More Information on the Upton Blockbuster

Since my last post was about Kevin Towers’ trade history, I wanted to write more about the most important trade Kevin Towers has or will ever make. The four main pieces of this trade were Chris Johnson, Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, and Justin Upton.

I’d like to take on Chris Johnson first. A lot of Diamondbacks fans look at Johnson’s batting average this season and get a little heavy hearted because we let him go. Fair enough, but there is so much more to a player than his batting average, and I’d like to break that down here. I’ll do a full break down of Martin Prado next, as for all intents and purposes he filled the void that Chris Johnson left.

For the 2013 season, Chris Johnson is posting a slash line of .326/.462/.824. He’s hit 10 homeruns and driven in 58. He has shown mild versatility by filling at 1st base eleven times, and playing the remaining 101 of his starts at his natural position of 3rd base. Since his time at 1st base is limited, and no Diamondbacks fan would want to replace Paul Goldschmidt with Chris Johnson, I’m only going to break down his defensive metrics at third. At 3rd, he’s committed thirteen errors in 171 attempts for a fielding percentage of .944, which is atrocious. In his defense, his RF/9 (Range Factor for every 9 innings played) is 10.19, which is well above the league average of 9.44, which means he gets to more balls than the league average third baseman, which gives him the opportunity to make more mistakes. He holds a dWAR of -0.6, meaning he is over a half run WORSE than the league average third baseman in terms of defense. However, his WAR is 1.6, which is decent, and says he is worth 1.6 wins over a replacement player over the course of a season. However, since he is costing his team -0.6 wins per season on defense, we can surmise that his overall WAR is about 1.0, just above replacement level. As a comparison I’m going to use Pablo Sandoval of the Giants, since we all know he’s a below average player, and his weight inhibits him from doing much on the defensive side of the ball. To throw out the same numbers, the Panda’s slash line is .270/.394/.721, which is terrible for a guy that supposedly hits for power and average. Pablo, like Johnson, also has ten homeruns, but has driven in 64 guys, a few more than Johnson. I know as well as the next guy there aren’t many Diamondbacks fans that like Pablo, and even the Giants fans are turning against him and starting to realize he was a long overrated player, that probably needs to make the transition to the AL so he can DH. His dWAR is identical to Chris Johnson’s at -0.6, and his WAR is 1.3, so he’s only slightly worse than Chris Johnson as a whole player. Chris Johnson’s oWar (Offensive WAR, which does not include any defensive value) is 2.4, while Sandoval’s is 2.0. As you can clearly see, Chris Johnson and Pablo Sandoval are league average third baseman, and neither of which bring to the clubhouse what Martin Prado does. However, Chris Johnson is batting .340 with RISP. Just for giggles, I bring to you, for your judgement, a slash line of .358/.681/1.130, an oWAR of 8.6, a dWAR of -1.3, a WAR of 7.0 with 43 HR and 130 RBI. A player batting .419 with RISP, a player whose OPS jumps to 1.40 with RISP. I’m sure it’s already obvious that I’m talking about Miguel Cabrera, and there is nothing average about him.

Next, I bring to you Martin Prado, as promised. Prado is batting only .277 with RISP, but we have to keep in mind that he struggled mightily during the 1st half of the season, hitting only .253 before the ASG. Since the ASG, in 155 ABs, his slash line has increased from the Pre-ASG .253/.365/.668 numbers to an eye-popping .355/.548/.948. In other words, his second half slash line is much, much better than that of Chris Johnson’s entire season. Prado also has 71 RBI and 13 HR, and can play multiple positions above league average. His oWAR is 1.8; dWAR .8; WAR 2.4. Because of his very weak first half, his oWAR is still below that of Johnson’s, but combining all his numbers proves to any educated fan that he is much more valuable Chris Johnson, and has been even while underperforming at the plate. He’s played 3B, 2B, LF, RF, and SS for Arizona this year, 98, 29, 18, 18, 1 games at each position, respectively (only playing 1 inning at SS, and not having a ball hit to him). His RF/9 at each position he has played is below league average, but at 3B and 2B he maintains a solid fielding percentage in the higher .900s. This guy is a catalyst and a game changer, and Chipper Jones himself said he couldn’t imagine (and didn’t want to) the Braves clubhouse upon his departure – that’s how important he was on and off the field in Atlanta, and nothing changed when his uniform did. Martin Prado is respected around the league, and is an above average bat and baserunner, with baseball smarts enabling him to do many things on the field with a great rate of success.

