(Ed. We are happy to welcome frequent commenter Y-City Jim, who has submitted the following guest column.)

While I will miss Adam Dunn, the trade was probably the right thing for the Reds to do. The Reds will have a difficult time replacing his offensive production but that isn’t what irks me about the trade.

What really bothers me is the lack of respect given to Dunn after more than seven seasons with this club. He gave fans some wonderful highlights such as the walk-off HRs, and before his arm was hurt, some magnificient assists from his left field spot. In return, he earns derogatory remarks like the following from the likes of sports writers like Paul Daugherty:

He was slow, he had a mediocre arm, he played a dangerous left field. He was a big man whose bigness could give the impression he wasn’t trying. Baseball wasn’t his passion. It was his job. He played it that way.

“Another day closer to retirement,” Dunn said once a few years ago, around the batting cage before a game. That was Dunn. His teammates liked him, but he didn’t lead. Laid back should be a character trait, not a career choice. Not when you’re making $13 million.

Slow, by what standards? No, he was no Jesse Owens but he wasn’t a snail either.

As for treating baseball like a job, is that a bad thing? Perhaps that is why he played hurt and why he played in 152 games or more each season except his rookie year and 2003. Passion is not a bad thing either but it certainly is a rare thing.

So he didn’t lead? There seems to be this image of a leader being someone screaming and yelling. A leader is someone who others follow. Dunn seems to fit that description perfectly.

Laid back shouldn’t be a career choice? So everyone should be a Type A personality, I guess. Nothing like a clubhouse full of impatient, excessively time-conscious, insecure about their status, highly competitive, hostile and aggressive, and incapable of relaxation individuals. Sounds like a room full of Jimmy Piersalls.

Or you could suggest Dunn ain’t all that.

Are you kidding me? Could you make any more of a snide remark? Totally unnecessary and unprofessional comment.

More to the point: Dunn never improved. He went through a steady stream of hitting coaches, none of whom could change his style or approach. After coach No. 3 or 4, you start to believe it was the hitter, not his coach.

Of course, you checked with all those hitting coaches to confirm this? Actually, a team that goes through that kind of a steady stream of hitting coaches in seven plus seasons seems to have a bigger problem.

Fortunately, some in the Reds media camp such as Hal McCoy were able to see a different Adam Dunn and appreciated the time and effort the big guy devoted to the club and his “job.”

It was Sunday, long after the Cincinnati Reds lost their sixth straight game, long after they lost for the 14th time in 16 games.

Most of the players were dressed and gone, fleeing the scene of the carnage.

There were, though, five players gathered in a corner discussing the mess the team made this year, the embarrassment of losing, what it would take to improve the stifling situation.

The players were: Paul Bako, Jerry Hairston, Josh Fogg, Jolbert Cabrera and …

And … Adam Dunn.

Yes, Adam Dunn. So many fans misread Dunn. They thought him lazy. Have you ever tried moving 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds of muscle and bone? Ain’t easy, pal.

Finally, I guess this comment pretty much dismisses the “doesn’t care” label:

He said it, admitted it. He told the media he was awful at times. In 36 years of covering the Reds, I never met a more honest or self-deprecating guy. He never made excuses. He took the blame, sometimes blame he didn’t deserve.

Good Luck, Dunner! If you do, some day, prove to be worthy to be a Hall of Famer, I hope it can be wearing a Reds ball cap — but I’m not sure that we are worthy.

30 Responses

  1. Bill

    Just ran across this:

    “I don’t know if he told (the media), but it was no secret to us that he was looking for a $100 (million) to $120 million contract. I don’t think this franchise is going to give out that kind of money.”

    Dunn had a quick rebuttal.

    “I don’t know where that number would come from. False information, that’s all I can say,” Dunn said.

    “That makes me look like a jackass. You never hear players talking about money. I don’t think about the offseason. Me and my agent don’t even talk about numbers.”

    So, you can either believe Dunn or Arroyo…

  2. Y-City Jim

    I wish I had this John Erardi column at the time I wrote:

    READERS: I’m back. Figured I’d share w/ you non-Kentuckians this KY-edition column that was published this morning on the south shore. (Normally, my KY columns appear in the Opinion/Columns dropdown box of cincinnati.com, but this one didn’t, so I’ll post it here, as it pertains to Adam Dunn.) Perhaps it will provoke a comment or two from detractors of the Big Donkey. — JE

    By John Erardi

    Up in the Bit column

    Adam Dunn

    “Big Donkey”

    Left fielder, 2001-2008

    “Ranks among the Reds all-time greatest power hitters;

    Stands 4th in home runs with 270; 2nd in slugging pct.;

    hit 1 HR every 13.8 at-bats, tops in club history.

