Why Adam Dunn is No Longer a National

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, December 03, 2010 | , , , | 31 comments »

Adam Dunn tosses his helmet after another strikeout. (C.Nichols/Nats News Network)

Adam Dunn is no longer property of the Washington Nationals for two simple reasons:

1)  The organization decided the expense -- in terms of amount of money and length of contract -- was not worth the risk on a decidedly flawed player. 

2)  Dunn and his agent were convinced that on the open market he could sign a four-year deal that would give him financial and geographical security for the bulk of his remaining playing time in Major League Baseball.

The factors that went into the Nationals' conclusion are up for debate, but if you want to look purely for baseball reasons, they are certainly out there.

Dunn has been one of the most prolific home run hitters over the last ten years.  That fact cannot be ignored, and just about every article being written about him the last 24 hours has included this worthwhile statistic:  He's second only to Albert Pujols in home runs the last two seasons.

However, that's the extent of his dominance.

His high on base percentage is a product of his approach at the plate, which is entirely focused on one thing: finding a fastball to drive 415 feet, the average length of his home runs.  It's why he walks -- and strikes out -- so much.  His lone goal is to hit a home run every single time at bat.  If he doesn't get his exact pitch, he'll take his base or sit down.

Over his 10 year career, 28.4 percent of Dunn's hits have gone for home runs, while 26.9 percent of his plate appearances ended in strikeouts and 16.3 percent ended in a base on balls.  Remarkable statistics.

Want a comparison to realize how remarkable that is?  Barry Bonds, the all-time leader in home runs, homered on "only" 25.9 percent of his hits.

There's certainly value in that.  And the power numbers he's put up in his career are impressive.  But he's a one-trick donkey.  It's a trick that enamours him to fans, because we all know that homers sell.  But if he doesn't hit a home run, he adds very little value to the offense.

While I generally do not believe in the notion of "clutch", I do believe in statistics, and it's hard to ignore Dunn's statistics in crucial situations over the course of his career. 

With two outs and runners in scoring position, over the course of 771 plate appearances in his career in that situation, Dunn hit .214.  His OBP, however was an "impressive" .429.  He has hit less -- but walked even more -- than his career norms in the most crucial of circumstances over his career.  His home run rate in that situation (4.4 percent of plate appearances) is also lower than his career norm (5.8 percent).

There's a lot of hand wringing and hair pulling and teeth gnashing about Ryan Zimmerman's comments to select reporters yesterday in the wake of Dunn's leaving.  You know what?  Boo hoo.  Zimmerman's contract isn't up until after the 2013 season.  There are a lot of things that could happen between now and then. 

There's plenty of time to build a winning team before Zimmerman has to make the decision that Dunn did yesterday.  There's plenty of time for Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores and Derek Norris and Chris Marrero and Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann and Drew Storen and Sammy Solis and A.J. Cole to form the nucleus of a winning baseball team.

And can we please dismiss the notion that Dunn "protected" Zimmerman in the lineup.  Protection is a fallacy, it doesn't exist.  There's no statistical evidence over the 120 years of professional baseball that proves that who hits behind a player in the order affects how that player will perform. 

Ryan Zimmerman has had his two best years the last two years because he's progressing as a player, reducing his yearly May slump, and just becoming a better-conditioned, better-prepared player.  His swinging strike percentage is getting better while the number of strikes he sees is getting lower.

He, simply, is an All-Star approaching his prime.

Will Zimmerman see a few more at bats this season where pitchers will pitch around him?  Perhaps.  But that happened this year as well, as the good starters knew that Dunn was an easier out than Zimmerman.

Frankly, there's a very good chance that Adam Dunn would be a broken down old man before this team was ready to compete, and Nats fans need to realize that.

Rizzo has been at the helm now effectively for two seasons, and he's rebuilding this team in the image he sees fit. There was a lot of work to do, more than what the casual fan can even fathom.

They're still digging out from the destruction Major League Baseball, Omar Minaya and Jim Bowden did to this organization. It sounds like an excuse, but reasons are different than excuses.

How to correct it? It starts by hiring competent, dedicated management. It starts by eliminating flawed players and finding better, more well rounded players. It starts by finding a stable of pitchers to build around and complementing those pitchers with enough offense as to not waste their efforts. It starts with deciding how you want to build your baseball team.

