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As Promised, Blueline's Deadline Breakdown

(ed. note - "bluelineswinger posted this early this morning, but the discussion has been going on all day, so I figured it deserved more time front and center...")

First off, I'll lead with a little something about myself... Many of you have heard this already, but to any of the people who are new to the site, this could be some of the background that leads to my feelings on the subject at hand.  I've invested about 30 years of my life as a fan of this franchise (including their time as the Montreal Expos).  I've seen the patterns of losing, coupled with sporadic periods of success during the franchise's tenure in Montreal.  Unfortunately, that success was almost always followed by a purging of the payroll, which meant the young stars that the club had developed were out the door and succeeding elsewhere without many sustained successful runs.

The years leading up to the 1994 strike were probably the best of them.  The Expos actually had a nice run where they finished above .500 in five of eight seasons (in two of those other seasons, they finished exactly .500).  They had the best record in baseball at the time of the strike, which (in retrospect, coupled with ownership/the front office's unwillingness to keep the team together) essentially killed baseball in Montreal.  It was a slow death.  Financial decisions to let Larry Walker leave via free agency and trade Marquis Grissom, Ken Hill, and John Wetteland for pennies on the dollar doomed the franchise..... and destroyed the attendance figures (seriously.  They were never great in Montreal, but the fans showed up before the strike.  After it?  Not so much).

Having never lived in Montreal or DC, I've remained true to this team since I first got into baseball.  Unfortunately, my distance from the franchise's home also means that I've never been a big (or any, really) part of the team's attendance figures (OK.  That's not completely true.  I've been to about a dozen games in the old Olympic Stadium when they were the Expos.  My last home Expos/Nats game was in 2002.  I watch them religiously from afar (thank goodness for the improvements of cable and satellite TV!), and make sure to go to at least one of the games each year when they play the Cardinals in St. Louis, my home.

As a fan, I certainly grow attached to the players that the Nationals have, and I certainly want to see the club get on a better path (I'd argue that they've done many things to get on that path, but... well.... we'll get there later on.  I told everyone this was going to be long).... preferably quickly.  It does not, however, affect my attendance at the team's home games.  I certainly plan on getting to DC for a game someday in the (near?) future, but that will likely happen whether the Nats are winning or losing.  I don't like to see the team in a perpetual rebuilding mode, where they're trading their top players away for "prospects."  I do, however, see the value at times, and that's why my viewpoint on this subject disagrees with the majority opinion here. 

With some background out of the way, I'm going to tackle the moves and non-moves that GM Mike Rizzo made at the deadline.  I've been outspoken about what I feel should should have happened in regards to Adam Dunn, and most of the analysis will be about the fact that he remains a National.  However, fully evaluating Rizzo's job at the deadline means that we have to look at the other moves that the organization made as well.

Signed Yuniesky Maya to a 4 year, $6 Million deal - Technically speaking, this was not a trade.  It was, however, an acquisition made by the front office in the weeks leading up to the deadline.  At 28 (listed.... you never really know), we're going to see exactly what Maya can do in the big leagues pretty quickly.  There's liable to be an adjustment period as he gets acclimated to MLB hitters (and vice versa), but his skills don't figure to improve (or decline) dramatically in the next couple of seasons.  He's a finished product.  How that translates (A #3 starter?  A #4 or #5?) is something that we won't know until we've seen him perform for a bit in North America.

The reality is probably that Maya will quickly become a guy who could be a #4 starter on a contending team, but will slot in as a number two (behind Strasburg) or number three (behind Zimmermann) on the Nats.  The likelihood is that we see Maya in September, and his signing is a huge win for the organization.  As financial terms of offers from other clubs haven't been made public, we can't necessarily say that they outbid teams that had shown interest such as the Yankees, Red Sox, and some of the other usual suspects.  We can say that they won out for one reason or another, and the assumption is that fellow Cuban emigres Livan and Orlando Hernandez presence in the Nats' organization could have come in handy. 

At an average annual value of $1.5 million per season, Maya's contract slots a lot closer to that which a young player (prospect, in other words) tends to get on the international market than that of an established finished product.  Even if Maya isn't quite as good as advertised and slots in as a back-end starting pitcher, the likelihood is that the Nationals will get a decent surplus value in return for signing him.