Justin Upton was a streaky player for Arizona, and many fans (myself included) loved him, and not necessarily for his play, but for the fact he gave his all – even though this fact is highly debated throughout our fan base. This year in Atlanta, not much has changed, with the exception of his uniform color and the number on his back. He’s still streaky and an iffy defensive player in the OF, but seems to be well liked by the fans in Atlanta. His .265/.477/.835 slash isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either, and at this point I highly doubt he will ever develop into the 5-tool player Arizona (and many scouts) saw him as when they drafted him number 1 overall in the 2005 first year player draft. He’s hit 24 bombs and driven in 64 this season, all while playing the corner outfield positions or DH’g during interleague affairs in AL ballparks. His oWAR is a phenomenal 3.1, but his dWAR is a dismal -1.6, as he struggles to make routine plays. Sadly, there is no argument for his range to defend his poor defense, as he is well below league average at RF/9 1.89 to a league average of 2.08 out of RF. He defends LF slightly better than league average, as the lgRF/9 (league average Range Factor per 9 innings) is 1.82, and he posts a not so dazzling 1.84. On his side though, in 257 innings in RF, he has yet to record an error, seeing 54 chances. In LF he’s had 165 chances in 787.1 innings, and recorded only four errors. During his last couple of years in Arizona, his RF/9 was greater than league average, indicating he was getting a lot more balls in our OF than he is in Atlanta. Something tells me Freddie Gonzalez told him to tone it down a bit so he limit his number of mistakes and not injure himself so often. His WAR as a total player is 2.1, which is pretty good, and he has definitely been a huge part of Atlanta’s run this season, as they have a fourteen game lead over the Nationals, with a 82-52 record, thirty games over .500. The big complaint in Atlanta last year was their inability to score with RISP, and both Upton and Johnson have seemed to help them fill their voids in this department, although he’s only batting .244 with RISP.

Randall Delgado, in my opinion, is the player that was most coveted by Towers in this trade, even though nothing ever would’ve happened without Prado coming over as well – and that was made clear. Delgado is 4-5 with a 3.67 ERA. For those of you that are still stuck on W/L record, in his five losses, he gave up 2, 2, 3, 3, 1, and 5 earned, one of those losses was not a start. Deglado has started fourteen games in a Diamondbacks uniform, nine of them have been QS (Quality Starts; 6IP or greater with 3ER or less). Like it or not, the guy has been absolutely filthy in a Diamondbacks uniform. His first appearance in a Diamondbacks uniform was out of the pen, in which he pitched two innings, gave up two runs, and got the loss. I’m not one to really believe in Pitcher’s WAR, but his is .5 and in my opinion he is much more valuable than half a game.

Don’t forget folks that I will no longer debate my posts via Twitter, it’s too difficult. We’ve made commenting within the site easier for the benefit of the reader. If you have something you’d like to discuss, comment on the appropriate entry, and we’ll get down to business.

-dbaxblogger

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KT: A Trade History

Ask any Diamondbacks fan who our GM is, and without fail they’ll give you the correct answer. Ask them the follow on question of “Is he a good GM?” and you’ll get answers that vary greatly. To make the task of understanding Kevin Towers and formulating educated opinions easier, I present to you my latest entry.

Kevin Towers has made a flurry of trades in his reign as the GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and since the human brain is more in tune with negative results than positive ones, (think of something you did to get in trouble as a kid; easy, right? Now think of something your parents did to reward you for getting good grades or making the baseball team; it should be more difficult)  it’s easier for us to remember the failures than to appreciate the good he has done for this team. As I discuss his history here, I’m not going to include minor moves with players that are basically irrelevant, and never reached a point of relevancy at any time in their careers. Enough of the chit chat, let’s get down to business.

Relevant trades:
1: April 30, 2011 – Arizona sends Mark Reynolds and PTBNL to Baltimore for David Hernandez and Kameron Mickolio. Mark Reynolds goes on to leave Baltimore a season later for the Indians, only to get DFAd by Cleveland shortly thereafter. Kameron Mickolio spent 1 year with the big club in AZ, throwing 6.2 innings to the tune of a 6.75 ERA, and now pitches in Japan. We all know that the real prize here was David Hernandez – sadly after this dismal season for Hern, many fans seems to have forgotten that in 2011 he threw 69.1 innings and recorded an ERA of 3.38 while striking out ten batters every nine innings of work. He only followed that up with an even better 2012, in which he had an ERA+ of 164 and WHIP of 1.024 while hosting an ERA of 2.50 over 68.1 IP. He had fifteen saves over those two phenomenal seasons, and it’s a shame to Arizona fans seem to forget that without Hernandez, there’s no way we go to the playoffs in 2011.
TRADE RESULT FOR ARIZONA: WIN

2: July 31, 2011 – Arizona sends Brandon Allen and Jordan Norberto to Oakland for a little piece of gold called Brad Ziegler. Brandon Allen bowed out of the bigs after four years and just over 300 plate appearances, while batting .203. Jordan Norberto threw 6.2 innings in 2011 for Oakland, giving up six earned, and was sent to AAA Sacramento. Oakland gave him a second chance in 2012, where he threw 52 innings and posted an ERA of 2.77. For whatever reason Oakland sent him back to AAA for 2013, and he’s thrown 1.1 innings with an ERA of 40.50. Brad Ziegler on the other hand has been nothing short of a miracle worker for Arizona, coming over at the trade deadline in ’11, throwing 20.2 innings giving up only four earned runs. In 2012, the dominance he displayed at the end of 2011 proved not to be a fluke, while he posted eye popping numbers: 68.2 innings pitched, 2.49 ERA, an ERA+ of 164, with a WHIP of 1.092 while inducing a whopping 21 double play balls. In 2013, he has again worked magic for us, now even working as our full time closer, earning himself seven saves, a 2.52 ERA, throwing 60.2 innings, and allowing only .3 HR/9. In fact, in his entire time in Sedona Red, he has given up only four homers.
TRADE RESULT FOR ARIZONA: WIN