Rizzo knows what he thinks makes a competitive baseball team, and that's centered around ground ball pitchers with good strikeout rates and athletic defense; you can agree with it or not. He would have taken Dunn back -- on his terms -- but Dunn does not fit into Rizzo's mold of how to build a championship team. Only time will tell if Rizzo is right, and he's putting his job on the line to prove it.

Despite the obvious benefits of Dunn's prodigious power, Rizzo knows that Dunn is a lousy fielder, slow runner, and despite his friendship with Zimmerman, not necessarily a leader of men.

Not to mention that Dunn's on base percentage has declined the last two years and his walk rate last season was the lowest of his career.  In addition, his line drive rate has dropped the last three years, while his ground ball rate and ground out/fly out rate have both gone up.  These factors are not good for home run hitters.

It appears that his swing is slowly, but gradually deteriorating.  If I can find this out, so can Mike Rizzo.

Statistics don't measure how bad a fielder Dunn is, but they're a starting place. 

Granted, defense at first base is not the primary measuring stick, but does have to be taken into consideration.  Dunn's feet are so slow at the bag that he often could not get to balls hit five feet away from him.  He was terrible at going backwards on balls over his head.  He had no idea when to leave the bag to make a play.  And he was clueless on how to hold runners.

Some of that is attributed to having played the position for the first time last season.  But some of that is physical, and some of that was attitude. 

Phil Wood, of all people, had it best on this point yesterday, as he related a story about he and Dunn having a conversation during batting practice one day. 
He spoke at length about how hard he was working on improving his defensive skills, yet he was reluctant to come out early or stay late and take extra ground balls.  I spoke with him at length early this season about what batting practice meant to him. "It's just a way to loosen up," he said. But wouldn't it help to face someone who threw left-handed, or maybe made the ball move a little bit? "Probably," he said, and let it go at that.
Anecdotal, to be sure, but I think this not only speaks to the physical aspect of the game, but the leadership part as well.  Dunn loved to play "flip" with some of the guys before BP, but only half-heartedly would he participate in fielding drills before batting practice, often making jokes at his own expense as he would throw another ball into center field trying to make a throw to second base.

But that's his personality.  Dunn is, for lack of any better term, a goofball.  He doesn't seem to take anything seriously.  Some find that endearing.  Some find it annoying.

While we're on this topic, I am compelled to re-visit Dunn's trip to the Milwaukee Brewers radio booth DURING A GAME to visit his old buddy, Bob Uecker, following the Uek's return to the booth after heart surgery.  I took some flack on that for being over-reactive, but is that the type of thing a "leader" would do? 

Could you, even for a second, imagine Derek Jeter, or Pete Rose, or Cal Ripken -- or Ryan Zimmerman -- doing such a thing?

He left the bench, went through the clubhouse, up a public elevator in his uniform, sat in for a half inning on the opposing team's radio broadcast and returned to the bench -- while the game was being played.  As I wrote on July 25
There is plenty of time pre-game or post-game for Dunn to have caught up with Uecker. Before he reports, during batting practice, after the game. On HIS time. Dunn's personal time.

At game time, Dunn belongs on the bench, or the clubhouse, or the batting cage below the stands. Period. No exception. It's game time.
I ask again, are those the actions of a leader?  What if Scott Olsen or Elijah Dukes had done the same? 

"I wish you hadn't told me that," Manager Jim Riggleman said when he was told -- by reporters after the game -- what had happened.

I haven't even gotten into the whole financial aspect of the situation. 

It's entirely possible the Lerner family, faced with a complete season of Stephen Strasburg rehabbing his surgically repaired right elbow, simply decided they wouldn't pay $14 million per season to anybody this off-season, let alone a one-dimensional player. 

That seems to be the prevailing opinion on message boards and social media this morning.  And I'm not entirely discounting that opinion.

In fact, it's easy to see if that's what you're looking for.

But if you can look past that possibility, there are a lot of reasons why Adam Dunn is no longer a Washington National.  Most of which have to do with the actual game of baseball, and Mike Rizzo's idea of how to build a winner, on the field -- and off.