Trade Matt Capps and Cash to Minnesota for C Wilson Ramos and LHP Joe Testa -

The Nats have been praised as big winners in this deal.  There's good reason for that, and I personally love the deal that Rizzo made here.  Ramos was considered the #58 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America in the preseason.  He was considered the #42 prospect in all of baseball by ESPN's Keith Law.  In truth, it's hard to find any prospect moguls who weren't high on Ramos in the preseason, and with good reason.... the kid did hit .317/.341/.454 as a 21-year-old in AA last year (perhaps a bit young for the league for a catcher).  His defensive reputation behind the plate is outstanding as well. However, I do think that Dave Cameron's take on Dated Information is not something that should be taken too lightly.

The fact of the matter is that Ramos' performance in Rochester (Twins AAA affiliate) has to be taken into account here as well.  Ramos was hitting just .241/.280/.345 for the Red Wings this season at the time of the deal.  There are certainly some flaws in his game that he needs to correct.  Most notably, his plate discipline is positively Cristian Guzman-like.  He's also been known to struggle against breaking balls, and he's developing a bit of a reputation for being fragile.  There are certainly some hills (mountains?) to climb if he's ever to become a star, but he still figures to be a quality starting catcher who shouldn't require too much more time developing.  His defense alone should get him there.  Maybe he turns into a guy who can hit for some power as well, or maybe he turns into a poor man's Yadier Molina

Testa doesn't figure to become any kind of major piece in the organization, but could eventually pay dividends as a lefty (LOOGY maybe?) out of the bullpen.  The more likely scenario is that he ends up becoming organizational filler.

Regardless of whether Ramos ever develops into anything better than a league average starting catcher or not, the deal was a solid one on Rizzo's end.  Capps cost the club nothing in terms of personnel this past offseason after being non-tendered by the Pirates.  Rizzo installed him as a stopgap at the back of the bullpen, watched Capps earn himself a trip to (and a win at) the All Star Game as the Nats' closer, and flipped him for an asset that figures to be more useful.  In doing so, Rizzo probably trimmed $6 or $7 million or so off the books for next season, assuming that the Nats would have offered Capps arbitration.  Ramos isn't necessarily more useful because he's a better player.  That remains to be seen.  Either way, he's cost efficient, controlled for the next six years, and fills a position of greater need. 

Contrary to many in the mainstream media's beliefs, the deal should work out fine on both ends.  Capps not only improves the Twins bullpen depth the rest of the season, but was immediately (correctly, in my eyes) installed in the closer's role, pushing (former Nat) Jon Rauch back to his more familiar setup role.  Though Capps won't be cheap next season for Minnesota, he's someone that they're likely to retain, and with good reason.  Capps doesn't have the track record of Joe Nathan, but he's also not going to be 36 and coming off of Tommy John surgery next season.  The Twins decision to pay (fairly handsomely) for a proven closer at the deadline indicates that they may not be so confident that Nathan will come back at 100% next season.  Capps is a terrifiic insurance plan for them next season as well.

Traded SS Cristian Guzman and Cash to the Rangers for RHP Ryan Tatusko and RHP Tanner Roark

The Nats will pick up about 75% of the remaining salary on Guzman's deal, which is still better than the 100% they'd have had to pay had they not been able to move him.  Guzman was walking at the end of the season, and there's no reason that Rizzo should have had any intention of re-signing him.  Guzman is right on the border of being a Type B Free Agent this offseason, but any General Manager that would consider offering him the arbitration necessary to require a compensatory pick should have his head examined.  Guzman is making $8 million this season, and arbitration rules state that his club will have to offer him a minimum of 80% of that sum through arbitration.  That's $6.4 million, and Guzman would be a fool not to accept arbitration and remain an albatross.

As I referenced Dave Cameron's fine work at Fangraphs when talking about the deal for Ramos, I'll mention another one that I found via some of my other regular reading (Rob Neyer's SweetSpot Blog on ESPN).  Steve Buffum gives us some great analysis about the Indians' deadline (and pre-deadline, in the case of Russell Branyan) deals and how they could prove crucial to the organization's long-term improvement even if the prospects they got in return may not amount to anything.  Though Cleveland's trades of Branyan, Jhonny Peralta, Austin Kearns, Jake Westbrook, and Kerry Wood offer them a more extreme situation in which to evaluate their talent, the removal of Cristian Guzman achieves the same thing on a smaller scale for the Nats.

