Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What To Do With Adam Dunn...

Adam Dunn is the name of a professional baseball player. This is about him.

Thursday's trade deadline will come and go, and Adam Dunn will still be a Cincinnati Red. And I'm fine with that. But that doesn't mean I want him back next year, either. Explain.

Dunn will be 29-years-old at the start of the 2009 season, and there's a decent shot we're seeing the absolute best of him in the summer of 2008. Think about that. In order to keep Dunn in Cincinnati I'm guessing it will take something like five or six years in the $60-80 million range - that's $12 million-plus per season for a small-to-mid market team. Thanks, but no thanks.

Don't get me wrong, Adam Dunn is a really good player (so good that I almost italicized the words really and good). He's also consistently undervalued by fans of his own team (they always point out his flaws and fail to bring up his many strengths). He's never hurt and he's the model of consistency (I have nothing to add within these parentheses).

For the reasons stated in the paragraph above, I would not be crushed if the Reds re-signed Dunn. I am not guaranteeing it to be the height of stupidity to pay him through age 34. But it might be. Which is why I would pass.

Chances are, if the Reds handed Dunn a six year, $80 million contract, he would post the following numbers over the next two seasons: .385 OBP, 40 HR, 105 RBI, 100 BB (i.e., really good numbers). But what if his numbers started slipping soon after? What if, by the end of year four, his numbers drop to a solid, but not spectacular .355 OBP, 32 HR, 80 RBI? He'd be 33-years-old, past his prime (but still good), with two years and roughly $27 million remaining on his contract.

Two years remaining...that's what worries me.

How many years has this franchise been waiting to be relieved of Griffey's contract? It seems like forever, right? He's average at the plate and terrible in the field...but he makes a ton of money - so the Reds have no choice but to play him every night.

Two things:

1. If the Reds re-sign Dunn (a big if), it could turn out to be a great move (although history says it probably won't be). He could easily post the same numbers over the next five or six years as he has the previous eight. In that case, $13 million a year will be a bargain. But...

2. What if he gains more weight? What if nagging injuries begin to accumulate? What if he suffers a serious injury? What if he gets lazy? What if his skills begin to deteriorate? I wouldn't bank on any of these happening, but they could. Especially with a giant mammal like Dunn, who doesn't seem to be a young Jack LaLanne in the offseason (pure speculation). But anyway, there are too many things that could go wrong with giving a 29-year-old a multi-year contract.

Consider the following cases:

Mo Vaughn: Signed a monster free agent deal as a 30-year-old. Played okay for a few years before becoming a huge waste of space/money. His last year in baseball was 2003; he hit 3 HRs and earned $17 million. He "earned" another $17 million the following year, while doing nothing more than sitting on his couch and eating barbeque Fritos (presumably).

Ken Griffey, Jr: Longterm deal at the age of 30. In the words of George Grande, we all know his story. Griffey's deteriorating skills have crippled the organization.

Todd Helton: I'm not sure when he signed his big deal, but it was/is big. He's 34 now, and made over $35 million in '06 and '07, when he was good, but nowhere near the dominant force he once was. This year, he's merely been average (102 OPS+) and I have to believe at least one more year is left on his devastating contract.

Shawn Green: Green made $100 million in his career, with nearly 60 percent of that over his last five years. It probably wouldn't be shocking, then, if I told you from '03-'07 that Green (a.) never made an All Star team or won a Gold Glove, (b.) didn't once drive in 90 runs, and (c.) generally hovered around an .800 OPS. That's a five-year stretch undeserving of $60 million.

Richie Sexson: Here's another guy who inked his name on a massive deal at age 30. After posting good numbers in year one and above average numbers in year two, he's been a train wreck. Sexson made over $28 million in '06 and '07, and was making God Only Knows this year before the Mariners released him.

Garret Anderson: Anderson is a far cry from the player who finished 4th in MVP voting in 2002. Only once in the last five years has Anderson had an OPS over .800, and yet he's made $50 million over that stretch with more years remaining on the contract. His OBP is a paltry .309 this season, and it will only get worse.

Andruw Jones: Appears to be washed up - one of the worst players in baseball in '08. The Dodgers are paying him $18 million this year, and another $18 million in '09.

Mike Sweeney: This guy was a really good hitter around the turn of the century. And then he turned 29...and then the Royals gave him a five-year, $55 million deal...and then he began to break down. He was a pretty good hitter for the first three years of the contract, but he missed a ton of games. The final two? He was below average and Kansas City was stuck with him.

Darin Erstad: His career started with a solid rookie campaign. He posted two good seasons and a great season over the next four years. To that point in his career Erstad had made less than $4 million. He's made over $40 million since despite being a lousy player at the plate.

Jason Kendall: He collected nearly $35 million from '05-'07, and in over 1,600 at-bats, he hit 4 HRs! (Although I'm sure George Grande believes Kendall was a leader not only on the field, but in the clubhouse.)

Did I make my point? Do I need to continue? Because I could. I could just as easily reference players like Jose Vidro, Damion Easley, Edgardo Alfonzo, Bobby Higginson, etc., but I'm not sure it'd be worth my time. And I have a few readers in Cleveland, so I won't go into the details of Travis Hafner's four-year, $57 million contract abortion through 2012...

Listen, I'm sure some of the examples stated don't apply to Adam Dunn, but my point is this: Things happen. Players break down and/or they simply aren't as good as they used to be. Whatever the case, it happens a lot. The Yanks and Sox can swing and miss on a disastrous contract - the Reds cannot.

Again: There's a strong possibility that Adam Dunn's most profitable years will be his worst.

Dear Mr. Castellini,

Please don't throw a bunch of cash at the guy who wears Eric Davis' old number.

Dear Mr. Jocketty,

Don't tell him it's a good idea.

-Brad Spieser (


daniel said...

Bring him on down to houston. We can't bring good players through our system, so lets see 40 long bombs at minute maid park. We spend lots of money to lose

Twin Killing dot Com said...

I don't care who he's playing for next year, as long as it's not the Reds. But you already knew that