Adam Dunn gets you to two problems

DMZ · December 3, 2008 at 8:54 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

There’s a lot of chat in the Russell Branyan comments about Adam Dunn. Dunn reminds me of this Jamie Zawinski quote about Perl.

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think “I know, I’ll use regular expressions.” Now they have two problems.

There’s a whole class of free agent players like this, and the M’s have made too many of these signings in the past. Dunn’s going to get at least a three year, $30m deal, as Dave noted. It’s likely it’ll be more expensive if not longer as well. In return he’ll produce a nice .250/.380/.510 line next year. Hey, it’s the first year of Richie Sexson’s contract! YAYYYY!! Oh wait.

Say you sign Dunn and put him in left field. He’s maybe and probably not a defensive upgrade on Ibanez when the Mariners need at least a competent glove out there and can get outsized benefits by playing a quality defender. And you get a modest offensive boost over Ibanez. In that first year.

All it costs the team is most or nearly all of what remains of this year’s free agent budget.

Say you DH him instead, and he’s somehow willing to accept the position switch. The average DH hit .256/.339/.435 (and that’s a pretty bad year for DHs, too). That line of Dunn’s would put him in the top tier at his position, and he’s be worth ~30 runs over what the M’s got out of the position all season (actually, more than that, I always forget how wretched Vidro was — 30 runs over what any team should have received by playing a random AAA slugger).

Then the next year, and the next — Dunn’s not fast and doesn’t make contact, and those guys age badly. Maybe you escape the collapse on a short enough deal, but the risk’s going to be there. Just like Richie. We can’t be that far away from that lesson that it’s not on everyone’s mind when you look at Dunn.

At 3y/$30m, maybe you can justify paying him to DH. I don’t think you should, because you can spend that money and get a lot more for it. But you can at least say “we’re going to get one or two wins over an average DH every year, and that’s worth it.”

That’s the minimum it’s going to take to get Dunn. Worse players have in recent years received much better deals, and there’s enough money and interested teams that I can easily see him getting 5/$60m. And that seems low on the money as I look at it. It doesn’t take much to get to 5/$70m. We’ve seen that teams don’t value defense properly — after all, Beltre’s widely regarded as a bust and he might have been the best player on the team last year. Why wouldn’t Dunn’s bat get him something at least that lucrative?

At five years you might as well start thinking about the bread and steak sauce you want on the shit sandwich you’re going to be eating in the last years of that deal.

Meanwhile, think about the M’s long-term situation. We don’t know what’s going to happen with Clement. At the very least the team’s going to need to find a way to get him a lot of at-bats while sharing catching duties. Logistically, that’s a lot easier to work out if he’s getting those plate appearances as DH, though as you’d suspect I’d love to see the team do something a lot more complicated with a multi-headed platoon arrangement (which I’ll spare you). If you don’t know if Clement winds up as a first baseman or DH a year from now and you’re looking out for the long-term, why block another potential position for him with a declining player weighed down with a massive long-term contract?

The Mariners need to be looking to hugely upgrade their defense, and that rules out playing Dunn in the field. If they’re not playing him in the field, they can find a lot more value for their DH and spend that money on other free agents who can help them more.

And moreover, if you think the M’s have a bad clubhouse atmosphere now, and you think it’s important to the rebuild to put together a new winning attitude and cohesive team of positive, hard-working players who work together towards a shared goal, you should not be able to so much as hold the thought “The Mariners should sign Adam Dunn” for long without a matter/anti-matter reaction exploding your skull.

Dunn: your life isn’t worth thinking about it for too long.

Comments

61 Responses to “Adam Dunn gets you to two problems”

  1. Teej on December 3rd, 2008 9:10 pm

    I’m fully in agreement with Derek and Dave that a long-term contract for Dunn would be a mistake, but I have a sincere, non-rhetorical question:

    Why does the “Adam Dunn doesn’t have a good attitude” thing keep coming up? From J.P. Ricciardi’s comment that Dunn “doesn’t even like baseball” to the common complaint from fans that he’s got a negative attitude, I just don’t know where it comes from. Has he said things to warrant the “bad attitude” label?

  2. Thievery on December 3rd, 2008 9:15 pm

    Has he said things to warrant the “bad attitude” label?

    No, he just hangs out with Ryan Freel a bit too often…

  3. DMZ on December 3rd, 2008 9:53 pm

    Beyond the obvious Google-able quotes, the JP thing, and the occasionally veiled references about makeup or whatnot:

    Every story I’ve heard from people in and around baseball about Adam Dunn centers around what an enormous jerk he is. I can’t think of another player I’ve heard so many bad things about.

    Obviously, standard disclaimers apply, it’s all anecdotal, everyone may just be making stuff up, or whatever.

