We're into the last week of March, and that means that the regular season is now just around the corner. The roster is now being thinned towards its Opening Day status, with prospect Trevor Bauer being sent down to Mobile. Our panel chats about that move, how the 25-man squad is shaping up in other ways, and what active players are most likely to go to Cooperstown, among other topics. Clefo is this week's guest contributor: as always, other candidates are welcome, with the list there standing at: imstillhungry95, SenSurround, DeDxDbacKxJroK, luckycc and sonic barracuda.
Two weeks left. How ready are you for real baseball?
Clefo: Very much super duper ready. Spring training is fun, but I like the games to count. I also like being able to see them, so there's another plus for the real season.
Jim: I'm actually happy we've got another couple of weeks left. This should be enough time for the majority of our starting rotation to figure out what the frack they are doing. That way, Trevor Cahill will hopefully get through his entire year's quota of home-runs before Opening Day.
Dan: Bring on the real baseball.
Kishi: I've already seen all the Spring Training games I'm likely to see, so I'm ready to have games that I can actually complain about, rather than rationalizing "It's only spring."
Do you see any surprises on the 25-man roster, or do you expect it to be the same 25 we thought going into spring?
Clefo: Barring injury, I probably expect to see the expected peeps. But considering KT, who knows? I wouldn't be surprised to see the ghost of Eddie Gaedel make the 25.
Jim: I think the position players are pretty well set. Drew's not going to make it, so the decision about who to cut i.e. Lyle Overbay vs. Geoff Blum, gets postponed for a while. I think the last spots in the bullpen might be interesting. Mike Zagurski and Brett Lorin have both made very good impressions in camp, and neither can be sent down without risk. We may open the season with an extra reliever, leaving Josh Collmenter in the minors until he's needed? Just a thought.
Dan: For all practical purposes, yes. As Jim mentioned, though, we could send someone like Collmenter down for a brief time until he's needed to start in order to keep a reliever around for a while. I'd like to see Lorin stay in the system, but I see little reason for Pittsburgh to simply let him go. I'm okay with letting go of Zagurski - between Paterson, Breslow, Miley, and Lane, I think we're okay with lefty relief.
Kishi: Nothing too surprising on the horizon. A definite change from most Spring Training seasons, usually it seems there's at least a few spots open.
Trevor Bauer was sent to Mobile. When do you think he will make his major-league debut?
Clefo: If we're doing well and are relatively injury free, I would guess later in the season, maybe after rosters expand. However, if I get a nickel for everytime somebody on this site and others demand their constitutional right to have Trevor Bauer pitching for the Diamondbacks, I will probably be able to buy the Dodgers. I think I'll move them to Nunavut.
Jim: As long as you rename them the Nunavut Narwhals, I'm down with this plan. Hopefully, we won't need to see him at all - if we do, it's a sign that something has gone wrong, either with health or performance. So not seeing him = good thing. That said, we won't go through the year using five starters, that's for almost certain. The question would be, where is he on the list compared to, say, Wade Miley or others who have major-league experience. Heck, any league experience: we're talking about a guy with a total of 25.2 professional innings. Certainly not until any chance of him being Super-Two'd has gone.
Dan: After the Super Two deadline at earliest. I think Gibby would want Corbin called up first, but if Bauer performs as well as I think he will, he'll be sixth on the starting pitching depth chart in a hurry. So... July 28. Book it.
Kishi: Look, I didn't spend my one free time machine trip to explain Trevor Bauer to James Madison so that you could deny me my Constitutional rights, Clefo! On the other hand, if I'd known that this would be a question, I would have used it to go to the future to find out, so... I'll say the All Star Break. Who does he replace in the rotation? Aaron Hill. ...look, I know I'm bad at predictions, I might as well be intentionally wrong.
Who has impressed you most this spring to date?
Clefo: A.J Pollock. Dude's gonna be good, unless he isn't.
Jim: I like what Chris Young has done. As noted over the weekend, he is doing well, and this seems to be the result of a change in his approach, holding his hands higher - I'm hoping that's the case, at least. While I'm not expecting him to hit .400 in the regular season, converting a few more infield pop-ups into line drives would be immensely helpful.
