Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:54 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers didn't rest on the team's unexpected division title, adding Trevor Cahill to an already strong rotation, anchored by Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson. Arizona also added outfielder Jason Kubel to a two-year, $16 million deal to help out the offense. The Diamondbacks surprised everyone in 2011, but it's safe to say they won't sneak up on anyone in 2012.
Major additions: OF Jason Kubel, RHP Trevor Cahill, RHP Takashi Saito, LHP Craig Breslow
Major departures: RHP Jason Marquis
1. Stephen Drew SS
2. Aaron Hill 2B
3. Justin Upton RF
4. Miguel Montero C
5. Chris Young CF
6. Jason Kubel LF
7. Paul Goldschmidt 1B
8. Ryan Roberts 3B
1. Ian Kennedy
2. Daniel Hudson
3. Trevor Cahill
4. Joe Saunders
5. Josh Collmenter
Closer: J.J. Putz
Set-up: David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler, Takashi Saito
Important bench players
OF Gerrardo Parra, UTIL Willie Bloomquist, 1B Lyle Overbay
Prospect to watch
The Diamondbacks traded right-handed starter Jarrod Parker, named the team's No. 1 prospect by Baseball America before the 2011 season, to Oakland in exchange for Cahill. While top-flight pitching prospects don't grow on trees, it may seem like it in Arizona. With two top-10 picks in last season's draft, Arizona took two right-handed power arms in Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley. Those two, along with lefty Tyler Skaggs, give the Diamondbacks perhaps the best trio of pitching prospects in the game. Of the three, Bauer is the one expected to contribute the soonest. The right-hander was the second overall pick in the draft out of UCLA, won the Golden Spikes Award, given to the top amateur players in the country. While he can throw up to 98 mph, his curveball is his best pitch. The Diamondbacks thought about bringing him up for the stretch run last season, but he stayed in the minors, where he made seven starts. While his ERA wasn't pretty (5.96), he did strike out 43 batters in 25 2/3 innings.
Fantasy sleeper: Jason Kubel
"[The Diamondbacks] play in a hitter's park, much like the Metrodome, and recognize that a 29-year-old like Kubel is still young enough to salvage whatever he lost to expansive Target Field. Given his improvement against left-handed pitchers last year, a full season of at-bats could feasibly return Kubel to the 25-homer range. It's a reasonable enough possibility that he's worth a late-round flier in mixed leagues." -- Scott White [Full Diamondbacks fantasy preview]
Fantasy bust: Ryan Roberts
"You can't overlook the fact that his breakout season hinged on an unsustainably hot April in which he hit .313 with a 1.007 OPS. He hit .239 the rest of the way. Power and speed numbers aside, if his batting average is lagging right out of the gate, the Diamondbacks have little reason to give him the benefit of the doubt. He's already 31. It's not like he's any sort of building block. With higher-upside third basemen like Ryan Wheeler and Matt Davidson quickly rising through the minor-league system, Roberts is on a shorter leash than his ranking would have you believe." -- Scott White [Full Diamondbacks fantasy preview]
After last season, how can you look at the Diamondbacks as anything other than a World Series contender? With Kennedy and Hudson continuing their development and solidifying themselves as legitimate top-of-the-rotation starters, plus Cahill and a Saunders that appears to have figured some things out, the pitching takes the Diamondbacks to an easy division title.
Last year proves to be an aberration, with all the pitchers taking a step back. Meanwhile, Drew never seems to recover from his injury, meaning a full season of Bloomquist and John McDonald at shortstop. It worked for a while last season, but it's unlikely to work again. Hill plays like he did in Toronto, as opposed to the way he played in the desert. With the offense and pitching struggling, the Diamondbacks could fall behind not just the Giants and Rockies, but also the Dodgers.
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Tags: 2012 spring training, Aaron Hill, Archie Bradley, BRad Ziegler, C. Trent Rosecrans, Chris Young, Craig Breslow, Daniel Hudson, David Hernandez, Diamondbacks, Gerrardo Parra, Ian Kennedy, J.J. Putz, Jarrod Parker, Jason Kubel, Jason Marquis, Joe Saunders, John McDonald, Josh Collmenter, Justin Upton, Kevin Towers, Lyle Overbay, Miguel Montero, NL West, Paul Goldschmidt, Ryan Roberts, spring training, Stephen Drew, Takashi Saito, Takashi Saito, Trevor Bauer, Trevor Cahill, Tyler Skaggs, Willie Bloomquist
Posted on: November 28, 2011 11:54 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 4:43 pm
By Matt Snyder
What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.