  4. msb on December 3rd, 2008 10:13 pm

    and the next thing you know, Griffey follows him home, and Dunn wants to keep him.

  5. insidetheparker on December 3rd, 2008 10:14 pm

    I’d rather let our GM build through the draft…. no need to waste money on over-the-hill hitters.

  6. Teej on December 3rd, 2008 10:16 pm

    Yeah, if you hear something so often, it’s hard not to believe there’s at least some truth there. I hadn’t heard much about him being a jerk — I’ve heard things more along the lines of him being simply apathetic and perhaps too low-key for some people’s tastes — but I don’t know people in and around baseball.

    Thanks for answering.

  7. PositivePaul on December 3rd, 2008 10:18 pm

    Count me in as one of those non-USSM/LLemmings who was OK with giving Dunn a 3-4 year deal. That said, I’m 100% cool with Zduriencik giving Branyan 1/5th-1/10th of Dunn’s salary for a year. It can’t cost $10-12 million to get a RH bat to platoon with Branyan and get 75-80% of Dunn’s production in 2009. Branyan’s always struck me as a poor man’s Dunn, but with a glove that actually sorta works…

  8. pmbaseball7 on December 3rd, 2008 10:22 pm

    I think you’re forgeting that Dunn is 29, Sexson was 31 when we signed him. Dunn is perfect for 3 years and he’s LH.

  9. nickwest1976 on December 3rd, 2008 10:25 pm

    Dunn to me duplicates what we just got with Branyan. Sure Dunn is better but at 1.4mil, Branyan is a buy low guy with good upside to help us.

    I would much rather see the M’s address the middle infield and the OF defense with their free agent money than adding another bad glove who has to play DH.

    Would love to see GM Z go after JJ Hardy to play SS…

  10. pmbaseball7 on December 3rd, 2008 10:28 pm

    Yeah our middle infield just doesn’t cut it. I’d love for them to pick up JJ. Another thing is when the M’s played good defense they won 116 games.

  11. awestby51 on December 3rd, 2008 10:29 pm

    I would love JJ Hardy at SS, get Yuni out. Give them J. Lopez, sign F. Lopez.

  12. _David_ on December 3rd, 2008 10:32 pm

    Wait, I thought Cust was the LH-three-true-outcomes-no-defense-slugger who’s widely considered a jerk!

  13. DMZ on December 3rd, 2008 10:33 pm

    Dunn will be 29 when next season starts.
    Sexson was 30 for his first Mariner season.

  14. Zero Gravitas on December 3rd, 2008 10:35 pm

    At five years you might as well start thinking about the bread and steak sauce you want on the shit sandwich you’re going to be eating in the last years of that deal.

    Best use of the term “shit sandwich” since Spinal Tap – kudos!

  15. MyOhMy on December 3rd, 2008 10:39 pm

    A-fricken-Men DMZ! And the “shit sandwich” comment had me LOL …

  16. CCW on December 3rd, 2008 10:42 pm

    I get frustrated with these arguments, because people don’t adequately describe their assumptions. Obviously, there is a price at which signing Adam Dunn would be a bad move. Personally, 3 years $36M is the line I would draw.

    IF you can get him for $36M over three years, though, I think you have to do it. The comparisons to Sexson fall apart in that context, because (a) Dunn is flat-out better than Sexson (a 28 year old with a career .380 OBP is just very different player than Sexson has ever been); (b) he can play LF if you need him to (say Felix is pitching, example – not a lot of harm done in that case); (c) that’s less money than Sexson got 5 YEARS AGO; and (d) it’s a shorter deal with a far greater likelihood that Dunn will be productive through the end of it.

    If it’s going to cost too much over too many years, then yeah, of course it’s a bad idea for all the reasons DMZ sets forth. The only way to “resolve” this question is to see how much Dunn actually ends up getting and analyze whether the M’s should have paid 5% more and signed him instead. In the abstract, where we are now, these arguments fall apart unless you’re very clear about your assumptions.

    Put it this way: between Dunn, Clement, and Branyan, at C, 1B, DH, and sometimes LF, with the possibility for an above-average starting rotation and pretty good bullpen, and maybe even good defense if that is emphasized in CF and LF, the M’s start to look like an 85-win team. If you can put an 85-win team on the field, and stay within your budget, and continue to develop the young talent already in the system, then you ought to do it. Not that Dunn is the only way to get there, of course, but it could work.

  17. Teej on December 3rd, 2008 10:45 pm

    I just don’t see Dunn signing a free-agent contract for less money per year than he made last year.

  18. CMC_Stags on December 3rd, 2008 10:47 pm

    I keep being reminded of what Tampa’s owner said before the season to ESPN the Magazine (I’m paraphrasing here):

    We can’t afford to have a DH like the Yankees or the Red Sox.