Dan: Gerardo Parra. Why? #hesgerardoparra
Jokes aside, with as little stock as I put into ST numbers, I went with the top display of character, and it was awesome to see how well Parra handled the addition of Kubel to the roster. A lot of guys would have sulked to see their solid season repaid by the addition of a new high-salary left fielder, but Parra showed a lot of class and team-first attitude. If you don't think that's part of the reason why this team is so set on keeping him now, you don't know Gibby and KT particularly well, methinks.
Kishi: Mark me down for Parra, too. Guy is doing what needs to be done, fitting in where they put him, and if he's going to be a fourth outfielder, we'll have the best damn fourth outfielder in the league.
And on the other hand, anyone who you're concerned about?
Clefo: I'm always concerned about Joe Saunders, but he did start slow last spring. Josh Collmenter's forearm may not be the most stable object in the universe, it seems. And lastly, Saito. Although he's so old he played one of the old eskimos in the first Gamera movie, I'm guessing we're still banking on him doing some good relief work, rather than giving away homers like Oprah gives away cars.
Jim: Trevor Cahill's sudden mutation into a home-run pitcher. Last year in the regular season, his fifth home-run came in his 11th start - this spring, it took 8.2 innings. For a sinker-baller, that's not a good sign, and I'm hoping he doesn't need Oakland-like conditions in order to be effective.
Dan: Not really. It's Spring Training. Let's not forget how "worried" we were about Joe Saunders just one year ago. I think his 2011 season turned out just fine.
Some of the other NL teams have lost players due to injury. Who do you regard as the most irreplaceable Diamondback?
Clefo: Upton. I don't know if anyone else could replace that bat, power, and overall swag. Seal him in a Darth Vader Breathing Chamber whenever he isn't playing.
Jim: Montero. Upton's our best player, for sure, but the drop-off to Parra, his likely replacement, seems to me less than Montero > Blanco. Then you'd also have Craig Tatum getting a couple of starts per week. Though based on spring-training numbers, it could be that Goldschmidt > Overbay is an even bigger gap.
Dan: Paul Goldschmidt. I tried to think of this as "which player's injury would result in the least valuable player being brought up from the minors?" Upton or Parra → Eaton; CY → Pollock; Putz → Albaladejo, Lewis, or Lorin; Paterson → Zagurski; Kennedy → Bauer or Corbin; Roberts → Wheeler; Bloomquist or Hill → Drew or Ransom; Montero → Schmidt; Goldschmidt → ???... Who would get the call? Would we force Wheeler or Krauss to first? There really isn't a clear contingency plan at first against lefties if Goldschmidt goes down. Regardless of who got the call, we'd rely on Overbay for a lot of PAs there, and I have little faith in him as more than a part-time platoon guy (though I like him a lot in that role).
Chipper Jones announced 2012 will be his last year, and seems like a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer. What other currently active players do you think get into Cooperstown on their first try?
Clefo: Unless there's a "Drinking Unicorn Blood" scandal in the near future: Pujols is the one "Sure-fire" guy I can think of. Justin Verlander is a guy who can probably get there if he keeps it up. Trevor Bauer will, of course, be a negative first ballot Hall of Famer.
Jim: Pujols is the obvious name: amazing to think he gave Chipper an eight-year headstart, and still has more bWAR. Got to think Timmeh has a shot, though that'll probably be in about 2030: multiple Cy Young winners do tend to do well, for some reason. I expect Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter will get in too, much though the latter pains me.
Dan: Albert Pujols, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter. Yes, they all deserve it.
Female knuckleballer Baker makes mark on diamond. When do you think we'll see the first woman play in the majors? And what position will it be?
Clefo: I have no idea. Kind of a cop out, but hey. It's hard to predict. But I would guess that she will be a knuckleball type pitcher.
Jim: 2035, as a relief pitcher. That's a wild stab in the dark, but I think we're still some way off, given the complete lack of them anywhere in any organization. Another woman even getting drafted would be remarkable, and the diversion of most girls into softball is a big issue. When the first one happens, it may well be a gimmicky move to draw attendance, more than a genuine talent, though could be both - I recall a few years ago, serious discussion over whether Arizona would have been better off using Jennie Finch than her husband, Casey Daigle. Whoever it is, she'd better have the stoic temperament of Jackie Robinson, because the heckling will be brutal.
Dan: I would also bet on a knuckler. But, given that we're down to only a small handful of knucklers in the game today (R.A. Dickey is the only prominent one, now that Wakefield retired), I can't predict when the next male knuckler will be (I truly don't think it'll be for another year or two), not to mention the next female knuckler.