If you'd like to read the article I wrote about yesterday's press conference with fellow DC Sports Box writer Anthony Amobi, please head over to Nationals Welcome Slugger Adam Dunn to Washington.

There was plenty of good material that came out of the press conference and the series of interviews in the clubhouse afterwards. You might have already read some of the good stuff from Dan Steinberg's blog yesterday afternoon. But yep, that's me he's referring to in the first sentence. Hangin' with Steinz, Boz and Howie. Good times, indeed.

The best thing that came out of the whole parade for me was talking to Manager Manny Acta in the clubhouse. He really gets it, and it's refreshing to hear him say, "You win ballgames by scoring more runs than the other team, and you score more runs when you have more people on base."

The press conference started with Mark Lerner gushing about what Dunn means to the team and the organization, hyping him as "the power hitter we've been missing since...Frank Howard." I guess Lerner doesn't count Alfonso Soriano. Regardless, his point is well taken. Dunn is a classic slugger in the mold of Hondo, if not Reggie Jackson and Harmon Killebrew, as Boz is fond of saying these days.

In all baseball history the four players whom Dunn's stats mimic most closely through age 28 are Jackson, Killebrew, Jose Canseco and Darryl Strawberry. Dunn leads them all in homers, runs and walks. Will Dunn have a long healthy career like the first two and end someday with 600 homers, 1,500 runs and RBI and 1,800 walks? Or will he fade fast like the other two?

Next to speak was President Stan Kasten, who kept his remarks quick, mostly to praise the work of Dunn's agents and to hype the (still) overpriced right field bleacher seats at Nats Park. Still, Mr. Kasten made the claim that the team has "more optimism, more excitement and more anticipation for the coming season," than any season before. I guess he's forgotten about opening day last season. Maybe visions of homers flying over the Nats bullpen has his memory foggy.

Our favorite General Manager then took to the podium. To be completely open, I've done my fair share of bashing and baiting Mr. Bowden. Maybe not as much as my good friend Steven, but maybe even he and JimBow are seeing more eye-to-eye these days. But as far as Dunn goes, he's finally got a player that lives up to even his incredible amount of over-hype.

Dunn has posted a .381 career on-base percentage en route to 201 doubles, 278 home runs, 672 RBI, 797 walks and a .518 slugging percentage in 1131 games spanning eight big league seasons with Cincinnati and Arizona.

So then Acta took the podium, and with all his charm and self-assuredness, said point blank, before anyone could ask the question,

"At the end of spring training we'll decide what is going to be best for the Washington Nationals. He's going to have an opportunity to play first, play left field in spring training. It's still open and we appreciate that he's willing to do that. By the end of camp we're going to do what's best for the Nationals to win."

Manny knows that his batting order is better with Dunn and Nick Johnson both in it. He knows that the deal the Nats made for Josh Willingham was in anticipation of acquiring Mark Teixeira. He knows that an outfield of Dunn-Milledge-Dukes with Willingham providing depth for the lefty bats of Dunn and Johnson, and being a capable replacement in either slot is the strongest team alignment he can provide.

And if Austin Kearns can return to resemble the player Bowden traded for in the first place? You've got the makings of a real team. Anyone else remember Felipe Lopez and Paul LoDuca in left field last year?

So the last man to speak was the big guy himself, Adam Dunn. He said all the right things, was personable and easy-going, a man who was comfortable in knowing exactly who he was and what he was bringing to the team. Dunn is no prospect. He is no project. He is a major league baseball player, and a pretty darn effective one, at least with his bat. And if you believed him today, his knee surgery after the 2007 season is now fully healed and, according to him, his "best days are ahead of [him]."

The Nats hope that his best days are ahead of him. But if he can simply reproduce his numbers from the last five years, I don't think anyone is going to complain.

2 comments

  1. Uncle Dak // February 13, 2009 at 2:03 PM  

    I know his nickname is supposed to be "Big Donkey", but I think "Mongo" fits him much better . . . watch Mongo go mash tater now . .

  2. Dave Nichols // February 13, 2009 at 3:19 PM  

    to be sure, he is a very big person.