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Arizona Diamondbacks keeping Brad Ziegler as closer?

The threat of the team trading for a "proven closer" would appear to be receding, based on statements yesterday by GM Dave Stewart.

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Let's begin with the usual disclaimer.

This post includes forecasts, projections and other predictive statements that represent AZ SnakePit's assumptions and expectations in light of currently available information. These forecasts involve risks, variables and uncertainties. The Diamondbacks' actual moves may differ from those projected in this article. Consequently,  no guarantee is presented or implied as to the accuracy of specific forecasts, projections or predictive statements contained herein. AZ SnakePit accepts no liability for the content of this post, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. tl;dr Dave Stewart lies. Just ask Miguel Montero and Mark Trumbo.

With that out of the way, here is what Stewart told Nick Piecoro on Saturday.

"With Ziegler doing the job that he has, I am looking to better ourselves more than likely in the front end versus the back end (of the bullpen)... I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m just not in the mood to give up three or four players for one guy at the back end of my bullpen."

Good. That is the correct answer, Mr. Stewart. While there is something to be said for returning Ziegler to a "fireman's" role, cleaning up messes regardless of whether or not they occur in the ninth inning, if the price Arizona pays is shipping off a significant chunk of the farm for (almost certainly) one year of Aroldis Chapman, it isn't worth it. And indications are, a very significant chunk is what the Reds want. The Boston Globe reports Boston talked to Cincinnati about Chapman, but they "required more than the Red Sox offered for Kimbrel." Given that was perceived as an oce-lot, and Boston got two if not three years of Kimbrel, Cincinnati made be over-valuing Chapman.

There does seem to be evidence that, for Arizona in 2015, the ninth inning wasn't a particular problem. We were 71-3 when ahead after eight, a .959 winning percentage that is just .008 below the National League average. If there was an issue, it looks more like the sixth inning, where our W% was twenty points below NL average. This was typically the point where we switched from our starting pitcher to the bullpen, so hard to be sure if it was the result of our relievers, or Chip Hale staying too long with a starter [Another bigger issue could also be our lack of late offense. We were 2-68 when trailing after seven innings]

Something else worth noting. The D-backs' collective ERA for innings 7-9 in 2015 was 3.37, which is actually the lowest in team history. Even comparing the figure to league average, this season was the furthest we've been below it since 2003. So I'm not certain how much of a "problem" the bullpen actually is for the Arizona Diamondbacks, with some decent young arms present, who will hopefully be able to help the team going forward. Nothing wrong with picking up some more, naturally; however, we do not need to become distracted by the shiny bauble of "Saves" and overspend for that particular Christmas tree ornament.