Chicago Calls, Collects Cintron

Going by our spring training performances so far, it doesn't seem that offense will be Arizona's problem in 2006. Another double-digit victory yesterday, pounding out 20 hits in a 12-1 thrashing of the [this space for rent] Angels of Anaheim. Good job they don't have the mercy rule in spring training, or this one would have been called after eight innings.

Brandon Webb had another excellent outing, pitching three perfect innings, fanning three Angels in order to end his day. He got through the opposition so fast, he ended up having to throw in the bullpen to reach his alloted pitch count. Vizcaino tossed a scoreless fourth, but Lyon was a bit wobbly: two hits and two walks in two innings, though he kept LAA off the board. Schultz allowed the lone run on a wild pitch, and Bill Murphy worked the eighth and ninth

Hudson, Shawn Green and Clark all went deep for the D'backs, with three-run, two-run and solo shots respectively. And there was a parade of multi-hitters: Quentin, Hudson, Shawn Green, Estrada, Snyder and Callaspo all had two hits each. We got to face former D'back Jason Bulger in the ninth: he allowed one run on a walk and two hits, which makes our getting rid of him seem less like a move that will turn around and bite us.

The somewhat-related big news today is the departure of Alex Cintron, traded by Arizona for relief pitcher Jeff Bajenaru, as first noted in Ben's diary (right). This is not an enormous surprise: with the arrival of Easley and the deal for Callaspo, Cintron's $1.6m contract seemed expensive for what he could provide. Basically, Cintron has been outsourced, his job capable of being performed by cheaper alternatives - albeit not to an Indian.

Ben's scouting suggests that Bajenaru is a sinkery, slidery kinda pitcher, which would appear to fit in with Byrnes' gameplan to get arms who won't be hurt by Chase Field. His stats last minor league campaign, with Triple-A Charlotte, are impressive:
Bajenaru: 70.1 IP, 45 H, 29 BB, 83 K, 11 ER, 1.41 ERA
He does seem to have an option left, having only played two seasons in the bigs, so we don't have to slap him on the 25-man immediately.

However, it does certainly put the shortstop position up in the air, if Counsell is forced to undergo surgery (which seems to have receded slightly, judging by the latest reports). This certainly enhances Drew's chances of making the roster, though the question remains whether he is ready to bypass Triple-A and make the jump straight to the majors. If he does, he will be the starter, since I can't see them bringing him up, just to ride the pine. Of course, there's also Stephen's dream scenario, of Upton bypassing the whole pesky minor-league thing entirely. :-) I reckon that, however, probably remains unlikely.

Effectively, we swapped Cintron for Callaspo, and Bulger for Bajenaru, which has a pleasingly alphabetical symmetry to it at the very least. I'm inclined to think of the former as a win, or at least a saving of about $1.3m, while the latter looks pretty much a wash at this point. If Bajenaru can reproduce the form he showed last year, when he plays in the majors, then we could have something, but that's still a definite "could" at this point.

We're off back to the World Baseball Classic in about 20 minutes, for today's USA vs. Canada game at Chase Field - our first trip there since the name change. Don't think we'll quite be within touching distance (or crotch-staring distance, in Mrs. Snakepit's case!) of the players here, but if it's half as much fun as yesterday's contest, it'll be a real blast. Pics and report to follow.

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