Aaron Gleeman

Baseball Daily Dose

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Dunn in the Desert

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Clinging to a slim division lead despite a lineup that ranked just 10th among NL teams in runs per game before losing Orlando Hudson for the season with a dislocated wrist, Arizona added a big bat Monday, acquiring Adam Dunn from the Reds for prospect Dallas Buck and two players to be named later. Dunn is hitting just .233 with 120 strikeouts, but leads the NL with 32 homers, ranks second with 80 walks, and is on pace to drive in 100 runs for the fourth time in five years.

With a low average and high strikeout rate his performance doesn't come in the shape that many prefer, but among NL outfielders Dunn ranks seventh in on-base percentage (.373), seventh in slugging percentage (.528), and sixth in OPS (.901), nearly matching his .247/.380/.520 career line. With Eric Byrnes potentially out for the year and Justin Upton still making his way back from the disabled list, Dunn will provide a much-needed shot of power and on-base skills.

For now Dunn and Conor Jackson will man the outfield corners with Chad Tracy starting at first base as he's done for the past month, but once Upton returns from the DL manager Bob Melvin could get creative if he wants to sacrifice defense for offense. An all-offense arrangement would put Dunn and Upton in the outfield corners with Jackson at first base, sending Tracy across the diamond to third base and sliding current third baseman Mark Reynolds to second base.

That'd be ugly defensively despite the fact that Tracy played mostly third base prior to this season and Reynolds saw plenty of middle-infield action in the minors, but would definitely go a long way toward fixing the run-scoring problems. Regardless of how Melvin lines everyone up, acquiring Dunn is a shrewd pickup for Arizona. Not only do they get a highly productive bat for the stretch run, they'll receive two first-round draft picks as compensation if he departs as a free agent.

All of which is why final judgment on the deal can't be passed until the PTBNLs are known along with Buck, who while a solid prospect is clearly not as valuable as the draft picks that would have headed the Reds' way if they'd let Dunn walk as a free agent. Considered a first-round talent coming out of college, Buck fell to the third round of the 2006 draft because of concerns about his elbow and sure enough needed Tommy John surgery last year.

Buck returned to the mound in June and has held his own at Single-A, but so far nothing in his performance suggests greatness. Fifty games of Dunn held little value to the last-place Reds, but unless at least one of the PTBNLs turns out to be a top prospect it's tough to see them looking great here. For the Diamondbacks there's plenty of value in Dunn's next two months, so the deal comes down to whether his stretch run and two drafts picks beat Buck and two PTBNLs.

While the Diamondbacks respond to the Dodgers' trade for Manny Ramirez by adding a slugging, defensively challenged corner outfielder of their own—since the beginning of last season Ramirez has a .919 OPS and Dunn has a .923 OPS—here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Pedro Martinez held the Pirates to one run over six innings Monday and was in line for his first win since July 7, but the Mets' bullpen once again imploded in spectacular fashion. Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano combined to allow three runs in middle relief, cutting a 5-1 lead to 5-4, and Aaron Heilman coughed up the one-run lead in the ninth inning before Scott Schoeneweis gave up the go-ahead runs in an ugly 7-5 loss.

Since the All-Star break the Mets' bullpen has an ERA approaching 7.00 and with Billy Wagner on the disabled list things have completely fallen apart. Monday marked the ninth time that the Mets have failed to win a game despite holding a lead in the eighth inning or later, and Heilman has done the brunt of the recent damage by going 1-4 with a 10.97 ERA in his last nine outings. Wagner is eligible to return next Monday, but that no doubt seems like forever to Jerry Manuel.

* Hit on the wrist by a J.J. Putz pitch Thursday night, Evan Longoria was initially diagnosed with a bruise and said Sunday that he was feeling much better. Instead, the Rays announced Monday that he suffered a fractured wrist and placed the AL's leading Rookie of the Year candidate on the disabled list. Longoria is said to be hopeful that he can return in three weeks, but that's obviously a best-case scenario and wrist injuries are always dangerous. Willy Aybar will fill in at third base.

* Justin Verlander's amazingly inconsistent season continued Monday with an ugly outing against the Blue Jays. Verlander began the year 1-7 with a 6.05 ERA while flashing decreased velocity, rediscovered his fastball while going 6-0 with a 2.30 ERA from mid-June to mid-July, and is now 0-4 with a 9.97 ERA over his last four starts. His average fastball has clocked in at 93.9 miles per hour over the past month, so that's no longer the problem, but Verlander simply can't be trusted.

* Dave Bush was briefly in serious danger of losing his rotation spot, but he's quietly turned his season around in a big way. Bush held the Nationals to one run over 6.1 innings Monday, picking up his seventh win and slicing his ERA to 4.35. Once 1-5 with a 6.56 ERA, in 13 starts since then Bush has a 3.15 ERA and 63-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 85.2 innings. With his job secure, Bush is now a mixed-league option and strong bet down the stretch in NL-only leagues.

AL Quick Hits: David Ortiz was scratched from Monday's lineup with what the Red Sox called "slight soreness" in his wrist … Joba Chamberlain (shoulder) is set to begin a throwing program Friday, which is a sign that the Yankees are hoping to get him back this month … C.J. Wilson has opted for season-ending elbow surgery, so the Rangers' closer gig is officially Eddie Guardado's to lose … Starting one day after his wife gave birth to their second child, Glen Perkins shut out the Yankees for eight innings Monday … Hideki Matsui (knee) ran the bases Monday for the first time since June and said afterward that he could begin a minor-league rehab assignment later this week … Asked Monday whether Todd Jones (shoulder) would re-enter the mix for saves when he comes off the disabled list Friday, manager Jim Leyland said: "No idea, we'll just have to see how that plays out" … Manager Terry Francona said Monday that Clay Buchholz will remain in the rotation despite going 0-5 in his last six starts … Shannon Stewart's days as a regular may have officially come to an end Monday when the Blue Jays released him.

NL Quick Hits: Nomar Garciaparra (knee) is expected to come off the disabled list Tuesday and speculation has Andruw Jones (knee) going on the shelf to make room on the roster … Plans for Chris Carpenter (triceps) to throw a bullpen session Tuesday were scrapped and he's scheduled to be examined by team doctors instead … After sitting out Monday's game, Ryan Braun (ribs) said that he's "highly doubtful" to rejoin the lineup Tuesday despite being confident that he'll avoid the DL … Batting .230/.326/.358 in 58 games since June 1, manager Lou Piniella said Sunday that Kosuke Fukudome must "start hitting or we'll have to look for more options" … Rick Ankiel (abdomen) rejoined the lineup Monday after missing 14 straight starts, going 2-for-3 … Freddy Sanchez recently returned from back spasms, but was scratched from the lineup Monday with shoulder soreness … Chris Perez closed out a two-run lead Monday for his second save in five days … General manager Ed Wade said Sunday that the Astros aren't interested in Barry Bonds despite Carlos Lee's injury and Cecil Cooper announced that he'd quit rather than manage him.


Aaron Gleeman is Rotoworld's senior baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. Also find him at AaronGleeman.com and on Twitter.
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