I'm sure I'm alone (I've said I'm alone on some things, but I know I am on this one!) when I say that Rizzo may (or should) strongly consider exercising Adam Kennedy's $2 million option for next season.  The fact of the matter is that the Nats don't have a viable replacement (yet?) at the minor league level for the 2011 season.  $2 million is market value (possibly a bit below) for a player of Kennedy's talents making the majority of the starts at second base.  Removing Guzman, a player who certainly wouldn't have been retained, affords Jim Riggleman more at bats to evaluate whether Kennedy is worth retaining pretty cheap next season to serve as a stopgap until a long-term replacement (presumably Danny Espinosa.... or Ian Desmond moving across second base to accomodate Espinosa) is prepared to take over the job. 

It will also give the Nats more at bats to evaluate how useful Alberto Gonzalez can be to them.  Barring an August (post-waiver deadline) trade where the Nats bring in a second baseman, I would suspect that they'll find Kennedy is good enough to retain at that price, and platoon him with Gonzalez next season..... It won't be greeted with cheers here, but it may well be the most prudent baseball move to make.

Tatusko's overachieving in AA this season, and the long-term ceiling is that he joins the fold as one of the Nats' many AAAA starter types.  I doubt we'll ever see him pitch in the majors.  There's a little more of a ceiling for Roark, though the prevailing opinion is that the Nats got a guy who probably slots in as a non-leverage reliever somewhere down the road.  Both figure as Grade C prospects, but the removal of Guzman from the roster is beneficial to the long-term health of the organization.

Rizzo's Reputation

Speculation around the league is that Rizzo may have harmed his reputation around the league with his handling of the Dunn situation.  Regardless of the fact that we can't say what truly happened in the "he said, she said" situation with Chicago, I will admit that it probably could affect future dealings with the Chicago White Sox negatively.  I'll also concede that some GMs around the league will be loath to deal with him a bit more in the future.  That said, the decision not to trade Dunn could positively influence future trade negotiations as well. 

Rizzo set his price, and he told teams to meet it or he'd keep the player.  As the deadline passed on Saturday and he hadn't seen the price he was asking for offered, he didn't budge.  I'm sure there were negotiations (according to Rosenthal, not with the White Sox, but hey..) prior to the deadline where Rizzo tried to meet in the middle a little bit.  However, in the end, he says that he didn't find what he was looking for, so he stuck to his guns.  If nothing else, other teams' General Managers will now know that Rizzo means business and is a straight shooter.  Sometimes the best deals are the ones you walk away from, and he obviously felt strongly enough about this situation to walk away.

And now, for the long part........

DNTAD! (Or, spelled out) Did Not Trade Adam Dunn

This entire section could be negated, and we should find out whether it is in the next 24-48 hours.  As has been posted numerous times on the site, Dunn is currently on (revocable) trade waivers.  It's blatantly obvious that Dunn will not clear waivers, but there's a decent possibility that he'll slip far enough so that a contending team that is looking to acquire his services will place the winning claim.  At that point, Rizzo would have 48 hours to try and work a deal with the team that places the winning claim or pull Dunn back.  He would obviously pull Dunn back if he couldn't work a deal.  The assumption is that he won't make it out of the National League, probably being claimed by one of the three teams chasing the Padres in the NL West.  If Dunn were to somehow make it through the National League, there's no way he would make it past Boston, who would likely try to block the Yankees and Rays even if they didn't want him.  There's about a 90% chance that this ends with Rizzo pulling Dunn back off waivers.... probably higher.  He had until July 31 to deal with multiple teams, and there's no real shot that the offers are going to improve when one team would be bidding against itself in August.

It's obvious that the majority of Nats fans wanted the team to keep Dunn at the deadline.  It's also been known throughout the process by our readers at Federal Baseball that I fall on the other side of the fence.  It's not that I don't like Dunn; It's not that I think Dunn can't be a significant contributor to the long-term success of this franchise as a member of the Washington Nationals; It's not like I will stop cheering for him or the Nats because they chose (I have to use the word choice, as it's clear that there were several suitors for Dunn's services) to keep him.  I just happen to feel that the resources that will be allocated towards (presumably) keeping Adam Dunn in a Washington Nationals uniform could be better allocated elsewhere.  Again, this is going to be long... and I'll get to it.

