Monday, July 4, 2011

What's the Point: Done with Dunn

When the Chicago White Sox acquired free agent slugger Adam Dunn in the offseason, Sox fans everywhere were ecstatic. We could not wait until summertime at the cell, a notorious hitter's park, when Dunn would be hitting every other ball out of the ballpark .Before the 2011 season, Dunn was a monster, averaging 38 home runs and 104 rbi's in the two previous seasons with the Washington Nationals. But, more than halfway through the season, things are far from ideal in the city of broad shoulders.

Adam Dunn has been absolutely awful this season. As of Independence Day, Dunn is hitting a pathetic .165 with seven home runs and 29 rbi's. Never in his 10 year career has the oversized slugger played so poorly. He has one hit in 53 at bats against left handers. Please take a minute to appreciate how bad that is. It has only gotten worse as the season has dragged on.

The South Side expected our new free agent to struggle a bit as the season began. Dunn, after all, was switching leagues, teams, and positions, all of which require a significant adjustment. Also, U.S. Cellular Field is tough on home-run hitters near the beginning of the year, since the Chicago winter is always loathe to leave. So, a .160 average with two home runs in April was cause for some concern, but it was not too alarming.

April turned into May, and Dunn began to slightly improve. He hit .204 for the month, with three home runs and a .356 OBP. The rumblings began to grow a little louder from the fans, as Adam Dunn was one of many White Sox struggling at the time, including Alex Rios. The weather started to turn near the end of the month, and Sox fans began to think, "It is now or never Dunn."

It could be never. A warm humid June means it is ideal for power hitters at the cell to hit the ball out of the ballpark. Rather than pick up the slack of a struggling White Sox offense, the $14 million man posted a horrendous month: .136, 2 hrs, 6 rbi's. Adam Dunn not only continued to struggle, but actually regressed during June.

The Sox have tried nearly everything. They have benched Dunn, called in a team psychiatrist, and brought up minor league pitchers to throw batting practice fastballs. Nothing is working. The strikeout total is 105 and continuing to rise. Dunn does not work on the mechanics of his swing, he is a "feel" hitter. He has lost that "feel," and hitting coach Greg Walker cannot really do anything mechanically to help him out. Ozzie Guillen seems content to wait on Dunn. "What can you do? You have to keep playing him."

Dunn is a poster boy for an impatient White Sox lineup not meeting expectations, with the exception of Paul Konerko. Only a few games out of first place as of July fourth, the Sox need to make a move, now, to save their season and give them a chance in an easily winnable division. With Dayan Viciedo tearing up minor league pitching, it is time for a change. Send up Viciedo and his hot bat so that he can supply the clutch hitting and power that the south siders desperately lack. Send down Dunn so that he can clear his head and stop dragging down the team. Maybe minor league pitching will help him get his "feel" back. In a closely contested division race, the Sox need all the help they can get. The team's slogan this year is "All in." It is time to prove it.

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