3: August 23, 2011 – Arizona sends Kelly Johnson to Toronto for a returning package of Aaron Hill and John McDonald. In the remainder of 2011, Johnson hit at a clip of .270 for Toronto over 115 ABs, which is definitely acceptable for a second baseman. In 2012, he had 581 PAs, hit .225 and drove in 55 runs. These numbers were poor enough for the Jays to let KJ walk at the end of the season, and sign with Tampa Bay in the offseason. So far in 2013 with the Rays, Johnson has hit .248, driven in 50, and hit 16 longballs. Aaron Hill, since coming over from Toronto, has become an elite National League second baseman, and as an entire package player (average, defense, speed, intelligence, power) is rivaled only by Brandon Phillips in the NL. He hit .315 in his 142 PAs as a Dback in 2011, which I will admit even I thought was a fluke until 2012 rolled around and he hit .302 in 668 plate appearances while driving in 85 and hitting 26 homeruns. 2013 has been somewhat hyphenated for Hill as he had a hand injury, but in his limited time with the team his tear has continued to the tune of .316/.526/.909, 35 RBI and nine homeruns. I’m not going to discuss Johnny Mac here, although he did help this team as a utility man for a year and a half, and is slick with the glove.
TRADE RESULT FOR ARIZONA: WIN

4: December 9, 2011 – Arizona unloads Ryan Cook, Collin Cowgill, and Jarrod Parker to Oakland for a package of Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow. Over Cook’s two seasons with Oakland, he has been downright filthy coming out of the pen, using his nasty cutter to mow down the wicked American League lineups with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Robinson Cano, etc. In his first season in Oakland, he hurled out 73.1 innings, saved fourteen games, and posted an ERA of 2.09. In his 2013 campaign, he’s thrown 57.1 innings with a 2.20 ERA with an ERA+ of 171. His WHIP in 2013 is 1.116, which is phenomenal, but pails in comparison to his 2012 WHIP of 0.941. Over both seasons with Oakland he has maintained a strikeout rate of about a batter per innings. While Cowgill has become a utility man, bouncing from team to team, the real prize of this trade was Jarrod Parker. in 2012, Parker went 13-8 over 181.1 innings for the AL West Champion Oakland A’s, finishing fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. This season Parker got off to a rough start, but has since leveled back off, returning to the dominant form he had in the minors and his first full season in MLB. His 2013 numbers are 10-6, 3.58 ERA while posting a WHIP of 1.194. The big piece of the package for Arizona was Trevor Cahill, who didn’t have a terrible inaugural year in Arizona, posting a 13-12 record (mind you, AZ had a poor offensive year, and W/L record is determined in great part by the pitcher’s run support), with a 3.78 ERA, throwing exactly 200 innings. His ERA+ in 2012 was 108, which is only slightly above average. The 2013 season for Cahill has been dismal to say the least, posting a 5-10 record with a 4.39 ERA, and an ERA+ of 86, well below league average. Long story short, we gave up one of the best setup men in the AL along with an up and coming starting pitcher with ace potential for a below average starter with a big salary.
TRADE RESULT FOR ARIZONA: LOSE

5: July 29, 2012 – Arizona trades Bobby Borchering and Marc Krauss to Houston for Chris Johnson. Borchering hasn’t yet developed into any real kind of talent, and as it stands right now, there is a very good chance he never will. Krauss got up called up to the big club in Houston this year, and has had 77 at bats while hitting .169. Chris Johnson, in his lone ‘year’ (he didn’t make a full season here) with Arizona, had 147 at bats and hit .286.
TRADE RESULT FOR ARIZONA: WIN (Extenuating Circumstances – Johnson involved in trade for Martin Prado)

6: October 20, 2012 – This is a three team trade. Oakland sends Yordy Cabrera to Miami. Oakland sends Cliff Pennington to Arizona. Miami sends Heath Bell and cash to Arizona. Arizona sends Chris Young and cash to Oakland. I’m not going to talk about Yordy Cabrera, given for all intents and purposes, he is irrelevant to the Diamondbacks portion of this deal. Cliff Pennington’s numbers are definitely below the level of staggering, eye-popping, or even just ‘good’, but his value cannot really be determined by his numbers, as he is a good clubhouse guys and can play multiple positions. He has also had a few very clutch late or extra inning hits for our club this season. Heath Bell has posted an ERA of 4.21, which isn’t exactly awful for a setup man given their limited innings, but any studied Diamondbacks fan knows the trouble he has caused this team this season. His ERA+ is 90, which is well below league average, and he maintains a ridiculous WHIP of 1.335. He also walks over four batters per nine innings, which is not helping his cause in the least. Chris Young, as we know, was never really a solid hitter, but played reliable defense and provided some pop, often in clutch situations. This year with Oakland, he’s playing statistically VERY solid defense (although most Oakland fans would beg to differ), but is hitting a measly .189 over a few hundred plate appearances. His value as a defender, however, is still there. Had this trade been a two team trade between Oakland and Arizona that swapped Pennington and Young, I would mark it as a win for Arizona, but because of the amount of money Heath Bell is paid (and is still owed)…..
TRADE RESULT FOR ARIZONA: LOSE

