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This Week in AZ Baseball: winter meetings, drugs and Reno personnel

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I'd just like to say, gastroenteritis sucks. One second, you're feeling perfectly fine, the next you're calling for Ralph and Hughie on the big white telephone. Rinse. Repeat. I haven't been able to be more than 30 feet from a bathroom in two days now, except for the drive to and from work - and certainly makes for a nervous twenty minutes there, I can assure you. [Yes, I could call in sick, but I'm a firm believer that time off should only be taken when you are well enough to enjoy it. If I'm going to be miserable, I may as well get paid for it] Still, life goes on, and so does the ongoing work for the Diamondbacks' front-office, as they build towards 2010.

After the jump, we'll take a look at what the winter meetings may hold for Arizona - brief summary, nothing too startling, probably - discuss some unpleasantness down in Mobile, and look at what some of our guys are doing in the Central and South American leagues. I'll bring the saltine crackers.

The annual winter meetings take place next week in Indianapolis. Nick Piecoro doesn't expect much action over them, saying "The more drawn out the off-season, one team executive mused this week, the better it could be for the Diamondbacks, who might wind up bargain hunting for a pitcher deep into January." This makes some sense: outside of the very shallow top tier of starting pitchers available - which largely begins and ends with John Lackey - there isn't anyone who seems to deserve too much chasing. I wouldn't hold my breath expecting our rotation to be fleshed out until after the New Year.

Steve Gilbert reports that our overall priorities during the winter are "a fourth starter to replace free agent Doug Davis, whom the club is not interested in retaining, some depth in the bullpen and possibly a veteran hitter that could play multiple positions including first base." Again, if you're feeling masochistic, click through to the comments and read such sad drivel from the alleged "fans" as, "Given the overall performance of Max Scherzer last season, his stats, and tendoncies  [sic] I would consider him a number 5 kind of starter." Really. If I wasn't already wanting to throw up before, I'm sure I would be on reading that.  [Pause for DayQuil]

Speaking of pharmaceutiicals, two Diamondbacks have been suspended for 50 games for failing drug tests. Before your heart stops entirely, I should point out that, while still disappointing, they are minor-leaguers, Daniel Vasquez and Matt Tupman. Both were most recently with Double-A Mobile, though Tupman is now a free-agent. Vasquez tested positive for metabolites of Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance, and Tupman had a second positive test for a "drug of abuse"- an interestingly-vague choice of words that picqued my interest.

Assuming it's the same in the minors, the Major League Baseball drug policy lists the following as "drugs of abuse:" cocaine, LSD, marijuana [are you listening, Timmy?], opiates, MDMA (Ecstasy), GHB and Phencyclidine (PCP). Or, as Amy Winehouse would refer to it, "a good start to the evening." Hey, I guess when you're a 30-year old player in Double-A, guees you need to make your own entertainment... Since Matt is a free-agent, the suspension will kick in whenever he signs with a team: this news will not exactly have improved the chances of that happening.

Larry Dobrow looks at the Diamondbacks. Not really too much new there - the impact of injuries, no need to panic, the young talent which has to develop - but his take on Eric Byrnes was... Well, here you go: "Speaking of giant sucking sounds, Eric Byrnes is a great guy to have around if you need color commentary during the potato-sack race at the team picnic. Unfortunately, that's more or less where his usefulness ends. His speed and kamikaze defense is as much a relic of 2007 as that one Justin Timberlake song. You know, the one with the little falsetto flutter." He concludes by saying, "The Diamondbacks will vault past the Rockies and Giants on their way to challenging for the wild card, if not the NL West title." I'll have what he's having.

Brett Butler will be back to manage the Reno Aces in 2010. He initially interviewed for the vacant third-base position with the Marlins - ironically, this was empty because previous incumbent, Bo Porter, left to take up the same spot with the Diamondbacks. Pitching coach Mike Parrott and hitting coach Rick Burleson will also return - the former was also looking elsewhere this winter, interviewing for a spot as minor league pitching coordinator in Seattle, but didn't get it either. It'll be Butler's fifth year as a manager in the Diamondbacks organization.

A quick run through the latest activities of the Diamondbacks in winter ball. Tony  Abreu has managed exactly zero walks in the two weeks since we last updated things, though his last game for Aguilas appears to have been on November 28. Not been able to find any sources explaining why, or that I can even pass to Mrs. SnakePit for translation from the Spanish. Also in the Dominican is Pedro Ciriaco, who continue a 2009 tour which has already seen him play in Mobile and Scottsdale. In Venezuela, Rusty Ryal and Gerardo Parra are seeing action: the latter put together back-to-back three-hit outings, while Ryal appears to be collecting bruises, having been hit four times in only seven games.

Some of our relievers have also entered action. Esmerling Vasquez has thrown three hitless innings in the Dominican for Estrellas de Oriente, but Juan Gutierrez's first two appearances on behalf of Leones del Caracas in Venezuela have not gone so well. In two innings, the results have been five hits and three earned runs. Gutierrez ended up taking the loss in the second game, after coming in for the eleventh with the scores tied. And with, back on to the Gastic Flu Weight-loss Diet I go. Jenny Craig, eat your heart out! I'll never laugh at "flu-like symptoms" ever again, I swear...