With hindsight, what should the Diamondbacks have done differently for 2010?
soco: Actually invest in the bullpen, and not just dumpster dive?
IHSB: Not fool themselves into believing that we were legitimate contenders when 2/5 of their rotation were injury reclamation projects?
Zephon: Well, besides what Dan and soco said, I wouldn’t have picked up Webb’s option, and i wouldn’t have signed laroche. I would have gone into the year in rebuild mode.
snakecharmer: Who would you have played at 1st Base if not LaRoche?
IHSB: I assume that Wes is thinking of Allen, though Allen’s year didn’t start so hot.
snakecharmer: I don’t think Allen was ready, part of me still isn’t sold on him. But I think he had a better showing this season than last, so I guess I won’t mind seeing how he does there this year...
Kishi: Ideally, win more games. I really think that would have been the difference between a winning and a losing season. Oh, specifics? Put together a better bullpen. And not pick up Webb’s option. If our pitching could have given us more, I think we could have had a better year. Don’t know if it would have been enough to do anything more than move us to third in the division, but who knows.
snakecharmer:Well yes, obviously in hindsight we wouldn’t pay $8m on a player who wouldn’t play at all. But I still think - with the knowledge they had at the time, thinking Webb could pitch in June - it would’ve been a good investment. I guess my ‘hindsight’ moment about Webb would be, it’d be best to look closer at what the injury REALLY was and what it was going to take. I think they had bad information.
Jim: To avoid rehashing what everyone else has said, I’d start at the other end with Chad Qualls. It seems clear now he wasn’t "right", from the beginning of the year, whether it was his injury or not. If we’d yanked him from the closer’s role after he blew back-to-back saves on April 14-15, giving him an 8.31 ERA, that might have avoided the avalanche effect which engulfed the entire bullpen for April and May. Might not have, of course, but who can say?
Wailord: All of your lame overachievers that didn’t wait until the last possible second stole all of the good answers. Looking at the question thinking that we could go back in time, obviously I would haven’t exercised Webb’s option. However, looking back at articles that said it was disappointing he may "only" make 25 starts, obviously no one had any idea what we were all in for. Like Dan said, though, there really wasn’t a legitimate shot at contention, even if I thought there would be. It’ll be interesting to see how next season is projected, though...
Azreous: I think our primary mistake was not being a different team. Like the Phillies or something.
soco: Also, they should have kicked Rauch in the junk.
The best and worst things about 2010 were...
soco: For baseball? Worst would be second straight 90 loss year, or perhaps that string of ridiculous games they managed to lose in every way possible. Best would be rooting on the new players, I suppose.
Kishi: Best: Kennedy/Enright/Hudson, I’d say. Brandon Allen’s grand slam was pretty nice, too. And Chris Young’s walkoff at the second Snakepitfest. Worst: The balk-off, and trading Haren.
DbacksSkins: CY’s bounceback year, E-Jack’s no-hitter, Allen’s grand slam, the Jackson and Kennedy trade working out, 4 straight HRs, watching IPK/Enright/Hudson become good major league pitchers (for now), etc.
Balk-off, Tony Abreu sucking, playing Gerardo Parra, Reynolds and Upton regressing like whoa, trading Haren, not doing well in W/L, having a historically bad bullpen, NOT trading LaRoche, watching erstwhile Dbacks Carlos Gonzalez and Jorge de la Rosa perform for the Rockies, etc.
Jim: Jackson’s no-hitter. Seeing Kennedy and Hudson make the maligned Tigers/NYYtrade look good [and I’d like to point out, ‘Skins edited his paragraph above to include those two after I wrote them! I can see what you’re doing, Phil!!! :-)]. SnakePitFests. On the other hand... Losing back-to-back, 1-0, extra-inning games in Dodger Stadium, putting the cherries on the icing of a ten-game losing streak. That dropped up from 5.5 to 12.5 games back, and it was clear then, that it was going to be a long remaining two-thirds of the season...
DbacksSkins: I added those BEFORE you wrote that!! Do NOT believe Jim, folks...
snakecharmer: Let’s see, in a public perception battle of truthiness, who’s going to win...
DbacksSkins: Well, not the person who can’t spell "truthiness", that’s for sure...
snakecharmer: HEY! That was spelled correctly 7 minutes ago...
Kishi: Interesting claims from the person who came in and added all her answers before mine, so it wouldn’t look like she was the last one to answer... =)
snakecharmer: I’m NOT this time! :P Even Wailord admitted to it... besides, I’m being involved in the convversation...
Zephon: Jackson’s no-hitter, the bounceback seasons from CY(Which I predicted), picking up Kelly Johnson for cheap, along with the growth of our farm system and the amount of solid pitching prospects we gained in the last year. Worst part was probably the walk off balk, not trading laroche, selling low on haren, and not seeing Webby throw a single pitch.
