Results tagged ‘ Trades ’

Get Out of My Chase!

Randycamera The big news today is tomorrow, when a really tall pitcher returns to Bank One Ballpark, or Chase Field or the Columbus Horseshoe, or whatever you want to call it.   

No, we’re not talking about the Padres 6’10" Chris R Young, who’ll be here soon enough. We speak of RAN-DEE Johnson, and never have the hopes of so many Diamondbacks fans been held in the outstretched hand of one unit.

Well, hardly ever

The Ohio State D*Backeyes, you see, are reeling, scoring about as often as Gilbert Gottfried at a Shaker convention. And looking about as comfortable doing it.

Or, not doing it.

At this point, the Diamondbacks dont require a new batting coach, or even experience, as much as a Great Sarumanpalantir White Wizard with a purplish palantir to regain control of their fortunes.

[Enter RAN-DEE Johnson, via wheelchair, dugout left]

Some fear Arizona has gone to the well one too many times, but even Josh Byrnes hasn’t dipped as deeply as his GM twin, Towers, whose wells are four months older than Johnson.

Win or lose, all we really want is a reprise of RAN-DEE’s trademark fist pump, a failsafe signal things are going well. Johnson hasnt had much to pump his fist about since he left Arizona after the 2004 season in which he should have won his sixth Cy Young Award. It’s been so long, really, we hope he hasn’t completely forgotten how to show up the opposition with a showy display and a stare after a putout.

If he has, we imagine Jose Valverde can help him out.  Or, if White Wizards dont take kindly to such youthful instruction, aging football star Kirk Gibson dispenses free advice for several hours prior to each game.

Sex and Drugs

This sports weekend reminds me of sex and drugs. Sidnancy

Teams at this stage of NCAA men’s hoopla, approach one another much like sexual partners. The first half is foreplay, feeling each other out, as each game assumes it’s unique positioning and rhythm. Teams this good almost always have the passion and experience, that extra trick or gear, that renders blithely going through the motions impossible, and ensures a repetitive tension and release that, quite frankly, gets me off.

My narcotic is Opening Day and the onset of real baseball. Pumping up the offseason is a burgeoning industry drummed up by clubs selling "stuff" and sabermetric think tanks shooting rapid fire predictions. But the offseason is like withdrawl. There’s only so much you can write about essentially nothing; about games you cant see, and extrapolating from others’ first hand written accounts.

Can you help me, Doc? Pleeaassee!  I just need to see a baseball game for myself!

Pointer_s300_1  A game that counts.

So this time of year, much like Pointer Sisters before me , I’m so excited.

Randy Johnson topped out at 92 or 93 MPH yesterday, depending on who you believe, and struck out five Padre doppelgangers in a split squad, sham exhibition at Chase Field.

"There’s a world of difference between how I’m pitching in spring training than the way I was pitching the last two or three months of last year," said Johnson, who won 17 games with the Yankees last season despite back problems

Let’s hope so, because if the gangly one pitches like he did last year, he’ll be worse than either Miguel Batista or Claudio Vargas was – and more expensive. I caught a glimpse of Randy’s performance, and while his control impressed, his delivery looked stiff, compact and cautious. I suppose that makes sense as he’s not quite "there" yet, but I couldnt hep envisioning all the bunts that neither he nor Jackson nor Tracy will field this year.

On a positive note, the Wall Street Journal published extensive preseason predictions from eleven so called experts, six of whom project Chris Young as NL ROY. After yesterday’s 5-2-3 double play with no outs and the bases loaded, let’s just hope Chris makes the team ;-)

The Journal didnt amass the most diverse group of pundits, 20 to 30 something bloggers mostly, but it’s still a collection of shrewd, relatively independent baseball thinkers. The elite eleven selected six division winners each, for sixty six projected race outcomes. Diamondback fans should be heartened by their favorites:

Yankees 9 votes

Angels 8

Mets 5

Dodgers 5

Diamondbacks 4

Indians 4

BP’s Joe Sheehan, a respected analyst – at least before today – actually has ‘em winning the World Series. There’s a certain logic to it, as there is for perpetual motion machines, or proving a bumblebee cant fly – but we still admire Joe’s out of the box thinking, even if he’s so far out of the box he needs a GPS device to get back in.

Memo to Mark Newman. Gameday is totally screwed up. Pls handle ;-)

On my MLBlogs virtual team, I traded Justin Verlander to obtain closer Chris Ray. Thanks, That’s a Winner!  In other fantasy news, Audrey Hepburn remains just beyond my reach.

Audreyhepburn

Julio For Who-lio?

