The D-backs floated back up to 28th in ESPN’s Power Rankings this week, but as noted there, the team is still in free fall. The team scratched out a win against the Dodgers on Friday in what was a great game to watch, but still lost that series after getting swept by the Mets. Something about the sweep by New York uncorked a torrent of bad press for the D-backs on many national sites, but no one covered the situation better than Jeff Wiser. For the record, I agree with Jeff’s take, and Jonah Keri’s insight, as well. With those pieces explaining how we got here, let’s focus on where the team is headed this season.

How many games did you think, prior to the season’s start, that the D-backs would win this year? I think many fans were thinking 85 wins or so, with others in the industry around 80 wins. Let’s say that this putrid stretch told us nothing about the true talent level of the team. They still have to carry around their record to date, and 5-16 creates a tough hill to climb. Even if they are an 85-win caliber team, with 141 games left, that has them winning 74 games for the rest of the season. 74 plus 5 is not in the playoff conversation, although it would mean that the rest of the season could become a lot more fun to watch.

Meanwhile, the slight re-engineering of the starting rotation has had mixed results. I thought the Josh Collmenter / Michael Bolsinger tag team worked well last Monday, despite the outcome of the game, I’d like to see Collmenter continue to have a handcuff. Yesterday, Collmenter was cruising at the end of five innings, and the safe play was to let him to continue to pitch. But players catch up to Collmenter’s deception game, predictably, and if he’s left in until he fails for all of his turns in the rotation, he’ll fail at the end of each of his turns in the rotation. The best usage for Collmenter is three innings at a time. But starting him once per five games is also great, so long as he gets a quick hook, and so long as a pitcher like Mike Bolsinger or Randall Delgado is at the ready.

The same could be said for Bolsinger, of course. At the very least, why not stagger the Collmenter and Bolsinger starts a little bit, and reserve Delgado for just those days? Is there a reason not to do that? Toss in the fact that Bolsinger and Collmenter could both be available for short relief appearances on what would be their side session days. I think Collmenter would be game for that kind of arrangement. If the D-backs are just trying things to see if they stick, that kind of start-splitting arrangement should be on the list.

Of course, there’s one other move to be made to bolster the starting rotation. I’ve changed my mind about the timing of Archie Bradley‘s inevitable call up just within the last two weeks, and I’d like to explain why. In short, it’s because that for the organization to accomplish what it’s apparently trying to accomplish, all factors weigh in favor of a call up, not against one.

The first reason is that there isn’t much to lose. By my count, the D-backs have 23 days in the books of a 184-day season. 172 days constitutes a full year for service time. Bradley will now be under team control through at least the 2020 season. Mission accomplished. Would it be nice to avoid Super Two status, which would inflate Bradley’s salary not just in 2017, but the subsequent years, also? Absolutely. But let’s not forget: he’d also pitch in the majors for an extra two months, and that’s worth something.

The second reason is that the D-backs already made their bed for this year, sacrificing the future potential of assets like Matt Davidson, Adam Eaton, and Tyler Skaggs for what they perceived to be marginal upgrades in the nearer term. Forget for a second that those moves may not have actually accomplished that; it matters that that’s what they were trying to do, in part for increased ticket sales and ratings to be used as a platform for their next TV deal. Great. But after all that, the risk of paying Bradley a bit extra down the road is an impediment to his call up? Give me a break. If Bradley manages to increase ratings at all this year, he’ll have paid for his increase in salary by affecting the TV deal. Yes, the D-backs will pay Bradley more overall by bringing him up right now. But they’ll make more money by bringing him up right now, so money shouldn’t be a reason to keep him down.

The third reason is that the stated position of Kevin Towers – that he doesn’t want to put extra pressure on Bradley at such a terrible time for the team – makes no sense whatsoever. If he can’t handle extra pressure, that’s going to bite the team at some point anyway. And if the fear is that he’ll be perceived as a savior, why not just tell everyone loud and clear that he’s not supposed to be a savior? Delaying Bradley’s start in the majors for this reason actually creates the problem it’s supposedly trying to stop. If Bradley’s call up is delayed until he’s “ready,” he’s going to be under immense pressure to perform immediately, and well.

You may say that Bradley still has command issues to iron out. Fine. But do pitchers ever truly iron out command issues? Can that be done in the majors, while probably performing better than Mike Bolsinger? Let Bradley figure out what major league players are going to chase and what they won’t.