7: November 20, 2012 – Diamondbacks sent Ryan Wheeler to Colorado for Matt Reynolds. Before Reynolds went down with a slight tear in his UCL (the ligament in the elbow that is repaired during TJ surgery), he had thrown 27.1 innings with an ERA of 1.98. His ERA+ was a ridiculous 194, and a WHIP of 1.098 looked pretty sharp as well. His chances of returning at full strength when camp breaks next year are good, and Ryan Wheeler has only had about twenty plate appearances in Colorado, batting .211, which leads to a verdict of:
TRADE RESULT FOR ARIZONA: WIN

8: January 24, 2013 – Arizona sends Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to Atlanta for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed, and Brandon Drury. Justin Upton has been his regular old self, an extremely talented, yet streaky, player – yet at the same time he is the bat Atlanta wanted. He’s .265 with 64 RBI and 24 jacks for Atlanta, which are very good numbers for a club with a lineup stacked full of guys that do the same thing. Now that he doesn’t have to carry the club on his shoulders, he can perform like an above average power bat, which is all he was ever meant to be. Chris Johnson, on the other hand, is doing ridiculous things in Atlanta this season: .329/.465/.829 slash with 58 RBI and 10 HR. His batting average is phenomenal, but fear not Dbacks fans, his slash line is about average for a decent bat, and don’t forget he’s got protection. Opposing teams would much rather pitch to Johnson, risk him getting a single or double, than pitch to Upton/Freeman/Heyward/McCann who can absolutely mash. Chris Johnson is an average hitter, with little to no pop, always has been, and always will be. He plays below average defense at 3B, along with below average range. On to Arizona’s new (after this trade) third baseman: .284/.422/.759 on the season, another decent slash line, especially considering his struggles at the beginning of the season, and the fact that he’s not a power guy. Given a full season of production as he’s shown since post ASG, his slugging and OPS would be very close to that of Johnson’s, and his BA would be hovering right around .300. More importantly, however, is his ability to play multiple positions, and play them well. He does have below average range at every position with the exception of 3B, which is where he spends the majority of his playing time anyway, and maintains a .979 FPCT at 3B. Johnson’s you ask? A very, very poor .944. Randall Delgado is 4-4 with a 3.87 ERA, a 1.423 WHIP, and is striking out almost seven guys per nine. His biggest problem thus far is his susceptibility to the longball, but as he learns to command his stuff, those numbers will be drastically reduced. His BB/9 average in Atlanta was right around four, yet he has it down to 1.8 here in Arizona, so everything looks to be on the up and up, and appears to be yet another pitching grab by Kevin Towers. Zeke Spruill has struggled at the big league level so far, his ERA sitting at 5.56 as he constantly bounces between AAA Reno and the big club. Arizona seems to be converting Drury to 3B, as the organization lacks depth at the position, and at South Bend A ball, he’s hitting .304/.505/.869, and the jury will be deliberating on this young man for at least 4-5 years. Nick Ahmed is a middle infielder hitting .230/.311/.595 in AA Mobile. I wish I could say his strong point is fielding as he is weak with the lumber, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
TRADE RESULT FOR ARIZONA: DRAW

I do realize the Ian Kennedy trade should be included, but I think the only way to judge that trade is to see Matt Stites pitching in Arizona’s minor league system for longer than a month. I do know this: his stuff is filthy, he commands it, and he has the potential to be a future lockdown closer. In my opinion, however, just the mere fact were able to offload Ian Kennedy makes this trade a success.

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Pitching? This Will Shock You.

It was time to throw some numbers out there, if only for my own benefit.

On average for the 2013 season, Arizona leaves 3.58 RISP per game, good enough for middle of the pack. Believe it or not the worst team in this department is Boston, leaving 3.98 in scoring position per game. The best team is Houston, with 3.18, of course this must be taken with a grain of sale as one would have to take into consideration the amount of runners that any given team will actually place in scoring position. When it comes to BARISP (Batting Average with Runners In Scoring Position) we come out lower middle of the pack, ranking 18th out of 30, hitting a measely .251. The St. Louis Cardinals are number 1, hitting a ridiculous .327 with RISP. Some of the weak teams that are better that us in this stat are the White Sox, Colorado, San Francisco, and the Angels.

Looking at these two sets of numbers leaves me torn. Part of me agrees we need another power bat to help these numbers, but a larger part of me screams that we need to find a way to consistency. Frightengly, the only team worse than us at BARISP with a record above .500 is the Pittsburgh Pirates. The other teams include the likes of Toronto, the Cubs, Milwaukee, Houston, San Diego, Seattle, and Miami. Even scarier is the fact that these teams aren’t that much worse than us. We’re hitting .251 with RISP, as I stated before. Houston? .239. It’s not exactly a huge difference.

