Thanks in large part to the two-game series in Sydney on March 22 and 23, the Diamondbacks have the earliest reporting dates for spring training of all 30 teams: the 6th for pitchers and catchers (this Thursday!) and the 11th for position players. Because the Dodgers are the team with the next-earliest reporting dates, it’s no surprise that the first spring training game will be a matchup between those two teams on February 26. Summer is coming.
The roster is not quite set, however. The search for a starting pitcher on the free agent market continues for the D-backs, with A.J. Burnett, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Johan Santana, Tommy Hanson and others still without 2014 contracts. Bronson Arroyo is also among the starting pitchers still looking for a job, and late on Friday, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported that the D-backs were “kicking the tires” with him. Today, Zach Buchanan of azcentral.com tweeted that the club has discussed Arroyo internally, but not for more than two years.
I’m not really sure if Arroyo presents much of an upgrade for this year. As RG wrote a few weeks ago, Randall Delgado is a legitimate bounceback candidate. Rachet up Arroyo’s 96 inning Steamer projection (0.8 WAR) to a full season, and you have a total that Delgado can easily attain (Steamer has Delgado at 1.9 WAR in 182 IP). The D-backs don’t have quite the same pitching depth they did last year, but it’s too early to write Delgado off — we’ll never know what he might be unless he gets another couple of seasons in the majors. If it doesn’t look like it’s working out at that point, well, that tracks with Archie Bradley’s expected promotion. Yes, injuries happen. But Arroyo is pretty expensive as an insurance policy.
So, you can safely assume that I’m not in favor of an Arroyo contract. As I wrote on Friday, I am in favor of an aggressive offer to A.J. Burnett. Later on Friday, Nick Piecoro reported that the D-backs “would” have interest in Burnett, but that the club had the sense that “he doesn’t want to pitch for a west coast team.” I get that — the D-backs can’t make this happen just because they want it to happen. But I do still think that Burnett makes sense on a contract in the $22M-$23M range for this particular team, so I hope they at least make the offer and let Burnett choose. It may seem absurd to offer a player more than he’s “worth” just to get him to Arizona, but other teams (like Detroit, with the Magglio Ordonez contract) have done that in the past, and the D-backs don’t have a great history of attracting free agents. Actually, it would still be absurd — if there were other players like Burnett on the market. There aren’t (as with Masahiro Tanaka).
Last week, I forgot to address the results of the shortstop poll we had up for a while. To review, Jeff Wiser wrote a few weeks ago that with three shortstops on board, someone would have to get moved. We posted a poll on which of the two shortstops fans wanted kept (with either Pennington cut, Gregorius traded, or Owings traded or kept at Reno). 24% wanted to keep Gregorius and Pennington; just 18% wanted to keep Owings and Penny; and a whopping 58% wanted to try out a combination of Gregorius and Owings. Dropping Pennington would make it difficult to trade either Gregorius or Owings, so this is going to be an interesting situation to watch. I’m with the opinion Jeff has voiced many times: the potential return should dictate whether it’s Gregorius or Owings who gets moved. Although, as Jeff has also noted, Owings is getting at least a bit more love in some circles.
Jeff’s got a real treat coming tomorrow: an interview with Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus. Make plans to check back! In the meantime, I’ll be monitoring the news for updates on the arbitration cases of Gerardo Parra and Mark Trumbo — we should get hearing dates shortly.
On to the links:
- Nick Piecoro has ten storylines for 2014. I think it’s pretty much all there. I appreciated the attention to the closer situation — I’m hoping that J.J. Putz gets a shot to close over Addison Reed (last section here).
- Steve Gilbert writes that the D-backs are still monitoring the free agent market, and that “the team will make one more pass through its free-agent list to see if a match can be found.” My two cents: draft pick compensation is important, no question. But to the extent Arroyo presents a more attractive option than Jimenez or E. Santana, it’s the length of the likely contracts that is probably the difference maker.
- Jack Magruder continued his camp preview series with a look at the D-backs catchers. Yeah, I have no idea who the backup catcher will be this year, or who it should be. But as I noted a few weeks ago, there aren’t any appealing options on board, and the team might be best off going with Raywilly Gomez (last section here).
- At Snake Pit, Jim McLennan is gearing up for spring training. I liked to the first part last week, but check out parts 2 and 3 of his series on the D-backs’ non-roster invitees.
- Earlier in the week, McLennan had the skinny on the reported new television deal between the D-backs at Fox Sports Arizona. Yeah, I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen some of the effects already. I’m just happy for the broadcast team of Steve Berthiaume and Bob Brenly.
- At Venom Strikes, Christian Moffett explains what he likes and doesn’t like about a handful of spring training parks.
- Also at Venom Strikes, Thomas Lynch urges the D-backs to keep Brad Ziegler in a setup role. I could not agree more — Ziegler can have an extra value of almost half a win just through DP opportunities, and the more he’s likely to get deployed mid-inning, the more DP opportunities he’s likely to have. I posted on this site about that here, and did a thorough study of DP conversions and elite GB% relievers at Beyond the Box Score.
- Finally, Jeff Summers had some thoughts on Miguel Montero’s sweet new ride. Spoiler: it’s not Miggy’s Ferrari.
- 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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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).