Time will tell if Rizzo made the right decision on Dunn, and it could very well be his signature decision with the Nationals.  If Dunn follows the path of Jim Thome toward the Hall of Fame and continues hitting 35-plus home runs for the next four years, and the Nats continue to be mired in mediocrity (or worse), we can all blame Rizzo for discarding one of the great power hitters of this generation. 

But if Dunn starts to break down, and by year two or three of his contract his stats look more like those of Richie Sexson, Mo Vaughn or this guy, Rizzo will have every right to say "I told you so."

31 comments

  1. David Lint // December 3, 2010 at 1:12 PM  

    Dave, I usually agree with what you write... but today... lets just say I think you missed the mark, by a mile.

    Dunn's a one trick pony? Does OBP not count anymore?

    I didn't know having an OBP in the high .370's-390's was considered a bad thing.

    You say statistics lie, yet you fill your article with them.

    Dunn's career OPS is .902, his career OPS with RISP is .890.

    If there is no such thing as 'protection' there is no such thing as 'clutch' stats bare that out... but I didn't see you commenting on that.

    Then, you go with the argument that his defense is much worse than the advanced metrics make him out to be... so which is it? Stats don't tell the truth, or they do?

    As I said, you're usually spot on, but this time, not so much.

  2. Jenn Jenson // December 3, 2010 at 1:16 PM  

    Boo hoo. Not sure what you intended, but that made me LOL.

    An interesting read, Dave. I'm okay with Dunn (and Mike Rizzo) moving on, but it would sure be nice to know there are useful additions coming both in the short run and in the longer-run.

  3. Jenn Jenson // December 3, 2010 at 1:32 PM  

    Probably obvious, but ... I'm okay with Mike Rizzo moving on in the sense that he didn't make a deal with Adam.

    I'm looking forward to learning what else Mike has planned.

  4. Anonymous // December 3, 2010 at 2:00 PM  

    Dave -- this is one of the best analyses of the Dunn event I've read. Straight to the point, no candy coating, and I appreciate that. Often, Dunn made the games interesting (however youwant to interpre that), though perhaps not winnable. Consistent inability to meet the demands of an AB (opposite field?? where's that?? behind the runner?? huh??) will not be missed. The real issue: Who's on first?

  5. Golfersal // December 3, 2010 at 2:03 PM  

    I tend to agree with everything that you wrote, how great Dunn has been that he could be on the downslide and four years is a long time to sign him.

    One other thing, I don't think that Dunn really wants to play for a winner, he is a good old boy that likes to have a good old time and have lots of friends and fans. He wants people that will give him praise for hitting 450 foot home runs, not giving him crap for striking out 200+ times a year.

    The problem with what has happened is timing. Last year at this time we saw all of the signings of Capps, Pudge, Marquis plus we knew that Strasburg was just a June call up away from stardom. But right now things have been quiet, nobody has been signed and now our only star player is leaving.

    Moral is at a all time low along with season ticket sales because frankly 2011 is not shaping up to be that great of a season and after six years of promises that the future would be bright, we are looking at another terrible season in 2011.

    Hope I am wrong on this.

  6. cass // December 3, 2010 at 2:27 PM  

    I appreciate you going into some depth about your opinions. Obviously, I disagree, and I suppose it comes down to two crucial points: the value of walks and how bad his defense really is.

    You say, "But if he doesn't hit a home run, he adds very little value to the offense."

    I say that his walks are very valuable. Not making an out (and thus ending the inning) 43% of the time when there are two outs and RISP sounds good to me. And what about with one out and RISP? Think about how much better a walk is than a weak groundball doubleplay (aka The Pudge Special). Not only does the inning continue when he walks, but he makes the opposing pitcher use more pitches and he will add runs if the guy behind him gets a hit.

    As for his defense, I donno, I think he's much better at 1st this year than last year. Certainly better at 1st than he was in left field. You give a a few negative anecdotes but leave out the positive ones. I remember in Spring Training hearing about how hard he was working on learning his new position. And not just vague mentions, but detailed accounts of how much time he was putting into taking ground balls again and again and again. Sounded like he was working more on defense than anyone else on the team by far. Actually, I remember some grumbling at the time that he was focusing too much on defense and that was hurting his hitting.