  • At FanGraphs, Paul Swydan has a plan for the D-backs to reload. I agree with most of this, although the only way to think Aaron Hill is just a 2-win player is to not watch him play. Yes, he missed half the season last year. But since coming to the D-backs, he’s done nothing but rake when he’s playing. That might help get some talent back for him in a trade, setting up a Gregorius-Owings middle infield. But considering Hill has only had two speeds for the last several years — either great or merely decent — wouldn’t you be cautious if you were a team considering a trade for Hill? I agree with a Bradley call up, for the reasons stated above. I agree with trading Ross, since the team already has three other outfielders that probably aren’t going anywhere, but I can’t see a team trading for him right now, without much more of a track record. Ross is not a high reward player, and if MLB clubs are categorically allergic to anything, it’s high risk, low reward gambles. Unless you’re Towers, maybe. Trading J.J. Putz and Bronson Arroyo should be no brainers. I also agree that Trevor Cahill could probably be moved; the D-backs have demonstrated an inability to fix pitchers that other teams have been able to fix, and Cahill is a good gamble on what is now a short-term deal. I can’t see the team getting full value for Brad Ziegler, but otherwise I think Swydan’s plan is sound. I just can’t see the D-backs organization doing an about face right now. It’d be an admission of guilt that they made absolutely the wrong decisions just this last offseason.
  • Also at FanGraphs, Eno Sarris finally explains Brandon McCarthy‘s recent velocity surge: he’s bulked up, for stamina reasons. McCarthy has looked so much better than his results would indicate, and one wonders if there’s a team out there who might agree with me that McCarthy can be an excellent #4 starter right now.
  • ESPN’s Jim Bowden also took a turn at explaining how he’d fix the Diamondbacks, and he starts by saying that Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson can simply acknowledge and learn to focus on building for the future. Kevin “60 cents on the dollar” Towers is not the answer, if the team goes in that direction. And other than calling for the call up of Bradley, I disagree with all of Bowden’s other assertions (note to self: do not push for Bowden to be Towers’s replacement). I would love to see Miguel Montero go, not because he’s a bad player or hitter, but because he’s not a great pitch framer, and the team desperately needs a guy like that now. But could you see Montero traded? The team has no other catchers right now. None. And Stryker Trahan was moved from the position this spring, so there’s also no catcher of the future. Not a great situation. Sadly, a player involved in a D-backs trade this offseason — Ryan Hanigan — might have been perfect. Instead, the club got salary relief. As for Bowden’s other assertions… many of them fall apart if you question his bald statements that A.J. “Action Jackson” Pollock is not a starter on a championship-caliber club (he wouldn’t be the best player on that club, but he’d be above average on any club) and that Gerardo Parra‘s bat “doesn’t profile in a corner” (Parra was one of the most valuable right fielders in all of baseball last season, Jim, and it doesn’t exactly matter how he did that).
  • Nick Piecoro notes that Randall Delgado has looked really good out of the bullpen, and the same goes for Trevor Cahill. Yeah. More on that tomorrow from me, I think.
  • As Snake Pit’s Clefo writes, Ryan Rowland-Smith was designated for assignment when Cody Ross re-joined the Active Roster for the Dodgers series. He will be missed, but as I concluded last week, it didn’t make much sense for the team to carry the Hyphenator with Oliver Perez providing similar services on a guaranteed contract. I’m not sure the team is in better hands with Perez, but it is what it is. Signing Perez was not among the better moves of the offseason. Signing Rowland-Smith was.
  • At Venom Strikes, Kris Brown puts Kevin Towers under a microscope, identifying questionable decisions. Pretty much agree with all that’s here, for the reasons that Jeff identified last week.

11 Responses to Roundup: Why It’s Time to Call Up Archie Bradley

  1. coldblueAZ says:

    You nailed it, Ryan. Very well reasoned.

  2. Chris says:

    Why rush Bradley up? For what? To save the season? Even if he is ready, he can’t pitch every game. We still have the worst starting rotation in baseball right now. Let him come up when he is ready. Otherwise he will possibly not get a fair shake and then we have another Scherzer on the way out so he can win for another team.

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      I think you’re begging the question by characterizing it as “rushing.” Just three starts so far, but 2 walks per game is consistent with his “improved” control from the beginning of last season. What else does he have to learn? Are we sure that tricking AAA hitters better would really teach him to get MLB hitters out better?

      I’m not a scout — the analysis above is based on what it seems like the D-backs priorities are. But it seems to me that trying to wait on the premise that he will then dominate better later is putting way too much pressure on him. I just don’t believe that the D-backs need to do absolutely everything in their power to minimize his adjustment period in the majors, especially when there’s no financial incentive to do so.

      I think your last point is the most interesting — the idea that he won’t get a fair shake if he’s brought up right now. That’s a double indictment of the organization.

      • Terry Miencier says:

        Baseball is not black and white. I would love to see you become the GM for one week and solve their problems.

        • Ryan P. Morrison says:

          I would love to see that, too. Preferably from a distance.

