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Snake Bytes 2/13: Winter is leaving...

...and has taken the NFL with it. One less distraction from what matters!

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Team news

[Arizona Sports] D-backs' La Russa: Team is built to win now, in the future - A long-term contender is the type of team La Russa and the organization are trying to construct. "The key is do you have enough young (players) to stay competitive," La Russa said, noting if you have enough young players being paid a lower salary it frees you up to spend more elsewhere while fielding a good team. "Probably the point that’s the least mentioned since the middle of July of ’14 to now,... the number of players that we have acquired, added to the organization, is in the 30s, like 33, 34; the average age is 22 years old. Twenty-two or 23."

[ESPN] Tyler Clippard says Arizona Diamondbacks 'taking steps' toward title contention - Clippard says that Arizona's potential to contend for a title was a big reason he signed with the Diamondbacks. "They've proven this offseason that they're taking the steps in the direction of becoming a championship organization," Clippard said during a conference call Tuesday, "which was something that was very high on my radar as far as the teams that I wanted to be with." The right-hander, who turns 31 on Sunday, said he wanted "to be pretty sure on my end I was going to be with a really good team, and Arizona definitely is that."

[] Brad Ziegler is an outlier among closer - There aren't closers like Ziegler because there just aren't pitchers like Ziegler. Put another way, we have 153 closer seasons with 30 saves since 2007. The non-Ziegler pitchers averaged 93.6 mph on their fastball. Ziegler's 84.6 mph, as you'd expect, more than pulls up the rear. After all, he throws his sinking fastball 6 mph more softly than Jake Arrieta throws his changeup, which makes sense since he spins it more like a curve. Given baseball's preference for velocity and whiffs in the ninth, it's not really standard operating procedure.

[Arizona Sports] D-backs GM: Clippard should help bullpen, but Ziegler will close - "Ideally we just wanted to add to the mix and give ourselves a little more depth in the late innings, and hopefully we get something positive out of all of our guys. But he’s definitely, he’s a guy that’s been tested and he’s proven that he’s capable of fitting multiple roles down there. He can pitch the seventh, he can pitch the eighth, and if need be he can close games out.... Our closer is Brad Ziegler — he’s done nothing to lose that position. So our plan is for Ziggy to close games for us."

[Inside the 'Zona] Double Plus: On David Peralta, Yasmany Tomas Swapping Positions - It seems like Peralta probably is the better fit in right field. It’s not always the most direct route, but Peralta can get there, and seems to have Tomas beat in foot speed. In terms of range, Peralta probably has the advantage, and all we know from the numbers is that we probably do want more range in right. Since right fielders are only compared to themselves, the numbers also don’t get us too far with throwing arm; and yet we can safely know that right fielders probably affect the game more with their throwing arms than left fielders.

[] D-backs Owings, Tomas, Segura eye rebounds - Last year is one Owings would just as soon forget, as he hit just .227. Look behind the numbers, though, and you'll find that Owings was still recovering from offseason left shoulder surgery, and as a result was forced to change his mechanics at the plate. Now that he's fully healthy, the team is counting on a bounceback season from Owings.

[Baseball Essential] Tyler Clippard is a Risk Worth Taking Right Now for the Diamondbacks - While I am concerned with his declining velocity as he ages for three consecutive years which could lead to more hard contact, a declining strikeout rate, and a increasing walk rate, a two-year deal won’t hurt this team, and will only make the bullpen that much better for that window of time that this team wants to win. Plus, Clippard’s unorthodox mechanics should make his deceptive stuff seem a lot harder for hitters.

[Big League Stew] StewPod Interview: Diamondbacks pre and post game host Mike Ferrin - The Arizona Diamondbacks are the unofficial winners of the offseason. Ultimately, that means little. Still, they've managed to garner national attention with the moves they made, and put themselves in a position to contend in a tough National League West. This week on the StewPod, Chris talks to the team's new pre and post game host Mike Ferrin. The two discuss how Mike got involved in calling games, the state of the club and whether they've done enough to make the playoffs.

[CBSSports] Diamondbacks' William Locante: Outrighted to Triple-A on Friday - Will Locante has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Reno. Locante, an undrafted lefty reliever, spent all of 2015 pitching for Double-A Mobile where he put up a 5.79 ERA and 1.81 WHIP in 42.0 innings of work. Most of his struggles can be attributed to control issues, as he walked an abysmal 7.29 batters per nine innings. The 26-year-old will start the year working on his game in the minors.

Finally, the Kane County Cougars, our Class A affiliate, will be doing a Q+A session on Reddit, this Monday afternoon. Meanwhile the Diamondbacks group there has also been teasing a "big announcement", which should be made today...

And, elsewhere...

[AP] Mets Pitcher Receives MLB’s First Lifetime Ban After Failing Third Drug Test - Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia became the first player to receive a lifetime ban under Major League Baseball’s drug agreement after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance for the third time. The commissioner’s office said Friday that Mejia tested positive for the anabolic steroid Boldenone. The 26-year-old right-hander was the Mets’ closer in 2014, then was suspended for 80 games last April 11. At the time, he said, "I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system."

In the World Baseball Classic qualifying, Australia beat South Africa 4-1, and advanced to the final on Sunday. They will play South Africa again, after they beat New Zealand 9-2 in their elimination game. However, NZ did pick up a win, blowing past the Philippines 17-7, with first baseman Boss Moanaroa getting seven RBIs. Winning pitcher for the Diamondblacks there, Jimmy Boyce, is a senior in high-school - and wasn't even the youngest guy to pitch for them. But a four-run third inning early this morning our time, gave South Africa a big lead in their decider versus New Zealand, and setting up a rematch against the Southern Thunder.

[SI] New data results show high school baseball similar to MLB - One of GameChanger’s key findings is a truth so old that it’s hard to know who said it first: The best pitch in baseball is the first-pitch strike. That truth is eerily as important in high school baseball as it is in the major leagues... The data revealed that pitchers throw a first-pitch strike 56.9% of the time. If the first pitch is a strike, the batter’s on-base percentage is .320; if it’s a ball, the OBP shoots up to .432.