By Laurence W. Holmes–
(WSCR) The boos are getting louder for Adam Dunn. Things are so bad that on Saturday when Dunn drew a walk, he got a standing ovation from the U.S. Cellular crowd. That’s rough, but justified. To his credit, Dunn hasn’t let his problems at the plate affect his public persona. He’s stayed professional and hasn’t lashed out. It shows character and that’s important, but it hasn’t yet solved the problem that Dunn isn’t producing. The numbers are so bad and Dunn’s contract is so big ($56M over four years), that it leaves Ozzie Guillen in a tough spot on what to do with the slumping slugger.READ MORE: Chicago Radio Sportscaster Les Grobstein Dead At 69
Dunn has always had a high strikeout rate. Before this season, Dunn’s rate was 33%. That’s one of the highest in MLB. Those numbers were mitigated by the fact that Dunn was a run producer. Routinely hitting 40 home runs and driving in 100 runs. This year, the numbers take a frightening spike. Dunn’s strikeout rate has jumped to 43% and he hasn’t had the power numbers to off-set them. He’s struck out 100 times in 231 at-bats. He leads the American League in that category and on Sunday went 0-for-4..all strikeouts. So what should Ozzie Guillen do with Dunn?
Dunn’s service time is not going to allow for him to be moved to the minors (without his consent). So that leaves two choices for the Sox: 1) Continue to put Dunn in the lineup or 2) create some type of injury that allows Dunn to get “rehab” starts and perhaps gain confidence against minor league pitching.
After the game on Sunday, Guillen seemed convinced that the best thing to do is keep Dunn in the lineup.
“We just gotta keep plugging him in the lineup, make sure we’re behind him,” Guillen said. “He knows we’re behind him…I feel him. I wish I could be in his brain to see what he’s thinking.”READ MORE: Family Of Amazon Delivery Driver Killed When Tornado Hit Downstate Warehouse To File Lawsuit
Things have gotten so bad that Ken Williams met with Dunn on Sunday morning to reiterate the Sox faith in him.
That’s fine. I get it. He has to hit himself out of this slump, but I have a condition for “13”: DON’T BAT DUNN BEHIND PAUL KONERKO. Dunn’s inability to even put the ball in play, provides minimal protection for the Sox MVP-candidate. For the most part, “Paulie” has overcome that, but there have been at-bats where you see the usually disciplined Konerko, chasing pitches in RBI situations. If Dunn’s going to find himself, it should be at the bottom of the lineup.
Guillen will get a reprieve from the “Dunn Conundrum” in Colorado. There is no reason to play him in the field, so Guillen could essentially bench Dunn, without it looking like he’s benching Dunn. He should be relegated to pinch-hit duty.
It gets more tricky when the Sox come back to Chicago for a three-game set against the Cubs. At Wrigley Field, Dunn has his best road numbers (minimum 10 at-bats): .282, 25HR, 46RBI. That’s in 241 at-bats. At Wrigley, Dunn gets on base 41% of the time and has an OPS of 1.061. Maybe a couple of days off in Colorado and the friendly hitting backdrop at Clark & Addison can snap him out of it.MORE NEWS: 2 Men Shot While Sitting In Car In Humboldt Park
The Sox can’t win the division if Dunn doesn’t have an impact. It has to happen soon. The Sox are in the most important stretch of the season. Six more games against the N.L. and then 19 straight against the A.L. Central. The Sox are 6-11 against division foes this season. The division will be won or lost before the trade deadline. Dunn’s performance in these 25 games will affect whether the Sox are buyers or sellers.