The Diamondbacks’ roster has been on full-fledged WTF Mode for about two weeks now. Up and down, down and up, maybe a little sideways mixed in for good measure; players have been moving all over the place. Initially I wanted to create a “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego”-inspired map to show how it’s all gone down, but that just seemed like too much work for describing transactions involving A.J. Schugel and Phil Gosselin and such. Well, that and I’m utterly incapable of making a visual of any sort of high quality.

So, let’s just talk about all of the roster movement that’s taken place. First, it’s important to point out that a lot of it is less-than critical, but still it matters a little bit. Every move has a consequence and if we look really hard, we might just be able to discern something larger among all the moving pieces. We’ll set the starting point as August 19th since that’s when things started getting Miley Cyrus/Nikki Menage-level crazy. Don’t judge me, you watched the VMA’s, too, you’re just not willing to admit it. Setting our pride aside for a moment, let’s take a look at the Diamondback’s receipt for what’s transpired over the last two weeks.

Transactions2

The zaniness starts with Chase Anderson who was sent down, then immediately called back up following Jeremy Hellickson‘s hamstring issue. Jhoulys Chacin (which autocorrect just loves “fixing” for me) made two decent starts before being sent back to Reno. Zack Godley did something similar, making one start with the big club before heading back below deck. Keith Hessler‘s had some fun, too, making frequent car rides from Reno to Phoenix and back. Kevin Munson has had his first tough season in the minors and lost his spot on the 40-man for it. Matt Stites is going to get another look and so is Enrique Burgos. The former hasn’t pitched much for the big club this year while the latter will look to regain the form we saw earlier in the season. We shouldn’t leave out Archie Bradley who made some rehab starts, then went to Reno. I’d think we see him again at some point this year, but who knows.

Speaking of “who knows?”, lets not forget about some dude named Aaron Blair who’s toiling down in Reno right now. He’s as ready as he’s gonna be, yet the team has passed him up a number of times. Maybe that’s an issue of them needing guys on a particular day and those not matching up with Blair’s throwing schedule. Maybe they’re hoping to see something else from the big right-hander. They’d do well to stretch him to about 180 innings this year, and that should leave him another three or four starts in 2015. At this point, I’m starting to think he won’t see the majors at all in 2015 no matter what. Common responses on twitter have revolved around the team not wanting to start his service time clock, but they did that with Brandon Drury so…

Oh yeah, that’s right. Brandon Drury is in the majors now and it’s nice to see some fresh blood in the middle infield. He’s played second and third, something that was expected when he arrived. His positional flexibility is nice to go along with the fact that he can absolutely hit. The power numbers have been down for him this year, but it appears that he’s traded in some of the power production for more contact and, well, it’s worked. He’s not a huge power guy, but there’s reason to think average power will come for him. For now, he’ll have to jockey with Phil Gosselin, Chris Owings and Jake Lamb for playing time, but that’s okay given that he’s had a full year’s worth of at-bats in the minors this year. With the expanded roster, things are a little crowded and the added exposure for Drury, however much of it there ends up being, will have to come at the expense of other dudes.

Gerald Laird and Danny Dorn were lost in the shuffle, literally. Laird was outright released and Dorn was picked up off waivers by the Blue Jays who immediately inserted Dorn for Edwin Encarnacion in the every day lineup in Toronto. Okay, that didn’t happen, but a guy can dream, right?

The call ups aren’t over, there’s bound to be a bevy of other roster moves this month and through all of the shuffling we’re bound to get a couple of pieces of information. Can Brandon Drury produce up here? Will Aaron Blair get his chance? Is Enrique Burgos actually part of the bullpen’s future? What does Silvino Bracho do? Maybe Archie Bradley takes the mound for the D-backs a time or two before it’s all said and done. There’s plenty to look forward to even as the window of contention slammed shut a little while back.

And, if you don’t recall, we came into this season announcing that this was the year of the Grand Experiment. Some things have panned out (I’m lookin’ at you outfield), others have not (Allan Webster, seriously). But that’s the point of running the experiment in the first place. You know you’re gonna win some, you know you’re gonna lose some – you just hope that the wins supersede the losses and while that hasn’t been the case in the standings, it has been in terms of finding parts of this team to carry into 2016. The Arizona Diamondbacks are in a vastly different place than they were a year ago and we should be thrilled about that. The tricky part is keeping it going, and some of these roster moves will give us insight to that.

On to the links!

