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SnakeBytes, 12/20: SIMPLY HAVING a WONDERFUL Christmas TIME

Last link round-up before Christmas. Pirates fans find a former Diamondback under their tree...

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Team news (more or less)

[AZ Central] Diamondbacks hope to contend in tough NL West - The Diamondbacks’ home in the National League West hasn’t been all that hospitable for years. If this offseason is any indication, it won’t be getting any friendlier in the near future. No division in baseball has spent more money on free agents this winter than the NL West, and – no surprise here – the Los Angeles Dodgers are leading the way, having doled out some $192 million to re-sign their top free agents. The Diamondbacks’ total outlay? All of $4.75 million.

[Inside the 'Zona] Is the Chris Sale Trade a Blueprint for Trading Paul Goldschmidt? - There are plenty of similarities here between Sale and Goldschmidt. Both have been very productive players over the last three years and both are forecast as impact players in 2017. Both are also on team-friendly deals to the point where they’ll be paid at something like 25-30% of the going rate for their production on the free agent market. While I’d say Goldschmidt might be on a pace to decline a little more over the course of the next three seasons thanks to his age, he’s also probably a safer bet to produce than Sale thanks to the relative safety of first base over the pitcher’s mound.

[Venom Strikes] Focus on season preparation, says former closer - Here at the start of a regime-change for the Arizona Diamondbacks, don’t focus on the adjustment to new personnel, but on yourself. That’s the advice from former Diamondbacks’ reliever J. J. Putz: "What happens up-stairs should not be a concern. When I played, I was concerned with preparation for the season and how I could be the best I could. Players have enough to worry about, like getting into their routines, if you’re a pitcher to address your mechanics and getting ready for spring training."

[MLB Trade Rumors] Diamondbacks Sign Keyvius Sampson To Minor League Deal - The Diamondbacks have signed righty Keyvius Sampson to a minor league deal, and he’s expected to compete for a bullpen role this spring, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets. The Reds non-tendered Sampson earlier this month after he posted a 4.35 ERA with 9.6 K/9 but also 6.2 BB/9 in 39 1/3 innings in 2016. The 25-year-old Sampson did have success at Triple-A Louisville, though, posting a 1.88 ERA, 9.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings while both starting and pitching in relief.

[Yahoo] Reliever Daniel Hudson signs two-year deal with Pittsburgh - While Hudson’s ERA with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season was an unsightly 5.22, the Pirates are betting his raw stuff – Hudson complements the fastball with a strong changeup and improved slider – will translate far better at PNC Park... His shift to the bullpen not only landed Hudson the ninth multiyear deal for a relief pitcher in this hot market but $1.5 million each season in incentives for games finished.

[Idaho Statesman] Boise State, MLB's Chase Field getting ready for Cactus Bowl - "There’s a unique aspect to playing a game there," Cactus/Fiesta Bowl Director of Game Operations Justin Balich said. "It’s a bit of a different flair, putting a football field in a baseball stadium." About 90,000 square feet of turf is put down by a crew of about a dozen, not including the Diamondbacks’ own staff, which assists. The rolls of grass are carried by modified forklifts. The team makes sure there are no seams before watering it, then uses levelers and mows it eight different directions for a cut between .65 and .75 inches.

And, elsewhere...

[CNN Money] The Cuban baseball smuggling machine behind Major League Baseball - There's a vast and vicious human trafficking network that supplies Major League Baseball with some of its top players... In the middle is an underworld of smugglers that goes as far as teaming up with Los Zetas -- one of the world's most dangerous drug cartels. At least 25 Cuban players have been brought into the United States by smugglers since 2004, according to court documents stemming from more than a dozen federal investigations.In all, the players have paid smugglers more than $11.4 million of their salaries, according to court records.

[CBSSports] Why, despite the complaints of many, MLB players are actually not overpaid - Major League Baseball players are the top sliver of a percent in the world at their profession. Millions of fans every single season pay to watch them play 162 times in the regular season. Tens of millions watch them play on TV, which generates amazing revenue. In all, MLB is a $10 billion industry. The players are the reason for this. So why shouldn't they be getting a huge piece of the pie? There's no good argument against that doesn't misinterpret the situation. Let's stop the "it's just too much" talk without thinking it through

[New York Times] A Jewish Player’s 1914 Baseball Card Triggers a $125,000 Dispute - More than a hundred years after Guy Zinn last appeared in a major-league game, his baseball card is causing a commotion. The fuss has nothing to do with Zinn’s skill. The trait that set Zinn apart, and made his baseball card unusually valuable, was his ethnicity. Zinn was Jewish, which all but guaranteed him a following for generations. A fan subculture has long coalesced around Jewish ballplayers, so much so that their cards have a special category on eBay.