Only two Diamondback players are in the top 40 in BARISP. Goldschmidt, of course, and Martin Prado. Goldy’s numbers with RISP: 118 ABs, .339 BA, OPS of 1.162. Only ONE player in either league has a better OPS with RISP, and of course that’s Miggy Cabrera. Prado’s numbers are nowhere near as dazzling, but his fire of late has vaulted him into this top 40: 129 AB, .279, but his OPS is only .712. Although in all fairness, Martin Prado isn’t a slugging ballplayer, he is the defintion of grit. On the same note, the Tigers have four players in the top 40: Cabrera, Hunter, Fielder, and V-Mart. The Orioles have three players: Adam Jones, Markarkis, and Crush Davis. Boston has three players also with Ortiz, Pedroia, and Napoli. We don’t need to sign another bat, we just need Prado to continue being the Prado that Atlanta came to know and love, Goldy to keep being Goldy, and Hill to have enough ABs to qualify in this department. I feel I can safely say this as we’ve scored a total of 574 runs, compared to LA’s 536. In the NL West, only Colorado has scored more runs than we have, with 581. In fact, only four teams in the NL have scored more total runs that we have: Cincinatti, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Colorado. Our problem lies on the opposite side of the ball, as we have allowed 559 runs, 82 more runs than LA’s 477. The only teams that have allowed more runs than us in the NL are New York, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Chicago, San Diego, and San Francisco. Not a single one of those teams is in contention for the postseason. Our team ERA is 3.84, good for 17th out of all 30 MLB teams. The best is Atlanta at 3.17, and LA (NL) is good for 3rd at 3.20. Here is where I’m about to blow your mind: Our bullpen ERA is 3.33, which is good for 9th in the majors, which is pretty darn good. We have 32 saves, Oakland has 37, which is the team just above us in bullpen ERA and they sit at 3.27, if you were curious. The stat that will blow your mind is this: the ERA of our starting pitchers is a whopping 4.10. FOUR ONE ZERO. Teams that are better than us? The White Sox at 3.38. The Mets at 3.69. Miami at 3.80. The Cubs at 3.84. The only teams worse than us are Philly, Colorado, Seattle, LAA, Milwaukee, San Francisco, San Diego, Baltimore, Houston, Toronto, and Minnesota. Only ONE of those teams is a contender, and that’s Baltimore. Scary huh?

This post only further supports my lack of understanding in the signing of B-Mac, the trade for Cahill, and not calling up Bradley sooner. Yes, I understand he’s young, but even all the professional analysts say he’s ready, and there’s no reason for him to be pitching AA. So there’s my 2 cents.

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Dbacks fans and some football.

Dbacks fans kill me sometimes, I love almost all of you but you drive me crazy sometimes. I get irritated when I see fans cheer for the whole team but neglect one player due to reasons beyond my imagination. We’ve all not liked a player every now and then but personally when that player succeeds on the field, I cheer for them just as I would if it was Goldy. I’ve been frustrated with players all year long and most of you know the players I was frustrated with, but when they had those bright moments, I was first in line to cheer and be happy for the fact they just did something awesome. Now that I’m done crying about that issue.

Now onto something else that I’ve seen that has plenty of fans irritated. Tagging players and putting them down, I’m not a fan of it and I’d never participate in such antics. I was the one that even changed his twitter name to release David Hernandez, BUT not once did I tag him in any posts that I was complaining about his play. These players have lives and feelings, so thinking these guys don’t take the game serious is stupid. I’ve seen friends criticize BMac and not tag him, that’s class. If just half of our fans would have the same attitude and class, we would be considered a better fan base. We are still a young fan base, based on how long our franchise has been around. Our fan base is very unique, so many young fans surrounded by an older generation of baseball fans. All I would love to see is this franchise do great and the fans be a little more intelligent when it comes to baseball.

Football, plenty of you baseball fans wont make it this far down in this piece, but oh well lol. The Arizona Cardinals are a weird and complicated team this year. I’m very disappointed in the loss of Cooper, but Coach Arians has said there’s a possibility of him being back at the end of the year. If the team is looking good in the standings at the end of the year, I’d not mind seeing Cooper start playing this year, but if not, I’d not like the team risking another injury to the young man and saving him for the next season. Quarterback play will be such a relieve and upgrade this year its astonishing. Last few years we’ve gone through hell and back every few weeks. Our offense will need a help from Floyd and Roberts from the Wide Receiver positions to help Larry Fitzgerald. The running game will depend on how healthy Ryan Williams and Rashard Mendenhall can be throughout the season. I’m not even going to comment on the defense because I’m going to dedicate an entire blog to that side of the team in the next blog.

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The Possibility of 2014

Many of my readers and twitter fans aren’t going to like what I’m about to say, but we must first remember that baseball is a business, and organizations make money by fielding a winning ‘product’. That being said, let’s get started.

It seems we’ve lost Cody Ross for the remainder of the season, and for the first time this year I can honestly say that disappoints me. Don’t take that wrong, no player ever deserves to be injured, but I’ve always been on board the ‘Ross is overrated’ boat, and just started to really appreciate everything he was doing on (and off) the field, when he dislocated his hip in today’s game against New York. Over his last 35 games, he’s hitting well over .300, and his clubhouse presence is always a benefit, and that’s one thing I’ve always believed he’s had, although a clubhouse guy alone doesn’t warrant a 26 million dollar contract. So with Ross moving to the 60 day DL, and Davidson finally getting called up to the show, I believe this is the time where Davidson gets to shine, and I firmly believe he will never again see the minors. Coincidentally, Prado has played plenty of LF in his career, and he has become the Martin Prado that I’ve known since I’ve followed him in a Braves uniform, and that’s a great thing for the Diamondbacks organization. That being said, we move Prado to LF, and give Davidson the chance to start every game at third, even with his shaky defense, he has the potential to protect Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup, and that is something we desperately need. I’m sure most fans agree with me on this, but I haven’t gotten to the good stuff yet, so let’s continue.

