Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why Sign Adam Dunn?'s Keith Law makes very interesting points in his most recent blog post about Adam Dunn and the Washington Nationals.

"Developmental concerns aside, the big question for the Nationals is this: Why? Dunn won't be around long enough to be part of the first winning Nationals team. Even if Dunn has one of his best years, the Nationals are still the favorite to finish last in the NL East and unlikely to finish above fourth. As mentioned above, they have done a terrible job of using the trade market to restock their farm system -- a route that Oakland, Texas, and Cleveland have recently used to vault their systems into the top five in the game -- and the tepid market for Dunn this winter doesn't bode well for his trade value. Dunn didn't net a draft pick for Arizona, so there's no reason to assume the Nats will get a pick or two for him after 2010.

Dunn's contract becomes $20 million for a few meaningless wins over the next two years. Moves like that don't usually push a franchise backward, but they don't push it forward, either."
I don't think anyone in their right mind thinks that the Nationals can compete in 2009 or even 2010. Law is 100% right here.

This brings us to the question: why did the Nationals spend $20 million bucks on Dunn when they still remain a long distance away from competing for a playoff birth? It seems illogical and somewhat stupid on the surface, but I see exactly where GM Jim Bowden was going with this move.

You have to understand how insignificant the Nationals have become in Washington DC. Sure, the Nationals have a nice, new stadium for fans to watch a game in, but they had no players who fans actually wanted to come see play. There was no buzz. No reason to get excited.

Hell, one can only be so excited watching a bunch of retreads and young guys fight just to avoid losing 100 games in a season and the cellar seems to be this team's ceiling.

So that's why Dunn means so much for the Nationals. He gives the fans a reason to care. The Nationals have never had a power presence in the middle of their lineup like Dunn before. The once futile Nationals lineup now has an actual presence and a good chance to score some runs and stay competitive in games.

Most importantly, this move shows that the front office actually gives a damn. For too long, the Nats front office simply signed the best retread they could find instead of trying to sign major free agents. As a result, no one wanted to go to DC and the Nationals failed to build anything substantial. The signing of Dunn should at least give fans hope that the Nationals are willing to go after free agents and can actually sign a big name-even if they have to overpay.

This team will not make the playoffs in 2009. There is a very good chance that they could lose 90+ games again and finish 20+ games out of first place. But Dunn is a symbol that yes, there might actually be a better day for the Nationals in the near future.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say 2012. Any guesses?

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