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: August 26, 2011 6:54 pm
By Evan Brunell
Last season, the Diamondbacks were the brunt of much puzzlement after shipping starting pitcher Dan Haren to the Angels for what looked to be a pittance at the time.
"The industry's reaction to the Dan Haren trade in the hours and weeks surrounding it, there might be a little bit different opinion of it today," senior vice president of scouting and player development Jerry DiPoto told MLB Trade Rumors recently.
A year later, that trade still doesn't quite hold up, but Arizona's return is looking much better thanks to the progression of Tyler Skaggs, a 20-year-old who has advanced to Double-A this season and may be in the hunt for a rotation spot next year, as the Arizona Republic writes.
"He's had a crazy good year," Dipoto told the Republic. Skaggs began the year in high-Class A, posting a 3.22 ERA in 17 starts despite never having pitched at the level before at age 19. With a combination of strikeout stuff and good control, Skaggs kept the good times rolling in Double-A, as his 2.51 ERA over eight starts shows. It wasn't a rosy start to Double-A, though, as the left-hander suffered through a humbling debut.
"I said to him, kind of tongue-in-cheek but with all seriousness, 'It's going to take you about seven minutes to figure it out,' " Dipoto said.
Now, Skaggs is coming off a two-hit shutout on Tuesday and is rocketing up prospect charts as a starting pitcher to keep an eye out for, and adding a young starting pitcher to a growing rotation corps in Arizona that could be the next great young rotation. Daniel Hudson is already in the majors, and Skaggs should pair with 2011 first-round draft pick Trevor Bauer (along with fellow first-rounder Archie Bradley) to create a core moving forward behind ace (and fellow youngster) Ian Kennedy."[Skaggs is] the same package," Dipoto said, "we believe we traded for last year: fastball mostly 89-93 [mph] with excellent downhill plane, curveball a swing-and-miss type pitch and the change-up has come along quite a bit."
The Republic says that Skaggs will likely be invited to major-league camp and compete for a rotation spot in spring training. While he could very well end up with one, the odds are on Skaggs pitching in Triple-A at least through June, both to continue bringing him along slowly and introduce him to advanced competition, plus to push off his free agency and arbitration clock by one additional season. Whenever Skaggs arrives, it will be a shot in the arm for an Arizona team increasingly looking like one to fear in the coming years.
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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