Locking Dunn Up Long-Term

There are both benefits and drawbacks with the Nats deciding to lock Adam Dunn up long-term.  Since many of you probably think I only see the drawbacks, let's look at what I view as some of the positives:

  • The most obvious one is his bat.  Dunn brings a consistent power stroke to the table, and has averaged more than 40 homers per season since 2004.  He also brings a .382 lifetime On Base Percentage to the table, and brings plenty of success with the bat even when he's not bashing 400+ foot bombs
  • He's very popular with the fans, and puts more butts in the seats on a regular basis.  The extra two months alone of having Dunn on the roster will help keep attendance steadier... bringing the financial benefits that come with it
  • He's said to be very popular in the clubhouse as well, and seems very tight with the face of the franchise that he protects in the order (Ryan Zimmerman, of course)
  • He's improved with the glove a bit, as the club has found a position where they can mask his defensive shortcomings a bit more at first base.  The sample sizes are a bit too small to say just how much more efficient he is defensively, but his defense doesn't drag down his bat at this point
  • Signing Dunn long term would be viewed as a positive move by the people of DC.  It would presumably show them that the Nationals don't intend to be in perpetual rebuilding mode, and that they're willing to spend the money necessary to retain their big players when they hit free agency. 

One of the problems with choosing to keep Dunn is that, by not receiving an asset or two (presumably cheap) in return for him at the deadline, the Nats have painted themselves into a corner.  Simply put, they have to re-sign Adam Dunn for this move to work.  Beyond speculation, we don't know what the specific offers that Rizzo received for Dunn were.  However, we can reason from that speculation (as well as the large number of suitors and chatter) that the offers he turned down were players that were more likely to contribute (and faster) than the draft pick compensation picks that they would get if Dunn is offered arbitration* and walks.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  The Nats did well despite not trading Alfonso Soriano in 2006, but they were extremely fortunate with how Jordan Zimmermann has turned out.  Playing the draft pick compensation game instead of taking proven commodities is a dangerous game, and it's going to backfire on you more often than it's going to pay off.

* There's a lot of speculation around the net that the Nats offering Dunn arbitration and him not accepting it is far from a given.  I hate to get on the high horse, but I spit in their general direction of those comments.  Dunn is making $12 million this season, and the 4 year, $60 million deal he is reportedly requesting would in actuality would be a 25% raise (most of the speculation around the net emphasizes that he's requesting a 50% raise.... given that he's in Year 2 of a 2 year/$20 million deal, this is only partially true.  Dunn's salary was $8 million last season and $12 million this season.  For arbitration figures, Dunn would have to be offered a minimum of 80% of the $12 million salary that he's making this season, or $9.6 million.  Of course, the Nats wouldn't offer him the minimum). 

Given Dunn's age, as well as the fact that he's having a career year with the stick (leading the NL in HR and XBH, currently boasts a career best Batting Average and Slugging Percentage [over a full season]), this is the biggest contract that Dunn figures to earn in his career, both in terms of years and dollars.  If Dunn were to accept arbitration and earn $15 or $16 million with the Nats next season, that would likely be a better deal for the Nats than signing him to a four year deal.... and they'd just tell all those willing trade partners who wouldn't give enough up to make Rizzo happy that they'll see them again next year.  Keeping Dunn at the deadline obviously said they intend to keep Dunn a Nat, and Rizzo has a general idea of what it will probably take.  The money to sign him through arbitration is probably already budgeted... just on a longer term.

I obviously don't write the Lerner's checks, so I can't say exactly what is going to happen to the budget.  I can say that a hefty percentage of whatever the budget is will now be tied up in locking up Dunn long-term.  This means there's less money to go around elsewhere.  Whether this eliminates or hinders the Nationals' spending on the free agent market this offseason, I can't say with 100% accuracy.  I can say that it means they'll have less of an impact on the market for some of the bigger names, which is a bit contradictory in its own right.  Why?

Choosing (there's that word again) to keep Dunn at the deadline this season says that Mike Rizzo feels that the Nationals are closer to contention than most outside of the organization (and many fans of the organization) feel they are.  Note: I'm not saying they're closer to being more competitive... I'm saying they feel they're closer to contention.  As baseball salaries have escalated out of control in the past couple of decades, we've seen far too many instances of teams with smaller budgets (I'm now trying to avoid using small "markets", as DC isn't a small market) locking up one player to outrageous deals that find themselves hamstrung by that deal for years.  Here are some examples that don't even require us looking back more than a couple of years::

  • Toronto Blue Jays - Vernon Wells (whose contract makes him immovable) and Alex Rios (whose contract they were so desperate to shed that they didn't pull him off waivers last August)
  • Cleveland Indians - Has anyone seen the ghost of Travis Hafner (a player who, in his prime [which lasted all of a year or two] had pretty much exactly the same skill set as Dunn)?  Poor Pronk... Or should I say Rich Pronk and Poor Indians?
  • Kansas City Royals - There are many, but I'll point to the signing of Gil Meche for 5 years and $55 million.  To his credit, Meche was actually pretty good when healthy, though it didn't translate to any jump in the standings

There are certainly more, but I'm not going to rehash an awful signing from every team (or even every small to mid market budget team).... not even if it was something that seemed like a good idea at the time.  In fact, I can't truly argue that signing Dunn long-term would turn into one of these albatross players, but..... OK.... I'll do one more. 

