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SnakePit Appraisals: Cliff Pennington

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Pennington was certainly our favorite slick-fielding switch-hitting utility infielder. Probably because he was our only one. But how did he rate on our dreaded 1-5 scale?

Pennington gonna Pennington...
Pennington gonna Pennington...
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Strengths
  • "Considering expectations, I give him a 5." - xmet
  • "If it weren't for that damn thumb injury...  I think Cliffie’s 2014 would have fared much more successful…but for the amount of time he did play, I thought he did pretty well." - Rockkstarr12
  • "Arguably Penny's best all around season on a rate basis  Delivered the sort of incremental defensive value at multiple positions sometimes misapplied to Prado." - Diamondhacks
  • "The very definition of a slick fielding utility player. Cliff is actually the type of guy every pennant contendor needs."- shoewizard
  • "Pennington provided solid defense at multiple infield positions. I also can’t complain when the backup/utility infielder is sporting a 93 OPS+." - James Attwood
  • "Good defense  Bat was good enough for a backup that wasn’t going to play every day. Pleasantly surprised his OPS+ was over 90." - JoeCB1991
  • "Solid defender that can play a lot of positions and had a 340 OBP" - fsudude
  • "I like Pennington, I think he’s a valuable part of the team, but injuries kept him from playing very much, and he was needed thanks to more injuries. It was good to see him rebound at the plate, particularly from the right side." - preston.salisbury
Weaknesses
  • "The bat is gonna regress, he was over his head last year... On sub .500 teams, he is a waste." - shoewizard
  • "The biggest knock on Pennington is how he took playing time away from the younger players in a season, for the team and himself, that wasn’t going anywhere." - TylerO
  • "If Pennington can’t figure out LHP, then he needs to not be taking ABs away from options like Gregorius who are part of the future of this team." - James Attwood
  • "Would be more valuable from a positional flexibility perspective if he could also field an OF position more than adequately, but that kind of flexibility is rare." - Fangdango
  • "His Kryptonite, yes, is LHP. Even I, his #1 fan, will attest to this." - Rockkstarr12
Towards 2015
  • "Pennington’s WAR shows he will be worth more than his arbitration salary in 2015. Tendering him would reduce the risk of trading Hill, which could be great depending what we get. And if that trade doesn’t work out, Pennington could be traded. My next thought (an important consideration) is Hill needs to bounce back from his 2014 to show his true value – so a trade of one or the other will probably not occur before May 2015." - makakilo
  • "If he can bat like he did this last year, he’s a very valuable commodity. Switch hitters that play plus defense at three positions don’t grow on trees. But he’s also a commodity that the D-backs likely can’t afford. Good luck to him going forward, but I think he’ll be a trade chip that enables us to move some salary." - preston.salisbury
  • "I was a bit surprised that Dave Stewart chose to tender Pennington for 2015. The only reason I can see for it is insurance against an injury in Spring Training. I have a hard time picturing both Gregorius and Pennington both remaining on the 25-man roster once Opening Day rolls around. Assuming everyone stays healthy, I can easily see Pennington being moved elsewhere." - James Attwood
  • "Either Pennington or Hill will probably be traded….I’m hoping its the latter." - fsudude
  • "Next year, I’d like to see him give up on the notion that he is a switch hitter. He has a huge gap in his sOPS+ stats." - TylerO
  • "If he can improve himself against LHP, I don’t see why he couldn’t even improve his stats more and even keep in competition for a possible starting position. We shall see what Spring Training brings, first of all…and go from there." - Rockkstarr12
  • "I doubt he’ll be worth his arb raise." - xmet
Comment of the Thread

This is not personal to Cliff Pennington

This IS VERY PERSONAL TO THE GM OF the Diamondbacks. If you spend as much time as Towers did, trying to nuance his roster into wins out of nowhere like having Cliff Pennington, you WILL miss the real opportunities in front of your face. Worse, it led to Gibson constantly playing mind games with his line ups. There were no advantages in the long run. It just revealed that the Dbacks were super- untalented in pressure situations.

That is, TRAIN your AA and AAA pitchers to be MLB pitchers, will you? Teach your hitters how to hit situationally instead of all the frigging guessing that the former regime depended upon. I swear, there has been good enough talent at these 2 levels but Towers kept getting former MLB guys that stunk to fill out the rosters. That blocked, blocked and blocked much more talent if nurtured and groomed properly. How in the heck did Goldie survive such knuckleheads in the Dbacks minor leagues to become such a star?

Cliff is a perfect example of what was really wrong with Kevin Towers’ judgment about people. We could have had Owings on the MLB a season sooner riding the pine and giving the regulars rests. He would have had the chance to learn from Matt Williams on how to properly use your feet as a shortstop. Mattie spent his early years as a shortstop and had about as much power as Owings. But no. Dbacks wanted a veteran presence.

They could have seen much more clearly to trade Aaron Hill a year ago while he still had value. Nope. They let him play himself into the ground where they can’t trade him for a bag of balls.

If you want to compete, and you want to compete on the cheap, find the best raw talent and groom them carefully under guys that are the best in the business. When they finish their 3rd or 4th year, trade them for more cheap talent. After a few rounds of doing this, you’ll be surprised how quickly the RPM of this machine will hum.

This means that you won’t be looking for super utility veterans… like Pennington that just clog up the arteries of this team.

The Tally
  • 5 - Highly Satisfied: 15%
  • 4 - Mostly Satisfied: 32%
  • 3 - Neither Satisfied nor Dissatisfied: 46%
  • 2 - Somewhat Dissatisfied: 2%
  • 1 - Very Dissatisfied: 5%

While there were a lot of good comments, did not seem to be an enormous volume of interest in Pennington - at a total of 65 votes, he did just manage to edge out Will Harris and avoid the lowest total. But those who voted were generally impressed, with 93% saying they were satisfied or better with Cliff's performance - though about half of those were in the "satisfied" camp. The final tally of 3.52, puts Pennington between Goseewisch and de la Rosa on the leader-board. That seems about right to me.

The Scoreboard
  1. Evan Marshall 4.76 (119 votes)
  2. Josh Collmenter 4.71 (151)
  3. Paul Goldschmidt 4.64 (168)
  4. Ender Inciarte 4.51 (111)
  5. Chase Anderson 4.18 (161)
  6. Chris Owings 4.13 (112)
  7. Vidal Nuno 3.96 (92)
  8. Eury de la Rosa 3.63 (91)
  9. Cliff Pennington 3.52 (62)
  10. Tuffy Gosewisch 3.50 (113)
  11. Brandon McCarthy 3.43 (542)***
  12. Jake Lamb 3.31 (115)
  13. Gerardo Parra 3.14 (122)
  14. Wade Miley 2.94 (122)
  15. Didi Gregorius 2.75 (106)
  16. Miguel Montero 2.67 (128)
  17. Mike Bolsinger 2.67 (117)
  18. Bronson Arroyo 2.63 (125)
  19. Will Harris 2.49 (61)
  20. Randall Delgado 2.25 (122)
  21. Aaron Hill 2.11 (91)
  22. Trevor Cahill 1.07 (147)