Wailord: I think it’s a given that the worst thing to takeaway was the horrid record. Personally, though, the best thing from 2010 in my mind was watching Daniel Hudson become all super-ninja n’ stuff. It was all just so unexpected for me (for someone that doesn’t follow the Minors - my only knowledge of him pertained to fantasy, where he sucked with the Sox and I decided not to pick him up... but I digress). I hope he’s a staple of the team for years to come.
Azreous: The worst things about 2010 included walk-off balks, extended losing streaks, the fact that we had Kris Benson in our rotation, and Baxter continuing to be the mascot. The best part of 2010 was when it was over.
What’s the most important thing for the team to do before Opening Day 2011?
soco: Not panic. Make a plan. Execute it.
IHSB: Find a way to make sure that Gerardo Parra doesn’t play everyday, and don’t sacrifice the future for the present.
snakecharmer: Take a good look at the performance of the current players, look honestly at their potential, and make deals according to what they "should" be able to do, not what they "could" do.
Zephon: Fix the black hole in left field and first base. Don’t trade away the future for the off chance that we could be contenders.
DbacksSkins: Take a serious look at how well we should expect our current roster to perform going forward, including guys like Enright and Reynolds who (probably) have some positive or negative regression due. Don’t use Gerardo Parra as a starting left fielder, and find someone better. Don’t overestimate the problem of strikeouts. Don’t sell the importance of the bullpen short. DO NOT MORTGAGE THE FUTURE TO "WIN NOW", EVEN IF YOU HAVE A TWO YEAR CONTRACT. *AHEM*
Jim: Plan ahead. The past couple of years, we seem to have had unrealistic expectations from the current roster, and think only minor tweaks, year to year, were needed. We need to work on a longer-term plan, addressing the team’s weaknesses in a way that doesn’t feel like sticking a Band-Aid on a chainsaw wound. If that means Parra is the everyday left-fielder in 2011, so we can afford a good one when we need to, so be it.
soco: I’d like to see a pair of tickets to the 2011 All-Star Game in my mailbox, too, please.
Kishi: Probably "accept that this season is likely to be a rough start on a path to the future."
Wailord: Make realistic expectations (that probably shouldn’t be shared with the public, like the Timberwolves did) and make all of the decisions throughout the season based on it. If we don’t think we’re contending and there’s a blip of hope, I don’t think that it’s worth acting on. Know what might happen and move things around as necessary. I guess I basically just took soco’s three-sentence response and made it overly long. Whoops.
Azreous: Keep Mark Reynolds on the roster, unless you’re getting at least 75 cents on the dollar for a trade. Cutting down strikeouts by switching Reynolds for, say, David Eckstein is not a smart decision, no matter how many of the nattering nabobs on AZ Central say it is.
Are there any other areas that concern you?
soco: Not extraordinarily. They are who we think they are.
IHSB: The over-emphasis on reducing strikeouts.
Zephon: Yeah, I’m with Dan on this one. the whole emphasis on reducing strikeouts leads me to believe we’re going to go through some drastic and unnecessary changes all for largely aesthetic reasons.
Azreous: At first, I thought the new regime’s repeated mentioning of strikeouts was just pandering to the fanbase. You know, the part that believes uniform cleanliness is directly proportional to defensive ability. But as it continues to be brought up into the offseason, I’m worried that Zephon’s take is spot on.
DbacksSkins: BLAH BLAH BLAH STRIKEOUTS BLAH BLAH WIN NOW BLAH BLAH! I’M ON TO YOU, TOWERS!
Jim: ‘Skins, you’ll find the Caps Lock key is that way
Yeah, the team’s problem was not strikeouts, it was outs in general. An OBP at league-average, playing in one of the major’s most hitter-friendly parks, won’t get it done, and converting K’s into other outs, especially if it also leads to a loss in power, won’t help. But I don’t think Towers is an idiot here. This is what he said when hired:
"With power comes strikeouts; they usually go hand-in-hand. You're going to have a couple of guys in your lineup that have high strikeouts and hopefully the homers come with them... I like guys that have good pitch recognition. Strikeouts are part of the game, but if you have four or five or six guys in your lineup, it's hard to sustain any sort of rally."
snakecharmer: Thank you, a voice of reason on the strikeouts. Everybody I spoke with said it wasn’t "the strikeout", it was situational hitting. When you get a leadoff double and the next three batters strike out, what does that get you? Nothing! But a groundout to the right side and sac fly and, ta-da, those two outs give you a run. So it’s really more situational hitting that needs to improve, and Towers knows that, and so do our new coaches, and they’re going to have to get players in there who can adjust to it, plain and simple.