Now we have, in my mind’s eye, a starting lineup that should look like this:
1)Adam Eaton
2)Martin Prado
3)Paul Goldschmidt
4)Matt Davidson
5)Aaron Hill
6)Gerardo Parra
7)Miguel Montero
8)Didi Gregorious
9)Pitcher

This lineup is open for debate, but if I were in Gibson’s shoes this is the lineup I would run out there 99% of the time, barring injury or days off. I know many of my followers believe Aaron Hill should bat 2nd, and I don’t necessarily disagree, but I’d rather Hill have the potential to drive in more than Adam Eaton (who has troubles getting on base as it is) when he comes to the dish. Batting him 5th gives him the opportunity to drive in three high OBP guys in Prado, Goldy, and Davidson. I would go so far as to say Parra and Prado’s rolls in my lineup are interchangeable, with no real positive or negative coming of it. Okay, finally on to what you’ve all been dying to read.

We play out the season as it stands, and let’s not lie to ourselves, our chances of making the playoffs are less than 10% at this point, and we need to use September to get a very good look at who we have in the minors that could fill spots and either play equal to or greater than some of the high contract guys we have currently. This is where, as Kevin Towers, I’m taking a risk. I’m making Martin Prado a starting LF, thus leaving our OF with Eaton, Parra, Ross, Pollock, and Martin. That’s five guys, and that’s an issue. We already know Gibson loves platoons way too much, and this ends up damaging players in the long run because baseball is a sport of routine, and without that routine many guys struggle to find any kind of groove. After Ross’s showing the last month, I’m now willing to continue to take a gamble on him for 2014 but he’s staying in RF as Prado will be playing left. Ready to get mad at me now? We trade Eaton, Pollock, or Parra, and get a very reliable bullpen guy out of the deal, perhaps even a veteran closer that can actually seal the deal when it matters the most. I love Pollock and I love Parra even more, so in my mind this leaves Eaton up for grabs, but his value is much lesser than that of the other two aforementioned gentlemen, so I think we keep Eaton and Parra, and trade Pollock as part of package deal in which we ship off Cahill or McCarthy with him to a suitor needing veteran starting pitching and cheap OF help … the New York Mets are first to come to mind. This leaves 2014 with a starting OF (L to R) of Prado, Parra, Ross, with Eaton backing up – at least for the time being. So now that’s all done, and our OF is set for 2014, it’s time to look at our starting infield. Didi is phenomenal defensive shortstop, but you know who is just as good but with a much, much better bat? Chris Owings. This leaves us with two options, both of which are great, but one would yield more in trade than the other. The first idea is to move Owings to 2B, leave Didi at SS, and trade Aaron Hill; this is the idea with high yield in a trade. Trading a player like Hill is a high risk/high reward kind of move that I think will ultimately help our team. We could trade Hill (and don’t forget he is aging, he’ll be 32 in Spring Training next season) to a contender that needs a very, very sold 2B, as Hill is above average in every area for 2B. He hits for average, power, and can run, while his fielding is top notch, rivaled in the NL by only a couple of 2B. We offload Hill, and get either A)a catcher (which would involve a corresponding move of trading Miguel Montero, but his value is super low right now) or B)a quality starting pitcher like a David Price type. If you haven’t started screaming at me through your computer screen yet, prepare yourselves as the other option involving SS is to trade Didi Gregorious as long as Owings performs as advertised upon his September arrival this season. Of course this move would require KT to swallow his pride and realize he made the wrong move here, but in my opinion we won that trade, because we were able to unload Trevor Bauer, who is about as useful as a hemorrhoid – no, seriously. The last and final step is to offload the ridiculous contracts of Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy (quit on your pipe dream that B-Mac is any better than he’s performed this year. He had 1.5 years that were a flash in the pan, and outside of that he’s pitching only mildly worse this season than his career numbers would suggest) to a team like the Yankees who are always willing to take on salary, especially if it gives them a chance to win. The Phillies will need SP also, but don’t have anything to offer us. The Mariners are extremely close to being competitive, and this would put Cahill and B-Mac back in the AL West, a division they both know very well. Of course, these are just suggestions.

Let’s move on to the final bit of business; are you ready?

