I can't get too worked up over Adam Dunn's decision to sign with the White Sox. A four-year, $56 million contract is less than what his agent had called "a starting point" for a new deal, and I'll be quite interested in seeing how often skipper Ozzie Guillen -a former Gold Glove shortstop - pencils Adam's name in at first base.
For all of those National fans who claimed they'd stop going to the ballpark if Dunn wasn't re-signed, I wonder how many will stick to that. The assumption that the ballclub will suffer for Dunn's absence, without knowing what else they will do this offseason seems entirely premature, and also indicates a complete lack of confidence in Mike Rizzo.
No matter, really. There are other first basemen available this winter, and I also would not be shocked to see the Nats make a meaningful trade - or two - before pitchers and catchers report to Viera. Rizzo - and company - aren't sitting still. If the bottom line is really wins and losses, will it matter next October who's playing first if the win total is 80 or above?
Sure, personally I had hoped that Dunn would stay, but I understand why many in the game find him a frustrating presence. 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.
Dunn can be an electrifying presence at the plate. His swing was consistent, whether he made contact or not. I spoke with Frank Howard about Dunn's swing last spring, and he said that while, yes, it was a pretty swing, he thought Dunn was "too picky" insofar as deciding whether to swing or not. "He takes too many pitches over the plate and doesn't protect the plate very well when he's behind in the count," Hondo said. Howard, who doubled his walk total and greatly decreased his propensity to whiff when Ted Williams was his manager, thought Dunn's approach would've infuriated Teddy Ballgame. "Ted would've been on him constantly," he said, "particularly as often as he's called out on strikes."
I wish Dunn well with the Pale Hose. The AL Central should be fun to watch in 2011 with a three-way battle predicted between Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit.
Next question: Will Dunn wrestle Jake Peavy for uniform #44?