- Hell of a place to work. Truly. Not really a single guy that I can say I was bummed to have to work with. My boss, Greg Salvatore, was a great guy, and other guys I spoke to while there were so easy to work with and talk to, despite being higher-ups – i.e. Derrick Hall, Tom Allison, Mike Berger, and Roland Hemond. I also spent some time talking with Nick Piecoro, who Greg is good friends with, in the press box.
- Working for a baseball team gave me an idea of just how little I really know about baseball with respect to some of these guys, and how much the guys in charge of this team do know about baseball. It’s the type of thing that can get you psyched to keep following the sport and keep trying to soak in as much knowledge from everyone you can. Being able to listen to Roland Hemond telling stories from when he was the GM of the Orioles (to help explain why more teams don’t make waiver claims on players, even if they have interest in acquiring that player through a trade during the waiver trade period – this question popped into my mind when nobody claimed Adam LaRoche even though it would make sense for a team like Tampa to be all over him) is a rare privilege.
- A lot of great players and easy guys to talk to on this team. First interview was Rodrigo Lopez. Also spoke to Kelly Johnson, Augie Ojeda, Rusty Ryal, and Edwin Jackson, all of whom were awesome. EJ was quote gold. Also did some over-the-phone interviews of minor leaguers. You can read all over places like Baseball Prospectus that Matt Davidson earns great reviews for his makeup – I can attest to this. Josh Collmenter also gave me so much insightful material that I wrote a 1,700-word article on him.
- The D-backs’ system is on the rebound in a big way. A year ago, we had a bottom-5 system in baseball. But over the course of that one year, we can already say that Chris Owings, Paul Goldschmidt, Chase Anderson, Charles Brewer, Scottie Allen, and Matt Davidson, all added in the 2009 draft, have improved their prospect status to varying degrees. Also from that 2009 draft class, Marc Krauss, Mike Belfiore, Eric Smith, David Nick, Pat Schuster, and Keon Broxton are basically what we’ve expected. Though Bobby Borchering hasn’t had as much success as hoped, he’s been much better lately, particularly in giving himself a significant difference in his BA and SLG. A.J. Pollock’s injury has been disappointing, but he’ll be back at some point. Jarrod Parker is recovering well from Tommy John surgery.
We’ve added a pair of top-15 prospects in Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin from the Haren trade. We possibly added another in Ty Linton. We signed Wagner Mateo on the cheap after an eye condition cost him a $3.1MM bonus from the Cardinals. More-established guys like Brandon Allen, Josh Collmenter, Wade Miley, Barry Enright, Rossmel Perez, Bryan Woodall, and Wes Roemer continue to improve. Even with occasional disappointments like Bryan Augenstein and Cole Gillespie, this is now a system that is about 25-deep of prospects who could truly become everyday players. And with the seemingly insurmountable odds that a prospect actually becomes what you hope he can, that kind of depth is fantastic to have. This is the type of system that will become a top-5 system simply in a matter of time as these kids reach the upper levels.
- TINSTAPP be damned, we’re stockpiling arms Tampa-style. Tampa obviously had some luck on their side, with most of their young arms panning out, and guys like Jeremy Hellickson, a fourth-round pick, becoming top-line prospects. Heck, it even made them forget how horrifyingly terrible of a #1 overall pick Tim Beckham has been. Everybody we’ve acquired in deadline deals thus far has been an arm – Sam Demel, Patrick Corbin, Joe Saunders, Rafael Rodriguez, Tyler Skaggs, Daniel Hudson, and David Holmberg (we also, of course, have a PTBNL coming back to us from Tampa, and I could see it being a low-minors live arm whose future is in the ‘pen). Then there’s our draft. Although Barret Loux didn’t work out, and I for one am saddened by this (I was looking forward to seeing him at South Bend next year, and he’s a top-10 prospect in our system today if he’s healthy and signed), we added J.R. Bradley, Robby Rowland, Kevin Munson, Cody Wheeler, Blake Perry, Jeffrey Shields, and James Green all in the top-10 while forking out some serious bonus dollars for Perry & Green. Add in Italian Andrea Pizziconi and you’ve essentially got another upper-round arm.
- My idea of a 2011 D-backs roster:
SP5 Sergio Mitre (FA with starting history, high ground-ball rates, and enough strikeouts to fill the back end, likely to be low-cost)
RP Gutierrez / Rodriguez / Zavada / Collmenter
RP Gutierrez / Rodriguez / Zavada / Collmenter
RP Norberto/Beimel/Ohman/Generic-LOOGY-Du-Jour (got to have one...)
CL Takashi Saito (if one healthy season doesn’t spike his cost, I’m more than willing to put up with the one or two customary 15-day DL stints and definite possibility for a blowout)
LF Ryal+Allen platoon
IF Christian Guzman/Jerry Hairston Jr./FADJ