    I think what he meant and what DMZ wrote are intrinsically linked. Teams without unlimited budget constraints need to look first to their positional players, starting pitching, and back-end relievers. Those are the guys who are going to win you your games. The rest of it is just filler. Hopefully you have a team full of very useful filler where the long relievers can spot start and the back-up 1B and corner outfielders form effective platoons for those positions and rotate through the DH with positional players needing days off. Mark McLemore, John Halama, etc.

    The M’s need to fix 1B still (Branyan is a good start, but is not the long term solution and should sit versus LH starters), LF, CF/RF (wherever you don’t play Ichiro!), and SS.

    I would argue that they need another starting plus defensive outfielder who hits lefties to platoon with Reed as well as another plus defensive outfielder who can hit against both.

    They need a 1B that can hit lefties to platoon with Branyan. Mike Morse may be the man to fill this role if healthy (career .331/.387/.460 slash line versus RH in 137 plate appearances). Even then another backup 3B/1B would be nice in case the team does trade Beltre.

    This means that on any given day the 4th OF, Morse/Branyan, and Clement/Johjima will be on the bench. While none of them are the hitter than Dunn is, they will all already be on the team and free for the team to play as DH. If you have Dunn, then the other are wasted just sitting on the bench on their off day.

    I’d much rather take the 3/$30 or more that it would take to sign Dunn and bring in Rocco Baldelli and Juan Rivera and maybe have money left over to go towards a SS. There is a discount price at which Dunn is probably worth it, but for these M’s and with how big the Safe’s outfield is, I’d rather have plus defenders in all the OF positions (Cameron, Ichiro!, and Winn) to help out our pitchers. Besides, Dunn will probably not be going to go for that large a discount and if he did, wouldn’t Baldelli and Rivera go for discounts as well?

  19. CMC_Stags on December 3rd, 2008 10:49 pm

    CCW- If you have

    Dunn, Clement, and Branyan, at C, 1B, DH, and sometimes LF

    I don’t think it’s very likely that the M’s will have

    the possibility for an above-average starting rotation and pretty good bullpen

    and they especially won’t have

    good defense if that is emphasized in CF and LF

    if you’re playing Dunn out there.

  20. DMZ on December 3rd, 2008 10:54 pm

    (a) Dunn is flat-out better than Sexson (a 28 year old with a career .380 OBP is just very different player than Sexson has ever been)

    Different, yes. Better? In 2003, at 28, Sexson hit .272/.379/.548. In his full seasons going into his year-29, as Dunn will be, he’d racked up a ~.270/.350/.520 line.

    Dunn’s career line is .247/.381/.518

    It’s not all that far off. If anything you’d think Sexson should have aged better since he had the higher average.

  21. MyOhMy on December 3rd, 2008 10:56 pm

    CCW, 3 yrs, $36M won’t even get you a seat at the table with Dunn! I agree there is a price that would make him worth signing, but 3/36 isn’t even worth talking about. Jose Guillen got that last year … I’m not saying it shouldn’t get you to the table, but it just proves the point on how overpriced he will be.

  22. xxtinynickxx on December 3rd, 2008 11:05 pm

    JJ hardy, Felipe Lopez and Doug Mientkiewicz should be brought in to help the Mariners. Forget Dunn, Dunn is similar but not exact to Sexson. Mientkiewicz may not have the power but he will bring leadership that is sorely lacking from the clubhouse. Mariners should snatch these guys up because they wont cost a lot and they are worth ever penny and seem to fit with the Mariners future. Dunn is to expensive and the reality is he can hit homers but is not going to bring the Mariners anything for his cost.

    Also if the Mariners don’t go after Hardy how does everyone feel about Jack Wilson from the pirates?

  23. DMZ on December 3rd, 2008 11:14 pm

    This got into rosterbation quickly.

  24. xxtinynickxx on December 3rd, 2008 11:25 pm

    Sorry I just can’t help it I love the signing of Branyan!

  25. diderot on December 3rd, 2008 11:29 pm

    This got into rosterbation quickly.

    That’s because your argument is hard to refute.
    A better way to put the question, I think, is whether we’d take what we think is low ball for Dunn (3yr/$30-$36m) and see if Beltre would take it in the form of an extension.
    Personally, I’d much rather keep him. As a matter of fact, I’d rather keep him than anyone else playing on the field, including Ichiro.

  26. Scooter4 on December 4th, 2008 1:11 am

    They just need to re-sign WFB and let him play every position on the field at the same time. He has enough grit to cover that much ground on a play.

  27. terry on December 4th, 2008 4:33 am

    Every story I’ve heard from people in and around baseball about Adam Dunn centers around what an enormous jerk he is. I can’t think of another player I’ve heard so many bad things about.

