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Schoeneweis to AZ, and the roster gets trimmed

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Baseball trades, rumors and blog coverage - SB Nation MLB Hot Stove

Schoeneweis, Schoeneweis
Take your water and sun-block.
A Met no more, there's the door;
Welcome to Arizona.

Bullpen arm, may you pitch and throw,
Decently, not like some we know
Schoeneweis, Schoeneweis
You'll only get to face lefties...

The Diamondbacks got the left-handed bullpen arm they wanted, trading from our Con(n)or stockpile. We sent Connor Robertson to the Mets in exchange for Scott Schoeneweis, and also got $1.6 m in cash from the Mets to go towards the reliever's $3.6m salary for the upcoming season. Note the emphasis on the words in the next sentence. If properly used, Schoeneweis should be very effective. To be specific, he should never get to face a right-handed batter unless it's an emergency - and by that, all other relievers must be unavailable, due to a tragic mass accident at a band-saw factory. Here are Schoeneweis's career splits versus left-handed and right-handed batters:

vs. LHB .224 .299 .295 .594
vs. RHB .294 .367 .469 .835

I don't think any further explanation is really necessary, but it's clear that his reaction to right-handers is similar to Mrs. SnakePit's response to cats [albeit, presumably without all the puffiness and wheezing]. Somehow, the Mets do not seem to have understood this, and in his time there, he faced more RHB than LHB, which likely helps account for his 2-8 record in the past couple of seasons. In 2008, he faced 130 righties, and they hit .333 off Schoeneweis; the 113 lefties batted only .178. Should we ever see him on the mound with a right-hander at the plate, I expect 'Skins to have an appropriate diagram ready.

Schoeneweis has an interesting background, and it's frankly a miracle he's in the majors at all. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of nineteen, but beat that [he can trade stories with DD!], only to blow out his elbow and need Tommy John surgery while still at college. He was mentioned in the Mitchell Report as receiving steroids, but his excuse was that this was tied to his post-cancer regimen - certainly a more credible explanation that most have managed. He was the losing pitcher in the last ever game at Shea, giving up a home-run in the eighth to Wes Helms [who is right-handed, naturally...]. He's also second on the all-time list for games thrown by a Jewish pitcher. I dunno if it matters to him, but Yom Kippur 2009 is September 28th. It's an off-day. :-)

Robertson came to Arizona along with Dan Haren, and appeared in six games for the Diamondbacks, with an ERA of 5.14. He spent most of the season down in Tucson, where he had a 5.02 ERA in 47 relief appearances. Now aged 27, it doesn't seem like he'll be much of a loss to the Diamondbacks, and the majority of Mets fans don't exactly seem exuberant at their new acquisition. Indeed, it's barely noticed in the man-love (understandably) being shown for F-Rod and JJ Putz; I suspect this move was as much a salary dump for New York as anything.

In other news, the team announced they won't offer contracts to four players who appeared with the team in 2008: Chris Burke, Robby Hammock, Wil Ledezma and Jeff Salazar. The loss of Burke will be mourned by no-one. I still expect to see Hammock on the major-league roster at some point this year, simply because we always do. I think he mugs a journalist, steals his pass to sneak into the locker-room, and everyone is so used to seeing him there, they don't notice when he puts his cleats on. Wil Ledezma likely merits an honorable mention in the Least Significant All-Time Diamondbacks for the four career innings he provided the team. Jeff Salazar's departure signals the team intends to use Conor Jackson as the main left-fielder, with Eric Byrnes getting a roving commission as backup at all three outfield spots.

All these moves are a significant step forward to solidifying the roster. Here's what I have at the time of writing.

Starters Bench Rotation Bullpen

2B. Lopez
CF. Young
SS. Drew
LF. Jackson
RF. Upton
1B. Tracy
3B. Reynolds
C. Snyder

C. Montero
C. Skelton
IF. Ojeda
OF. Byrnes
1B. Clark
1. Webb
2. Haren
3. Davis
4. Scherzer
5. Petit
CL. Qualls
SU. Pena
7th. Rauch
LH. Schoeneweis
LR. Gutierrez
UT. Peguero
UT. Rosales

The apparent uncertainties are in italics. It's only the back of the bullpen that really needs to be attended to, and the three names I've penciled in there are just the first ones that come to mind. There are a number of other players which could end up appearing instead: Coutlangus, Buckner, Medders...hey, what's Edgar Gonzalez doing these days? ;-) If you have any thoughts on that topic, feel free to chip in. The Tribune report a deal for Clark, around the $750K mark, appears to be being negotiated. It seems odd to have a left-hander to back up...a left-hander at first-base, but Bob Melvin's love for Tony knows no bounds. Just, please, don't use him as a pinch-runner for Upton again?

Nick Piecoro has extended quotes from Lopez on his blog, adding, "People familiar with Lopez say the key with him is to keep him motivated every day. He apparently had irked teammates in Washington by not always hustling. When he got to St. Louis, he said he just wanted to play for a contending team -- something he didn’t have in Washington -- and it was pretty clear that his motivation level changed pretty drastically, as did his production." Lopez himself added, "It was just not a good fit. They're still trying to figure things out and I was just not the right fit for that time." I think if Arizona stay in contention, he'll be fine; and if we're not, it's only a one-year deal, so it won't matter. Of course, either way, we could still be looking for another second-baseman in December 2009.

Nick is also the source for the potential batting lineup given above, which makes some sense. Lopez is a switch-hitter, while Drew and Tracy are lefties, so it does a nice job of breaking up the order. I'm not sure about Jackson in the clean-up spot. I think I'd perhaps prefer him higher up, with Upton batting at #4, and I don't like Young, with his low OBP, second. My personal choice would be:

  1. Lopez (S)
  2. Jackson
  3. Drew (L)
  4. Upton
  5. Reynolds
  6. Young
  7. Tracy (L) 
  8. Snyder
  9. Pitcher

CoJack isn't your typical top of the order guy, but he gets on base very well, and he showed decent wheels last season. The 6-8 spots are certainly open to discussion, but dropping Tracy to seven gives us a left-handed bat to break up the bottom of the order. Young's OBP probably doesn't even merit the six spot, but his power does. Looking at that starting line-up, it's not inconceivable all eight regular starters could reach double-figures in home-runs [Lopez being the least likely]. That's something few teams in National League history have managed: three in 2007 (the Brewers, Braves and Reds), but outside that, barely a handful (the 1952 Giants, 1965 Reds, 1995 Expos, 1999 Reds, 2000 Giants, 2003 Braves).