    No, he's not a perfect player, but he was the best first baseman on the market and the Nats had a chance to sign him. Very few other premiere free agents are even willing to come to Washington no matter how much money the Nats throw at them.

    I kinda dreamed about seeing Zimmerman, Dunn, and Harper together in the lineup in 2012, with someone like Willingham just adding to the insanity if healthy. If the Nats also got up to average at a few of their other spots in the lineup (there were well below average outside of the deadly Zimm-Dunn-Hammer combo this year), then suddenly the Nats might be up there with the most intimidating lineups in the league. And with a healthy Strasburg and a fully-realizes Zimmermann leading the rotation, the 2012 Nats could've had a decent shot at the playoffs.

    Nothing was guaranteed and they can still get there, certainly, but it's gonna be harder when they have to also fill the gaping hole at cleanup.

  7. Anonymous // December 3, 2010 at 2:30 PM  

    "1) The organization decided the expense -- in terms of amount of money and length of contract -- was not worth the risk on a decidedly flawed player."

    There's no evidence at all that amount of money had anything to do with it. It was all about the length of contract, as you have written elsewhere. Of course adding another year would have increased the total amount of money, but that's not a factor in this decision. In year four, there is no risk at all - there is a guarantee that the player would be unplayable at first base. His value then would be entirely as a Matt Stairs type PH. Perhaps there may be a need for that in 2014, but not at the price it would have cost to acquire Dunn for that role now. So year four never made sense at all. Year three was questionable too, but sometimes you have to do that kind of thing to get the player. The Nats showed they were willing to go that far for Dunn. If he'd have held out for some higher yet not insane total dollar amount in a three year deal, there's no reason at all to think the Nats would not have met that price. It was always, always about that fourth year. I hope Dunn enjoys sitting on the bench except for 4 ABs/game in 2014 as much as he would have enjoyed playing first base in DC for 2011-2013. That's the trade-off he made.

  8. Dave Nichols // December 3, 2010 at 2:31 PM  

    thanks everyone for your comments.

    @David, I obviously knew you'd have problems with this piece. i tried to show Dunn's positive contributions in addition to his limitations.

    as for OBP, it certainly counts. it's a big part of his value, and by showing his decline in the last three years i emphasize that as part of the warning flags.

    the "one trick" bit was a stab at some humor, and honestly, when you're arguing at a bar (or you're Kenny Williams) all people care about are the home runs.

    i used the advanced metrics AND observation AND anecdotal evidence in evaluation of his defense. where's the problem with that?

    i'd like for you to show me where exactly I said statistics lie though. other than that, you're entitled to your opinion as much as I am.

    thanks again for the debate.

  9. Dave Nichols // December 3, 2010 at 2:36 PM  

    @cass: thanks for the comment. as i said in my reply to David, i understandthe value of a walk, and certainly appreciate your comment about extending the inning and all, but really, are you paying Adam Dunn $14 million for four years to extend the inning or drive in those runs?

    @anon: it's been widely reported that the offer the Nats made the last week of the season was 3 years, $35 million, so yes, the average yearly salary did play a role. but you're right, it mostly was about that fourth year.

  10. Anonymous // December 3, 2010 at 2:36 PM  

    "Dunn's career OPS is .902, his career OPS with RISP is .890."

    Yeah, but with RISP and first base open a walk is as good as (or actually as bad as) a strikeout, because it still leaves it up to the next hitter to plate the runs. So OBP with RISP is meaningless, therefore so is OPS with RISP. Look at BA and SLG with RISP instead. Actually, check that. BA is all that matters there, since having runners "in scoring position" implies that any hit will do the job.

    Even RBI with RISP (assuming such a stat is even kept) would be better than OPS with RISP.

  11. Anonymous // December 3, 2010 at 2:57 PM  

    "I remember in Spring Training hearing about how hard he was working on learning his new position. And not just vague mentions, but detailed accounts of how much time he was putting into taking ground balls again and again and again."

    If you can believe Phil Wood, Dunn did not keep up that extra work on defense once the season started.

  12. Anonymous // December 3, 2010 at 3:02 PM  

    "@anon: it's been widely reported that the offer the Nats made the last week of the season was 3 years, $35 million, so yes, the average yearly salary did play a role. but you're right, it mostly was about that fourth year."

