Note: these questions were all asked and answered before the news this afternoon that Tomas will miss the next week or so, as the result of knee problems.
Did the sleeker Yasmany Tomas we've seen this spring change your opinion any?
Preston: Tomas, despite being overweight, wasn't exactly a statue in the field. His problems were more footwork related and judging fly balls. Carrying less weight will help him be able to recover from a bad first step, but he needs to get better at those things before he'll be capable in the field.
Piratedan7: C'mon man, we've hardly had time to asses the new food choices much less analyze where people be at... Does he look slimmer, yes, and we all hope like hell that this will make him a better player and give him more stamina and an ability to hit a breaking pitch.
Xipooo: I don't honestly know yet. I haven't seen any video of him, but losing weight is a good start. It may have been a shock to him just how hard the full season is, and I'm glad to see him responding positively to it. I still worry about his bat though. His swing needs some pretty hard work, and as we saw last year he didn't seem to take too well to the changes necessary. He started out strong, but faded fast once pitcher got used to him and he couldn't adjust. As for defense, I think the weight loss should help him in the outfield much more, but as Preston pointed out, he has more footwork issues than just athleticism.
Makakilo: My optimistic opinion stayed the same. The "sleekness" is preliminary evidence of dedication and hard work. I like it when my optimism is backed by evidence!
Jim: It's certainly for the best. Even as a fan, where effort consists largely of yelling at the screen, a 162-game season is a long, hard grind. Actually playing it? I think anyone would have to be in tip-top shape, and the difference between Tomas v.2015 and v.2016 suggests that was not the case for him last season. Accepting that and making the necessary effort to change shows a commendable level of maturity, and I hope that we see positive results on the field too.
Is moving him to left field a good thing?
Preston: It is better to have Tomas in left than have Tomas in right, in much the same sense that it's better to break your non-dominant arm. Unless he has really improved, he'll be a defensive liability wherever he plays. But left field will be a bit better of a place for him to be.
Piratedan7: If he's gonna play (and his contract for now implies that he does), I think it's better there than right.. We'll have to wait and see, just hope that this doesn't screw up Peralta too much.
Xipooo: No. Balls come off harder with right handers to left field. He is not as fleet of foot as Peralta, and honestly I don't think it's good for Peralta's arm to be in right either. Typically you want someone in right field with a cannon, and despite Peralta's former job as a pitcher, he does not look to have a strong throwing motion anymore.
Makakilo: Albeit a small sample size, 31 innings at left field in 2015 showed much worse UZR/150 than in right field (-60.5 vs -15.6). In spite of his 2015 numbers, and until reality shows the 2016 truth, I will trust Chip Hale has seen compelling reasons that Tomas will play better in left field.
Jim: It's probably not a bad thing, though moving him to DH would be preferable... It is, however, sadly telling that the team, defensively, prefers an outfielder who was actually a pitcher until his twenties. I hope A.J. Pollock has his running shoes on. On the plus side, A.J. is likely going to take home the Gold Glove, due to all those out-of-zone plays he will have to make in left-center.
How much is his defense a concern?
Preston: Tomas wasn't the worst right fielder in the game last year (by UZR/150) but he was pretty darn close, at -15.6. So it's a pretty big concern. If he were to play at that same level in left field, he would be at about the level Jayson Werth was last year, and marginally worse than Gerardo Parra. That's substantially better than Hanley Ramirez (-31.9) but still not very good.
Piratedan7: To be fair, his bat concerns me more than his glove. I think the weight thing made the defense more problematic. I want to see his exercise better discipline at the plate. That's what we're really paying him for. If he strokes, you can forgive the odd defensive gaffe.
Xipooo: A lot. His offense is worrisome too.
Makakilo: A very big concern. In 2015, his Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) was negative at three positions. His UZR/150 was -33.1 at third, -15.6 at right, and -60.5 at left. The components of UZR (arm, range, and errors) were all negative at each of the three positions. Developing Tomas' defense is important!