The Seattle Mariners have finished last place in the AL West six of the past eight seasons. Would things have been different if management had done a better job of keeping the right organizational pieces? In a word: Yes. Check this out ...
1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Adam Jones, CF
6. Shin-Soo Choo, LF
7. Dustin Ackley, 2B
8. Raul Ibanez, 1B
9. Jason Varitek, C
1. Felix Hernandez
2. Michael Pineda
3. Doug Fister
4. Brandon Morrow
5. Joel Pineiro
Closer - J.J. Putz
Set up - Rafael Soriano, Matt Thornton, Eric O'Flaherty, Brian Fuentes, Damaso Marte, George Sherrill
Long - Derek Lowe
Notable Bench Players
Adam Moore, Greg Dobbs, Bryan LaHair, Luis Valbuena, Jose Lopez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Willie Bloomquist, Michael Saunders, Carlos Peguero
Almost everything. The lineup is solid, the starting rotation is very good, the bullpen is great and there is some bench depth. There are superstars like King Felix and A-Rod with up-and-comers like Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Pineda. And 2011 first-rounder Danny Hultzen (starting pitcher) will soon be added to the mix.
Age in some areas. A-Rod, Ortiz, Ichiro and Ibanez are all in different levels of decline, but there's no doubt they're all certainly in decline. Catcher is also a problem, as we're left deciding between a has-been (Varitek) and a possible never-will-be (Moore). Pick your poison there.
As for the lineup, I tried to figure out how to best work it. Maybe swap Jones and A-Rod spots? I'd be OK with that, considering the seasons those two had in 2011. Also, Ichiro's OBP was terrible for a leadoff man last season (.310), but wouldn't it make the back-end of the lineup too punchless if you batted Ackley leadoff? With the way I left it, the leadoff spot is weak.
Comparison to real 2011
The 2011 Mariners lost 95 games and this team above would have a shot at winning 95. You can take away from the older stars all you want, but with that pitching staff, the offense doesn't have to be great. It only has to be good, and it's easily good enough to get plenty of wins when only needing to put three or four runs on the board. Plus, as those older guys continue to decline, the likes of Jones, Ackley and Cabrera just get better. In Sunday's Homegrown Team, I said to expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom of the rankings (when we do them). This entry is the complete opposite. Expect to see the Mariners toward the top of the rankings. This is a great team. For now.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Adam Jones, Adam Moore, AL West, Alex Rodriguez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Brandon Morrow, Brian Fuentes, Bryan LaHair, Carlos Peguero, Damaso Marte, Danny Hultzan, David Ortiz, Derek Lowe, Doug Fister, Dustin Ackley, Eric O'Flaherty, Felix Hernandez, George Sherrill, Greg Dobbs, Homegrown, Ichiro Suzuki, J.J. Putz, Jason Varitek, Joel Pineiro, Jose Lopez, Luis Valbuena, Mariners, Matt Snyder, Matt Thornton, Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Rafael Soriano, Raul Ibanez, Shin-Soo Choo, Willie Bloomquist, Yuniesky Betancourt
Posted on: October 7, 2011 8:58 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 9:46 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Hero: Nyjer Morgan scored the Brewers' first run and drove in the last. His one-out single up the middle in the 10th inning gave Milwaukee its first postseason series victory since 1982. With Carlos Gomez on second, Morgan singled up the middle and there was no chance for the Diamondbacks to get the speedy Gomez. Morgan scored the team's first run in the fourth when he tagged up on Jerry Hairston Jr.'s popup to shallow right that was caught by second baseman Aaron Hill. It was a heads-up piece of baserunning, realizing the second baseman couldn't get a throw home in time.
Goat: J.J. Putz is a closer, and he wasn't in line to close, but he needed to hold the game for the Diamondbacks in the 10th inning. Instead, he gave up a single to Gomez and then another to Morgan to end the Diamondbacks' season. Putz had gone 17 2/3 innings without giving up a run and finishes the season having converted his last 24 save opportunities. It's tough to call anyone a goat in such a great game, but Putz is about as close as it gets here.
Turning point: Gomez's stolen base in the 10th erased any shot of Putz getting to face Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder without a runner in scoring position. With the speedy Gomez at second, there was doubt he could score on any hit to the outfield.
It was over when … When the ball got past Putz -- who tried to deflect the ball with his foot. Once it got by him, shortstop Willie Bloomquist had no shot. It was obvious it was going to get in the outfield and Gomez would score.
