. It is insulting. If only Nats management had the same commitment to building the club as it does to building excuses for why building the club is hard, we'd be someplace.

It is well passed time for management to simply produce.

Posted by: dfh21 | September 17, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

W/r/t fielding, Dunn turns the ground he stands on septic. He does this in the outfield, he does it at first base. At the latter position, he's the worst I've seen since Dave Kingman played first for the Mets back in 1982. Of course, Kingman refused to take infield practice, or in any way attempt to improve his deficiencies. Dunn, by all accounts, works hard at getting better, which is kind of frightening when you think about it.

Bad as he is, I don't see how anyone can argue that he's responsible for giving up more runs than he helps to produce. As others have pointed out, the Lerners just don't want to shell out the money they think it will cost to keep him, and they're talking about signing people (such as Derrick Lee) who are probably well past their prime, and even older than Dunn into the bargain -- a very bad move for a team that's already got too many regulars 30 or older. The point is, Lee or someone like him will sign for less, and for a shorter term contract. The whole point is Dunn should have either been locked up prior to seasons' start, or traded for prospects. The Nots ended up doing neither, and will end up big losers both in terms of on-field performance, and fan reaction.

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 17, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

@Brue:

I'm not quite a cynical as you regarding Moore, but he does still have a fair distance to go (HAR, then SYR) before the team looks at him in a serious light.

Posted by: BinM | September 17, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

How did DC end up with Lerner/Rizzo/Riggleman. It will be years, if ever, that a real MLB team emerges from this trio's maneuvers. When Riggleman goes, we're still stuck with Rizzo, and when he goes, we're still stuck with Lerner.

Are we jinxed, a la the Cubs?

Posted by: JohnRDC | September 17, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

JohnR,

We could indeed be jinxed. Nats/Senators have never had a good owner, no matter what century you research.

Posted by: EdDC | September 17, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

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