The Diamondbacks went 5-1 in their last six games, abusing the Orioles before gutting out a series win in Pittsburg.  The Orioles series could not have had more drama, with walkoff hits in all three games by three different players.  In comparison to “the walkoff series,” the wins against the Pirates were almost garden variety; and yet the Diamondbacks posted a season-high 15 runs on Saturday, before outlasting Pittsburg in a sixteen-inning game yesterday.  Simply incredible.

Unfortunately, I missed most of the Pittsburg series because I was attending the Saber Seminar in Boston over the weekend.  It was a wonderful event, benefiting cancer research through the Jimmy Fund.  Several titans of the baseball world made presentations over the weekend, and I picked up some new tricks.  Can’t thank Chuck Korb and Dan Brooks (www.brooksbaseball.net) enough for putting it all together and allowing me to attend.  There were a handful of points of particular interest to Diamondbacks fans…

In a presentation on Sports Medicine & Orthopedics, Dr. Chris Geary, Chief of Sports Medicine at Tufts Medical Center, spoke at length about Avascular Necrosis (AVN) and hip injuries.  While he was mostly concerned with Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli, Geary also weighed in on Cody Ross’s injury, suggesting that while Ross would definitely be at risk for AVN, Ross’s injury involved soft tissue and he should be expected to make a full recovery.  Geary suggested that Fosamax has worked to prevent the advance of bone death due to AVN, so it sounds like even if there’s some vascular damage around Ross’s joint, there’s at least some treatment that could extend his career.

Scott Spratt of Baseball Info Solutions introduced a new defensive statistic that BIS has been working on this year.  Unlike other defensive metrics, this one involves a subjective component, rating plays from 1 to 5 based on how challenging (or possible) they are to complete for an out, and comparing fielders’ putouts to those of their positional peers for each type of play.  Spratt gave us a little preview of how guys were doing according to the stat, and in a list of top ten infielders, Paul Goldschmidt was the only first baseman included — 4th on the list.  Since the top tens for this scouting statistic had a lot of variation from those for Defensive Runs Saved (which is objective), it’s pretty telling that Goldy ranks highly on both.

Harry Pavlidis is the Director of Data Analysis for Baseball Prospectus, and he made an excellent presentation on changeups.  Brandon McCarthy is much-beloved by the sabermetrics community for a few reasons, and his changeup and splitter featured prominently in the presentation.  Pavlidis had asked McCarthy about the splitter, and McCarthy confirmed that he was using it in place of a change.  Something to watch.

Speaking of Diamondbacks pitchers, we also had a reference to J.J. Putz in a student presentation by Anthony Bakshi, who used a 2011 data set to examine whether closers pitched better in save situations.  J.J. Putz ranked first among pitchers in the data set for having the highest discrepancy between types of performance.

Despite that, Putz has been very good this season since returning, showing a willingness to throw the slider that made him so successful in Seattle.  Putz has brought his ERA back down to 2.54 this season, posting a sparkling 1.15 ERA since his late June return from an elbow injury.  He picked up the save in yesterday’s game with a scoreless inning after Brad Ziegler kept the Pirates off the board in the fourteenth and fifteenth innings.

As great a win as yesterday’s game was, the team starts its crucial four-game set in Cincinnati today with a bullpen that may be running on fumes.  We will be looking for Randall Delgado and Patrick Corbin to pitch deep into the next two games.  But first, a look at some of the latest and greatest written on the Diamondbacks in the last week:

  • Be sure to check out Nick Piecoro’s latest notebooks, including his take on Arizona’s veteran starters after Cahill’s Saturday performance, and his look on the pitching staff’s propensity toward allowing home runs.  Nick also thinks D’backs fans may be right about Goldschmidt’s MVP candidacy, writing up some great quotes from Brandon McCarthy and Heath Bell.  I’m pretty much on the same page.
  • After the Diamondbacks abused Orioles closer Jim Johnson last week, ESPN’s David Schoenfield wrote his take on the aftermath.  And make sure you don’t miss Schoenfield’s discussion of Paul Goldschmidt’s high-impact performances this season.
  • At AZSnakePit.com, Jim McLennan examined the possible composition of the 2014 roster.  I tend to agree with almost all of what McLennan wrote there, including the risks associated with relying on Eric Chavez as the corner infielder off the bench (although I do think Prado’s versatility might make it feasible).  I think some may wish to see Chris Owings in the mix at short, but I agree with Jim that Gregorius is the guy there, at least until he isn’t.  In terms of the rotation, my guess is that we’ll see Corbin, Wade Miley and McCarthy, as Jim noted.  Jim counts in Tyler Skaggs, and I do think he will probably win a spot if his velocity is back in the spring (as it was last year).  I do think, though, that it will be Cahill in the last spot to start the year, rather than Bradley; whether they wait until the end of April (to delay service time enough to keep him an extra year) or mid June (to avoid super-two status), they will probably delay him to get a look at the other five guys, removing the worst performer among those expendable (or replacing someone who’s hurt).  Jim’s article is great, and I urge you to check it out.
  • Also at Snake Pit, Blake Stokes shared his version of the Sonoran hot dog served at Chase Field.  It’s a really fun article, and really cool to be able to try the hot dog on my own now.  I can’t wait to give it a try!
  • After Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel was summarily dismissed last week, Thomas Lynch of Venom Strikes wondered when Kirk Gibson’s seat might start to get warm.  I won’t spoil the conclusion for anyone, because you should go give it a read — I agree completely with Lynch’s conclusion.
  • Speaking of Gibson, an AP article posted on ESPN.com quoted the D’backs manager on some “unprompted” comments about suspended Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun.
  • Finally, I want to wish Jeff Summers the best of luck in what I hope will be a minor bump in the road.  Jeff is part of what makes following the Diamondbacks so great, and I couldn’t agree more with his points about what baseball can mean to families of all kinds.  Thoughts and prayers, Jeff, and the Diamondbacks will be waiting for you when you get back.

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