Kishi: Forget the emphasis on strikeouts, I’m worried about what really matters: Mark Grace’s continuing losing streak in the DBacks Legends Race.
If you could sign one free agent for the team this winter, who would it be, and why?
a) Current salary less than $5m
b) Current salary $5-10m
c) Current salary $10m+
C) Derek Jeter.
IHSB: A) Aubrey Huff. Because you’re not going to find another elite player who made that little money last year... B) Rafael Soriano. We’d only have to surrender a 2nd round pick, and Soriano would instantly solve our back-of-the-bullpen woes. As long as we don’t give him more than three years, I’m okay with this possibility. Something like 2/$14MM would be perfect. If we end up having to outbid other teams, though, I’ll even overpay a li’l bit - 3 years, $24MM is my final offer. If he won’t bite on that, I’m perfectly okay walking away. C) Cliff Lee. Durr.
Jim: Hmm... I see a lot of skipping of this question...
A) Huff. 5.9 WAR? No one else who’s a free agent this winter had more than 3.4. Amazing stuff.
B) Carl Pavano. $7m got you a better WAR than Cliff Lee, according to BR [yeah, I was surprised by that. Fangraphs differs radically; Pavano doesn’t crack the top forty for 2010 pitchers]. 221 inning pitched last year. Ok, he’ll be 35 by Opening Day, but should be decent for a year or two.
C) From the D-backs point of view, Mariano Rivera. We haven’t had a rock-solid closer in what seems like forever. Since 2002, 125 players in the majors have had 30-save seasons. One of those was for Arizona (Valverde in 2007)
soco: I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about baseball contracts.
snakecharmer: Ditto. I don’t pay close enough attention to other teams to know how much they paid somebody and who’s a free agent or not.
Kishi: $7 million gets you enough drugs to think Carl Pavano brings more to the team than Cliff Lee, I think. I’m catching on to how WAR works.
A) Huff, I guess, though I’d be wary of him going back to his 2009 numbers. Otherwise... I don’t know, Rauch?
B) Either Rafael Soriano, or Carl Crawford. I’d lean towards Crawford, if only so I can annoy the Yankees more. And Crawford has a better nickname, which is always the deciding factor to me.
C) Manny, obviously. No, Cliff Lee. But, realistically, no one, because the team probably shouldn’t be spending that much money on anyone this off-season.
Wailord: I’m lame and don’t have a ton to add. I’d want Huff (no question that he’s the highest value there), B) I’d want Crawford because he’s awesome, C) we don’t need to blow that much cash if we’re not planning on making a playoff run. If, for some reason, every team turned terrible and we turned awesome in the offseason, Cliff Lee fasho.
Zephon: A) Aubrey Huff, as every one has already stated. B) Carl Pavano, as everyone has already stated. C) I’d like to see us sign Carl Crawford to fill that gaping hole in left field.
snakecharmer: Why does everyone want Aubrey Huff? His current salary is <$5m but isn’t it going to go up by, like, a lot haivng just led a team to a World Series title? And can he really keep up that level of performance? I’m not convinced.
Which player currently on the roster is most likely to be traded?
soco: Stephen Drew to the Yankees, obvs. In all seriousness, though, I would bet he’s near the top in value, and being a Boras client, can’t be expected to stay in Arizona beyond the minimum. Might as well try to get something for him if we can’t resign him.
IHSB: Did Gambo slay soco and infest his corpse? I’m concerned. I’ll say Mark. Sad as it is to say, I truly do believe we’ll move Mark and try to get a young and controllable back-end rotation arm. Not a bad return on a guy already not making minimum salary, but not a great return, either.
snakecharmer: I think Arizona’s going to get somebody to bite on Mark Reynolds, ideally with a decent package of pitchers. Some prospects, but at least one major-league ready starter or reliever.
zephon: I too have reasons to believe that we’re going to sell low on Mark, all for the sake of cutting down on the strikeouts . Maybe Saunders or Drew I could see going as well.
Jim: I think we’ll only trade Reynolds if we get a good offer. Since we’re not going to compete in 2011, might as well keep him and give Reynolds a chance to rebuild himself (and his trade value). I think he and Upton are the "couple of guys in your lineup that have high strikeouts" mentioned by Towers. Just yesterday, Towers said:
"Yes, there’s strikeouts, but there’s not too many guys who are out there on the free-agent market who provide his type of power potential. I think a lot of people say it’s a given that we’re going to trade him, but that’s not the case. He’s the type of guy who could bounce back and I’m sure a lot of ballclubs other than ourselves look at that. A couple of years ago, he might have been untouchable. This is the time other clubs are looking to buy low and think, ‘Hopefully, we get a bounce-back year.’ We need to keep that in consideration too, not dwell that much on 2010. It was a rough year, yes. But a couple of years prior to that were pretty darn good."