Next: The season is over for the Diamondbacks, while the Brewers move on the National League Championship Series to face the winner of the Cardinals-Phillies Game 5.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 30, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 3:22 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Milwaukee made a splash in the winter acquiring Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum -- it was a signal to the baseball world that the Brewers were going for it in 2011 and anything short of the postseason would be a disappointment in what figures to be Prince Fielder's last season in Milwaukee. Well, the Brewers responded by winning their first division title since 1982, when Harvey's Wallbangers went to the World Series as the American League representatives. While the Brewers were picked by many to be in the playoffs, the Diamondbacks were a complete surprise. Both teams have used pitching to get here, so expect some strong pitching performances.
Milwaukee Brewers (host games 1, 2, 5)
Arizona Diamondbacks (host games 3, 4)
SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)
TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)
Hands-down Montero is the better offensive threat, hitting .282/.351/.469 with 18 homers and 86 batted in. The 27-year-old made his first All-Star team this year and while he was once thought of as an all-offense catcher, his defense has improved.
The rookie Goldschmidt has come up big in some important games, but he still has 222 fewer career homers than Fielder.
The Diamondbacks and Blue Jays pulled off an August deal for struggling second basemen, sending Kelly Johnson north of the border and Hill going to Arizona. The change of scenery worked for Hill, who is hitting .315/.386/.492 in 33 games with the Diamondbacks. Weeks' numbers are down and he's coming off an ankle injury that limited him to 14 games since the end of July.
McDonald was an emergency stopgap acquired from the Blue Jays along with Hill in August, for the injured Stephen Drew. And Yuniesky Betancourt is Yuniesky Bentancourt, one of the worst all-around players in all of baseball.
Roberts is better known for his tattoos, but he's also had a decent season for the Diamondbacks, while McGehee has had a disastrous 2011. With a .223/.280/.346 line, McGehee's OPS+ is just 69. There's pop in that bat, but it's been hard to find.
Braun is going to be one of the favorites to win the MVP, Parra is not.
Young is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, but has struggled a bit at the plate. Morgan is the Brewres' spark plug and resurrected his career in Milwaukee. Morgan's intangibles are huge -- and in the Brewers' favor.
Hart sometimes get lost in the shadow of Fielder and Braun, but he's had a pretty good season, as well, hitting .285/.356/.510 with 26 homers in 130 games. That said, Upton is one of the best young players in the game and will be in the top 10 of the MVP results.
Both teams are strong at the top, but the Brewers have more depth, with Marcum starting Game 3 and Randy Wolf possibly starting Game 4. Of course, the three-man rotation could really help the Diamondbacks, allowing Kennedy and Hudson to pitch twice if needed. Greinke wanted out of Kansas City so he could pitch in the playoffs, and now he gets his shot.
Last season the Diamondbacks had a historically bad bullpen. This year it's one of the reasons they're in the playoffs. While Axford is the best of the three closers in this series (counting the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez), the Diamondbacks have the deeper bullpen, which only improved when Kirk Gibson decided to go with a three-man rotation and put right-hander Josh Collmenter in the bullpen, where he started the season.
Total advantage: Tie: Diamondbacks (5), Brewers (5)
PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)
Trent's take: I'm still not exactly sure how the Diamondbacks wound up in the playoffs. The team has been doubted from spring training to the All-Star break and even at the start of the regular season's final month. Nobody has believed in the Diamondbacks at any point of this season. So I'm pretty sure they won't be too upset to be picked against here. Milwaukee has famously "gone for it" since last season, pulling off moves big (Greinke, Rodriguez) and small (Morgan). No pitcher likes to see Braun and Fielder back-to-back in that Brewers lineup, not even a 21-winner like Kennedy. The Brewers also have the arms in the rotation to be dangerous. I like the Brewers, but it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong about Arizona.
Tags: 2011 playoffs, Aaron Hill, Brewers-Diamondbacks, C. Trent Rosecrans, Casey McGehee, Chris Young, Corey Hart, Daniel Hudson, Francisco Rodriguez, Gerardo Parra, Ian Kennedy, J.J. Putz, Joe Saunders, John Axford, John McDonald, Jonathan Lucroy, Josh Collmenter, Justin Upton, Miguel Montero, NL Central, NL West, NLDS, Nyjer Morgan, Paul Goldschmidt, Prince Fielder, Randy Wof, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Ryan Roberts, Shaun Marcum, Stephen Drew, Yovani Gallardo, Yuniesky Betancourt, Zack Greinke
Posted on: September 25, 2011 1:55 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2011 1:57 pm
By Evan Brunell
Several teams are restricting consumption of energy drinks, drawing the ire of players as USA Today reports.
The Diamondbacks and Astros have ceased providing energy drinks and are asking players not to drink them, but are unable to enforce their wishes because it is not prohibited in the labor agreement. While it may seem odd for teams to ban energy drinks that could help their own team win a game, harmful benefits are cited as to the reason why.