    Hit 40 or more HR 4 consecutive seasons; 2nd player in club

    history to produce 100 RBI, 100 walks and score 100

    runs in same season (3 times). After his trade to Arizona in August, 2008, he completed another 40 HR, 100 walk season, making him only the second player in baseball history to accomplish that in five consecutive years.”

    Something like the above is how I believe Adam Dunn’s plaque for the Reds Hall of Fame will read someday. I am writing about him today, because I first met him in 2001 when he was a Louisville Bat in Triple-A., the Reds top farm club. For me, that makes him a Kentucky story. Dunn enjoyed his time in Louisville .

    Seven years ago, I was in Fort Mill , N.C. , to do a story on the attempted miracle comeback of Jose Rijo, after six arm surgeries. Dunn had helped with that comeback, not with a three-run homer to keep Rijo in the game, but with an all-the-way-in-the-air throw to Bats catcher Corky Miller to get a big out that allowed Rijo to survive a tough, third inning. Rijo finished that game strong, and soon after brought down the house (at then-Cinergy Field) on one of the most emotional nights I ever experienced in the ballpark that was home to the Big Red Machine.

    I believe that Dunn is going to go down as one of the best players in franchise history. I think he’s Ted Kluszewski with a lot more strikeouts and no Frank Robinson to help him get into a pennant race (1956). I think he’s Wally Post with not as many hits but a lot more walks and no “Robby” to take him to the World Series (1961). Make of that what you will, and don’t take it as a slam on Ken Griffey Jr. – he wasn’t the player he was here in Seattle . And of course, both the ’56 and ’61 teams — and some of the ones in between and a little after — had the type of pitching the Reds haven’t had since 1999, two years before Dunn arrived.

    It’s an unpopular opinion in Greater Cincinnati to say you are an Adam Dunn fan.

    The subject came up at Dickmann’s Café in Fort Wright Wednesday night where I made an appearance with the Two Angry Guys. I said then what I feel today: Dunn was under-rated. His offense will be hard to replace.

    Dunn’s negatives are easy to isolate; on a good team, they would fade away.

    Simply put, Dunn became the poster boy for a lousy team. Slice and dice the Big Donkey however you want: He couldn’t hit for average, wasn’t a graceful fielder, wasn’t the clubhouse leader. The misconceptions about him abound: He couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position, he hit “meaningless home runs,” he drove in “meaningless runs.” He was a “lousy outfielder.”

    There are numbers to disprove all of that. Let us, instead, take you to the meat of the matter.

    Bullet: Dunn has a career .380 on-base percentage. That’s good for 20th among active big-league players with 3,000 or more plate appearances.

    Bullet: Dunn is one of only 14 players to drive in 90 or more runs in each of the last 4 seasons.

    Bullet: Dunn is one of only 10 players to score 90 or more runs in each of the last 4 seasons. The only other players on the RBI/runs scored lists are Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz. Miggy Cabrera and Bobby Abreu.

    Bullet: In career walk-off home runs, Dunn is tied with Pujos, A-Rod and Chipper Jones with seven. Among active players, only Vladimir Guerrerro, David Ortiz and Jim Thome have more walk-off home runs than Dunn. Every one of the hitters ahead of Dunn has at least 700 more plate appearances – and in most cases, 1,000 more.

    Bullet: Of Dunn’s 270 career home runs, 54 (or 20.0%) have come in what is known as “high leverage” situations. That’s a better rate than David Ortiz (18.1%), Manny Ramirez (19.5%), Lance Berkman (17.0%), and Griffey (17.8%)…and anybody else except Pujols (20.9%).

    Bullet: About 43% of Dunn’s HRs have either tied the game or given the Reds the lead. That’s a better rate than A-Rod or Ramirez.

    I apologize for all the numbers. But the numbers are who Dunn was here…and who he will be elsewhere. If you are not into numbers, you are probably not into Dunn.

    The point: When it comes down to numbers, Dunn wasn’t the one to blame for the last eight years.