    Dunn apparently never came back to the Nats saying "I'll do three years, but I need more money." If he had, they surely would have given it to him as long as it wasn't a totally ridiculous demand. All he ever came back with in negotiations was "I need four years." You can't insinuate even the least little bit of Lerners are Cheap off of that.

  13. Anonymous // December 3, 2010 at 3:09 PM  

    "It sounds like an excuse, but reasons are different than excuses."

    Actually they're one and the same thing. The word "excuse" is just what has come to be used when negative connotations are being implied.

  14. Dave Nichols // December 3, 2010 at 3:12 PM  

    "Actually they're one and the same thing. The word "excuse" is just what has come to be used when negative connotations are being implied."

    Really? That's what you want to call me to task on? C'mon.

  15. Souldrummer // December 3, 2010 at 4:49 PM  

    Solid piece, and probably the best debunking of Dunn The Great that I've seen. I don't totally buy into it, but it's certainly solid.

    My other reasons for doing the deal:

    1) Lack of 1B depth in the organization and not so great options on the free agent market.

    2) You messed up by not trading him earlier.

    3) Local PR hit by losing him in a very fragile market.
    ----
    All of these can be addressed in some way and it will be interested to see how they do address them.

  16. Anonymous // December 3, 2010 at 4:50 PM  

    Dave,
    First of all, I just want to say this was one of your best pieces you have written, if not the best. I agree with a lot of the things you wrote and learned things I didn't know know (such as Phil Wood thing about his attitude).

    I think the White Sox will either have a really good deal or bad deal, I tend to think the Nats made the right move and this article only reinforced it. Their biggest mistake was probably not going for a four year deal to begin with.

    I do have to say I have one substantial disagreement with you though in terms of "protection." I think Zimm was greatly enhanced especially during the first half of the season of having Dunn than Willingham after him.

    I know your a bigger stats guy than I am, but look at Markakis, he almost hit single digit homers, if the O's had a real clean-up hitter, I doubt this would be the case.

  17. Souldrummer // December 3, 2010 at 4:54 PM  

    Solid piece, and probably the best debunking of Dunn The Great that I've seen. I don't totally buy into it, but it's certainly solid.

    My other reasons for doing the deal:

    1) Lack of 1B depth in the organization and not so great options on the free agent market.

    2) You messed up by not trading him earlier.

    3) Local PR hit by losing him in a very fragile market.
    ----
    All of these can be addressed in some way and it will be interested to see how they do address them.

  18. Anonymous // December 3, 2010 at 4:54 PM  

    The other thing I wanted to add was the whole MLB stewardship. I think at this point it's an excuse, look at the Marlins/Dbacks, and even the 2nd year run of the Rockies.

    The Expos/Nats, did better under MLB's stewardship than under the Lerners. After a certain amount of time, you can't use the previous personnel as a rationale.

    I understood talking about while JimBo was still here but now we have almost completely gutted the front office of pre-Lerner people.

  19. Dave Nichols // December 3, 2010 at 5:20 PM  

    Anon: thanks for the kind words.

    if you figure a player's peak productive years are from age 25-30, then those players for the Nationals would have been drafted roughtly 10-12 years ago, from the years 1998-2006 or so.

    the Nats have two of those players on their current roster: Desmond and Balester.

    where are the rest? Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips...all all-stars for other orgainzations, traded away by Miyana after MLB said they were contracting the franchise.

    how about young stars drafted by Jim Bowden from 2005-2008? Zimmerman, Lannan and Zimmermann are the only standouts.

    there's still a lot of work to be done.

  20. Anonymous // December 3, 2010 at 5:57 PM  

    "if you figure a player's peak productive years are from age 25-30, then those players for the Nationals would have been drafted roughtly 10-12 years ago, from the years 1998-2006 or so.

    the Nats have two of those players on their current roster: Desmond and Balester.

    where are the rest? Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips...all all-stars for other orgainzations, traded away by Miyana after MLB said they were contracting the franchise.

    how about young stars drafted by Jim Bowden from 2005-2008? Zimmerman, Lannan and Zimmermann are the only standouts.

    there's still a lot of work to be done."
    -->My point what I was trying to highlight and you didn't really address was the Rockies/Dbacks both made the playoffs in their 2nd year (with the Dbacks winning it in their 4th year), the Marlins won the WS in their 5th year. Those teams I listed above all started from scratch.

