Retrofitting the 2013 Diamondbacks

Cody Ross: hit or miss? - USA TODAY Sports

By that, I mean: knowing what we do now, could we improve the current team? Since it's an off-day, let's set our hindsight to "stun," and see what we come up with.

Below, are all the significant transactions (per Baseball Reference) made by the team since the end of the last regular season. I'm using "significant" fairly loosely, with the broad definition being that the player involved has to have appeared at the major-league level either in 2012, or since the transaction. So, sorry, Shawn Camp! There are thoughts, of sharply varying length, on whether I'd have made the move or not, in the light of subsequent performance.

October 20, 2012 - As part of a 3-team trade, traded Chris Young and cash to the Oakland Athletics. Received Cliff Pennington from the Oakland Athletics and Heath Bell and cash from the Miami Marlins.

This trade gets an overall thumbs-up, largely because Young has cratered defensively, both bWAR and fWAR now ranking him as below-average. That was a surprise: his hitting .194 a little less so. Overall, his value is pretty close to replacement, which for the cost ($8.5m) is not good: that 2014 option is a pipe-dream now. Meanwhile, Pennington has been excellent with the glove, tolerable at the plate, and much cheaper. Heath Bell has... been an experience. He has put up a zero almost three-quarters of the time (32 of 44), but it hasn't always been pretty. And when it isn't a zero... Hoo-boy. While his ERA is under four now, we're still paying way too much for that. Yes

October 20, 2012 - Exercised option on J.J. Putz

After a solid campaign, the option for 2013 seemed like a no-brainer and so it proved, with the team not waiting to exercise the $6.5m clause. Indeed, they then upped things further in January, adding a 2014 year that will cost the team $7 million. But this season, Putz has been far short of his previous time with the club, generally being injured or ineffective. He's currently working mid-inning relief, and getting paid too much for it. No

October 26, 2012 - Takashi Saito granted Free Agency.

An injury-plague campaign last season, returned to Japan where it seems to have been more of the same, appearing in only 15 games for Rakuten, with a 4.50 ERA. Yes

October 29, 2012 - Konrad Schmidt selected by the Texas Rangers off waivers.

Schmidt eventually ended up with the Reds, but hit .187 in Triple-A and was released by them in mid-June - ironically, to make room on the roster for another ex-Diamondback, Zach Duke. Yes

October 31, 2012 - Henry Blanco granted Free Agency.

Miggy's main back-up last season was allowed to go, as we had a spring contest between Rod Barajas and Nieves instead. Blanco has hit .167 over 29 in the same role for Toronto and Seattle, but I do wonder if the absence of his steadying veteran influence may have been part of the problem with Montero's defense this season? Still: Yes.

October 31, 2012 - Matt Lindstrom granted Free Agency.

We got Lindstrom from the Orioles in exchange for Joe Saunders, but he was allowed to walk at the end of the season. He signed with the White Sox for $2.3 million and has been effective, with a 130 ERA+ in 50 appearances. Considering the wobbly performances of Putz, Hernandez and Bell, got to think he'd have been a better option. No

November 1, 2012 - Mike Zagurski granted Free Agency,

Yes. For the love of god, Yes..Did you hear me? YES! YES! YES!

November 3, 2012 - Jonathan Albaladejo, Josh Bell and Cody Ransom granted Free Agency.

I'd forgotten that Albaladejo was a thing, but he appeared in three games for us. He's now in the bullpen of the Marlins Triple-A affiliate. Bell has also been in the minors, for the White Sox and Yankees, but we just saw Ransom last week, with the Cubs. He's actually hitting fairly well (OPS+ 118), but we already have a right-handed third-baseman, so we'll give these a collective Yes.

November 17, 2012 - Signed Kila Ka'aihue as a free agent.
December 6, 2012 - Signed Eric Hinske as a free agent.

I'm putting these two together, because the latter rendered the former kinda pointless, but Eric's performance was so weak, that I can't help thinking that Kila would have been hard pushed to do much worse. Ka'aihue hit .313/.426/.620 for Reno. Counter-point: Reno. But even applying our standard correction gives him an expected major-league OPS of .800 or so, a huge improvement over the .547 posted by Hinske. Never a good sign when a player on your books retires immediately after you release him. So, Hinske gets the No, with a Yes? for Ka'aihue.

November 20, 2012 - Traded Ryan Wheeler to the Colorado Rockies. Received Matt Reynolds.

Much though we were sorry to see him go, this was a good deal for us, right up until Reynolds was broken. Still, Wheeler has barely sniffed the majors this year, with PAs in single figures thus far. Meanwhile. Reynolds had a sub-two ERA in 30 appearances, and gave us a reliable left-handed reliever, something we hadn't had for quite some time. His absence has definitely been felt. Yes

November 28, 2012 - Released Brad Bergesen.

We picked Bergesen off waivers from the Orioles, and he was not too bad, with a 3.64 over 19 second-half games for Arizona. He was sold to Chunichi of Japan, signing a one-year contract with them for $750K. and has put up kinda similar numbers. Not really feeling too much either way here, but I'm not really feeling he'd have been any kind of real upgrade over the back of the bullpen arms we have seen. Yes

December 6, 2012 - Signed Wil Nieves as a free agent.

This has worked out very nicely, Nieves being re-signed a week after we granted him free-agency. As noted the other day, his .371 average is among the highest in the majors by hitters with as many PAs. Of course, it's the very definition of unsustainable, in the same way Blanco's sudden power surge was in 2011. However, Nieves has done everything you could want from a backup catcher, so no question, this gets a Yes.

December 8, 2012 - Signed Eric Chavez as a free agent.

