(Photo Credit: Yardbarker.com)
A number of places, including Mike DiGiovanna from the Los Angeles Times, have said that the Angels are quite interested (“at or near the top of the Angels’ wish list” was the exact quote from DiGiovanna) in acquiring Nats 1B Adam Dunn. To tell you how I would feel about this move, I’ve come up with something that I think would make my feelings quite clear.
Currently, I do not own an Angels jersey. This is mostly due to a lack of money, and because I’m weird in that I want things exactly how I want them. The idea, for example, of a replica jersey, while perfectly fine and valid, irritates me. I’m also not the biggest fan of a blank jersey, though I can understand the argument that you should root for the team over the individual player. I have what I can only guess is the love child of a t-shirt and a jersey with Vladimir Guerrero’s name and number on the back, and now it looks quite dated and out-of-place since Guerrero’s wearing a different name on his chest now (more on that in a future blog post). But still, if I get a jersey from the Angels, I want it to reflect my love of both the team, and of one of my favorite players on that team. Last year, it would’ve likely been a Figgins jersey I got, simply because the little guy was so underappreciated (and not even in the way guys like David Eckstein are because people love how “gritty” they are, but because he was one of the single best players in the American League last year, though Morales got all the attention on the 2009 Angels). So, when I do someday make my future Angels jersey purchase, it’ll be an authentic (and thus more expensive) one, with the name of a player I love on the back of it. Often thinking about who I’d get has been a bit difficult. Many times, there are a lot of players I really like that I’d love to have a jersey of. In 2010, if the Angels were to acquire Adam Dunn, his name would instantly rocket to the top of that list.
Or, to make that whole paragraph much shorter I can put it in just a few simple words: I love Adam Dunn.
Now, admittedly a fair amount of that love is sort of trying to make up for the lack of love he gets from the everyman baseball fan (who is named Dan, has a farmer tan, and doesn’t eat enough bran). Too many people simply see a guy that hits .215 and strikes out 120 times a year, and they write him off as being worthless. To be sure, he’s one of the clearest examples of the Three True Outcomes player we have in baseball right now, but to mistake that for not being valuable is to make quite the oversight. And since I am about fairly and clearly evaluating players, you can’t talk about Adam Dunn without at least a mention of his defense, which, in a word, is horrid. If they were to give out Lead Glove awards, as sort of a polar opposite to the Gold Gloves, Dunn would have more in his cabinet than Torii Hunter has Gold Gloves. I am under no illusions that Dunn is even a decent defensive player. He is one of the single worst in baseball, in fact.
But, that is what makes him perfect for the Angels. The loss of Kendry Morales left the Angels looking for someone that could play 1B and actually be productive while doing it. Mike Napoli has emerged as a surprising option there, and while he hasn’t matched the defense Morales showed last season, he hasn’t been as bad as one would expect him to be, either. That said, since Mathis returned from the DL, where he seems to have remembered he was, in fact, Jeff Mathis, he’s returned to hitting like the Jeff Mathis we all know and love. Entering play tonight against the Rangers, Mathis has a .143/.167/.143 slash line since coming off the DL June 18th. In short, the production the Angels had from the catcher position while Napoli was getting the bulk of the ABs has completely evaporated.
This is, perhaps, where we enter a bit of a fantasyland, but why not go with it for the moment? Acquiring Dunn would allow the Angels (though we all know they won’t take the option) to return Napoli behind the dish for the bulk of the playing time, leaving Mathis to spell him occasionally and as a late-inning defensive replacement, which is where he belongs due to his complete and utter ineffectiveness with the stick. Dunn, then, takes over 1B, and upon joining the Angels will instantly be their leader in OBP, SLG, and HR. He would also provide them with their first legit 40 HR hitter since Troy Glaus way back in 2001. Read that one more time. It has been nearly a decade since the Angels had someone hit 40 HRs while wearing a Halo. Adam Dunn, a guy who had five straight seasons over 40 HRs (including four straight with exactly 40), could end that drought.
Then, we can look to 2011. The return of Kendry Morales, who appears to be at least above average defensively at 1B, would mean the Angels wouldn’t need Dunn for 1B anymore. But, Matsui is only signed for 2010, and Dunn is head and shoulders better offensively than Matsui is, was, or will be. Resigning Dunn and moving him to be our full-time DH, then, would solve a few problems the Angels have had in recent years, namely a lack of true DH, and someone to provide the kind of power that Dunn can give us.
As I said, some of this is fantasyland stuff. Napoli isn’t going to be moving back to a full-time catcher anytime soon, outside of another injury to Mathis. Scioscia is simply too in love with whatever defense Mathis provides, though I’ve seen plenty of evidence showing that Mathis’ defense, even at a premium defensive position like catcher, isn’t enough to make up for the gap in offense between he and Napoli (I even talked about it previously on the blog, which you can read here). Still, it is a chance for the Angels to acquire the DH they haven’t had since Brad Fullmer was a productive player back in the day (a little Angels’ DH trivia for you: Since the Brad Fullmer days, the Angels have given a majority of their DH at-bats to both Shea Hillenbrand and Jeff DaVannon… in separate seasons!)
There have been other names mentioned as targets for the Angels, but none of them make the kind of sense that Adam Dunn does. None of them provide the kind of offense he does, and none of them will be the born-to-play-DH player that Adam Dunn is. They may be viewing him as a rental while Morales is out, but if the front office is smart (a subject that is debatable, I understand), they’ll view him as more than that, and pursue him as more than that. I don’t know if Adam Dunn can turn around the Angels’ season, but he can go a long way towards improving 2010 and beyond in Anaheim.
So, until the trade deadline passes or we acquire Dunn, we have a new motto here at Halo Hangout:
Adam Dunn or bust!