September Call Ups
As the calendar moves from August to September the MLB rosters grow in size from a 25 man roster to a 40 man roster. For some teams the expanded rosters are used to bring up reinforcements for potential runs at playoff spots down the stretch. For others, it is simply an open audition call for next years Opening Day roster, as well as a chance to see prized prospects in an big league situation.
Some notable names among the September call ups include: OF Joc Pederson (#3 Dodgers) – IF Cory Spangenburg (Padres) – OF Jorge Soler (#5 Cubs) – SP Daniel Norris (#1 Blue Jays) – OF Dalton Pompey (#3 Blue Jays) – C Christian Bethancourt (#3 Braves) – 3B Maikel Franco (#3 Phillies) – C James McCann (#13 Tigers).
Both Jorge Soler and Cory Spangenburg have already made a splash in their (very) young careers. Soler joined Enos “Country” Slaughter (1938) and Will Middlebrooks (2012) as the 3rd rookie in the past 100 years to have at least one extra base hit in his first 5 games, while Spangenburg notched his 1st career hit and drove in the first two RBI’s of his career in a 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks on Monday; he also added two highlight reel defensive plays.
Another notable name to be included in the September call ups was Brandon Finnegan of the Kansas City Royals. Finnegan was drafted THIS YEAR by the Royals and becomes the first member of the 2014 MLB Draft to get promoted to the MLB. Considered one of the better college LHP in the draft, Finnegan was available to the Royals at 17 overall because of a minor injury he suffered before the draft.
Despite being relatively small in stature (5’11, 185lbs) for a SP, Finnegan has had no problems pumping his mid 90’s heater past minor league hitters. His numbers aren’t jaw dropping, but they are impressive for a kid who has only pitched 27 innings in his pro career: 13 Games/5 Games Started – 1.33 ERA – .200 Opponent AVG – 26 Strikeouts/4 Walks. Finnegan could help out in the rotation as a spot starter or look to bolster an already formidable bullpen.
Waiver Trade Deadline
The long weekend also marked the passing of MLB’s Waiver Trade Deadline. Although not as anticipated as the “real” Trade Deadline that passed back at the end of July, it was still met with a minor flurry of roster moves.
The Oakland A’s acquired the Big Donkey (Adam Dunn) from the Chicago White Sox for a minor leaguer in the hopes that Dunn could help jump start an Athletic’s offense that has sputtered since they dealt Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox back in July. Sure enough Dunn hit a HR in his first AB as an Athletic, marking the 3rd time that he homered in his debut with his new team.
The Angels acquired 2B Gordon Beckham from the White Sox. The Orioles added some LH bench depth in two separate moves when they acquired IF Kelly Johnson from the Red Sox and OF Alejandro De Aza from the White Sox. The Brewers added some bullpen help when the picked up RP Jonathan Broxton from the Cincinnati Reds. And the Blue Jays (finally) made a big splash when they acquired OF John Mayberry Jr. from the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Pending Retirement of the Big Donkey
Adam Dunn made his MLB debut with the Cincinnati Reds as a 21 year old OF way back in 2001. Since his debut, the man affectionately known as the “Big Donkey” has amassed over 8200 plate appearances in just under 2000 career MLB games. He has played for five MLB teams and in both the AL and the NL. He currently sits tied with Big Papi (David Ortiz) at #35 on the All Time HR Leader List with 461 career long bombs. He is also #3 on the All Time Strikeout Leaders with 2353 career strikeouts. For his career no one has better exemplified the “all or nothing” approach like Adam Dunn did.
The 6’6, 285 lb Texan was known for some of the most raw, country strong strength ever displayed and would routinely flex that strength with tape measure shots that left fans and opponents in awe. In his 14 year career, Dunn hit 40 or more HR’s 6 times, including an amazing 5 seasons in a row from 2004-08. He also drove in 100 or more RBI in 6 seasons. However with great power often comes a great ability to swing and miss. For his career Dunn has topped 100 or more strikeouts in 12 of his 14 seasons, including an astounding 222 in 2012. Somewhat surprisingly for someone with his proneness to whiff, Dunn did manage to top 100 or more walks in 8 seasons.
Following his most recent trade to the Athletics, Dunn stated that he plans to retire following the end of the season. This isn’t completely shocking as Dunn had contemplated hanging the cleats up heading into this season, What is shocking is that Dunn will turn 35 at the end of the season and appears to still have enough talent/ability to still play at the highest level, even if only for a few more seasons. Dunn’s power and lack of defensive ability makes him a perfect candidate to spend his years as a DH in the AL and there are more than enough AL teams that could use a big power hitting LH bat. However it seems that the Big Donkey has made up his mind and you cant blame a guy for going out on his own terms before he becomes a shell of his former self.
One has to wonder what his status as a potential Hall of Famer is. Dunn sure has the power and offensive numbers (461 HR/1160 RBI/.365 OBP) to garner a look, but you have to assume that his low career average (.237) and high strikeouts will hinder any shot he has. Personally I see him as our generations Dave Kingman, a very respectable hitter and feared slugger but just not quite good enough for Cooperstown. Here is a comparison of the two sluggers careers:
Dunn: 14 seasons – 6820 AB – 461 HR – 1160 RBI – .237 AVG – 2365 K’s
Kingman: 16 seasons – 6677 AB – 442 HR – 1210 RBI – .236 AVG – 1816 K’s
Hall of Famer or not, Dunn will always be remembered as one of the originals Monsters of Mash and the slugger of the furthest hit ball I have ever seen.