Of the several transactions across baseball in the last week, few were more disappointing to me than the moves made by St. Louis. In a Friday trade with the Angels, the Cards picked up Peter Bourjos. Over the weekend, the Cards then signed Jhonny Peralta, presumably to fill their giant hole at shortstop (although Peralta could move off short before the end of his 4 year deal).
Why disappointing? It was only after sorting through every major league club and dozens of trade options that Jeff and I hatched our Offseason Plan. I feel somewhat vindicated that St. Louis did pick up a defense-first center fielder to play about 75% of the time (we had thought A.J. Pollock would be a good fit for them), but the two moves effectively take the Cardinals off the board as a trade partner for the D-backs. Not to worry. Arizona could still trade for Jeff Samardzija, possibly by including Adam Eaton. I think Toronto could be a good match, and we’ll be addressing possibilities with the Angels, Athletics, Twins, and Royals later this week.
Elsewhere in the NL West this last week, the Giants agreed to terms with Javier Lopez, effectively taking them off the board for Manny Parra. They also signed Tim Hudson to a two-year deal; this might also be a slightly positive development for the D-backs in terms of the offseason. Arizona was unlikely to trade a starting pitcher within the division again, but San Francisco has now taken an option (similar to Trevor Cahill in a few ways) off of the market. The options for other potential Arizona trade partners were further limited when the Padres signed Josh Johnson, and when the Dodgers agreed to terms with Dan Haren.
The only move by the D-backs this last week was to DFA Tony Sipp to make room for Ender Inciarte and Bo Schultz on the 40-man before the Rule V Draft eligibility deadline. No great loss here; Sipp is a talented pitcher, but given the raise he’ll receive in arbitration, Jeff and I recommended he be non-tendered anyway (and I think most agree).
On to the links:
- Brad Ziegler took some fire for his reaction to the Peralta signing. Probably not the last we’ll here of this.
- Dan Bickley interviewed Kirk Gibson, about feeling emotions but not showing them. This was a tremendous article — offseason or not, it’s hard to read this and not get as fired up as Gibson. I also loved the pot shot at the Dodgers, just because. I hope that next year, the team works as ferociously as Gibson apparently feels.
- Great article from Joe Strauss on Dave Duncan’s return to baseball and his new partnership with Arizona. Again, just like with Nick Piecoro’s article a week and a half ago, I come away from this really impressed that Kevin Towers was able to make this happen.
- Nick writes that the D-backs are making serious inroads toward being players in the international market for baseball talent. I think the chances of Arizona landing Masahiro Tanaka are microscopic — Arizona’s payroll is low enough that posting dollars are no different than payroll dollars. The D-backs would undoubtedly get outbid by a team closer to the luxury tax threshold; for a team like the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers, spending money on posting fees looks more appetizing. Still, in the greater scheme, it’s a great sign that the D-backs are pushing outward. I’ve wondered if Australia represents a real opportunity — from marketing and talent acquisition standpoints, can Arizona be Australia’s team? As Gibson noted in that Bickley article linked above, the Dodgers didn’t really send anyone down there (A.J. Ellis??). I just wonder if Arizona could possibly “own” Australia the way that Seattle had a stranglehold on Japan for so many years.
- Jim McLennan of Snake Pit responded to Piecoro’s article with a look at how international the franchise has been to date. Don’t miss this great piece — McLennan compares Arizona to other franchises, but he also has a wonderful map of birthplaces and some really fun statistics.
- McLennan also took a look at the closer candidates for 2014, and identified five pivotal players for the offseason. His thought about trading Aaron Hill deserves some serious consideration, especially since he’s likely to pass a physical with the bone in his hand mysteriously mended. My guess is that a market for Hill will only emerge after a market for Robinson Cano has taken shape, and after Cano has signed.
- J.J. Cooper did a rundown of possible Rule V Draft targets (paywall). I think we all wondered if Kevin Munson would get yanked by a team who could try him in a major league pen this year (Houston, Miami, San Diego), but Cooper also raises the name of Mike Freeman, who could stick on a ML roster as a utility guy in 2014.
- At FanGraphs, Marc Hulet published a top 10 prospects list for Arizona. No huge surprises, although Hulet vaulted Braden Shipley up the list, and he seems pretty bullish on Zeke Spruill. Want to learn more about Shipley? David Laurilia posted a great, in-depth interview with him that is absolutely worth your time.
- At Venom Strikes, Christian Moffett addressed the team’s need for a backup catcher, zeroing in on Yorvit Torrealba. I agree, Torrealba could be a really good fit — just like Moffett, I also think Wil Nieves could return.
- Also at Venom Strikes, Thomas Lynch explained why his offseason wish is for Bronson Arroyo. If Arizona had a staff full of injury risks, this might make sense, but I do not see how Arroyo would be a good use of payroll dollars. Yes, Arroyo has had only one season in the last nine in which he slipped below 200 innings (199 in 2011). In 2013, Arroyo relied primarily on a sinker that averaged 87.4 mph, a slider averaging 75.8 mph, a change at 77.6 mph and a cutter that came in at a whopping 70.0 mph. This repertoire put him among the league leaders with 32 HRs given up this last season (104 HRs in 603 innings the last three years). He came in fourth in 2013 with a 1.43HR/9 rate, and fifth in HR to fly ball ratio (14.0%). Ian Kennedy was a better version of the same pitcher last year. As Jeff and I concluded in the Offseason Plan, the team doesn’t really need depth in the rotation — it will only improve with the addition of an above-average starter. Arroyo was 8th-worst in the majors among qualified starters with a Fielding-Independent Pitching of 4.49. I think we can do better. With regard to possibly adding Arroyo this offseason, I think other teams will definitely value him more.
- Maybe the best news this week was that the D-backs put up a new sign in the Chase Field pool area. Priceless.
- Sequencing Matters: Which D-backs Pitches are Fooling Hitters?
- Which D-backs Pitches Work Well Together?
- Taijuan Walker’s Hot Spring Has a New Look
- Zack Greinke’s Velocity is Trending in a Predictable Direction, Sadly
- Statcast and a New Era for Evaluation
- 2017 Spring Preview: A Wide Open Bullpen
- How the Diamondbacks Landed in Baseball’s Toughest Situation and Don’t Have a Clear Way Out
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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).