Fire Kirk Gibson, Charles Nagy, and put Don Baylor on final notice. Promote Matt Williams into Gibson’s job, as Matty has a much better baseball mind than Gibson does, and he also has that hard nosed mentality that will garner respect. More importantly, the guys on the team are already comfortable with him, and there wouldn’t be much of an adjustment period. On top of all those benefits, he’s dealt with the strife of being on losing teams, he’s been in the playoffs and won a championship, and he’s been under scrutiny for steroid use too – he’s kind of a jack of all trades, able to handle any and all situations that come his way, and let’s be honest – us Diamondback fans will always love seeing his number 9. If Williams chooses to go to be the manager of the Nationals, than I do have one more hair-brained idea, and it’s just crazy enough to work. Fire Brenly from the broadcast booth, give him his jersey back, and put him back in the dugout. Let’s not kid ourselves, he was a phenomenal manager, and he knows the game like the back of his hand.

Please refrain from shooting/strangling/punching/harming me in any way. Thank you.

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Thoughts on Dbacks Trades (Courtesy of Jim Bowden)

Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers’ phone never stops ringing because of the team’s stable of young starting pitchers in the major and minor leagues. However, when you’re a midmarket club, you just can’t trade that type of talent for stopgap players at the trade deadline.

The Diamondbacks are a solid blue-collar team that looked like an 85-win team in March and still look like that three days from the trade deadline.

In other words, this is a good team but not a great team. To make significant trades to improve the team, they’d have to mortgage the future because everyone keeps asking for elite pitching prospect Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs, and it just doesn’t make sense to trade years of non-arbitration eligibility to try to win now, especially when this team simply isn’t good enough to win a World Series by making those types of deadline deals.

Outside of a small deal for a left-handed reliever, they’re probably better off doing nothing and trying to win over the next several years with the young pitching they have stockpiled.

 

—-I take no credit for the writing of this article; all credit goes to Jim Bowden of ESPN.

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Alex Rios (by Scott Bratt)

Rios has had a seesaw career that makes him at once enticing and terrifying for teams that would consider acquiring him. In 2009 and 2011, Rios produced sub-.700 OPS seasons that collectively cost his teams a win according to Baseball-Reference’s wins above replacement (WAR) statistic. In contrast, Rios held a .791 OPS in 2008 and a .850 OPS in 2012, and had an 8.0 combined WAR in those seasons. This year, Rios is between those two extremes with a .767 OPS.Teams likely expect that this middle ground is Rios’ true talent level, but might also see his massive production from last season as a possibility over a few-month stretch to end this season.

 

Rios’ inconsistencies may be masking actual declining skills. From 2008-10, Rios saved an estimated 10 runs with his range in center field. However, in 2011, Rios cost the White Sox six runs with his range, and subsequently, they moved him to right field. Last season, Rios was effective in right, saving them four runs with his range, but this year he is dramatically worse, costing them eight runs.

Any team that acquires Rios for the stretch run this season will be on the hook for his $13 million salary in 2014, and if Rios is actually a below-average corner outfielder now, his current offensive production will likely not justify his price tag.

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An Excerpt from ESPN Insider RE: Gallardo

Gallardo’s fastball velocity has declined each of the previous two seasons: In 2011, he averaged 92.7 mph and last year, he averaged 91.8 mph. This year he’s down to 90.7 mph, and for the first time his strikeout rate has dropped as well, from a batter per inning last year to 7.28 per nine this year. Intuition tells us that a pitcher’s strikeout rate should fall when his velocity does, but in practice, the relationship is far more complicated. For example, Felix Hernandez has seen his fastball velocity drop the last three seasons. His current 91.8 mph average is right in line with what Gallardo threw last season. However, Hernandez is striking out more than a batter per inning for the first time in his career. Hernandez’s continued success may be due to his mix of secondary pitches, his sequencing, or other factors. It’s difficult to know why it is happening, but his peripheral statistics help support the idea that it should continue to happen. Despite the decline in velocity, Hernandez has seen a three-year decrease in in his opponents’ contact rate on balls out of the strike zone, from 65.6 percent to 56.5 percent. By contrast, Gallardo has seen a dramatic increase in his opponents’ contact rate on out-of-zone pitches, up from 65.0 percent last season to 71.3 percent this season. If Gallardo can no longer induce batters to swing-and-miss out of the zone, he won’t provide much of an upgrade for teams.

 

 

-Scott Bratt, Baseball Info Solutions
(None of this article belongs to me)

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Winning the NL West – Is it possible?

At the end of the day (season in this case), it does not matter if your team won 90 games or 82, as long as that final total was sufficient to get you into the playoffs, because once you’re there, every team is 0-0 (see 2006 St. Louis Cardinals).

As of the end of play today, the 25th of July, the Dodgers had played 101 games and the Diamondbacks had played 102, leaving LA 61 games to play, and Arizona 60 games in which to make up .5 game, and takeover 1st place in the NL West. To be quite frank, it is my firm belief that if Arizona stands pat at the non-waiver trade deadline, that this is LA’s division to lose.

Knocking out the more difficult first, I want to discuss the Dodgers, and what they have left on their season. At the end of play today, a Reds 5-2 win over LA, the Dodgers have 27 games remaining to be played against teams currently above .500 and 34 games to be played versus teams currently below .500. Out of those games, only seven are against division leaders, and yet another seven are against Arizona. 30 of these upcoming games are home games, and 31 are away, and since they play fairly consistent baseball both on and off the road, that seems like a moot point. However, having to play only 27 games against winning teams seems to give them a very competitive edge for winning the division. If the rivalry between Arizona and Los Angeles continues, I’m sure those seven games against Arizona in the final three weeks of the will season will be highly entertaining. This is one case where I can say Bud Selig did something right – inventing the unbalanced schedule, leaving division rivals to face each other more in the first and last months of the season than at any other time.