    The blame belongs to the owners. They didn’t provide him with the supporting cast that would have driven his numbers even higher

  3. Y-City Jim

    BTW, my sincere thank you to the Redleg Nation crew for asking me to submit my column.

  4. NickP

    More to the point: Dunn never improved. He went through a steady stream of hitting coaches, none of whom could change his style or approach. After coach No. 3 or 4, you start to believe it was the hitter, not his coach.

    That line pisses me off more than anything. He has been one of the most productive hitters this decade. 40 HR -100 BB -.380 OBP every year do not grow on trees. The media is completely clueless.

  5. Pete

    Erardi absolutely nails it. Let’s face it, Dunn’s production will be sorely missed. I’m curious as to how Phillips will fare w/o Dunn protecting him in the line-up. How we lookin? Not good.

  6. nick in va

    Great post Jim. I agree that, if he wasn’t going to be signed, that he should have been traded. That said, I hoped he would stay a Red. Any player that comes to, or up through, the Reds organization may as well be prepared to be like Rodney Dangerfield and get no respect.

  7. Dan

    I think Cincinnati fans love and respect some players — just not always the ones that most lead to winning games.

    If you’re scrappy, hard-working, dive a lot, get dirty, play hurt, that type of thing — if you “play the game the right way” — you’ll be revered in Cincy. Even if you’re not really that good. (Freel comes to mind.)

  8. Shane

    Great post Jim and thanks! I agree with pretty much everything you said and wish Dunner was still with us. But lets face it, when you’re that kind of player you are going to get the big bucks and a small market team like the Reds just don’t have it to give. It sucks but its the ruth and we have to live with it.

  9. CeeKeR

    Well said, and I couldn’t agree more. The Reds will be lucky to find an outfielder that produces half as well as Dunn did (and for as long as Dunn did).

    The bitter Cincinnati media, coupled with the inept front office, is almost enough to make me become a Pirates fan…after all, the Pirates are the closest geographic team to me 😕

  10. Phill

    Jim, great post. I agree that Dunn will be missed.

    Dan, you are absolutely correct as far as players liking guys with hustle. Although I will say people are starting to turn on Freel a bit probably more towards the fact that he can’t play a full season and often times poor defensive judgement.

    It’s sorta funny. Dunn was lambasted for not flying on his face to try and catch balls while Freel is lambasted for always trying to dive for balls and a good time missing causing extra bases to the runner.

    I think what irritates me the most about criticism of Reds players as well as Dunn is peoples outside view of who or what constitutes a leader. People go oh that dudes an awful cancer. That guy isn’t a leader. He does this or that. These people(myself included) don’t know what goes on between players off the field or in the clubhouse. And when people point to what is it now..8 losing seasons? All I can think is how many Pirates fans turned on Jason Bay and blamed him for organizational downfalls. They’ve had it the absolute worst. A lot of cricizism put on Dunn is by people who refuse to accept statistics and make up wacky clubhouse soap operas that don’t exist.

    He’s not the worst player like some believe and he’s obviously not the best but he is and was great for the Reds.

  11. Chris

    Amen. That “never improved” thing bugs me, too. Pujols hasn’t improved, either, if you want to go down that road. (I’m not comparing them.)

    I find that Dunn’s “treat it like a job” attitude very admirable. He showed up and played hard every day, despite injury. Meanwhile, a flashy, maximum (visible) effort guy like Freel spends 2/3 of every year on the DL.

  12. Fred

    Wait a minute…we are not actually talking about Adam Dunn and the Hall of Fame together, are we?

    I mean, he put together some nice power numbers, but at no time during his career did I ever think he was among the top tier of outfielders in the NL during this era.

  13. Phill

    Wanted to add that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget Adam Dunn this year throwing the ball sideways. Possibly one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in a baseball game.

  14. Chad

    I think the biggest thing about this post is what I’ve been thinking all along: that is, you can agree or disagree with the trade – reasonable minds can argue both ways on that one – but I have been sick to see people denigrate Adam Dunn as if he were Juan Castro or something.

    Dunn was great for this team for a lot of years. Even if you think the trade was a good one, give the guy some respect for all he has done for the Reds.

    Paul Daugherty is the biggest joke of a writer this city has ever seen. He is a disgrace.

