Furcal + Dunn > Manny + Wilson

While hoping that Manny doesn’t accept arbitration tomorrow and totally ruin this article…

You know, it’s one thing to wonder what to do in the outfield if Manny doesn’t come back – there’s plenty of available outfielders, both internally and externally. But how many times have we been desperately wondering what the hell to do at shortstop next year? We’ve been through this several times already, so you know the details by now. As much as we loved Rafael Furcal, I wasn’t interested in giving him a raise over his previous three year, $39 million contract after his back injury, Chin-Lung Hu and Ivan DeJesus, Jr. can’t be simply handed the job, Khalil Greene and Edgar Renteria are now off the market, Julio Lugo and Orlando Cabrera are undesirable, even Pirates blogs are hoping to be rid of Jack Wilson, and there’s just no one else out there. So what to do?

How about, make the lousy economy work in our favor, for once – and resign Rafael Furcal, who’s apparently completely misjudged his worth on the market, according to Ken Rosenthal:

The A’s abruptly pulled out of the Rafael Furcal sweepstakes Friday after the free-agent shortstop rejected their four-year contract offer.
 
Furcal’s agent, Paul Kinzer, told FOXSports.com that Furcal declined the A’s proposal, which was believed to be in the range of $35 million to $40 million.
The article goes on to say that the A’s are the only team to offer Furcal a four-year contract, and it would stand to reason that as more of the shortstop game of musical chairs falls into place, there will be less opportunity for the A’s to move incumbent shortstop Bobby Crosby and less reason for the A’s to improve their contract offer, which is a pay cut from the $13 million/year average Furcal made with the Dodgers. So why shouldn’t the Dodgers swoop back into the game? It’s not as though Furcal is unwilling to return to LA, like Derek Lowe; on the contrary, most stories that came out just after the season said that Furcal enjoyed being a Dodger, and we know how Joe Torre feels about him.
 
I’m not willing to offer Furcal a four-year deal, and I’m aware of the risk involved with his injury history. But I also know that with how brutal the shortstop options are right now, it’s worth it to take a risk on a player who is clearly head and shoulders above any other option we could have at the position. Besides, if Furcal doesn’t come back, can’t you just imagine Torre deciding he really needs a “true” leadoff hitter again – and subjecting us to 500 at-bats of Juan Pierre sucking the life out of the leadoff hole? If the market is as soft as it seems, and Furcal is more interested in a yearly average than that fourth year – which might be indicated by rejecting of a four-year offer from Oakland – then perhaps he’s willing to come back for a deal similar to the one he just completed.
 
Besides, Buster Olney, discussing the same story, notes:
 
And where does Furcal go? Well, he’s the perfect player for some big-money contender to snag for a big-money, short-term deal, but such an offer may not emerge for some time. We’ll see.
Sounds like a good fit to me!
 
Of course, if you’re going to give Furcal about $13 million a year, then you probably can’t commit to giving Manny $25 million a year, or whatever it would actually take. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need a power bat, because as much as I like Matt Kemp, it’s hard to rely on him to be the cleanup hitter just yet. So how about signing a player who can replace a decent amount of Manny’s production at a fraction of the price and without all the included worry?
 
adamdunn.jpgI know, I know – “you’re not really comparing Adam Dunn to Manny Ramirez, are you?!” No, of course not. Manny’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the top ten hitters of all time. Dunn, however is incredibly underrated and the picture of consistency. I’m not kidding about that last part, either; if hitting exactly 40 homers four years in a row doesn’t do anything for you, how about the fact that his OBP in four of the last five years have been .388, .387, .386, and .386? That’s not even “consistency”. That’s “I’m a robot who’s been programmed to hit 40 home runs and get on base 38% of the time.” In terms of pure monstrous power, Adam Dunn at 29 is the equal to Manny Ramirez at 37, and that’s what this team needs more than anything. That’s not to say I’d prefer Dunn to Manny; I wouldn’t. But when you consider what Manny’s going to cost versus what Dunn’s going to cost… Buster Olney?
 
And the prices in the corner outfield market are collapsing. There had been talk during the summer of Adam Dunn‘s getting $15 million a year this winter, but now his salary range might be little more than half of that.  
I don’t know if I fully believe that Dunn’s only getting $7.5 million a year, but due to his strikeouts and low-ish batting average, he is underrated by the average fan. So let’s say he gets $12 million per. Now you can say “but Dunn’s a lousy fielder!” and ”but Dunn strikes out a lot!” and “but Dunn hates baseball!” and you’d be right, on the first two, at least. I’ll dismiss the fielding argument immediately, because he’d hardly be replacing a Gold Glover in Manny, and at least Dunn can play both corner OF spots and 1B if needed, giving you some flexibility, unlike Manny. Granted, Dunn will whiff – a lot. But considering what he’d bring for likely less than half the cost of Manny, and with him in his prime while Manny’s in his late 30s, plus without any of the “will Manny be a problem” issues, I think it’s a great idea.
 
As for the part about him hating baseball… well, we should all know by now that JP Ricciardi is a jackass, not to be paid attention to. Check out the most excellent Blue Jays blog “The Tao of Steib” and their response to the follies of their GM, imploring Dunn to come play for their team anyway, since he’s, you know, so god damn good at hitting home runs.
 
First off, let us make something clear: we don’t share J.P.’s opinion of you. We’re Adam Dunn fans. We remember sitting a few feet behind you as you were in the on deck circle back in your Louisville RiverBats days, and we thought to ourselves: That is one big mamma jamma. And then we saw you crush a few balls and we thought that you were exactly the sort of dude that we’d love to see playing for the Blue Jays. We’ve been biding our time for about seven years, waiting for your Reds contract to expire. And now that it’s about to, this whole mess happens. It’s really got us worried what you must think of us.
With the bats of Furcal and Dunn in the lineup, it’s easier to get away with Blake DeWitt providing excellent defense at third and sign a stopgap at second for a year until DeJesus is ready – either a decent veteran like Ray Durham or more of a gloveman to provide what would be fantastic infield defense to counteract what might be supbar outfield defense. 
 
Basically, it comes down to this: would you rather have Manny and Jack Wilson… or Furcal and Dunn for less money (depending how much Pittsburgh would eat of Wilson’s deal), and not have traded prospects for Wilson or have to give up draft picks for either Furcal or Dunn? Tell me you wouldn’t like a lineup of Furcal/Martin/Ethier/Dunn/Kemp/Loney/DeWitt/2B? You know you would. 
 
Now I know what you’re saying – “what about the pitching staff? If we do all this, we can’t afford CC Sabathia.” Which is true, and honestly I’m okay with that. I’ve long felt that the Dodgers need offense more than anything, and while I love the idea of Sabathia in Dodger blue, I’ve never been a big fan of paying pitchers $20+ million a year – no matter how durable they are. There’s other pitchers out there that can be had – Ben Sheets, Jake Peavy, etc. we don’t have to have the biggest fish of them all, and the offense this team would feature with Furcal and Dunn would be tasty.
 
I completely expect people to think I’m crazy on this one. Remember that when Juan Pierre and Angel Berroa are 1-2 atop the lineup next year.
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