Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dunn Traded To Diamondbacks; Sheffield's Mouth Roars Again

  • Reds trade Adam Dunn to the Diamondbacks for three minor leaguers:
Critics can say what they want about Adam Dunn for what he isn't, but that shouldn't detract from what he is. Dunn is said not to hit in the clutch, but his numbers in the clutch
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aren't that far off from what they are in other situations; they say he strikes out too much, but he also walks nearly as many times as he strikes out; they say he's a bad outfielder, but he's got a great arm and he's better out there than he's given credit for.
Dunn hits lefties well-enough to not be a platoon player. That he has such bad numbers with two outs and runners in scoring position can be accouted for by his increased on base percentage in those situations----teams don't want to pitch to him under those circumstances; he sees fewer pitches to hit; and the ones he swings at aren't good pitches, so he doesn't get hits on anything other than mistakes. The guy is a useful player who's capable of hitting ten homers in a week if he gets hot, and that's what the Diamondbacks need----a guy that can singlehandedly produce some runs. They won't do it, but I'd bat him leadoff; let him get up there to start the game, either homer, walk or strikeout and move on from there.
The Diamondbacks gave up three minor leaguers to the Reds to get him and two are to be
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named later; one, Dallas Buck, doesn't have overwhelming minor league numbers in Single A. The thing about the Diamondbacks that would concern me is not only that they're gutting their farm system to get these veteran players like Dan Haren, Jon Rauch and Dunn, but that their results haven't been there no matter what they've done and even in retrospect four or five years from now, it's going to be very difficult to quibble with the deals that they've made for veteran help.
Early in the year, they looked like they were going to run away and hide in the NL West, but haven't been able to get any traction since even with the best 1-2 punch in baseball with Brandon Webb and Haren; one would think that since Randy Johnson
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has been enjoying a renaissance lately that they would've gone on a hot streak, but they haven't. Are they missing Eric Byrnes that much that they can't win consistently without him?
Discounting their record, they have enough firepower in the offense even without Dunn or Byrnes to score enough runs for that pitching staff to work with. The back end of their rotation isn't great, but neither is anyone else's; Brandon Lyon isn't an ideal closer, but they have two other options in Rauch and Chad Qualls if it gets to the point that they have to try someone else. Their problem is hard to pinpoint and there's been speculation that perhaps manager Bob Melvin is it, but he won Manager of the
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Year last year and went to the NLCS with a very young team for whom everything broke right. Maybe the absence of Byrnes, with his fiery temper and kamikaze attitude is what's missing. Changing the manager to someone who's going to start flipping over food spreads probably isn't going to do any good now.
If I were the Diamondbacks, my greatest concern would be that they haven't been able to take control of the division despite it's weakness; that they're letting the Dodgers hang around, get healthy, make bigger acquisitions in Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake and use Joe Torre's experience and reputation as a manager whose teams enjoy late season surges to stay within striking distance of first place. As things wind down, Torre isn't going to make the same mistake as Padres manager Bud Black did last season in using Jake Peavy to start on short rest because of his success against the Diamondbacks and make them angry enough to provide a fuse for an explosion; Byrnes was there with the match last September and whipped the entire team into a frenzy at the sheer audacity of the slight; now, without him, it looks like the team is taking on the personality of their laid back manager, and if that's the case, they're going to have to motivate themselves which, thus far, they've failed to do. They're running out of player moves that they can make; it's time to wake up and win some games.
  • Gary Sheffield says something stupid? Gary Sheffield?!?
I've defended Gary Sheffield in the past because I truly believe that front office people have
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used Sheffield's reputation as a loose cannon to lie to him and try to make him look foolish with some of his off-the-wall statements, but now that he's playing for a manager in Jim Leyland who has done nothing but defend him as a great player and a good guy, one has to question how much Sheffield thinks before he says some of the things he says.
Sheffield is complaining about his perceived role as a platoon player and that he doesn't feel comfortable DH-ing full time----ESPN Story. Leyland and Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski appear puzzled by the allegations; Dombrowski probably halfway expected some kind of Sheffield blowup when he acquired him no matter how much money he was paid or how well he was treated; but
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Leyland values reciprocal honesty and loyalty above all with his players and is probably more offended than anything else at Sheffield's rant. For a guy who has defended Sheffield since he first managed him with the Marlins in 1997, Leyland must see this as borderline spitting in his face.
It can't come as a shock to those who have watched Gary Sheffield----a Hall of Fame player who's playing on his seventh team partially because of his mouth----as he begins the process of a divorce from another organization; but as his skills decline and his injuries mount, one has to wonder who's going to take a chance on Sheffield if the Tigers try to dump him, as they most certainly will, after the season. Because he'll still be able to hit and hit for power if he's healthy, he'll be able to play for someone who needs a right-handed bat prone to hot streaks in which no one can get him out; but Sheffield isn't likely to accept a reduced role or that the new team isn't going to
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give him a new, long-term contract; or he may agree to accept it, as he did with the Tigers and change his mind or conveniently forget about it when the issue starts nagging away at him and the seed is placed into his perception that the agreement is somehow unfair. It may be that Gary Sheffield just sees things through a prism that only he and his surrounding enablers see as reality and, even as he ages and his career comes to a close, that's never going to change no matter whom he's playing for and how much they defend him.
Just as "Manny being Manny" has become part of the baseball lexicon and was seen as a term of endearment for Manny Ramirez until "Manny being Manny" became too much of a case of diminishing returns for the Red Sox to keep him around, teammates, managers and GMs held a similar view of Gary Sheffield with the lesser known appellation of "Sheff being Sheff" with the same head shake and shrug, it's possible that he too is going to wear out his welcome in another venue; but his production isn't going to make it worthwhile for the majority of teams to put up with "Sheff being Sheff" as he turns 40; then maybe he'll realize his mistake. He'll never admit it, but he'll know that he probably alienated some people who truly had his interests in mind and the giant chip he carries on his shoulder is becoming heavier and heavier by the day; too heavy for a player at his age and with the wear on his body to lug somewhere else and get away with it.

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