"We take the same education approach with the energy drinks that we take with supplements," Ross Atkins, vice president/player development of the Indians, said. "We ask why a player is using it, is there something else natural he could to improve his energy levels?"
The Astros began their own monitoring of energy drinks when Wesley Wright left a game in 2009 with dehydration, telling club officials he drank several Red Bulls and soft drinks before the game. Drinks that contain caffeine can dehydrate a person if consumed to excess, which it appears Wright did. Red Bull, in fact, is banned in France for its high caffeine levels. Teams are taking the initiative to scrub the minor leagues of energy drinks, which is not bound by a labor agreement for its players. The Brewers, for one, don't even allow their minor-leaguers to store energy drinks in clubhouse refrigerators.
"We've had a couple of issues regarding dehydration," Wade said, "and our people think they can be traced to misuse, overuse of energy drinks. It just seemed that we shouldn't be creating an environment where we're almost facilitating the effects of dehydration."
Baseball players have increasingly turned to caffeine to gain an edge after baseball banned amphetamines. Amphetamines, unlike steroids, improve focus and decrease exhaustion, so caffeine is an understandable replacement.
"The reason guys take energy drinks is because there's not anything else [legal] to take," Pirates pitcher Jason Grilli said. "Let's face it, the competitive edge is why the whole steroid thing got rampant."
Gary Wadler, former chairman of WADA's banned-substance-list committee, says there is no evidence that energy drinks act as a performance-enhancer, while vice president of communications of the American Beverage Association Tracey Halliday says the concern is overblown.
"We are strong advocates of moderation," said Halliday. "But when it comes to caffeine, the caffeine included in there is half the caffeine of a similar cup of coffee. It's a safe ingredient approved by the FDA."
But it's not performance-enhancement issues that are concerning teams. It's the over-consumption of energy drinks, which is a health issue. While players are understandably upset over the increasing limitations on energy drinks, there are valid concerns that could perhaps be addressed by simply capping the number of energy drinks a day. Joel Hanrahan, the Pirates closer, drinks two Red Bulls a day and unsurprisingly doesn't believe energy drinks should be banned..
"I don't see why it should be banned. You've got to go out there 162 games. You're playing 21 games in a row, and switching time zones, and you want to be mentally and physically ready," Hanrahan said. "If fans can sit in the stands and drink it, why can't we drink it during games? We're human, too."For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Photo: Ian Stewart of the Rockies.
Posted on: September 20, 2011 2:03 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Look at that photo above, and then look at the one to the right.
There is absolutely no reason for the two to be taken of the same play. But they were.
Really. Watch it here.
Yep, Justin Upton's 31st home run of the season was literally unbelievable. Pirates pitcher Jeff Carstens thought he made a great pitch on a 3-0 count. Carstens watched his 87-mph sinker shatter Upton's bat. By all logic, it should have been an easy out for left fielder Alex Presley. Instead, it landed in the left field stands.
The barrel ended up just beyond third base, while the ball went much further.
After the game, Karstens told the Pittsburgh Trubune-Review: "All you can do is tip your cap to him. The bat snapped in half and the ball still went out. NO reason to be mad over it."
But really, Karsten's face right after the homer said even more:
Pittsburgh has scored just one run over its last 25 innings and is now tied with Chicago for fourth place in the National League Central.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 12, 2011 3:12 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 5:11 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
If newspapers still existed and you opened one up this morning, you'd open up the sports section and see that the Arizona Diamondbacks were in first place in the National League West. It's one of those things that nobody really expected to see on Aug. 12, but there it is. I sure didn't expect it, and wasn't sure I knew exactly how it happened. So, I figured I could research the whole thing and write something about it, or I could go to someone who has been there the entire season, so I e-mailed my buddy Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
Piecoro is in his fifth season covering the Diamondbacks. I first met him in the press box at Chase Field in 2007 when he was surfing my iTunes library from his computer and sought me out to talk music. Since then, we've had numerous pizzas and beers together, talking baseball and, more often, music. So when I thought about the Diamondbacks, I quickly thought of Nick. And then I thought this might be a good weekly feature looking at some of the teams around MLB from the people who see them the most and know them the best. So, for the first installment of the Beat Down, here's Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic:
Eye On Baseball: So, really, first-place Diamondbacks? Really? Give me the short version of how this happened...
Nick Piecoro: I know, right? Well, there are a bunch of reasons. I’ll start with the emergence of Justin Upton, who has turned into a force in the middle of the lineup, a threat to do damage every time he’s up. They lead the league in home runs, so there’s a real element of a quick-strike offense. And if you look at their Baseball-Reference page, pretty much everyone in the lineup is at least close to a 100 OPS+, meaning there are no black holes in the lineup.