    There's no question, that Minaya, on MLB orders decimated the club's inventory, but it could've easily been Bally/Desmond who moved and Phillips/Sizemore/Lee who stayed. The MLB draft other than the cream of the crop of players is such a crapshoot.

    So far Rizzo hasn't had any real luck in the drafts so far, discounting top 10 picks including two first overall ones. Although I will say it's way to early.

    Here's a good analogy for you and I hate to be political, after a certain amount of time, Bush's "problems" become Obama's "problems." I think the Nats have had sufficent time since MLB stopped being caretakers. It is no longer appropriate to use them as an excuse.

  21. Anonymous // December 3, 2010 at 6:08 PM  

    Every team let's good prospects get away. Look at the Orioles-Jayson Werth, Casey Blake, and Jose Bautista.

    Before that, who could forget the infamous Glenn Davis trade, riding the O's of Curt Schilling, Steve Finley, and Pete Harnisch.

    I guess that was OK though since MLB was running it.

  22. Dave Nichols // December 3, 2010 at 6:09 PM  

    anon, i appreciate the debate, and fair points about the expansion teams. those teams were better run -- top to bottom -- than the Nats/Expos have been for the last ten years.

    bottom line: this transaction fully puts Rizzo's stamp on this franchise.

  23. AD // December 3, 2010 at 6:14 PM  

    Dave, great blog, maybe one of your best ever. In any case, Dunn is in the past, everyone wishes him well, but we need to move on. I'm thinking going hard after Crawford(for leadoff) or Werth (for some pop) and moving Morse to first. They'd all be defensive upgrades, and we'd be playing small ball with the best of them in 2011. Any thoughts?

  24. cass // December 3, 2010 at 11:04 PM  

    AD:

    Why on earth would Werth or Crawford want to come to Washington? I assume they're in the same boat as Texeira: they'll sign with a winner even if they have to pass up more money. I'm not sure if they'd sign here if we offered double the next team...

    Course, I'm not excited about Werth for silly reasons: I don't like the Phillies and he complimented the Phillies fans after the game where they booed Zimmerman during his GG/SS awards ceremony and were generally classless. "Our home away from home", I think he called Nats park. The Phillies can keep him.

    (Yeah, I know. Silly.)

  25. Anonymous // December 4, 2010 at 12:08 AM  

    "My point what I was trying to highlight and you didn't really address was the Rockies/Dbacks both made the playoffs in their 2nd year (with the Dbacks winning it in their 4th year), the Marlins won the WS in their 5th year. Those teams I listed above all started from scratch."

    Yes, but those expansion teams all took the "buy a pennant" approach and ended up not being able to sustain their teams at that level for long. The Marlins actually did it twice, winning the WS and then decimating the team immediately. You want that here?

    The Nats once they left MLB ownership have taken the "build from within" approach and stuck with it. Kind of like what the Rays did. It takes a while. And if you say that an expansion team starts at ground zero, an argument could be made that the Nats had to start from below ground zero. At least an expansion team gets to select its initial roster from other teams players that they probably still want but are not allowed to protect, kind of like the Rule 5. The Nats started off with a motley collection of players who were largely a collection of other teams' rejects assembled by MLB. Less than zero.

  26. Anonymous // December 4, 2010 at 4:02 PM  

    Were this an analysis of a player seeking $25 million a la Ryan Howard from a team that couldn't afford $56 million over 4 years (which probably would've been lower had Rizzo ever come ot the barganing table after Sept. 20th) on a guy with Dunn's age and resume, it'd hold a lot more water. Are we honestly believing that a three-year deal at $12 per suddenly makes Dunn acceptable if Rizzo is so truly committed to the "athletic defense" philopsophy and would risk the supposedly significant hit to his ground-ball pitching staff for three full years?

