If there is an East Coast Bias (or a Coast Bias), I don’t think it’s so much about favoritism, as it might be about quantity of attention or coverage in general. But regardless of whether most of the U.S. will be rooting for them, the D-backs do take center stage (with the Dodgers) this spring for their two regular season games at Sydney Cricket Grounds. And that’s a good thing.
Adding to the current national coverage leading up to the trip was Zach Greinke’s comments about a lack of excitement about the SCG games. I get it — it’s a long season, with only 3-4 off months per year, and the commute it going to hurt a little bit. But coverage of the Greinke comments became international, it appears from this Sydney Morning Herald story. Money quote: “Arizona pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Patrick Corbin have spoken of their desire to be a part of history in Sydney, but it seems big brothers the Dodgers may feel the venture is beneath them.”
It’s probably unfair to impute Greinke’s comments on his whole club, but you can bet there were some in the D-backs marketing department doing backflips when Greinke’s comments proved to have legs. Still, after the Great Pool Fiasco in which national sentiment turned on the D-backs for being annoyed, you can be sure we’ll only hear glowing comments from Arizona. For the record, the D-backs seem excited, as Steve Gilbert wrote yesterday.
“Despite his lack of enthusiasm, Greinke says he would pitch in Australia if required.” That Sydney Morning Herald story is pretty great.
Actually, as Gilbert thoroughly explains, the Australia trip does have some unusual effects on the 25-man (“active”) roster. I won’t just repeat everything he lists; go check it out. The fact that each club can take five extra players for the trip (only 25 eligible to play in the “games that count”) will make for some fun permutations, and I’m glad that it means that Ryan Rowland-Smith is almost a mortal lock to at least head over with the team. I’m looking forward to addressing a game plan for the two games, but I’ll wait until 14 days or so before they’re held. Here’s a hint: the D-backs should be willing to pull starters quite early, using a number of relievers.
On to the links:
- Lots of great stuff by Nick Piecoro recently, and Wednesday’s notebook is no exception. It’s definitely encouraging to hear about Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury, and it did mean that Matt Davidson was more expendable. On Lamb and his chances of actually contributing in the majors, check out this piece from November by the excellent JD Sussman, entitled Can Diamondback Jake Lamb Survive? It’s more of a lesson on prospect attrition than about Lamb specifically, but the general point still clearly applies to Lamb.
- Re: the number of batting orders last season in that same notebook, the D-backs did deal with injuries; but Martin Prado was a big part of that math, too. Playing different positions doesn’t mean different batting orders, necessarily, but that’s what happens when the other players at Prado’s positions (like Eric Chavez) play frequently, but only part time. And it never hurts to be in company with the Rays, whose lineup changes were a result of design more than necessity. Steve Gilbert also wrote last week on the mostly unclear batting order.
- Yesterday, Piecoro noted the tutelage of Archie Bradley by Bronson Arroyo, and dove into how the 4 year/$52M contract extension for Brett Gardner could change the math for Gerardo Parra. I’ll update my conclusions from the fall slightly: I think $11M per free agent year would get it done, but the D-backs are artists (or sticklers?) for options, and if Parra spends another great defensive season in right field, there’ll be no argument that 2013 was a fluke. As Piecoro noted, Parra “has been solid in center field, very good in left and incredible in right field.” This has a lot to do with his throwing arm, which plays much better in right, and it matches what I found when I wrote about how good a team of Gerardo Parras would be.
- At FanGraphs, Dave Cameron ranked his offseason moves, best and worst. It looks like he worked to avoid covering any deal twice, which is probably the only reason why the D-backs only have two “worst” entries, rather than three. [And lest that sound like I’m agreeing, let me be clear: I don’t like some of the D-backs’ winter transactions, but that doesn’t mean I hated the offseason overall. More on that from the Inside the ‘Zona team to come.]
- Piecoro had a great article on Saturday about what it’s been like to have Dave Duncan on board, so far. Here’s more on Duncan from Jack Magruder. “Magic” is right — in one article he describes his own approach as trying “to keep it as simple as you can,” and in the other D-backs special assistant to the GM Bob Gebhard describes his approach as going “about seven levels deeper.” It can be both. That’s part of the magic.
- Great nuggets on pace of the game from Snake Pit’s Jim McLennan. I love nuggets. And I love nuggets like those. That article came on the heels of one finding J.J. Putz has the slowest pace on the mound among D-backs pitchers.
- At Venom Strikes, Thomas Lynch contends that the Paul Goldschmidt contract looks great now, and that it’s a lot better than the Freddie Freeman extension. Agree on both counts. The question that interests me more, though, is whether the Goldschmidt contract when signed was better than the Freeman extension is now, and for that more information is needed. It’s also highly relevant that Goldy is quite a bit older than Freeman, even though Freeman is ahead of him in terms of service time. I took a close look at the Goldschmidt extension a few weeks ago, in light of the Freeman extension.
- Last but not least, I enjoyed this Jeff Summers post on what the Diamondbacks are doing with little leaguers in Arizona. Great stuff.
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