Then there’s the pitching staff. Ian Kennedy has pitched like a No. 1, and Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders and Josh Collmenter (he of tomahawk-throwing fame) have slotted in well behind him. In the bullpen, they no longer cough up leads every night, and that’s thanks mainly to Kevin Towers acquisitions David Hernandez and J.J. Putz.
EOB: Did you see this coming? I sure didn't. I will say, our senior writers -- Scott Miller and Danny Knobler -- did say the D-Backs would be interesting this year, but I don't think any of us expected this.
NP: No way, not me. In spring training, they were a disaster. Part of the reason they’ve been able to turn it around is because they were quick to act to make changes with guys who weren’t getting the job done, and the list is long: Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright, Russell Branyan, Melvin Mora, Aaron Heilman, Juan Miranda, Zach Duke. Some got more rope than others, but the point is, anyone making predictions before the season was looking at a completely different roster than what they have now. Heck, Ryan Roberts, who has 15 home runs, wouldn’t have made the team in spring training if not for Geoff Blum’s injury.
EOB: How much of this is Kirk Gibson? Is the attitude he brought real? Has it actually changed things?
NP: You have to give him credit, certainly. You hear people talk about a manager’s personality rubbing off on his team, it’s hard not to see some of that with this group of guys, particularly when it comes to their penchant for comebacks and the whole never-say-die stuff. They’re a hard-nosed bunch and that’s exactly the kind of player Gibson was and manager he is. Personally, I’ve always been skeptical of a manager’s impact; I mean, all the stuff above explains their status as contenders well enough in my mind. (That and the fact the NL West and the NL as a whole is mostly devoid of good teams.) A friend likes to say that players win games, managers lose them and umpires ruin them. Well, if that’s the case, Gibson is doing an excellent job of not losing them.
EOB: Is Justin Upton your MVP?
NP: Maybe not yet. But he could be.
EOB: I'm guessing he's not on the trade market this winter...
NP: Uh, no. I’m not sure I understand why he was out there last winter.
EOB: Are they set up for the long haul?
NP: You would think so, yeah. They have literally no bad contracts -- not a one -- and they have a bunch of guys coming in the system, namely a few potential frontline-type starting pitchers in Jarrod Parker, Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer. They’ll have a few decisions to make in the next couple offseasons with core guys like Kelly Johnson, Stephen Drew and Miguel Montero set to become free agents, but they’re in great position to retain who they want to retain and even should have money to spend to plug whatever holes might exist.
EOB: Finally, you're perhaps the hippest beat writer in the loop, what are you listening to right now?
NP: Heh. Is that like saying someone’s the MVP of the Pacific Coast League? I’ve been fairly obsessed with the new Handsome Furs album (link to "Serve the People" with a note that the album art has a nekkid lady). And -- how’s this for timing? -- I’m actually going tonight to see Cut Copy, an awesome band from Australia that have this catchy 80s-dance-pop thing going on (link here to "Far Away"). I’ve also been really into the new ones from Cults, Destroyer, Foster the People and others I can’t think of right now.@eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Aaron Heilman, Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright, Beat Down, C. Trent Rosecrans, Daniel Hudson, David Hernandez, Diamondbacks, Geoff Blum, J.J. Putz, Jarrod Parker, Joe Saunders, Josh Collmenter, Juan Miranda, Justin Upton, Kelly Johnson, Kevin Towers, Kirk Gibson, Melvin Mora, Miguel Montero, Nick Piecoro, NL West, Russell Branyan, Ryan Roberts, Stephen Drew, Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Zach Duke
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:26 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
"My stats are put in the paper every day, everybody knows if I fail or succeed, and I feel like some kind of action has got to be taken where we realize if a guy's blown a call or not and he's accountable," Downs told Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle.
Downs was frustrated after he felt a 3-1 pitch from Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz was called a strike by umpire CB Bucknor and he felt it was inside. He then struck out swinging on the next pitch for the second out of the ninth inning in an eventual 11-9 Diamondbacks victory.
"I get tired of umpires going back to the hotel and thinking they did a good job on the night and I have to go back to the hotel on a failure night after I feel like I walked 3-1 instead of punching out 3-2," Downs said. "Some kind of action has to be taken on just a bonehead call like that."
Pitch F/X showed the ball was well inside and even Diamondbacks TV announcer Mark Grace was surprised it was called a strike and said, "Oh my goodness, J.J. got a big break there -- and the Diamondbacks. That pitch looked six inches inside. Holy mackerel."For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.