    OR maybe Dunn's first year at 1B (check his UZR against Pena's) isn't quite as potentially detrimental as some would have us believe, particuarly given the offensive production at 1B that is unlikley to be replicated from anyone else the Nationals will be sticking there. Moreover, maybe Dunn's asking price in both years and money was more than reasonable for a team trying to be competitve over the next four years.

    And as far as the "risk" of 31-year-old Dunn tailing off in four years, it's a good risk given his durability and it's the sort of risk that teams seeking to improve have to take, especially if you want to attract key veteran free agents down the road and not just pay lip service to signing them. This is the business that Rizzo and the Lerners have chosen, and they can't have every deal and player perfectly tailored to the team's latest 5-year plan if they ever want that plan to transition into reality. Rizzo's reported willingness to endure three years of Dunn's glove at double digit money makes his balk at another year look much less like a commitment to a team building philosophy and much more like an amateur who muffed it.

  27. Anonymous // December 4, 2010 at 6:58 PM  

    "Yes, but those expansion teams all took the "buy a pennant" approach and ended up not being able to sustain their teams at that level for long. The Marlins actually did it twice, winning the WS and then decimating the team immediately. You want that here?"
    -->That's the approach the Yankees have taken too under George Steinbrenner. Bottomline is those teams won. If the Nats suddenly went on a spending binge and miracously won a WS, I guarantee you, fans would be happy. And for the record, the Marlins despite a much lower payroll have always been more competitive than the Nats. The Rockies got back to the playoffs (and then the Series) in 2007. And the Dbacks have been back to the playoffs.

    "The Nats once they left MLB ownership have taken the "build from within" approach and stuck with it. Kind of like what the Rays did. It takes a while. And if you say that an expansion team starts at ground zero, an argument could be made that the Nats had to start from below ground zero. At least an expansion team gets to select its initial roster from other teams players that they probably still want but are not allowed to protect, kind of like the Rule 5. The Nats started off with a motley collection of players who were largely a collection of other teams' rejects assembled by MLB. Less than zero."
    -->So your saying the (Devil) Rays planned to be cellar dwellers for a decade? I think the Nats took a quasi-"buy the pennant" approach in 2005 when they they had mostly veterans. Of course, their strategy has shifted, between a departed President, 2 GMs, and 3 managers and many roster overhauls. Also it looks like the Rays will be dismanntling their roster, so thier longterm success won't be sustaned.

    This was not an expansion team, explain Ian Desmond and Roger Bernedina, not to mention MLB drafted Zimm. They were poorly run, they didn't have to start over. Under your theory the Caps are also an "expansion" team after dismantling their roster.

    So I take your happy with the direction of the franchise? And your buying into the Lerners "plan."

    You sound like Phil Wood, typical Nats apologist.

  28. Anonymous // December 5, 2010 at 11:28 AM  

    "This was not an expansion team, explain Ian Desmond and Roger Bernedina, not to mention MLB drafted Zimm. They were poorly run, they didn't have to start over. Under your theory the Caps are also an "expansion" team after dismantling their roster."

    I never said the Nats were an expansion team. I said they started out from below where an expansion team would have started. And they did. You don't get that. And if you don't get that, you don't get anything else I wrote either.

  29. Anonymous // December 5, 2010 at 1:23 PM  

    Simple as this...The Nats cheaped out....Yet again! The fans will pay and have to endure another last place finish by what is effectively a AA ball club masquerading as an MLB team. Attendence will continue to spiral downwards and within 5 years the team will be attempting to leave DC. Mark My words. Lets all sing like the Lerners sing "Cheap...Cheap ...Cheap...Cheap... Cheap!"

  30. cass // December 5, 2010 at 10:35 PM  

    Ok, so maybe I was a little bit wrong about Werth being unwilling to sign with the Nats...

    Now I have to figure out how to forgive him for insulting Zimmerman and all Nats fans. Seven years? Mrrrph.

  31. Anonymous // December 6, 2010 at 2:39 AM  

    "I never said the Nats were an expansion team. I said they started out from below where an expansion team would have started. And they did. You don't get that. And if you don't get that, you don't get anything else I wrote either."
    -->When was the last team an expansion team went 500? The Nats did that in 2005. If the were "below" an expansion team, how did they get players like Ian Desmond and Roger Bernedina, both players on the club while the club still existed in Montreal. Your argument fails once again.