    I think this shouldn’t be allowed to stand unchallenged.

    Having been at ground zero in the Cincinnati market for essentially his whole major league career as a Red, I have yet to hear a litany of comments that could lead to the above opinion being supported. Frankly, I have yet to hear a sprinkling of comments that would support the notion that Dunn is a jerk.

    Dunn has been a prolific bat (4 to 4.5 wins better than replacement in one of the bigger pools of lumber on the diamond) with old player skills who loses value when considering his glove and position adjustments. He also has a laid back personality which might even motivate baseball guys to question his makeup. Heck maybe even it’s acceptable to draw inferences about his failed experiment at first base.

    But please, the guy really can’t be characterized as a clubhouse cancer. If anything he’s too much of the clubhouse prankster. Leader? No. Jerk? I think that assertion needs one to show his work.

  28. DaveValleDrinkNight on December 4th, 2008 5:32 am

    Rocco!Rocco!Rocco!

    Yes, he has had health issues.

    He’s younger, a far better defensive player, cheaper, and who knows, a solid left-fielder for years to come.

    $30 MIL over 3 years vs. $9 MIL over 3.
    Give or take.

  29. DMZ on December 4th, 2008 7:17 am

    Pure offensive VORP:

    03: 1
    04: 5.5
    05: 4.5
    06: 2
    07: 4.5
    08: 3 (edit: that should be 4: 3 with the Reds, 1 with the Diamondbacks)

    I don’t find that reassuring.

    w/r/t jerk: I explained why I hold that view. That you disagree doesn’t make it invalid, or impossible.

  30. terry on December 4th, 2008 7:29 am

    Dunn had a VORP of 27.2 for Cincy and a VORP of 10.2 for the Dbacks in ’09 for and ’08 VORP of “4″.

    w/r/t jerk: I explained why I hold that view. That you disagree doesn’t make it invalid, or impossible.

    I didn’t argue it was invalid or impossible just less likely in my view given what I’ve experienced through my time at GABP and representatives of the Reds org at various functions. I asked for specific examples to support your claim.

  31. DMZ on December 4th, 2008 7:39 am

    Oh, I totally screwed that query up. My fault. It’s early yet.

  32. Dave on December 4th, 2008 8:02 am

    Dunn is perfect for 3 years and he’s LH.

    He’s perfect if you’re striving for mediocrity.

    IF you can get him for $36M over three years, though, I think you have to do it.

    You don’t have to do anything. If he’s a league average player, his fair market value is about $10 or $11 million. There’s no reason that this team needs to be stockpiling more league average players signed to multiyear contracts.

    a) Dunn is flat-out better than Sexson (a 28 year old with a career .380 OBP is just very different player than Sexson has ever been);

    Sexson, 2003: .391 wOBA
    Dunn, 2008: .383 wOBa

    (b) he can play LF if you need him to (say Felix is pitching, example – not a lot of harm done in that case)

    I’m sorry, but no – just because the Reds sank their team by letting him run around the outfield doesn’t mean he can play LF. He should never be allowed to wear a glove.

    (c) that’s less money than Sexson got 5 YEARS AGO

    That was a horrible, awful contract five years ago. If I shot you, and now I only want to stab you, it doesn’t make it a good idea just because it’s less lethal.

    (d) it’s a shorter deal with a far greater likelihood that Dunn will be productive through the end of it.

    The probability of benefit isn’t very large – best case scenario, he’s a minor asset. The downside is much larger.

    The rise of statistical analysis has unfortunately given rise to the very lazy OBP = Good philosophy, where a player with tremendous flaws in his game is viewed as some kind of star by people who believe that a high OBP covers a multitude of sins.

    Adam Dunn is a league average player. You want cheap league average players, not expensive ones, so that you can spend real money on acquiring some stars. Continuing to spend significant chunks of payroll on non-stars is just a bad idea.

  33. coasty141 on December 4th, 2008 8:10 am

    Thanks for the post! I’ve been wondering about Dunn. I knew you two weren’t really high on him but I knew Dunn has some value. Thanks for the thoughts on what his worth is to a ballclub.

  34. Mr. Egaas on December 4th, 2008 8:37 am

    The Regex reference is the reason I love this blog.

  35. CCW on December 4th, 2008 9:20 am

    Adam Dunn is a league average player. You want cheap league average players, not expensive ones, so that you can spend real money on acquiring some stars. Continuing to spend significant chunks of payroll on non-stars is just a bad idea.

    This is great in theory, but not easy to accomplish in practice. What “stars” are available this year that would fit that bill? As to pitchers, the risk is huge (e.g. Sabathia and Burnett). As to hitters, who is there? Furcal, perhaps. In fact, Dave’s “win this year plan” (http://ussmariner.com/2008/09/30/reload-the-offseason-plan-to-win-in-2008/) involves signing Milton Bradley to play DH (instead of, in our hypothetical, Adam Dunn), signing Furcal, and trading for Hart and Brad Nelson. The two scenarios just aren’t that different.

