Pitchers and catchers will report on February 6th this year, less than a month from now, thanks to the early start to the season with two regular season games in Australia.  In the meantime, we have some good news on Cody Ross to keep us warm as we wait for updates on Masahiro Tanaka and guess on how the roster will shake out.

We did have a couple of minor transactions this week.  Tommy Manzella, who split time between AA and AAA in 2013, was signed to a minor league deal.  I think we can safely guess that he’s organization filler — he might be Nick Ahmed’s opposite in the minors this year, playing at whichever level Ahmed isn’t.  The D-backs also claimed Santos Rodriguez off waivers from the White Sox, who struggled at AAA last season after performing well in AA.  I’m just speculating here, but I wonder if Rodriguez was in the running to be the PTBNL that ended up being Brandon Jacobs.  Either way, though, I’m sure the D-backs developed some feelings on Rodriguez when examining the organization before the Trumbo trade was consummated, allowing them to make the quick decision on a waiver claim.  He’s probably not in the picture for 2014, the way Ryan Rowland-Smith may be.

Meanwhile, there’s been extremely little movement on the Tanaka front, although we’ve heard that the Cubs have a nine-figure offer ready, and that Tanaka is most interested in Los Angeles, New York, or Boston.  This is not a bad negotiating strategy for him, if that’s what it is — it signals pretty strongly to the Cubs, Mariners and Diamondbacks that their bid will need to be aggressive.  And if he gets one from them, he can go back to one of the other teams…  On the flip side, stating his city preferences do not really hurt his negotiating position.  At Snake Pit, soco wondered about why Tanaka would pick Arizona.  Lots of interesting comments there.  Meanwhile, through MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, at least we know that Arizona has a plan of attack, even if we don’t know what that is.  It’s interesting that Casey Close asked teams to keep a damper on things in the media.

Finally, the best news of the week was that Cody Ross has resumed all baseball activities.  Yes, he might add to an outfield logjam, with A.J. Pollock, Gerardo Parra and Mark Trumbo slated for starting roles, and with Martin Prado likely to be pushed to the outfield for most of Eric Chavez’s starts.  Count me among the community of analysts or saber guys who think that players who are average or slightly above average offensively, as well as well above average defensively, tend to get undervalued by the market (that is, they tend to get paid less than players who are well above average offensively and average defensively).  Cody Ross is absolutely one of those guys, even if you don’t believe his 2012 production is sustainable.  As I wrote on August 8 (second section), shortly before his injury, Ross was one of the top defensive outfielders in the majors last year, 6th in Defensive Runs Saved and 7th by UZR/150, which is a rate stat.  Ross added value defensively with his arm as well as with his range, but if his range suffers in the aftermath of his injury, he may no longer be an above average player overall.

On to the links:

  • At Baseball America, Jack Magruder addressed the outlook for Marcos Mateo (subscription only), the D-backs’ Rule 5 pick at last month’s winter meetings.  Either he’s in the bullpen next season, or probably back to the Cubs organization (the teams could work out a trade).  The bullpen depth chart is pretty stacked, and Matt Stites and Jake Barrett are probably waiting in the wings during the second half of the season… so he might just be very intelligent insurance for if one of the projected RHPs goes down during spring training.  There’s still a lot to like about the move to pick him up.
  • Joseph Jacquez at Venom Strikes has the skinny on spring training, including the full list of current non-roster invitees.
  • At Snake Pit, Jim McLennan addressed the probable platoon splits of the D-backs, persuasively making the point that there’s enough there to take advantage of in 2014.  I noted the Owings reverse split and possible platoon on Friday, but another thing that stuck out to me was Henry Blanco.  That might be one casualty of using career statistics.
  • It looks like the Putz trade suggestion made by Ken Rosenthal had nothing behind it, as we haven’t heard anything on that front in the last week.  But McLennan at did identify some possible matches for Putz.
  • I’ll plug myself, too.  About ten days ago, I published on Brad Ziegler, and why he might have been undervalued.  With my research complete, I also posted at Beyond the Box Score last week.  That article, Are Elite GB% Relievers Undervalued?, was inspired by Ziegler — in it, I explain why some relievers like him might be overvalued by statistics like ERA, but undervalued by defense-independent statistics like Fielding Independent Pitching and Wins Above Replacement.  It’s not necessarily true that scarcity equals value in baseball, but in Ziegler’s case, he’s both incredibly unique, and extremely well suited to a small subset of situations.  It really was a fantastic extension for the Diamondbacks, and I’m also happy for the 34-year-old Ziegler, whose path to the majors was anything but straight.  This is why we love baseball.

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