  15. Y-City Jim

    and imagine the respect Baker could earn if he would take some of the responsibility for the club’s poor performance.

  16. Matt Steele

    Jim, great post. Your thoughts and Eradi’s article sum up a lot of my own feelings in a much better way than I can express here. Want to apologize for the people I “yelled” at (if you can yell through typing lol) because they disagreed with my thoughts.

    Adam Dunn was my favorite player on my favorite team. Very upset and disappointed to see how many people treated him and thought he was somewhat expendable.

    I was at the game on Sunday which turned into Adam Dunn’s last game as a Red. While we were there, we got into a conversation with an usher about what to do about Adam Dunn (sign him, trade him etc etc). The people around us and the usher were so against Adam Dunn that I thought he must have run over their dog or something. It made me very frustrated.

    I’m glad to see the comments here, when I stop being irrationally angry and upset about this, I might be able to view it as a good trade. But I’m not sure lol

    Best memory of Adam Dunn came from watching him on tv in a game. I think it was like opening day or at least early in the season (not sure what year). Anyway, the pitcher tried to pick him off 2b but no one was covering so Dunn was walking back to the bag and was acting like he was a receiver going out for a pass. It was pretty funny and at the same time, showed that he was having a good time.

    I’ll definitely follow him throughout his career. 2 years ago, in my one credit sabermetrics class in college, I did a paper on Adam Dunn’s HOF chances. My conclusion was that he needs to keep hitting 40 homeruns for many years but get his average up to about .250-.260 career wise to get a shot.

  17. Mike

    Good article by Stark. The prior GM did not do a great job, but, it is Baker that has played Patterson and Bako a lot this season.

    If Bako is so good at calling a game, why is the Reds team ERA so bad?

    Baker’s lineup’s are pretty bad as well. Batting Phillips in the 4 spot does not help.

  18. Phill

    Paul Bako is a good game caller, that’s really the only reason his weak bat has stuck around. He’s decent defensively and can handle a pitching staff. The team ERA has been bad because of the young guys you expect to have troubles like Cueto and Bailey. Harang not being Harang. Arroyo not being Arroyo. Early in the year with guys like Coffey and Belisle.

  19. Kyle

    @21… bringing up favorite Adam Dunn moments (here we go)… I was at a game a couple of years ago when Griffey was still playing center. Dunn came out of the dugout looking angry as could be, he runs out to left and just stands there. Griff comes trotting out behind him, stops at the umpire at second base, says something, and points at Dunn. They both start laughing. Dunn refused to even throw with Griffey to warm up for the inning. I thought it was a pretty neat candid moment of the guys having fun while playing the game.

  20. World

    Adam Dunn has as much chance of getting into the Hall of Fame as does Donald Duck. Come on folks. He’s a power hitter with a lot of flaws-most importantly clutch hitting. Check out how many RBIs come with the dingers. That speaks volumes.

    HOF? What kind of Big Bob’s lettuce are you smoking?

  21. Chad

    I’m not saying Dunn is a hall of famer, but you expose yourself when you blame Dunn for RBIs. If he weren’t hitting behind batters who can’t get on base, he’d have a lot more RBIs. Blame Dunn for the things he can control, not team-dependent stats.

  22. Y-City Jim

    Adam Dunn has as much chance of getting into the Hall of Fame as does Donald Duck

    Donald Duck would get into the Disney Hall of Fame. You don’t think Dunn is a shoo-in for Reds Hall of Fame? Because if you don’t I wonder what kind of Big Bob’s lettuce your’re smoking?

  23. Chris

    Before you spout that “clutch hitting” nonsense, check your facts. Read Erardi’s article – he puts that myth to bed.

  24. pinson343

    Great post, Jim. About playing hurt, Dunn would often play hurt, he just wouldn’t let anyone know. One season he was hurting for months without saying a thing and then was shut down for the season. I think it was a bad back.

    Speaking of injuries, you mention his hurting his arm. When did that happen ?
    I remember him as a rookie, making great throws from right field, as you’d epect from a Texas quarterback.

    Dunn improved his situational hitting `(getting runners in from 3rd and 2nd) the second half of last year, continuing into this year.

  25. justcorbly

    Dunn deserves as much respect as anyonr, and that has nothing to do with his atheletic abilities.

    Does anyone really think baseball managers care what newspaper columnists and bloggers think? Why should they? A trade is a business decision.