Jim: You might have guessed from my previous answer, I tend to think "a lot". However, it does depend on how much he hits. We've had our share of slugging left-fielder with underwhelming defense over the past few years - Mark Trumbo, Jason Kubel - so that kinda sets the level we're looking at. The advantage Tomas is, he is still young and can get better with his glove, though that's by no means a certainty.
What does he need to do to become an everyday player?
Preston: Be more patient at the plate, and in the field. The one is obvious, the other not so much, but he needs to not be over-aggressive in the field and turn singles into triples. If he can simply keep the ball in front of him, his arm is good enough to keep runners from advancing too far. At the plate, he has to either be a consistent threat to take one deep, or a consistently tough out. So far, he has shown no indication of either.
Xipooo: A year or two in Reno.
Makakilo: Constantly work on the fundamentals and constantly find ways to improve, on offense, defense, and baserunning. Keep a good attitude. My philosophy is that the team needs offense first from its outfielders; therefore Tomas needs to prioritize improving his offense.
Jim: I think the team finds themselves between a rock and a hard-place. They have a lot invested in Tomas, who will be easily the highest-paid position player on the team this year. But they are also in "win now" mode, which means they can't afford to carry passengers for the sake of their development. He HAS to be productive, and that begins on Opening Day. There should be no free rides for anyone on the Diamondbacks in 2016,
Who steps in if he can't?
Preston: #4 prospect Socrates Brito might be the first choice, and he has certainly done nothing so far this spring to hurt his chances. Signing Rickie Weeks signaled that the team would be willing to look elsewhere, and if Zach Borenstein continues his torrid spring, it will be hard to keep him off the roster. There's also a chance we see either Gabby Guererro (#11 prospect), Peter O'Brien (#9), or even...Jack Reinheimer. Seriously, the FO and staff seems to like him, and he has played in the OF at least once this spring. I think they view him as a direct replacement for Cliff Pennington.
Piratedan7: Preston covered the obvious options, Mazzilli might be someone else who gets a look, perhaps Glaesman is another warm body who could fill out the uniform.
Xipooo: Ditto on Preston's run down. Can't really add anything to what he said.
Makakilo: Preston is right that Socrates Brito is a good first choice. Baseball America ranked the players in the following order: Socrates Brito, Peter O'Brien, and Gabby Guerrero, and Jack Reinheimer.
Jim: Certainly, looking at spring so far, Brito is playing like a man who has something to prove, and with Tomas currently sitting on the sidelines, Socrates can solidify his grasp on the fourth outfielder spot if he continues to play like that. The team obviously has confidence in his long-term abilities, but with everyone else in the outfield under control for at least the next three years, it'll be interesting to see how Chip assembles the pieces. I think there will be plenty of opportunities for everyone, and you'll get the playing time your performance deserves.
Random question: given no issues with feeding, safety or environment, what wild animal would you most want as a pet?
Piratedan7: An Otter.... they're fun personified.
Preston: I think a pack of African Wild Dogs would be cool to have. Apart from that, I'll go with a cheetah.
Xipooo: My wife.
Makakilo: A Bengal cat. It is a confident, talkative, intelligent, and people-friendly cat. It weighs from 8 to 15 pounds, and has minimal furr shedding. I trust it would get along with my current cat, who acts like she is part Bengal! Though Bengal cats are banned where I live, perhaps the governor could grant an exception.
Jim: Ooh, so many choices. I like the idea of a giant squid, which would be handy around the kitchen, for getting the lids off jars, etc. On the other hand, a jaguar that hangs out on the garage roof would sure keep those religious doorsteppers at bay. Narwhals. for being the coolest looking animals on the planet. The Jedi of the sea.... But I have to go with a penguin. Not sure how it'd cope with the Arizona heat though. I'd probably have to convert the entire downstairs of SnakePit Towers into a walk-in freezer...