  • On behalf of the entire staff at Inside the ‘Zona (don’t laugh), we would like to congratulate Paul Goldschmidt on becoming a father! This comes on the heels of his longest career homer, an absolute blast that Nick Piecoro broke down over at AZ Central. Paul is one of the good guys in baseball and we wish him and his family well. I’ve taken the liberty to issue a warning to the next generation already

  • Matthew Trueblood raises four excellent points in understanding the impact of expanded September rosters over at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required). Teams can look to improve their roster, gain tactical advantages, give players rest and/or evaluate prospects. Much of this is reflected in the movement detailed above and will continue to play a role as September marches onward. How the Diamondbacks choose to use the month will be important. They’re getting a chance to evaluate Brandon Drury, giving the bullpen rest by inserting Burgos , and maybe trying to gain a tactical advantage by using Hessler as a LOOGY, although that didn’t work out so well the other night in Colorado.
  • In case you missed it, Arizona Fall League roster were announced Tuesday. The Diamondbacks have a number of players who’ll be suiting up for the Salt River Rafters. Left-handed relievers Daniel Gibson and Keith Hessler (maybe, depending on how much he throws in the majors in September), right-handed reliever Adam Miler, right-handed starter Yoan Lopez, catcher Oscar Hernandez, second baseman Jack Reinheimer, and outfielders Daniel Palka and Gabby Guerrero will represent the D-backs. Lopez is the guy with pedigree, but he hasn’t pitched well all year between bouts of injury. Guerrero is on the “taxi squad” meaning he can only play in games on Wednesdays and Sundays. If you’ve never been, AFL baseball is as good as it gets in terms of a viewing experience. I’ll have a full breakdown next week and if you’re out and about in late October/early November, you might catch Ryan and I at some Salt River Rafters games.
  • Chris Crawford of Baseball Prospectus had a nice breakdown of the prospects acquired by the D-backs (subscription required) in the Addison Reed Trade. Matt Koch is the guy to watch here as potential late inning arm with a good heater and secondaries he can command. Miller Diaz is more of a project and not someone to count on at all. Addison Reed kind of fell into the same category, so, yeah, whatever, I’m tired of talking about Addison Reed.
  • Over at AZ Snake Pit, soco makes a nice case for being happy with the product on the field this year in Arizona, even if the team failed to stay relevant into September. He’s got a point: Diamondbacks baseball was a lot more interesting in 2015 than it was in 2014 and I touched on that above. It kind of feels good to be a D-backs fan again. Kinda.
  • Loosely related, Dave Cameron had a really wonderful piece at FanGraphs this week about the nature of balancing analysis with fandom. He’s right, it can be hard sometimes to keep routing for your team while trying to look at things objectively. I’d love to wear my Sedona Red glasses more often, but frankly, it’s just not warranted. Our job here is to provide information and analysis, not Ten Reason Why You Should Buy Diamondbacks Stock Right Now! That just sounds like a spam add, so don’t click on it.
  • Although if I were looking for someone to click on the above pseudo link, I might choose Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated who thinks the team might be entering a window of contention. Where have you heard that before? Okay, okay, but it is nice to start hearing it elsewhere if only to confirm our suspicions that the Diamondbacks are getting less bad these days.
  • I’m not trying to be hater, but the Rockies turned the absolutely lamest triple play of all time when Paul Goldschmidt lined into one earlier this week. I get it, they’re rare, but seriously, this was the most disinteresting triple play I’ve ever seen. If you can find me a more boring one, let me know.
 

5 Responses to Round Up: D-backs Roster Movement; Fresh Blood; Where’s Aaron Blair?

  1. Dave-Phoenix says:

    All the roster moves are a sign that the D-Backs pitching staff is young, tired, and not very good.

    I expect to see a 6 or 7 man rotation the rest of the way. That will include Bradley at some point.

    160+ innings may be why the D-Backs didn’t call up Blair. This my be a good thing. A tired Blair might not have a good audition. Additionally, why give our divisional foes additional looks at him? Service clock is also an issue.

    Hoping for good things from Drury. As a 2B/3B option, he can rotate in for Lamb at 3B against lefties and be an everyday 2B or a utility infielder. Lots of upside there….

  2. Craig Blair says:

    Aaron threw 160 last season so I was hoping for 180-190 this year. He is now at 171(14 innings at Pan Am games)and his last start was the longest of his career(8IP,91 pitches)and one of his best. Looks as though they are not letting him make his last start in Reno. Doesn’t make much sense but then again, not much has.

  3. Sam says:

    Thanks for the link to the Dave Cameron piece; it’s really interesting to me how people gain and lose their fandom. I’m a probably rare exception of a Diamondbacks fan who literally doesn’t know any other Diamondbacks fans well personally (it’s a long story how I became a fan in the first place), but your blog forms something of a (small) community where I can relate with others who are watching and rooting for the same team! :)

    Your writing on this site, though, is undoubtedly that of a fan. Being a fan doesn’t have to mean you always think the Diamondbacks are going to do well, just that you hope they will. Cameron’s example of the Mariners firing their general manager, and Mariners fans being happy about it, illustrates that expecting failure is compatible with hoping for something better.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      I have the added benefit of covering one team and not covering all of baseball! When I was writing regularly at Beyond the Boxscore, which I highly recommend, I did feel the disconnect as I was spread so thin and focussed so deeply on data that it made it hard to be a true fan. In the case of the D-backs (and my Mariners), I try to split the difference. Obviously I want the best for the team every time out, but I really do believe they can play smarter. We’ve seen some changes, but there’s a lot of room to grow.

  4. […] from the future, the future in the D-backs’ case could look a lot like Brandon Drury. From the roundup on Friday, where Jeff made sense of all the many D-backs roster moves on and around September […]

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