    Look, it isn’t that complicated… if the M’s want to win in 2009 (and considering that the division ought to be winnable next year, I think they should try), then the obvious things they need to do are (a) fix the defense and (b) fill the gaping holes that were 1B and DH last year. Now, I’m not saying they *must* sign a 1B/DH (that would be Bavasi-style thinking), but they need a few bats – league average, at least – from somewhere. The fact that they currently have no 1B means they do have the option of signing a guy like Dunn. I agree with Dave. I’d go for Bradley first. But Dunn, at the right price, ought to be an option as well.

  36. philosofool on December 4th, 2008 9:22 am

    I offer the following criticism in no way as an attempt to refute the claim that Dunn is ultimately league average. He’s not worth signing. His defense is bad and would be too expensive as a DH.

    However, I don’t think it’s fair to say “Dunn is Sexson” and base all of your performance expectations on that comparison. While numbers like slugging and wOBA make them look comparable, Dunn’s underlying skill set is not Sexon’s.

    Dunn has much better plate discipline than Sexson. Sexson has a carrer of swinging at about 4% more pitches than Dunn, but he makes contact less. (and for guys with their sort of contact rate, swinging is bad.) Both are terrible contact hitters, but Dunn’s 72% in 2008 is 5% higher than Sexson’s 67.5% in 2005. Dunn has about a 3% higher walk rate during his career than Sexson had at the same age. He also struck out more during that period, but his OBP during that period is much higher than Sexson’s was.

    Dunn may collapse at the age of 32 or 33. But the evidence that he will isn’t perfect, and he’s not comparable enough to Sexson to base a conclusion on that comparison. Dunn may remain a major league slugger for several more seasons. I just hope he doesn’t do it in Seattle.

  37. Dave on December 4th, 2008 9:26 am

    What “stars” are available this year that would fit that bill?

    This is the horrible thinking that brought us Carlos Silva as “the best available starter”.

    then the obvious things they need to do are (a) fix the defense and (b) fill the gaping holes that were 1B and DH last year.

    Again, this is just a terrible way to approach roster building. Once you get into “I need x”, you’ve missed it. The team’s focus should be making the team better, and pigeonholing yourself into needing a certain kind of thing is a great way to make a bad move.

  38. Dave on December 4th, 2008 9:29 am

    Dunn may collapse at the age of 32 or 33. But the evidence that he will isn’t perfect, and he’s not comparable enough to Sexson to base a conclusion on that comparison.

    Okay, I’m going to say this one more time, and hopefully it will sink in.

    Adam Dunn doesn’t have to collapse – he’s a league average player right now, with his current skills. I’m not projecting him to fall apart – I’m projecting him to be the same okay bat, awful glove guy that he is right now, and that package is worth about +2 wins above a replacement level player.

    If he collapses, then he’s useless. But he’s not league average if he collapses – he’s league average if he maintains his current levels of production.

    Adam Dunn just isn’t that good, just like Raul Ibanez isn’t that good, and Pat Burrell isn’t that good, and Bobby Abreu isn’t that good. This whole crop of lousy defensive corner OFs are remarkably overrated.

  39. Westside guy on December 4th, 2008 10:31 am

    Derek, I look at perl all day long. Last thing I want is to see perl references when I’m trying to take a break and read a little about baseball. :-)

  40. CCW on December 4th, 2008 11:30 am

    What “stars” are available this year that would fit that bill?

    This is the horrible thinking that brought us Carlos Silva as “the best available starter”.

    I asked YOU a question, in direct response to a statement that you made (M’s should spend “real money on acquiring some stars”), which you didn’t answer. How does that display “horrible thinking” on my part? Dave, I love your baseball analysis, but your hackles-up, name calling, cherrypicking, style of arguing your point is not becoming.

    then the obvious things they need to do are (a) fix the defense and (b) fill the gaping holes that were 1B and DH last year.

    Again, this is just a terrible way to approach roster building. Once you get into “I need x”, you’ve missed it. The team’s focus should be making the team better, and pigeonholing yourself into needing a certain kind of thing is a great way to make a bad move.

    Really? Stating that they need to fix the defense and avoid having absolute offensive sinkholes at the two highest-offense positions on the field is pigeon-holing? I can guaranty that the M’s will not be competitive in the AL West if they again field a collective .650 OPS from 1B and DH, and the 25th worst defense in the majors. I made it clear I wasn’t advocating signing a “1B” or a “DH”, even referencing Bavasi’s infuriating tendency to do just that sort of thing. At the right price, Dunn is an option.

