Thursday, March 25, 2010

Getting Back Into The Swing Of All Things

After a whirlwind five days of assignments in the real world, The African Queen and I are now getting back into the swing of all things baseball. And this topic peaked our interest right away.

When Dmitri Young was actually playing and starting for Our Washington Nationals back in 2007, then manager Manny Acta would replace Young at 1st base with a more defensive minded player off his bench in games late, sometimes, even with Washington only holding a slim one-run lead. Even worse--that change came during the 7th inning with a complete turnover of the batting order still to come. Off the top of my head, my recollection of these substitutions was Washington's bullpen giving up the lead--or a key defensive error had allowed the tying runs to score--more times than not.

In 2009, Manny replaced Adam Dunn as a leftfielder in his lineup late in games too. And then Our Interim Manager followed with the same decision--upon moving Our Number 44 to 1st Base after the trade of Nick Johnson to The Florida Marlins. Adam Dunn was again taken out of close ball games late with a defensive substitution.

That's all being mentioned again today because our now called Current Manager, Jim Riggleman, firmly stated he's concerned about Adam Dunn fielding 1st Base late in close games for 2010. Jim doesn't trust Dunn's glove just yet--with the game on the line.

Adam Dunn can close his fists around his bat and power a pitched baseball out the ballpark with the best in the game. What The Big Texan has never been able to do, consistently, is close his fielding mitt on a grounded, thrown or hit in the air--baseball. He's never shown the knack--although that's not for the lack of trying. Effort is not the issue here. But clearly, if Dunn wants to continue playing in the National League and not become a Designated Hitter in the American League--he must improve his fielding.

Right Now. That's his job to do.

Our Washington Nationals are not currently constructed to hide his less than average glove because the baseball is always going to find you. Remember when Ian Desmond was exposed in rightfield in 2009? Not pretty, a key error on a misplayed fly ball was costly. Good teams can get away with one weak fielder--especially one with such a potent bat. Washington's can not do that because Our Manager really has no standout replacements.

There are no legitimate extra 1st basemen on Washington's Spring Training Roster. Like no one.

We've come to enjoy Adam Dunn's exploits at the plate as well as anyone that attends Nationals games on South Capitol Street. But if Our Number 44 really wants to help out himself, our team, and our fans--with a longer term contract--which Dunn has publicly stated he wants? He's going to have to get back into the swing of all things too--and improve his fielding to the best of his ability. No one is expecting Dunn to become a Gold Glove 1st Baseman. If he becomes just average, Washington would have far less worry about keeping Adam in any game late.

Our Washington Nationals need Adam Dunn in their lineup for all nine innings--not just seven or eight. Jim Riggleman can't be constantly taking his biggest long ball threat out of any affair with the game still on the line. More times than not--Dunn's bat will be needed in the final innings. A bomb home run off his potent bat can close any game quickly. No question, Adam scares every single pitcher he faces while standing in the left handed side of the batter's box. What Our Number 44 needs to improve on--is stop scaring every single person in the stands watching when a baseball is grounded, thrown or hit his way.

And reassure his teammates, there's a new found confidence earned from working hard to improve.

Yeah, that's his responsibility. if Adam Dunn wants to be known as a more complete player--any improvement in the field would only enhance his career, long term, and Our Washington Nationals chances of winning as well.

Dunn Photo Via Athlon Sports


Unknown said...

In past ST NJ arrived to camp earlier than the mandated arrival date, showing up early to take BP and fielding. This year Ian Desmond arrived early to take extra fielding and BP, where was Adam Dunn? Hopefully he was somewhere working on his fielding.

Unknown said...

We are down in Florida trying to find Strasburg's location. Do you know where the Senators hold their spring training? We are told it is close to Space Coast Stadium. The fireworks were great in Viera tonight following some rain and a rather disappointing game. Nevertheless, it was great to be back at a baseball game!

Screech's Best Friend said...

The Harrisburg Senators don't train as a team. The Minor League Complex just north of Space Coast Stadium is where everybody not in Major League Camp works out for the spring until everyone is sent to their respective teams to begin 2010. Minor League Camp usually begins around 9:30AM on those four fields.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much! See you on April 3.
Speaking of which, some sources say there is a possibility Strasburg could pitch that day. What have you heard? It was great seeing Nyjer playing again. We enjoyed our seats, right in front of Charlie and Dave.

Screech's Best Friend said...

There was a report today that Mike Rizzo has not overruled the possibility of Strasburg pitching that game on April 3rd against The Red Sox. Apparently, his scheduled pitching day happens to fall on that date. It really comes down to the fact whether The Nationals feel it's the right decision to give Stephen that opportunity before beginning his stint at Harrisburg. No doubt, a Strasburg pitching assignment happening at Nationals Park would draw considerably more fans to the ballpark for what is basically an exhibition.

An Briosca Mor said...

Mike from comment #1, Adam Dunn reported to camp this year at least a week before his due date, specifically to work on his 1B defense. He's doing the work, going above and beyond the call even, it's just that his improvement is not proceeding as fast as he or the team had hoped.

paul said...

I remember thinking last year that Dunn was much worse than I imagined in LF and much better than I expected at 1B. I think he will be fine as a 9 inning player, and I am glad we don't have Manny making these late-inning decisions.