Saturday, January 26, 2013

Arizona Diamondbacks' Offseason

The Arizona Diamondbacks have had a busy offseason and it has come with some scrutiny from the baseball media.  Here is a rundown of some of the more significant moves made that impact the 25-man roster:

-Traded CF Chris Young to Oakland and received SS Cliff Pennington and RHP Heath Bell
-Traded 3B Ryan Wheeler to Colorado for LHP Matt Reynolds
-Signed FA OF Eric Hinske
-Signed FA 3B Eric Chavez
-Signed FA RHP Brandon McCarthy
-Traded RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Bryan Shaw and RHP Matt Albers to Cleveland for 1B Lars Anderson, SS Didi Gregorious and LHP Tony Sipp.
-Signed FA OF Cody Ross
-Traded OF Justin Upton and 3B Chris Johnson to Atlanta for 3B Martin Prado, RHP Randall Delgado, RHP Zeke Spruill, SS Nick Ahmed and 3B Brandon Drury

Kevin Towers has been known as a “gunslinger” when it comes to making deals.  As open as he is with the media, we know a lot about the trades he makes.  Here is a link to an interview with KT and Kirk Gibson about the Upton deal:

I will now evaluate each deal myself and give an explanation as to why I think it works or doesn’t work.  

Chris Young to Oakland:

The Diamondbacks came into the offseason with a busy outfield and some room had to be made.  Towers has been known to have strong bullpens and last year the D-backs lacked a power arm that could pitch late in a game outside of David Hernandez and J.J. Putz.  Bell was also with KT in San Diego and was a force for the Padres.  Pennington comes as a bit of a surprise, especially giving him a two-year deal.  In need of a shortstop, Pennington fits the need short-term but with Gregorious I don’t see the need for a multiyear deal.  Somewhat questionable return for a potential All Star caliber player but filled one need, even if it comes at the high cost of Bell’s salary.

Ryan Wheeler to Colorado:

After trading Craig Breslow to Boston at last years trade deadline, there was no left options in the D-backs pen.  Mike Zagurski and Joe Patterson weren’t able to get the job done so it was time to move on.  Reynolds brings experience and now that he is no pitching in Coors we could see some improved numbers, though, Chase Field isn’t much easier to pitch in.

Sign Hinske/Chavez

As much as Towers loves his bullpen, he loves his bench.  These two players bring veteran presence and the grit I’m sure KT admires.  Both could help at first base to give Paul Goldschmidt a night off and Chavez could fill in a third for Martin Prado.

Sign Brandon McCarthy:

Is there such a thing as too much pitching?  No.  McCarthy is a pitcher (when healthy) who can throw effective innings and be a solid number three.  He would be a four starter if Daniel Hudson were healthy and that would give the Diamondbacks a grand rotation.  He’s a good bet for a 2-3 WAR season if he stays healthy.

Trevor Bauer traded to Cleveland:

For the sake of not having to write about this twice here is a link to an article I wrote about this trade:

Signed Cody Ross:

Here is where it gets fun.  Arizona already had Jason Kubel, Adam Eaton, Justin Upton, A.J. Pollock and Gerardo Parra.  All five of these players are Major League ready, though Pollock is likely a fourth outfielder type.  Adding Ross to the mix meant somebody had to go and that somebody was going to be either Kubel or Upton.  Since Kubel is basically a DH disguised in left field, not many teams were biting.  Upton on the other hand, was causing quite a stir in the baseball media and this is the deal which could make fans think KT is a genius or call for his head.

Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to Atlanta:

After Upton denied a deal to Seattle, some in the media thought Arizona shot themselves in the foot because they had less leverage.  The deal from the Mariners was sweet as it included the fourth ranked prospect according to’s Jason Mayo, Taijuan Walker along with SS prospect Nick Franklin.  After signing the elder Upton, B.J., Atlanta came knocking on the door.  They gave up their starting third baseman in Martin Prado essentially for Upton.  Prado also fits a need for Arizona because they otherwise were going to platoon Johnson along with Chavez.  Prado could be a three win player but the part that scares D-backs fans is that Upton could easily double that count.

In 2011 at the age of just 24, Upton had a 5.7 WAR and lead the Arizona offense to the postseason.  With the return Arizona got they must think they have filled every position for now and in the future.  

The questions will be answered once the season starts and we see how this squad reacts.  If they win the World Series, nothing will likely be said.  However, if the team misses the playoffs and Upton goes on to have the MVP season many predict should come soon as he enters his prime year, there will be a lot of regret and shame put upon KT’s shoulders.

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