Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feeling The Buzz

Three days before Pitchers and Catchers report to Viera, Florida to begin Spring Training 2009 for Our Washington Nationals, the Winter Hot Stove took off in full force this afternoon all thanks to Adam Dunn signing a reported two-year free agent contract to call Nationals Park his home.

A long awaited moment for some that sent Washington's Online Community into a frenzy. Wherever you looked, the comments were about DC's Team. Our Washington Nationals had made a big move and their fans were responding in kind.

There was substantial talk about Our Team.

There were discussions about Baseball in The Nation's Capital.

All in the Off-Season.

Positive ones. In fact, this buzz was rather intoxicating--in a good sort of way.

Thank God.

There were many thoughts being shared:

Who plays where?

What are we going to do with all those outfielders?

Who is going to get traded now?

Can JimBo bring back some pitching with his abundance of position players to trade?

Or maybe even find a leadoff hitter?

Whose on First?

How about in Left?

Who exactly is more qualified to play centerfield?

And what 25 players are really going to make the cut for Opening Day 2009 for Our Washington Nationals?

Competition is now officially on and unless you step up to the plate or pivot off the rubber to show your best--you are not coming north come April. That's a good thing because Our Washington Nationals showed a new look today by simply signing Adam Dunn to a Free Agent Contract. He may not be the best player out there, and I certainly have some doubts, but this announcement--publicly--changes the appearance of Our Franchise.

Except for an early off-season trade with The Florida Marlins and the subsequent chase for Mark Teixeira--there has been little makeover of the 40-Man Roster for Washington--leaving some fans unhappy. That all changed today because Washington's Batting Lineup shifted gears dramatically this afternoon--all because of just one guy. Add Dunn to Ryan Zimmerman, Elijah Dukes, Josh Willingham, Lastings Milledge and Austin Kearns to all potentially hit in the middle of Our Manager Manny Acta's lineup and you have a completely different Major League Team.

There is power, depth and talent. A nice mix of youth and veteran experience--while Cristian Guzman has probably solidified his number two spot in Washington's lineup as well.

But despite all that--even more questions still linger.

The Starting Rotation is young and far from set.

And what Our Washington Nationals still don't have is a true leadoff hitter to complete the batting order. Willie Harris would be nice, but he doesn't have a regular position to play as of today--despite the fact Harris may be Washington's Best Defensive Outfielder. How nice to write that Washington has a numbers game to play when Spring Training begins in full force next week. That hasn't happened in the four previous years of Washington Nationals Baseball.

All afternoon the chatter online was about Our Washington Nationals. Good Stuff Too.

Which brings me to my questions about this signing:

What happens if Adam Dunn plays first base? He has little range. Manny certainly can't put Ronnie Belliard next to Dunn often at second. "The Ballplayer" has lost range also--meaning that many a ground ball might get through this pairing. So Our Number 14 would have to play Anderson Hernandez at second base if Dunn plays first. Manny has few other choices.

And what happens if Adam Dunn plays left field? Manny's going to need a centerfielder that can catch ANYTHING close--because Dunn can't. Enter Harris? Or Dukes? Lastings Milledge? Decisions will need to be made over the next six weeks.

And what happens if Nick Johnson fully recovers to his pre-2006 injury form? Do you play Our Number 24? Or does Washington trade him too? There is No Way Our General Manager Jim Bowden announces that Adam Dunn is his everyday first baseman as of today. Because if he does, Nick Johnson might as well not show up at camp. And that would be shameful and of poor judgement by Washington.

Two left-handed power bats in our lineup would be nice. No need to put off another potential quality person as well. No, I don't want to see that again. But I digress. For what today did more than ANYTHING else was give Our Washington Nationals and Our Fans something hopeful to talk about in 2009. Since 2:30PM this Wednesday afternoon, it's been all Washington Nationals--all the time. A pleasant stupor that has DC Fans finally discussing Hot Stove Winter Baseball Talk, lively stuff--not just snark--mere days before Our Team shows up in Florida.

How refreshing.

It's never too late, or too early to talk baseball, especially when just one move ignites fan interest in such a way. Whether you are for or against this signing--Our Washington Nationals are being talked about again.

At least for one day, everyone seems to be Feeling The Buzz.

And I like that feeling more than anything else.

