Trends: Spring Training Edition

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

We're about half way through spring training - well, the pre-Australia chunk, anyway - so let's take a look and see who has come sprinting out of the blocks, and who's still lacing up their shoes. For each section, I've picked one starting pitcher, one reliever, one regular position player and another to highlight.

Rotation

Winner: Brandon McCarthy. 9 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K

Brandon certainly seems to coming in with a positive attitude, and acknowledges last year was, as he put it, "just a blocked punt right from the beginning. Coming off the year before, I just never got back to being myself." So far, the results in spring have been smooth and impressive, with a 1.00 ERA through his first two spring starts. If they're to compete in 2014, the team will need significant improvement from a number of the players who under-performed in 2013. McCarthy would be one of those, and so it's good to see him starting off on the right foot. Hopefully, he can sustain it, and avoid the health issues which have derailed him previously.

Sinner: Bronson Arroyo. 3 IP

It's not the performance that's the problem, it's the lack of performance, Arroyo having had to skip his last start, and now going to miss "7 to 10 days" with an inflamed disk. The doctors "just want it to calm down before he starts throwing again," according to GM Kevin Towers. This does appear to be a recurrence of an issue which impacted Arroyo - albeit without him having to miss a start - in 2011, but is hardly the way we wanted to start, with a man whose perfect attendance record was much touted at the time of his signing. He may not pitch again before the rest of the team leaves on March 16: despite Kirk Gibson's optimism, will that be enough time for Arroyo to be ready?

Bullpen

Winner: Josh Collmenter. 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

If there's any battle going on for the position of #1 long relief guy in the Diamondbacks bullpen, results so far point to it resembling Custer's Last Stand, with Josh in the role of the Indians. A mere two batters of the 17 which Collmenter has faced have reached base - his control has been so good, one wonders if Josh's plunking of the Padres' Rico Noel was some kind of personal grudge. Random aside. If you want to hear more from Josh, he'll be taking part in the Cactus League edition of the Arizona Storytellers Project on March 11. If you saw him at Fan Fest, you'll know a career in deadpan comedy beckons, in the unlikely event his arm ever fails him.

Sinner: Brad Ziegler. 1.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K

Let's all panic: Ziegler's ERA is 21.60. Ah, the wonders of small sample sizes, and one really bad outing, especially when coupled with a .500 BABIP. That said, there did seem to be an awful lot of solid contact being made during his Sunday outing, and he'd now need about six consecutive scoreless innings, to get his ERA down below five. I am a little concerned we haven't seen him in action at all since Sunday. All his likely bullpen mates have appeared in three or more games already, and I don't see Ziegler on the list of expected pitchers for today's contest either. But maybe the absence has got rather more to do with him a new father!

Position players

Winner: Martin Prado. 11-for-18, four 2B, five RBI, .611/.611/.833

Yeah, that's obviously utterly unsustainable, not least because of the .688 BABIP which goes with it. But it's still nice to see Prado hitting the ground running. Yes, it's pretty much well established that there is little or no correlation between spring performance and regular season performance. But it's certainly a stark contrast to his first spring with Arizona, where he gave us a line of 214/.267/.250 in pre-season play and, as you probably remember, then sputtered along at a similar level for the first month of the season as well. Let's just hope he's not using all his BABIP luck up before it counts!

Sinner: Miguel Montero. 4-for-17, one 2B, two RBI, 0 BB, 5 K, .529 OPS

Bit of a toss-up for this one between Montero, and Aaron Hill. The latter has a marginally-lower OPS, having gone 3-for-16 with a double, but Hill has also walked twice. From what I've seen (and admittedly, that's not much), Montero has been swinging out of his shoes in a way familiar from last season's slump, and the results have been predictably depressing. He seems keen to turn the page on 2013, saying it was so bad, "There were times I got up and it was time to go to the field, and I was like, 'Really? I don't want to go to the field.'" Actually, there were times when some of us didn't want him to go either... Time to change the script, Miggy.

Fringe candidate

Winner: Ryan Rowland-Smith. 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

We know he's already going to be Down Under, since he's part of the Team Australia squad which will take on the Dodgers and ourselves, the two days before we face LA. But while some of our other backup left-handed relief candidates have had their issues (Joe Paterson = 9.00 ERA; Eury de la Rosa = 3 BB in 3 IP), Rowland-Smith has quietly put together a trio of decent outings to open his Cactus League, with the only damage coming on a throwing error by Chris Owings. It's not impossible he could find himself swapping jerseys and becoming a bonus southpaw, at least for the opening series.

Sinner: Matt Tuiasosopo. 2-for-16, one 2B, 2 BB, 5 K, .398 OPS

He has certainly been getting his looks, having appeared in seven of the eleven Diamondbacks games to date, and Tuiasosopo would offer some positional flexibility - and we all know how Towers loves him some positional flexibility. However, it doesn't seem he has done enough with it yet to justify his presence as the 25th man on the roster. That's a shame, since I'm pulling for the guy, as he makes a nice story, but the hard fact is, we can't afford to hand out charitable roster spots based on how good the decision makes us. If Matt wants a roster spot, he needs to earn it, and hitting .125 won't do it.

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