  41. Colm on December 4th, 2008 11:41 am

    I too thought Jack Cust had the “biggest jerk in baseball” status sown up (perhaps he could change his name to Jack Cu*t?)

    Regardless. I don’t care if Adam Dunn is the second coming of Fred Rogers and can hit 50 homers a year. He’s a terrible defender and probably a terrible signing this offseason. Let’s hope the Yankees load up their outfield with bunch of old crocodiles while the Mariners turn over a new leaf.

  42. Dave on December 4th, 2008 12:07 pm

    I asked YOU a question, in direct response to a statement that you made (M’s should spend “real money on acquiring some stars”), which you didn’t answer.

    If only I had already written a post suggesting ways the M’s could spend money acquiring real stars this winter in order to improve the roster. Then, maybe when somebody wants to come in and complain about how “frustrated they are with these arguments because no one ever explains their assumptions”, they could just go back already know the answer to what I would spend money on this winter.

    How does that display “horrible thinking” on my part?

    Your assertion was that, since we can’t sign any real stars (with no reason given for that assertion), we should look at non-stars as suitable replacements. That is Bill Bavasi Roster Management 101.

    Dave, I love your baseball analysis, but your hackles-up, name calling, cherrypicking, style of arguing your point is not becoming.

    There wasn’t one single bit of name calling in the whole comment. I didn’t cherry pick anything – I quote almost your entire freaking post. If you don’t want to get called out for being wrong, don’t accuse of us failing to back up our assertions. If there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s laying out why we believe what we believe.

    I can guaranty that the M’s will not be competitive in the AL West if they again field a collective .650 OPS from 1B and DH, and the 25th worst defense in the majors.

    Very insightful. This does nothing to show why bringing in Adam Dunn would help the franchise.

    At the right price, Dunn is an option.

    If the Mets put Johan Santana on waivers, the M’s should claim him.

    There’s nothing useful about either of the two comments above. The right price for Dunn to help the Mariners is so far away from what he’s going to get on the open market that it’s not worth exploring.

  43. Mat on December 4th, 2008 12:27 pm

    Nice argument against acquiring Dunn, DMZ. My question deals with the lead-in quotation.

    Some people, when confronted with a problem, think “I know, I’ll use regular expressions.” Now they have two problems.

    Do you really think that’s true? In some sense it seems a bit like saying:

    Some people, when confronted with the parts to an Ikea desk think “I know, I’ll use a screwdriver.” Now they have two problems.

    Sure, if you don’t know how to use the screwdriver, then you have the additional problem of learning to use a new tool, but if you don’t use a screwdriver, you might not assemble your desk correctly.

    Certainly regular expressions are more difficult to use competently than a screwdriver, but for some people, I would think that regular expressions are a useful tool for solving some problems.

  44. CCW on December 4th, 2008 12:40 pm

    If only I had already written a post suggesting ways the M’s could spend money acquiring real stars this winter in order to improve the roster. Then, maybe when somebody wants to come in and complain about how “frustrated they are with these arguments because no one ever explains their assumptions”, they could just go back already know the answer to what I would spend money on this winter.

    There wasn’t one single bit of name calling in the whole comment.

    I don’t know about you, but to be accused of “horrible thinking” is offensive. I don’t know if you and I even disagree on the subject of Adam Dunn. It’s really to abstract to even figure that out. I do know, though, that when you think you disagree with someone, you tend to throw analysis out the window and quit paying attention to what the other person is saying.

    I specifically cited to your friggin article.

    Your assertion was that, since we can’t sign any real stars (with no reason given for that assertion), we should look at non-stars as suitable replacements. That is Bill Bavasi Roster Management 101.

    I didn’t assert we couldn’t sign real stars. I asked you to identify some. I questioned whether Furcal was in that category in your mind (you didn’t answer). I pointed out that I agreed with you that Milton Bradley at DH would be better than Dunn, but I questioned whether, all things considered, your plan (which I cited to) would be all that different if you swapped Bradley and Dunn.

    I can guaranty that the M’s will not be competitive in the AL West if they again field a collective .650 OPS from 1B and DH, and the 25th worst defense in the majors.

    Very insightful. This does nothing to show why bringing in Adam Dunn would help the franchise.

    I think most people would agree that sort of sarcastic statement is unbecoming of a mature adult. You said I was pigeonholing myself by saying the defense needed to be fixed and 1B and DH needed to be fixed. I responded by pointing out that, no, that’s not pigeonholing anything, that’s stating a fact.

    The right price for Dunn to help the Mariners is so far away from what he’s going to get on the open market that it’s not worth exploring.