PS--I would be curious to know that if Washington had signed Adam Dunn shortly after being turned down by Teixeira--would the feeling of today be the same? Would a Dunn signing then feel like more of a setback--a reaction to just get anything done?

PSS--Because Dunn was signed after Washington went so long between any major move--is the excitement greater than it would normally be?

PSSS--And how many former Cincinnati Reds have now come through Washington?


Anonymous said...

FJB has helpfully tallied the former Reds.

Anonymous said...

PSS--Because Dunn was signed after Washington went so long between any major move--is the excitement greater than it would normally be?

PSSS--And how many former Cincinnati Reds have now come through Washington?
>>Do we get to count Barry Larkin and Lenny Harris and Jose Rijo and Ray Knight and Rob Dibble? It never stops!

Who knows if Dunn will work out? At least he didn't cost the farm. The real question now is what the Nats are going to get in trade and which of their surfeit of outfielders will go? May they all have stellar springs!

Anonymous said...

You want those to be PPPS not PSSS...look to me for copyediting minutiae!

The Dunn signing is gigantic.

I want ONE conversation to take place. I want Frank Howard to sit down with Dunn and tell him how Washington supports a power hitter. Hondo must tell him that DC will back Dunn--and toast him and celebrate him and immortalize him--for FIFTY years if he gets it done on the field, and is a good citizen off the field. This is the story, of course it's the story of Hondo, and it can happen again with Dunn.

Today is a big, big day in the history of baseball in Washington.

And the happiest guy in Washington is Ryan Zimmerman--who will now hit 30 HRs and .300 with Dunn in the on-deck circle.

Second-happiest guy: Dukes. WATCH OUT. This guy is a man among boys in the entire major leagues. Now he's going to have baserunners, and pressure on the pitcher, nearly every time he comes to the plate. WATCH...OUT.

Third-happiest tandem: Son and Father Lerner. Write it down:

- They have built a reputation as guys who play to win in business for 60 years.

- They will NOT tolerate their family name being embarrassed again, as happened last season.

- They will NOT tolerate their beloved city--our Washington--being embarrassed, as we were last season.

Three letters describe the Lerner family: PTW. Play. To. Win.

You heard it hear first.

Today is a big day in the history of baseball in Washington.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday was a very exciting day for Nats fans. The prevailing wisdom that I think the vast majority of us agreed with was that the best and better free agents were not going to sign with a last place team.

Nice to be proven wrong.

The MLB Network interviewed Dunn last night on their Hot Stove Show. Sounds like he’s got a great sense of humor.

Of course we want the taters. By way of comparison to his averaging 40 in the last five seasons, our team leaders last year hit 14.

Anonymous said...

Feeling the buzz. Just read around on other message boards around the Majors.

On Seattle Mariners you read the Nats got a STEAL and the fans are ticked their team wasn't in the running.

Same on the Dodgers as they thought they would at least get Dunn in case Manny didn't sign.

Arizona Diamondbacks fans are most upset. They gave up a lot to rent Dunn last season and their team will receive ZERO compensation for Adam Dunn from the Nationals since they never offered him FA arbitration.

Anonymous said...

Great to feel the buzz, I agree.

Also, the MLB Network Hot Stove program is scheduled to repeat at 9 and 10 a.m. today. The Dunn segment is about 5 minutes into the program.

Anonymous said...

In addition to Ryan Zimmerman benefiting greatly in the number 3spot in the order, the number 5 hitter should also get to see better pitches. With Dunn tendency to draw walks, pitchers are going to be pitching from the stretch much more often. A lot of guys don't have as much success doing that. I would like to see Lastings Milledge in that spot. He had a very nice 2nd half (.299 batting average) last year. I think it's way too early in his career to talk about including him in a package deal, unless you're getting a number 1 type starter, ala Peavy.

Anonymous said...

natsfan1a - Thanks for the Hot Stove tip on the Dunn segment.

He gave big props to Jim Bowden for getting him to DC.

So now Nick Johnson doesn't want a back-up role???? Nick seems to be a good guy so hopefully the Nats just trade him.

Anonymous said...

Chico is reporting Nats want to keep Dunn and Johnson assuming Nick is healthy. An even better lineup, but an even more confusing outfield. But that's why we have Spring Training.

paul said...

What a great luxury to have such a valuable pinch hitter against RHP's when first base isn't open! (If anyone would like to state a case of where and when else Dunn can play, please say so.)