Tremendous or Tragic? Trading Big Donkey

April 23, 2008. Know what’s significant of that date?

It’s the day Walt Jocketty became General Manger of the Cincinnati Reds. He was initially brought into the organization as a Special Advisor on January 11 of that same year. The Special Advisor role was just as it sounds: to advise the Reds within its baseball operations part of the organization. For those that remember when Jocketty was brought on board, you had to know that time for Wayne Krivsky would be short…and it was.

With the recent inactivity of the Reds in making trades and/or signing free agents over the time Walt has been at the helm, it got me thinking about those trades he did make. Like with any deal, they can be dissected every which way possible. I’m no different. Let’s review one of those deals.

Oh, and you will be the judge if the trade was “tremendous” or “tragic”.

Reds trade Adam Dunn (along with cash) to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Dallas Buck and 2 PTBNL (Wilkin Castillo and Micah Owings).

The date of this deal was August 11, 2008.

Dunn had a way of bringing out the worst among a portion of the Reds fanbase. They had developed a disdain for his lack of defense and excessive strikeout totals. During his Reds career, Dunn did post impressive offensive numbers (aside from his batting average, that is): .247/.380/.520 with 270 HR and 646 RBI. The unimpressive part was, as I have mentioned, the strikeouts. For three consecutive seasons, Dunn led all of baseball in that category (2004-2006) racking up 557 whiffs in that timespan.

Why did the D’backs want Dunn? The day the deal went down, Arizona was a game and a half up on the rest of the NL West sporting a 60-58 record. Dunn’s power was thought to improve upon a lineup that included Orlando Hudson and some youngsters like Justin Upton, Chris Young, Stephen Drew and Mark Reynolds. (Of course, bringing up Reynolds also elicits reminders of strikeouts).

The Arizona starting staff had the likes of Dan Haren, Brandon Webb and Randy Johnson. What was there not to like about this deal?

For the Diamondbacks, they fell a little short as the Los Angeles Dodgers finished two games ahead of Arizona and grabbed the NL West title. The Dodgers finished the season with a record of 82-80 meaning the D’backs were only a .500 team after acquiring Dunn.

After the 2008 season, Dunn left via free agency for the Washington Nationals.

Of the trio of players the Reds received in this deal, only Owings made the majors. During his short stint as a Red, Owings was 10-14 with and ERA of 5.35 and a WHIP of 1.588. But most will remember Owings for his bat, not his arm as he would hit four home runs as a Red. What some people might not be aware of is that Owings was the guy assigned off the 40-man roster in order to make room for Yasmani Gandal. After Walt was unsuccessful in finding a suitor for Owings, he accepted his assignment to Louisville. Owings would become a free agent after 2010 season.

Castillo saw very limited time in a Reds uni. He played in only 22 total games in 2008 and 2009. He re-signed with the Reds as a minor league free agent after the 2009 season only to depart in November of 2010 to try to latch on wit the Atlanta Braves. To this day, he has not played in a major league game since June 20, 2009.

Buck was a D’backs third round selection in 2006 and was a four-pitch guy. He owned a fastball, changeup, curve and a slider. His slider was viewed as his “out pitch”. In 2009, Buck sustained arm issues and was never the same. He spent part of ’09 and all of ’10 and ’11 in Carolina. On May 21, 2011, the Reds and Buck parted ways meaning that no one the Reds received in the Dunn trade were within the Reds organization.

So…how do you view this trade Walt made?

For me, it wasn’t tremendous, but it certainly wasn’t tragic either. The Reds did get some service from Owings (who was a member of the D’backs in 2011) while Castillo and Buck were far from contributors. Dunn only played in 44 games for Arizona.

Fact: And just in case you’re wondering about Dunn and his 2008 season which was split between Cincy and Arizona, he did amass a large number of strikeouts that season (164), but did you know he led all of baseball in walks (122)?

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