Josh Byrnes finally got his younger, cheaper Venezuelan today, dispatching Petityexpendable behemoth, Jorge Julio, to the Marlins in exchange for 22 year old, expandable Yusmeiro Petit. Petit was evidently battling for the Marlins final rotation slot, but judging from last year’s near perfect 10 ERA, the newest Diamondback bears little resemblance to, say, Andy Pettitte. One source lists the 19 year old at 230 pounds; a more recent page slims him down to 180. Ay carumba – talk about doing a petite 180!

Regardless of Yusmeiro’s gross tonnage, his arrival means that giddy Phoenicians can once more root for a player whose first name starts with "Y" – a guilty pleasure denied locals since the halcyon days (or was it "day"?) of Yamil Benitez, who (as Brennaman might say) hit the ball "on the rooofff!". Diamondhacks welcomes the youthful "Y" by yelling "Yippee!"

To the extent that the Marlins ate Julio’s salary – and there were undisclosed cash considerations – this deal sounds prudent. Regardless of what level prospect Petit is nowadays, he’s bound to provide more value than Jorge, who was crowded out by a pen full of cheaper, righthanded behemoths. We liked Julio, partly because so many Dbacks fans didnt. He was the proverbial head case, but also an invaluable closer at the beginning, just as Valverde faltered, when the playoffs were still a glint in Bob Melvin’s eye.

Julio only said one or two dumb things during his tenure here, which, based on his past, indicates a concerted effort to fit in. That’s not enough to say we’re sorry to see him go – it’s a smart move for the team provided Valverde and Pena pitch well. And it’s a chance for the Caracas native to close once more,[cue throbbing techno music intro] like a Miami vice.

Miamivice

Far From Humerus

Skeletonpitcher Randy Johnson, we are fairly certain, is about to bust a bone. Which of his two hundred and six, or when, we cant exactly say, but the forseen "bad break" will render his trumpeted acquisition a disappointment, and perhaps ultimately, a failure.

Johnson’s considerable skills, diminishing rapidly off an abnormal, awkward physical baseline, coupled with a sudden increase in game-specific injury opportunities, make him a perfect storm of risk factors pursuant to breaking a bone.

Diminishing skills?  It’s clear that batters are hitting Johnson harder – and more often. Within a surprisingly similar run environment (NYY v AZ), he’s yielding 25-30% more homers per inning than in his halcyon desert days, and striking out fewer men, generating many more batted balls in play. Another concern is his reflexes. We cant prove that Unit’s reflexes, specifically, are shot, but the general evidence that reflexive response deteriorates with age is sufficient to bear mention here – and that quickness – unlike, say, flexibility – isn’t recaptured easily, if at all.

Abnormal physical baseline?  Randy’s a geek – a subject usually Randystress_1 broached as a positive – as in, wow, look at the leverage that albatross generates, the sick arm angle, etc.  There’s also perilous downsides to his height. An inept fielder throughout his career, Johnson falls off the mound on his follow through so that His Gangliness isn’t well protected. It takes a long, long time for such a Unit to position a protective mitt down, down, all the way down to the lower regions of his unusually long legs. As it is, his height leaves Randy as close to home plate, post delivery, as any pitcher in baseball.

Ricochetrabbit Sudden increase in injury opportunities? Well, we’ve laid groundwork for the most obvious opportunity: career ending comebackers to the mound. Count on more shots up the middle off Johnson’s eroding fastball, and indeed off the hapless Johnson himself and his seven foot tall bag of bones. A taller, less graceful Ricochet Rabbit. Ping! Ping! Ping! Bear in mind that Johnson is also returning to a league full of hitters experienced with his best stuff itching to even old scores. There will be no transitional honeymoon like there was in the AL.

His projected increase in At Bats (and related baserunning) in the National League present alarming opportunities for injury. In two years in New York, Johnson hit one single. That’s it. No walks, no runs. Just one single in two years! Expect 50 to 75 At Bats in the NL, with perhaps a dozen heartstopping giraffe-like forays around the baserunning veldt. These comic ventures wont likely be bone breaking, per se, as much as back straining, muscle pulling or knee wrenching, further compromising Randy’s season.

The bum knee isnt broken, thank goodness. It’s just..well, bum and will continue to fuel this perfect storm.  Forty three year old knees maintaining, much less improving, when subjected to repetitive high stress impact is simply a non starter. 

Speaking of non-starters, there’s the dreary prospect that, despite "successful" back surgery and Johnson’s claim that he feels great, Randy wont be fit to pitch in April.  And saying he feels great simply doesnt make it so – what’s he supposed to say after pocketing almost $30M – "Thanks alot! BTW, my back is killing me" ? No, the suspect "repair" of his herniated disc, as far as we can tell, primarily represents an opportunity to break, or in this case "re-break", an additional bone.