          But seriously — just because we can’t know everything in baseball (lots of gray) doesn’t mean we can’t know anything. We aim to find knowable answers to questions of interest to D-backs fans, even though that ends up with us in the gray frequently.

          And, occasionally some aspects of baseball are black and white. Maybe this isn’t one of them, but saying Bradley shouldn’t come up now because that’d create too much pressure on him — even though that actually creates immense pressure on him later — just seems like a logic flaw.

          As always — thanks for reading!

  3. Chris says:

    Look at all the pitching prospects we gave up on in a short period of time. Some panned out for the other team, some haven’t. I feel the organization is too quick to give up on players. If the organization felt he was ready, they would have brought him up during spring training. Three starts in doesn’t make a difference. Plus the D-Backs now have a serious issue with pitching and will need the time between now and the all-star break to determine who will stay and who will go. There is more going on than just Archie being called up. Even if it were just dependent on him being ready, they would have pulled the trigger before the start of the season. What you are suggesting will show a sense of panic too early in the season. Separate yourself from the D-backs and tell me what your opinion would be if the dodgers, giants, redsox, or yankees make a move like that this early in the season.

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      How about we just say that the D-backs shouldn’t give up on any very good pitching prospect “in a short period of time”? Two wrongs don’t make a right, and a probable later wrong shouldn’t make a more imminent move any less right. If the “organization is too quick to give up on players” — a sentiment I share — how can that possibly impact what decision would be right, right now?

      “If the organization felt he was ready, they would have brought him up during spring training.” Are you sure about this? As far as I know, zero people thought promoting Bradley to start the season would be a good idea. It would have been a tremendously awful idea. Waiting about ten days of the season in order to get an additional year of club control is just worth too much for that.

      Also, what does “ready” actually mean? And, is “ready” something that’s really necessary? Sometimes sink or swim works, and there’s no way to completely inoculate Bradley from the inevitable adjustments he will need to make as part of a big league staff. Maybe he does need more time to get ready. But maybe he doesn’t. I don’t know, but I’m not sure you do, either. It’s partly a makeup question, I think.

      “Plus the D-[b]acks now have a serious issue with pitching and will need the time between now and the all-star break to determine who will stay and who will go.” As you noted in your first comment, Bradley can’t pitch every day. I think your point has merit, and there’s no way the team will bail on Bronson Arroyo right now. But I thought the guy most in need of an extended tryout was Randall Delgado, and the team didn’t exactly agree that that was a priority. Bradley can’t pitch every day, and the team does need time to sort some pitching questions out. But Chris, do we really need to wait until the All-Star Break to know that Mike Bolsinger is not a long-term answer?

      “There is more going on than just Archie being called up.” I agree. I get that. Hence all of the non-Bradley content on this web site.

      “What you are suggesting will show a sense of panic too early in the season.” I disagree with that. They don’t need to promote Bradley and anoint him the savior of the staff. They could even say, “hey, we need a bunch of things to go right if we’re going to have a successful season, at this point.” If this is a dead year, it might as well be useful, and I’m just not convinced that Bradley could develop better at Reno right now than with the major league club.

      “Separate yourself from the D-backs and tell me what your opinion would be if the dodgers, giants, redsox, or yankees made a move like that this early in the season.” I’ll be honest, the implication that I’m too close to the team to be objective stings a bit. I thought the reasoning in this post was objective, and I didn’t leave out any counterpoints. As noted above, my opinion on the timing of Bradley’s call up has also changed, in part because the team’s public logic does not support its conclusion.

      To answer your question, though: “this early in the season” is relative. Some years, a last place team isn’t really out of the playoffs until June, or later. But even though games in April count no more than games in June, they still count, and the D-backs are in a hole they can’t get out of. Is it really possible that the D-backs will play like a 100-win team for the rest of the season, and make the playoffs with 89 wins? I don’t see it. In no way do I think that Bradley could save the season, I just think bringing him up could help the club and the player. It’s no longer “early” for the D-backs, and it’s time to start considering how to make this season useful for the future.

  4. Chris says:

    Well, in the end, if I had all the answers I would be working for the D-backs as we speak (or maybe not considering how things are going). I am just bringing up what I see from afar (Maryland) as I hardly get to see any games and mostly just look at stats and summaries. Right now, that isn’t a bad thing. Here is hoping things turn around and Bradley works out.

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      I hear that, and I’m a-farther than you (MLB.tv is my life). I’ve got my fingers crossed, too. Really appreciate you coming by the site! I think we’re getting a different take on Bradley soon, for what it’s worth.

  5. […] league pitcher. I did push for Bradley to be promoted last week (obviously, my full reasoning is there), but when I wrote that, I assumed that this season was already a lost season for the D-backs […]

  6. […] admit, because the season seemed to be of the information-gathering variety by late April, I was on board with a callup, […]

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