  • Washington Nationals - Cristian Guzman..... The jury's still not comlpetely in on Jason Marquis' albatross trial, but there are eleven people trying to bully the last one into submission for a guilty verdict

Resume thought.... I can't argue that signing Dunn long-term would turn into an albatross of a contract, nor do I even think that it would (unless they include that fourth year, but that's besides the point).  By stating (not officially, but by not trading him) that they plan to keep Dunn long-term, the Nats are stating that they feel that they have moved beyond the point where they're rebuilding.  With an action rather than words, they've shown that they have eliminated the small market budget mentality of developing the bulk of their roster from within and sprinkling in moderate gains on the free agent market.  They've shown that they're in "win now" mode, and nothing short of imposing that will on the free agent market is going to suffice.... because if they're not in "win now" mode, there's absolutely no reason to be carrying a $15 million slugger to eat up 15-20% of the budget.

Will Dunn be the best free agent on the market?  Will he be the best fit for the Nationals among players on the market?  Will he be the best first baseman on the market?

The answer to question number one is a resounding no.  The 2010-11 free agent class doesn't look like it's going to be extremely deep or anything, but there's some top talent that will be out there.  There are only a few that are clearly better options (around the league, and possibly for the Nats) than Dunn.  As usual, the two main ones are presumed to be trying on Yankee pinstripes already, but:

  • Cliff Lee will be far and away the best starting pitcher on the market, and figures to command a contract that's in the CC Sabathia (7 years, $161 million) range.  There will be more affordable alternatives that are really good, though, in Javier Vazquez (he projects as a Type A, but it's doubtful the Yankees will even offer him arbitration... he might accept it), Ted Lilly, and Jorge de la Rosa.  Only Lee is certainly better than Dunn, but there could be an argument that the Vazquez, Lilly, or de la Rosa could have a bigger impact on the Nats as a legitimate #2 starter
  • Carl Crawford is hands down the best position player on the market.  He plays left field, a spot currently occupied by Josh Willingham, but there would be no question about whether they'd be willing to move Willingham elsewhere (RF?  1b [if they were to not re-sign Dunn]), as Crawford not only brings more of an all-around skill set with the bat, but also is generally considered the best defensive LF in the game.  Crawford is currently lapping the field in LF in terms of UZR/150 (+36.6... second in the majors is Juan Pierre is +15.0) and leads all OF in the category (Padres' part-time CF Tony Gwynn, Jr. is close, at +35.0.... the closest full-time starter is Giants' CF Andres Torres, at 26.9).  Crawford will fetch a pretty penny, for sure, probably cashing in on $20 million or more per season. Crawford has averaged 4.05 WAR per full season, a figure that Dunn has surpassed twice in his nine year career (both were early on, before he outgrew the ability to play a passable corner outfield).
  • Jayson Werth provides a little less with the bat than Dunn and a little more with the glove.  He plays an area of need (RF) and will probably be in the same price-range that Dunn will command.  I might take Dunn over him, but it would be awfully close.  He's probably a better comparison with Josh Willingham.
  • There will be quite a few quality 1b on the market this season, though none of them figure to be monsters.  Dunn is probably the best of a crop that includes veterans such as Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee, Carlos Pena, Lance Berkman, and Aubrey Huff.  All five of those names will come cheaper though.
  • The middle infield crop looks pretty weak at first glance.  Derek Jeter will technically have the option of becoming a free agent, but won't be.  The Nats are unlikely to pursue a SS with Ian Desmond in town anyway.  Orlando Hudson will lead the 2b crop for the third year in a row, while former Nat Felipe Lopez (which would be an unpopular signing, but not a horrible one depending upon the cost) is the best other out of house alternative.  The smartest move might be to pick up the $2 million option that the club has on Adam Kennedy, something that they'll surely use the remainder of 2010 to evaluate.