    Maybe so. I really have no idea. But it goes back to my point about assumptions. Assume you can get him for a price, and make those assumptions clear. I assumed 3 years $36M. Maybe that’s too low. But don’t conflate my argument that he’s worth 3 years $36M to the M’s with a completely different argument about what he’s going to get on the open market.

  45. Jeff Nye on December 4th, 2008 12:59 pm

    CCW, I tried to fix your blockquotes as best I could; let me know if any of it turns out to not be right.

    But here’s the thing though; Dave is right about this part:

    Again, this is just a terrible way to approach roster building. Once you get into “I need x”, you’ve missed it. The team’s focus should be making the team better, and pigeonholing yourself into needing a certain kind of thing is a great way to make a bad move.

    The sort of thinking that we have specific “holes” that MUST be filled is what brought us Richie Sexson, Jose Vidro, and Carlos Silva.

    Zduriencik should be focused on making the team better, no matter where the improvement happens.

    We can all agree that 1B/DH and defense in general were weak points for the team last year; but like Dave says, if the Mets hypothetically put Johan Santana on waivers, the M’s should claim him even though the rotation is considered by most to be an area of strength for the team.

    Increasing the overall talent level of the team is what’s important, not the specific position or situation at which you increase the talent level.

  46. CCW on December 4th, 2008 1:34 pm

    Thanks, Jeff.

    I totally agree with you on the pigeonholing thing. I tried to make that clear in the original post when I specifically referred to Bavasi’s terrible track record in that respect. I never said “the M’s need X”. I said the M’s need to avoid having blackholes at 1B and DH. The reason I stated the obvious was to point out that there a number of ways to fill those black holes, and Adam Dunn is one of them. I’m not advocating signing Adam Dunn *because* he’s a 1B or DH or even because our 1B and DH were so bad last year. I’m advocating signing him because he’s a hitter who would immediately be the best hitter on the team, and I think it’s pretty clear Dunn would, as you put it, “increase the overall talent level on the team.”

    If the M’s went into the season without having acquired any more offense, we’re looking at, I guess, LaHair/Clement at 1B, Branyan at DH (not sure who he’s platooning with), Reed in CF, and someone not very good in LF. I dunno, even if they did get Santana off waivers, I’m not sure they’d be any good with that offense.

    By the way, PECOTA projects Dunn at .247 / .371 / .521 in 2012. (that’s prior to 2008, but his 2008 was pretty true to form, so my guess is it won’t change much).

  47. nadingo on December 4th, 2008 1:42 pm

    Arguing about tone and who said what about whom is fun and all, but it can make a pretty pedestrian disagreement into a pointless argument. It seems to me like all CCW is trying to say is that Dunn would provide value to the team and would be worth acquiring at the right price. This is a pretty uncontroversial statement, but it doesn’t really contribute to a discussion following a post in which DMZ has laid out an argument for why Dunn is overvalued in the market. For more of the same kind of argument, check out Dave’s post at fangraphs on overrated high-offense, low-defense outfielders.

    The Mariners currently have a lot of holes that need filling — including bad offense from 1B/DH, bad defense all over the place, bad starting pitching, etc. — and a lot of money tied up in below-league-average players. Adding a league-average player who’s likely going to be paid as if he’s a star is really not the kind of move that would best help the team right now.

  48. eponymous coward on December 4th, 2008 2:12 pm

    I didn’t assert we couldn’t sign real stars. I asked you to identify some. I questioned whether Furcal was in that category in your mind (you didn’t answer). I pointed out that I agreed with you that Milton Bradley at DH would be better than Dunn, but I questioned whether, all things considered, your plan (which I cited to) would be all that different if you swapped Bradley and Dunn.

    The difference is there’s some chance you could sign Bradley to a contract that doesn’t anchor the team to a mediocre player well down the road. Bradley at 3/30 isn’t a complete fantasy, given his past history. Dunn at 3/36 probably is.

  49. CCW on December 4th, 2008 3:37 pm

    Arguing about tone and who said what about whom is fun and all, but it can make a pretty pedestrian disagreement into a pointless argument.

    So I suggest that Dave raise the level of the argument by watching his tone. Dave’s analysis keeps getting better and better, but his adversarial style of communication hasn’t changed a bit.

  50. Jeff Nye on December 4th, 2008 3:58 pm

    If you want to suggest that to Dave via email, go ahead and send an email to the ussmariner address; but this thread isn’t going to turn into another “Dave was mean to me!” discussion.

  51. CCW on December 4th, 2008 4:44 pm

    You’re right. Please delete my comment.

  52. pmbaseball7 on December 5th, 2008 5:48 am

    I would rather have Big Z go for Abreu or Burrell. But if they don’t want to sign then he really should try for Dunn. He is only 29 and the difference between Sexson and him is the side of the plate he hits from. In the Safe that is a huge difference with the short porch in right built for a lefty power hitter. I can live with the strikeouts from him I just want a 40 HR threat every year again like we had when Junior and A-Rod were here. I think a 3 year 30M contract is perfectly fine, he will be 32 or 33 after those three years so why worry about Dunn aging.