Moving on to Arizona, who is currently sitting at 53-49, .5 game behind LA for 1st in the NL West Division. The remainder of their schedule consists of an exact split, 30 home, and 30 away. Given Arizona’s home record is 29-22, I was kind of hoping there would be a slight advantage on the home side for the last 60 games of the season, but that isn’t the case. We should not be overly alarmed though given Arizona’s decent 24-27 road record this season, and if it wasn’t for that terrible ten game road trip to the NL East earlier in the season, we’d be holding an above .500 record both at home and on the road. As they say, consistency is key in every aspect of baseball, and we seem to be fairly consistent when it comes to home/road splits. As luck would have it, we also have exactly 25 games remaining against teams that are currently above .500, but hold a slight advantage over LA in that we have more games remaining against sub .500 teams than they do. We also got the luck of the draw given that four games of the seven remaining versus LA are at Chase Field, giving us a slight edge there also. Not including those seven games against Los Angeles, only three games remain against division leaders, the scary thing is that said division leader is the AL East leading Boston Red Sox.

I was going to go as far as to predict each remaining game for both teams in competition to take the NL West Crown from the defending San Francisco Giants, but to be honest I’m 99.9% certain it’s going to come down to seven games. Who Arizona sends to the mound in those seven games could mean the difference between watching the playoffs from a couch for our guys, or them being out there battling against the best of the best.

.5 Game Back …. Hang on to your butts.

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Grumblings (And a few not so sturdy rumors)

I just happened across an article from ESPN Insider about Gallardo, and thought my readers may find it interesting: Major league scouts are calling him a ‘number 3 or number 4 starter’, saying he has next to no value as far as trades go, and wouldn’t yield much in return. As my avid readers know, I have always questioned why anyone would’ve ever referred to YG as an ace, as he has just never had the stuff to go along with it. Quite a number of people jumped down my throat for my analysis of Gallardo when the rumors were abound for a Diamondbacks/Brewers player swap in which he was involved, and I said I viewed him to be a high number 4 or a lower number 3, and was not worth giving up any of our young talent for. This new found information begs the question — do my followers believe my viewpoints now?

Okay, enough of me gloating – let’s move on to the offense:

I came across a piece of information tonight in regards to Jason Kubel, stating Arizona was talking to the White Sox that involved him, but I have not gotten any information regarding which players we would receive if there was to be a trade. We certainly can’t expect much as Kubel is on a career decline due to his age and constant health issues, and has only 5 homeruns all year while hitting a measly .241 and slugging only .364. At this point, he’s a DH for a weak team or a bench player for a solid one. Left handed bats off the bench are few and far between, especially ones with pop. His defense has never been great, but he does have an incredibly accurate arm; a team could put him in as a defensive replacement late in games with runners in scoring position, with the hopes he could gun down a guy at the plate. At this point, however, there’s not much else he’s good for. And just to answer your next question regarding the White Sox, it appears we are out of the Peavey sweepstakes, so climb back off your horses and go back in the bar, we’re going to be here a while.

This leads me to my chair as an armchair GM, where my idea to ‘spark’ this team is to trade Kubel, as discussed above, and also trade Ross. Yes, I know his contract is a bit much, especially given his limited production, posting a .259/.369/.688 slash line so far this year, and is hitting only .185 with RISP. However, there quite a few positives for a potential suitor as the Diamondbacks would have to eat a portion of his contract, he’s an absolutely phenomenal clubhouse guy, and he has postseason experience. The Yankees, Rays, A’s, and even Dodgers are all teams that line up fairly well in a trade for Ross. Again, don’t expect much in return. So moving on, with Kubel and Ross gone, we can move Prado to LF, and call up Matt Davidson from AAA Reno where he is posting a .295/.512/.878 slash line with 64 RBI and 16 HR. Next move is to call on Chris Owings to spell Didi at short, and perhaps even play 2B if Hill needs more time because of his hand injury. Owings is putting up a .352/.505/.880 line for AAA Reno, with 11 homers and 66 RBI. Keep in mind that both Owings and Davidson play in the PCL, which is abnormally hitter friendly, so if they were to get the call, we could expect a decrease in production. That being said, they are both very solid hitters, with a lot of upside, and could both post very respectable numbers at the big lead level. After those few moves are made, that leaves us with a roster that include the following position players:

1)Pitcher’s Spot
2)Montero/Nieves (.226/.351)
3)Goldschmidt (.314)
4)Hill/Owings/Pennington (.264/.352**/.224)
5)Davidson/Chavez/Pennington/Prado (.295**/.303/.224/.259)
6)Gregorious/Owings/Pennington (.283/.352**/.224)
7)Prado/Pollock/Eaton/Parra (.259/.252/.258/.277)
8)Pollock/Eaton/Parra (.259/.258/.277)
9)Pollock/Eaton/Parra (.259/.258/.277)

Sounds like a pretty solid 25 man to me….

 

 

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