In order to compete contend by 2012 (2011?), making a serious run at Carl Crawford would seem to be the best option regardless of whether they sign Dunn or not.  Dunn's production throughout his career indicates that he's a very good player... heck, one that may in fact have a pretty decent shot at reaching the Hall of Fame (he'll be expected to hit HR #400 next year in his age 31 season).  In terms of WAR, he doesn't compare to Crawford (32.5 to 27.0 despite having played one less season).  Crawford is nearly two years younger and has a skill set that doesn't historically deteriorate as quickly as Dunn's does.  Would Crawford cost more than Dunn?  Sure.... Probably somewhere in the $4-7 million more per season range, or roughly what the Nats saved by trading Capps.  Am I upset that they chose Dunn over going all-out to sign Crawford in the offsesaon?  Not completely, as I don't think they'd have much of a shot at winning the bidding war for his services anyway.

Why They Should Have Traded Dunn

We've taken a long time to get here, so I hope you'll bear with me a little longer.  Why should the Nats have traded Adam Dunn?  Oddly enough, it's generally for many of the reasons stated above.

  • The statement that the team made is that they have the pieces in the organization that are ready to contend by 2012 next season - They should have quite a few of them, in guys like Strasburg, Zimmerman, Zimmermann, Storen, Desmond (?), etc.  Far too many holes still exist on the roster, though.  They have serious issues in the following areas: 2b, RF, consistent play in CF, and most importantly quality starting pitching behind Strasburg and presumably Zimmermann. Trading Dunn would have created a hole at 1b, but likely filled two of those needs at minimal cost.    Paying out of pocket to address those needs through free agency is something that it doesn't look like the organization is likely to do (nor would it be prudent financially), which adding a $15 million payroll hit only further hinders.  The depth in terms of starting pitching that they have in the high minors has proven to be anything but quality at the big league level, and the only position the club looks close to filling in the minors is second base (Espinosa/Desmond).
  • They're locked in long-term in a position where they pretty much have to sign Dunn - Again, draft pick compensation is something that the club can hope to pay dividends in 2014 or so.  Ryan Zimmerman's contract is up after 2013.  Would you blame Zimm for leaving if the franchise hasn't at least shown that it can build a contender around him by then?  I sure wouldn't.  Yes... They do have to sign Dunn.  This is a tough position for Rizzo and a great one for Dunn and his camp.  If they wanted to lock him up long-term, they should have worked harder at doing so before the deadline when they had more leverage. 
  • He's popular with the fans, and puts more butts in the seats - Feel free to read my disclaimer at the top of the post.  What puts butts in the seats more than anything else is winning.  Keeping Dunn around for two extra months while pigeonholing your offseason spending on him is less likely to lead to more wins than adding some cheaper, younger, big league level talent and allocating the money that would have been spent on Dunn in the free agent market.
  • Is one elite great player better than two or three really good players?  It depends on your situation, and more importantly, who they're replacing.  The Nats current situation screams to me that there are enough holes on the roster so that two or three really good players (presumably at far lesser cost, and likely at least one with the potential to be "great") are still more useful than one great player is to this team.  I do feel that there was enough of a demand for Dunn at the deadline so that they could have gotten two really good talents for him, saving money to place into the free agent market and getting one player with the potential to provide as much production (albeit, at a different position) as Dunn two years down the road.  I feel that the money that they saved, combined with the money they'll save from moving Capps, could have been used to find a better player than Dunn in the free agent market as well.

The key point I make is probably the last one.  I want the building process to be over.  You want the building process to be over.  Rizzo wants the building process to be over.  There does come a time when you have to pull back your chips, take a deep breath, and throw them all in.  The questions are this:

  1. Is this the time and place that you're ready to make that last stand, or is it better to bid at the pot and protect yourself a bit?
  2. Is Adam Dunn the hand that you want to risk it all on?

Again, we don't know exactly what the offers Rizzo received were.  It's entirely possible that teams were trying to completely lowball Rizzo.  It's entirely possible that Rizzo was valuing Dunn as if he was on a different planet from every other GM in baseball.  For this reason, I'm not going to say that I'm upset that Rizzo didn't trade Dunn (since I mentioned a word I was trying to avoid earlier with "small market", the words that I've been avoiding using the whole time in place of "chose to keep Dunn" are "failed to trade Dunn").  I am going to say that I'm disappointed that they weren't able to get what Rizzo would have felt was fair market value.  I feel there's a time to go all in... I feel it's coming.  I don't feel it's here yet.  

This just seems like a missed opportunity.