  53. pmbaseball7 on December 5th, 2008 5:53 am

    If anything Dunn would be a carbon copy of Ibanez in LF defensively, with a lower avg. and a boost in power.

  54. eponymous coward on December 5th, 2008 7:48 am

    If anything Dunn would be a carbon copy of Ibanez in LF defensively, with a lower avg. and a boost in power.

    So, basically, we’re going to spend considerably more money than last year on a player with similar skills and flaws to the cheaper player (and not a lot of substantial advantages- remember, Dunn plays in a tiny ballpark in the weaker league), as the key to improving a 100 loss team.

    But hey, it’s all worth it to see a guy hit 40 HRs! After all, when Richie hit 39 in 2005, and the M’s were still a crappy team, it was worth it, right?

    Seriously? We’ve seen this movie before. It still sucks. There’s a reason why Bill Bavasi got fired- he chased after guys like Sexson and Everett and ignored other problems. The fact is Dave’s right- slugging behemoths with bad defense and “old player skills” are the most overpaid and overrated players in MLB. We do not need to start collecting them again, considering we’ve already got boat anchors like Johjima, Silva and Washburn as memories of other past contract mistakes.

  55. pmbaseball7 on December 5th, 2008 9:07 am

    If Adam Dunn is league average then why didn’t anyone in the AL hit 40 HR’s? And why did he lead the majors with 122 walks? Maybe it’s just me but for 3 years $30-36M and have him play 1B/DH why not. But I would love to see a young OF that can hit and play D come to the M’s instead.

  56. Teej on December 5th, 2008 9:38 am

    If Adam Dunn is league average then why didn’t anyone in the AL hit 40 HR’s?

    The amount of home runs hit by AL batters has nothing to do with how good Adam Dunn is. Homers are great, but they’re not the only aspect of baseball.

    Ryan Howard wasn’t the best player in the NL because he hit the most home runs. Miguel Cabrera wasn’t the best player in the AL because he hit the most home runs.

    You’re being overly simple. Everyone here is aware that Adam Dunn hits homers and walks. Those things have value. But you can’t just ignore his awful fielding, his old player skills, his age, his likely salary demands and everything else that goes into projecting performance and gauging value.

  57. eponymous coward on December 5th, 2008 11:28 am

    If Adam Dunn is league average then why didn’t anyone in the AL hit 40 HR’s?

    Because Adam Dunn’s OTHER skills when he’s not walking or hitting home runs aren’t that good. For instance:

    .234/.365/.490
    .256/.408/.504
    .231/.375/.476
    .236/.386/.513

    Two of those batting lines are full seasons from Adam Dunn. Two are from Jack Cust. Can you pick them out just by looking at them? I sure can’t.

    That’s not to say Cust = Dunn (Dunn’s the better player, though because of Cincy being a better hitter’s ballpark than Oakland it’s closer than you think)… but there’s no way you can tell me that the difference between Dunn and Cust is worth 8-10 million dollars a year over the next several years, which is what Dunn will get on the open market over Cust.

    We should be concentrating on finding the Custs (players who can provide decent performance for below-market salaries, and who don’t represent huge boat anchor contracts if they flop) as opposed to signing the Dunns (players who provide marginally better performance for much higher salaries, and who turn into boat anchors if anything goes wrong). That was Dave’s point Dave’s point back during the Sexson signing, and it’s his point now.

  58. joser on December 5th, 2008 12:44 pm

    Maybe it’s just me but for 3 years $30-36M and have him play 1B/DH why not.

    It’s not just you: Bavasi looked at Sexson and thought the same thing.

    Now that Bavasi’s gone, maybe it really is just you; the rest of us would like to do something different this time.

  59. pmbaseball7 on December 5th, 2008 3:59 pm

    It’s not just you: Bavasi looked at Sexson and thought the same thing.
    Now that Bavasi’s gone, maybe it really is just you; the rest of us would like to do something different this time.

    Read the last sentence of my post.

  60. joser on December 5th, 2008 6:36 pm

    If you really believed that then you wouldn’t have written the first sentences of your post. Or maybe you do, in which case I don’t know what to respond to. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    Remember, 1B/DH are the easiest positions to fill, and that means you shouldn’t be paying a lot to fill them.

  61. The Ancient Mariner on December 6th, 2008 8:40 am

    Unless, of course, you have a guy like Pujols. For someone who hits like that (especially since he also plays 1B well), yeah, you pay a lot. Aside from true superstar production, though, forget about it.

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