The biggest news story in D-backs land in the last week was the outcome of the NL MVP award voting, in which Paul Goldschmidt finished second to winner Andrew McCutchen. To see the breakdown of voting, head to the BBWAA site.
Inside the ‘Zona doesn’t focus on award voting, because frankly I don’t find it that interesting. But I did post on Goldy’s MVP chances, in part because I wanted to figure out what the biggest factors were in the winning of an award. It’s worth pointing out that of the handful of conclusions I reached in mid August about what would need to happen for Goldy to win the award… none of them really happened.
Of course, that was about what would happen, not about what should happen. I haven’t gone as deep into the leading candidates’ numbers as I would need to in order to reach a final opinion, but for what it’s worth, I probably would have voted for McCutchen. It wasn’t a toss up. I didn’t really expect there to be a backlash against Nick Piecoro — which is another way of saying it didn’t occur to me that there should be. If it had been essentially a tie, that’d be one thing. Goldy clearly put up a season that could be worthy of an MVP in many seasons — but it’s about who was the best. I’m pretty sure that if we drafted teams from NL players based on how they’d do in a recreation of 2013, McCutchen would get taken before Goldy.
Nick Piecoro explained his selection of McCutchen, which isn’t required reading unless you feel like lashing out against him (and then it definitely is). In my personal opinion, there was no clear case for Goldy over McCutchen — but there was also no clear rationale to list Goldy lower than fourth. Save your ire for Bruce Miles and Rick Hummel, who clearly tried to bury Goldy on their ballots. Personally, I’m proud that no one can accuse Our Guy (Piecoro) of homerism — it’s Hummel who has the real egg on his face.
One reason we don’t make awards a priority at Inside the ‘Zona is that they don’t really affect the team’s play, or roster construction, or anything like that. So you’ll understand if I say that the Big News in the last week was the hiring of former Tony LaRussa wingman Dave Duncan, to act as a special assistant of sorts. After reading this excellent article by Piecoro, color me very impressed that Towers was able to bring Duncan aboard. I don’t know what kind of effect he could have on D-backs pitchers, but I can’t imagine it would be negative. And the team does have at least one player in dire need of adjustments: of Tyler Skaggs (at least for now).
I think Towers earned another slap on the back for the signing of Ryan Rowland-Smith to a minor league deal. His numbers from AAA last year are stunning (although it was only 52.1 innings), and while I don’t see him working his way into a rotation spot out of spring training, he could act as the emergency starter. Also worth noting is Rowland-Smith’s past success as a reliever with Seattle. I can’t wait to read more about his situation, especially if there’s some explanation for his 2013 success that seems likely to get carried forward.
Of course, Rowland-Smith could also be a good move due to the Australian connection. Getting the Australian crowd to root for the D-backs is worth more than nothing. Since it’s just a two-game series, the 25-man is likely to get stacked with relievers, meaning RR-S has a good shot of coming along. Hey — he came a lot cheaper than Grant Balfour would have.
On to the links:
- Before the MVP results were announced, Rob Neyer posted on the NL race. He’s not the first person to raise this, but it’s probably true that the timing of a given player’s hits could matter in MVP math, if the award is about what actually happened during the season. In other words, “clutch” should maybe mean something in award voting (about the past), even if it shouldn’t mean much in player evaluation (about the future).
- Jim McLennan weighed in on the MVP voting, as well as some trade rumors involving Max Scherzer and about Nate Schierholtz. On Schierholtz, Jeff and I feel that he’d be a component of a Samardzija trade that involved Adam Eaton. I could see Theo Epstein prizing Eaton for the promise of future OBP. Even if Eaton got moved, though, I don’t like Schierholtz as an acquisition, at all. The Cubs deployed him perfectly, getting him over 500 PAs while greatly limiting his PAs against lefties. As flexible as the Arizona roster is, can we really do that for two players? I’d rather make sure Gerardo Parra’s rest days came against LHP.
- At Venom Strikes, Thomas Lynch wonders whether the Australia trip could hurt the D-backs. Interesting thoughts. One hopes there’s enough time to recover, and that the starting pitchers don’t have to break routine too much. The series could resemble wild card games in that both the D-backs and Dodgers won’t have to carry five SPs on their 25-man rosters. I’d like to see the Arizona starters get pulled early to prevent the Dodgers from seeing them three times through the order. We’ll break that down in the spring.
- I pretty much agree with what Tyler Roberts wrote about letting rooks do their thing for the major league team. It’s definitely the case that bouncing Skaggs around could have had negative consequences. It’s all about fixing his mechanics so that he’s not standing too tall in his delivery — losing a few mph turns Skaggs from a GUY to a guy. And I posted on Friday, the D-backs should commit to young players in the bullpen as quickly as they can.
- Jonathan Cullen at Bleacher Report suggests that the D-backs should trade Martin Prado or Aaron Hill. I definitely disagree, but the reasons why will become clearer when Jeff and I publish our offseason plan in a day or two. The idea of trading Hill to St. Louis is curious, to me — yes, Matt Carpenter can and probably should move to third base, but why wouldn’t St. Louis play Kolten Wong? Although I disagree with some of Cullen’s conclusions, the ideas come from the right place — Arizona does need to make a move or two. It’s one thing to need to fill a hole, and it’s another to relieve logjams like the D-backs have in CF-LF and at SS. Something’s gotta give, as some of the players involved undoubtedly have more value to other teams as starters than they do to Arizona as part-timers.
The Pool ShotEpisode 20 of The Pool Shot: The guys talk about Sam Miller's piece identifying the D-backs' "Moneyball" strategy and Dave Cameron's piece about why he also thinks the D-backs are different, before setting their preferred 25-man roster to start the season. In so doing, they make use of Twitter questions from @bgrosnick (upside or reliability for bench), @EdwardFShore (whether Archie Bradley is first in line if a starter struggles), and @IvoryTiger (whether Goldy's slow start is concerning). They also have a blast discussing a question from @Ascend_Descend about which pitcher and which "plus" pitch they would add to a D-backs pitcher's repertoire if they were omnipotent. Subscribe on iTunes!
- Daniel Hudson’s Very Best Fit
- Roundup: D-backs “Moneyball”; Could Hill Get Moved?
- Fireballs Shooting Out of Right Hand of Enrique Burgos
- Real D-backs Defensive Shifts, Really
- Andrew Chafin Leading Race to Be Only Real Bullpen Lefty
- Spring Notes from D-backs Minor League Camp
- Roundup: Roster in Focus; Tomas Contract Discussions; Six Man Rotation?
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FanGraphs Stats Glossary
Nick Piecoro Author Page
Cot's Baseball Contracts
BP Base Running Stats
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).