The aim (by the time Opening Day came around, if not perhaps as clear at the time of signing) was to have Chavez appear very sporadically as a back-up to Prado at third, but the injury to Aaron Hill forced Eric into a higher degree of activity than expected. That may have contributed to his DL stint, but that warning sign doesn't seem to have slowed his use, Chavez starting twice in the Padres series and playing most of the third game. Done what was expected, with a line of .308/.356/.534 against RHP. Yes

December 10, 2012 - Signed Josh Wilson as a free agent.

Wilson got to make his biennial appearances for the D-backs, following up his 2011 and 2013 stints with 30 games as the 25th man, courtesy of Hill's injury. Some discussion we might have got better performance from Chris Owings as a middle-infielder, but the very intermittent playing time - those 65 PAs were spread over two and a half months - probably suggests otherwise. Meh

December 11, 2012 - Signed Brandon McCarthy as a free agent.

This is a thorny one. In some ways, we knew what we were likely getting with McCarthy: a June trip to the disabled list. And that duly rolled around. What was less foreseeable was the five ERA put up in 11 starts before his injury, though he did show signs of turning things around, with a 3.23 ERA in his six May appearances. The jury will remain out on this one for a bit: if he comes back and pitches well, the $5.25 million he'll cost will be worth it. But that $10.25 million for next year? On the output so far for Arizona, harder to justify it. Abstain

December 11, 2012 - As part of a 3-team trade, traded Matt Albers, Trevor Bauer and Bryan Shaw to the Cleveland Indians. Received Didi Gregorius from the Cincinnati Reds and Lars Anderson and Tony Sipp from the Cleveland Indians.

Albers has been good for the Indians, with a sub-three ERA in 32 appearances. Shaw has been a little less reliable (4.03 ERA) and Bauer has been... Well, pretty much what we saw, with 16 walks in 17 major-league innings and his last start was an ignominious 0.2 IP, 5 ER effort. Gregorius was always expected to be the shortstop of the future for Arizona: what was unexpected was that the future would arrive less than three weeks into the season, or that the future would hit .277. Still some issues, not least handling left-handed pitching, but the defense has been as good as advertised and this looks like a nice move. Yes

December 22, 2012 - Signed Cody Ross as a free agent.

I'd have been happy with a one-year deal, at around the $6m price he's being paid for 2013, but a three-year deal now seems like a mistake. Ross has been almost the mirror of what was expected: he has proven to be better with the glove, but his lack of power has been highly disappointing. At current rate, he won't reach double-digits in homers, and the last time that happened was 2005. His price jumps to $9.5 million for the next two seasons, and for someone who should really be part of a platoon (Ross vs. RHP this year: .200/.272/.278), that's a hefty price-tag. No

January 24, 2013 - Traded Chris Johnson and Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves. Received Brandon Drury (minors), Nick Ahmed (minors), Randall Delgado, Martin Prado and Zeke Spruill.

We will be able to tell our grandchildren about the Great War of 2013, when the Uptonites took on the forces of the Pradoists in pitched battles that raged across almost every thread on the SnakePit for months, leaving scorched feelings in their wake. Now, we know the truth. That the deal was actually a swap of Chris Johnson for Randall Delgado, with Upton, Prado and the rest just throw-ins. Who knew? Less facetiously, this one seems to be settling down to somewhere near balance. Upton's April is counterbalanced by Prado and Delgado's July, though neither of the superstars have performed overall to expectations. All told, I'd probably still do it. Your mileage may vary. Yes.

February 18, 2013 - Traded Erick Leal (minors) and Jesus Castillo (minors) to the Chicago Cubs. Received Tony Campana.

As someone (I think it was soco) pointed out, we are 2-0 when the most exciting man in team history starts for the Diamondbacks. And if you doubt that assessment, you weren't there in Tucson when he went off on the umpire after being called out. The prospects concerned are so young, there more like fetuses than players, so we'll need to revisit this one in about 2018 to see how they're getting on. I'm setting the reminder now. Still, the Tucson thing will stick in our mind for a while, so right now, largely for that alone, this gets a Yes.

March 20, 2013 - Traded John McDonald to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Received player to be named or cash.

The arrival of another glove-first shortstop in Pennington left McDonald surplus to requirements, so it was time to thank the Prime Minister of Defense for his services, and send him on his way. Yes

April 6, 2013 - Selected Will Harris off waivers from the Oakland Athletics.

Thus far, Harris has been one of the best waiver-wire pickups I've seen. He must have been really glad to get out of Coors Field, as his 1.95 ERA is less than a quarter that put up in 20 games for the Rockies last year. Even if his home-run rate (one in 27.2 innings) is likely going to regress, Will's K-rate of 10.7 is the best on the team of any pitcher with more than three innings work. That should continue to play nicely going forward. Yes

I was a bit surprised as to how many of the decision I agreed with, but I suspect the same is true for a GM as for a manager in-game: 90% of the decisions you make are likely no-brainers. Of course, it's the big moves, not the decisions to let fringe players walk, which define your legacy. In these, I tend to think Towers has been better in trades than with his free-agent signings. The Gregorius, Pennington and (to a lesser extent) Prado deals, all seem to be standing up, but the signings of Ross and McCarthy look like they could end up being filed alongside Jason Kubel, in the file marked "things we'd prefer not to have done," when all is said in done.

It's very much a "glass half full" situation at this point. The team have exactly the same record as they did after 105 games last year, but still have a chance at the playoffs (CoolStandings.com puts it at 33.5%). If the team, as constructed, can turn that into a post-season slot, then we can only conclude the sum result of the moves to have been a success. Will that happen? Stay tuned...

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