Otherwise... In terms of return and unlikely presence beyond 2012, got to be looking at Drew.
snakecharmer: The top 5 guys with Ks were Reynolds, Upton, Johnson, Young, and LaRoche (not necessarily in that order) (oh and all of them were in the top 20 in all of MLB). At least two of them are not going to be on the team next year - LaRoche and one other. Take your pick.
Kishi: Dammit, people, I already had to deal with losing Haren this year. Let’s trade off an arm from the bullpen instead of Reynolds. Wait, what do you mean, "The only place that will take them is Yucca Mountain"?
Wailord: Although I have no backing past a gut feeling, I think Mark’s the next to go. If we can really build for the future, I wouldn’t mind too much; however, trading him simply to dump salary or something would be dumb, and we shouldn’t be trading him if we’re not getting a good return. Then again, that’s fairly common sense (insert joke of past trades here).
Azreous: Drew and Reynolds make the most sense at the moment, but another name we could see spark some more interest at this year’s trade deadline is Kelly Johnson.
snakecharmer: At the deadline, yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kelly go and get something good in return.
How much confidence do you have in Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers?
soco: I suppose they can get it done just as much as most other manager/GM combos.
IHSB: I truly don’t know what to expect from Towers. That’s what’s a little bit frightening, I s’pose.
snakecharmer: I have more confidence in Towers than Gibson, actually. I don’t know why. I think new blood and experience helps a team, which Towers brings. I don’t think the team performed well enough under Gibson to make huge strides forward next year, but, maybe new players will make a difference.
Jim: I tend to agree with ‘charmer. Towers has a track record, and seems to have done well in a mid-market environment, with San Diego. The experience putting together their bullpen should be very helpful here. Gibson didn’t seem to have much impact on the team at all, despite "radical" moves like...er, banning iPads and cellphones before a game. But, as with Hinch, we’ll see what Gibson gets to do, given a clean-slate and a team that’s "his" from the beginning of spring training. He’d better do a lot more than 31-48...
snakecharmer: I still don’t get that. What difference does it make whether a team is "his" from the beginning or from the middle? He’s your manager, you do what he wants to do. Sure, there’s pushback, but you still do what he says because he’s your boss. I don’t understand the change in mentality from the middle of a season to the beginning of a season. In fact, I’d think players would want to implement changes in the middle of a terrible losing season to try to get better... meh. I just don’t understand the mentality.
Kishi: In the long term, I have some hopes for them. But in the short term, I don’t know how much there really is that they can do with the restrictions they have. I’m more curious to see what we’ll get from the new hitting and pitching coaches, if we’ll see any noticeable difference in the team’s performance there.
Wailord: I’m just a Gibby fan. I don’t think he can contribute a whole lot, nor do I think he can hurt a whole lot. Towers is the guy that’ll ultimately affect the team in the greatest way, and I feel good about him. Again, no backing here, I just like that he’s dealt with a situation like this in the past and I hope he can help us get back to where we’d all like to be. I’d still prefer JB, though.
Azreous: I don’t have much confidence in any general manager or manager’s impact on a team’s performance, at least not when they’re currently dealing with someone else’s roster. Will Towers be able to assemble a strong club? Who knows. But in 2011, I’d be amazed if either of them left a meaningful impression.
What are your current expectations for 2011?
Kishi: Same here. I’m willing to be proven wrong, but I don’t expect much.
snakecharmer: It’ll depend on what happens in the next few weeks. Nothing that has happened yet (LaRoche, Webb) has surprised me in the least, and they still have a long way to go. I’m convinced Towers is going to make "good moves" but I don’t know that those moves will be enough to bring this team much above .500, depending on the players they field. We’ll see. Right now, I guess my expectation is .500.
DbacksSkins: I’m expecting (hoping) for a W/L around 78-84. Beyond that, unless Towers does something radical, I have no idea where the wins will come from.
Jim: If we can get to .500, I’ll be deliriously happy, and simply want to see the trend of increasingly loss-ridden season reversed. My expectations haven’t been this low since 2005, so every win will be a victory. Er, if you see what I mean.
snakecharmer: Yogi, is that you?
Kishi: I’m just hoping for a season where we don’t end up in last place in the division again. Am I expecting it? Eh....
Azreous: That’s about my take. Personally, if we won more than 75 games I’d be stunned.
Wailord: If we’re not last in the division, I’ll be very pleased (meaning one of the teams I hate [ok, Rockies exluced]) will be worse than us. Woo! If we get to .500, there will be a party at Castle Wailord after the 27th out in Game #162. I have very low expectations for this team, unfortunately. But, hey, maybe we’ll pull a Padres.*
* not actually expecting us to pull a Padres