Last week’s big news was the trade deadline, with Arizona linked to many relief pitchers before the team finally traded Ian Kennedy for bullpen help this season (lefty specialist Joe Thatcher) and down the road (Matt Stites). Arizona’s side of the trade also received a bump with the acquisition of San Diego’s competitive balance pick in round B (after the second round). My own take was that the value in the Kennedy deal didn’t favor the Diamondbacks, but that Towers deserved credit for getting the type of player he wanted while giving up only his trade chip of choice. Since the trade, Thatcher has pitched in the three games against the Red Sox, hurling exactly 2 innings without surrendering a hit or a run. Kennedy looked strong in his San Diego debut (5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 4 BB and 6 K), while Brandon McCarthy, his replacement in the rotation, struggled to get through innings quickly, lasting only four and third innings in Boston with 2 ER, 5 H, 3 BB and 5 K.
- At azcentral.com, Nick Piecoro wrote that Arizona’s position entering the trade deadline was “weird, difficult and unenviable.” A significant part of the notebook is an examination of Matt Stites, who is drawing Craig Kimbrel comparisons and who Kevin Towers is “very, very excited about.” Piecoro also concluded that it was too bad that Arizona’s status as a de facto contender compelled them to sell low on Kennedy. While Piecoro didn’t exactly endorse the Kimbrel comparisons for Stites, I think it’s a little early to bank on him so heavily.
- Piecoro’s more recent notebooks center on the offense, with one coming after the Dbacks put 7 runs on the board on Friday, and the other after the team put up 2 runs combined in the Saturday and Sunday games. It’s probably important to note that the Dbacks got a lift from being able to get players at bats through the DH spot in the last six games. Cody Ross’s breakout performance on Friday will probably earn him a ticket out of the five-way outfield time share.
- Jeff Wiser at VenomStrikes also weighed in about the offense, noting that while the Kennedy trade may have been helpful to the team’s prospects for the season, it did nothing to fix the misfiring offense. Jeff notes that it’s not all about the Arizona hitters’ skills; the players with track records seem to be underperforming this season, with the big exception of Paul Goldschmidt. Make sure to check out Jeff’s analysis.
- Also at VenomStrikes, Thomas Lynch urged the team to consider dealing Tyler Skaggs. Lynch is correct that Skaggs has been bounced around a little more than a top prospect generally is, but with respect, it’s very far from unusual. Just this season, Trevor Bauer has been bounced around almost exactly as much, while other top guys like Kevin Gausman and Carlos Martinez have been jerked around from AA to majors to AAA and back, as well as getting bounced from rotations to bullpens and back. The article also makes no mention of the velocity lost by Tyler Skaggs this season; most of his appearances with the big club this year have been with diminished stuff. Because Skaggs suffered a similar problem with lost velocity last summer, only to get it back this spring, there’s good reason to believe that we’ll see Skaggs back at his best in spring training. It may be that this is a seasonal issue for Skaggs, at least until he builds up more stamina (he’s still increasing his workload each year).
- At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan felt “underwhelmed” by the return for Kennedy. I tend to agree with all of Sullivan’s points, specifically his notes about the value of a relief prospect. I encourage all Diamondbacks fans to give Sullivan’s article a read.
- ESPN.com’s Keith Law also did a breakdown of the Kennedy trade from more of a scouting perspective, concluding that the “return for Arizona is slight” (Insider only).
- R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus also offered a breakdown of the trade, getting into nuts and bolts and value and noting that buying low and selling high are “popular” philosophies, but often “misapplied toward statistical performance alone.” Anderson is the only one I’ve seen to make the very astute observation that Arizona may have non-tendered Kennedy this offseason — factoring that in really changes the math in evaluating both sides of the deal.
- At AZSnakePit, John Baragona issued a new version of his top 60 prospects in the Arizona organization. I’m not a scout and I’m not in a position to strongly disagree with any of Baragona’s rankings, but I’m glad to see recent draftee Braden Shipley slotted in at #5. Baragona is a little off on his own ranking Chris Owings ahead of David Holmberg and Matt Davidson, and I think Davidson is probably the stronger prospect of the three. I’m a little skeptical with some of his ratings, as he has 12 players rated as “potential feature players with above-average production,” and I think that even if we include relief prospects and far-off guys like Brandon Drury, that number is probably more like 5 (including Archie Bradley, Davidson, and Shipley). Sizing up prospects is a mix of evaluations of tools and approach with minor league performance, and while I very much respect the thoroughness of Baragona’s work, I think he’s hedged more on the performance side of things. Holmberg is doing well, for instance, but his stuff may not translate as well to the majors — anything else I’ve heard has had him as a possible #4 starter type, making his prospect status more about probability than ceiling.
- Baseball America’s Michael Lananna did a feature on Arizona’s new marketing approach with the luchador, while Matt Eddy offered a scouting report for the players involved in the Kennedy trade.
- At Baseball Prospectus, Sam Miller included Trevor Cahill in his piece about early contract extensions, asking the question whether Arizona would sign Cahill today for what he’s currently owed.
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FanGraphs Stats Glossary
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Previously on The Pool Shot, the guys explained some of their favorite advanced stats. Hitting, including wRC+, HHAV and batted ball; pitching (38:00), including FIP, xFIP and SIERA; and baserunning and defense, including UBR, UZR and DRS (58:00).