By Dan Bernstein–
After allowing Ozzie Guillen to realize his quixotic desire for speed and flexibility — mixing and matching his lineup and playing NL-style baseball — it seems the White Sox have come to their senses by signing prolific slugger Adam Dunn to a four-year deal worth $56 million.
Jim Thome returns, essentially, except nine years younger and with better baserunning skills.
No more playing against their own park, in an apparent attempt to recapture the glory of the 1982 Cardinals. The friendly fences of U.S Cellular Field beckon, and Dunn hits one out every 14 at-bats.
Ken Williams is optimistic about re-signing Paul Konerko to remain as the everyday first-baseman, and A.J. Pierzynski was signed late last night for two more years, meaning offense was chosen over other concerns at catcher as well.
Even if Konerko goes elsewhere, there are capable players available to approximate the production one would reasonably expect from that position. The only reason not to like this move is if you think Mark Kotsay is good at baseball, in which case you would be wrong (and, possibly, Hawk Harrelson).
Anybody panicking about Dunn’s high strikeout totals is an idiot. K’s are just another out, only mattering with an advanceable runner at second or third with fewer than two outs. You know who else struck out a ton? Some other all-time great sluggers to whom Dunn compares through age 30 via metric models: guys like Reggie Jackson, Harmon Killebrew, Sammy Sosa and Thome. A weighted on-base percentage of .384 for his career ends the discussion.
Just hide Dunn’s glove. He wants a chance to play the field, but any time doing so detracts from the run creation/prevention equation. He’s really bad at fielding, as judged by both naked-eye scouting and evolving stats like UZR/150. Value metrics like WAR and VORP have a significant defensive component, and Dunn’s is held down for that reason. Making him a DH turns him from a valuable player into a treasure.
Runs will be needed, especially if Mark Teahen and Carlos Quentin see significant time at third base and in right field, respectively. Both are butchers – costing the team an astonishing 61.5 runs put together per 150 games, based on the small sample-size of 2010 numbers. It is possible Quentin will still be traded, despite claims to the contrary. And Teahen may assume Kotsay’s super-sub role if Brent Morel proves ready to man third.
It’s all heady stuff for the Sox, as they aggressively lard the payroll even after they picked up the high price tags of Alex Rios, Jake Peavy and Edwin Jackson. Williams is still fighting, while betting that Sox fans will respond by putting their butts in the seats.
Nobody there will make a beer run, now, when Adam Dunn is batting.