MikemorganAt the top, we said we didnt know which bone is history, and that remains so, however we’ve ruled out the stirrups, anvils and hammers and dont see a fractured femur in Johnson’s foreseeable future. His ribs should be fine, too – that’s a bunch of bones right there, out of harm’s way. But the knees, the hands, the ankles and the feets genuinely have us worried. Screaming comebacker written all over every one of those intricate bone sets. We were there watching helplessly when rubber armed fixture Mike Morgan writhed on the mound like a wounded animal after getting konked on the kneecap with a comebacker, back in 2002. His last year in baseball.

Of course, Mike was only 42 at the time.

New and Improved?

Here’s a graphic Purple / Red comparison of AZ’s 2006 and projected 2007 rotations, in terms of ERA+. (ERA+ is a ratio where 100 is the baseline for league average ERA after park adjustments. Webb’s 154 means that his park adjusted ERA was 54% better than the league average.)

2006 Staff

IP

ERA+

2007 Staff

2006 IP

2006 ERA+

2005 ERA+

(New staff)

Webb

235

154

Same

235

154

124

Batista

206

104

Randy

205

88

117

Vargas

167

99

Davis

203

91

110

EnGon

106

84

?????

xxx

xxxx

xxxx

Livan

69

127

Same

216(AZ+ MTL)

94(AZ+MTL)

100

Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com .

What strikes us about 2006 is how favorably the cheap and unheralded tandem of Batista and Vargas stacked up against the $50M duo of Johnson and Davis.  Prior to 2006, the rich guys were clearly superior, but the critical question is how relevant that prior history will prove in light of more recent performance.

For now, let’s split the difference between Randy and Doug’s 05 and 06 seasons, which we think abundantly charitable given a pair of aging pitchers in steady decline. This yields 400-430 combined innings of essentially league average performance, contrasted with Miguel and Claudio’s 373 IP of similar quality. Doesnt this beg the question: Are these "improvements" worth an extra 35-40 million dollars, particularly after you’ve traded Vizcaino and Aquino, who collectively represented 113 innings exceeding 120 ERA+ ?

Go Green

Shawn Green’s New York legacy starts today and we can’t decide whether to Shawn_green_2942_1root for or against him. No Diamondback has frustrated us more than the moribund rightfielder, the subject of our very first MLBlog post. On the other hand, every hit on the big stage amounts to a delicious little stab at Arizona’s front office which, frankly, saves us the trouble.

What to do?

Diamondhacksdisgust with Greenie stems from our hopelessly optimistic expectations for the Dodger transfer back in 2005.  After smashing 28 homers for LA in 2004 – a mere two years removed from a pair of 40+ HR seasons at Chavez Ravine – we had giddily penciled him in for 30 homer seasons at Bank One Ballpark.

PumpkinvomitIn fact, we eschewed pencil for a fat, smelly magic marker. Two seasons and a paltry thirty three dongs later, our hasty choice of writing implements is indelibly clear. The basejogging, lethargic glovework and catatonic stare are, at this point, so much piling on.

As Carlos Quentin emerged as a rightfielder who ran after and caught batted balls, and the lanky *** was dangled as trade bait, we joined the fed up Phoenix chorus spitting "Just go Shawn, go" through our collective vomit. 

Yet today is the first day of the rest of Shawn Green’s life. Not only does he sport a lifetime aggregate .400 BA against the cadre of Lowe, Maddux, Penny, Kuo and Saito, he amazingly bats .400 or higher against each of them.    

And so we’ve decided, in the spirit of Metsfansgoodwill and shameful frontrunnership, to join with Mets fans – without actually touching any – to cheer on our dear ol’ nemesis with disproportionate, Noo Yawkish enthusiasm. Just this time, we’ll be shouting "Go! Shawn! Go!"

Dropping The Ball

As everyday observers of the Diamondbacks, we pride ourselves on staying on Greenmets_1 top of team developments, so it is with considerable chagrin that we learned over supper tonight that Shawn Green is no longer with the club.   

It turns out Shawn was traded a month ago to the New York Mets in exchange for a small patch of brown liquid, in what’s being heralded by both teams as a "win-win".

We had assumed Shawn was still  "around", until our dinner companion patiently documented Green’s monthlong absence from the Arizona lineup with thirty compelling boxscores to the contrary.

Greenfirst For weeks, Diamondhacks figured an array of fine running outfield catches was evidence that the lumbering veteran finally "got it", however sober reinspection reveals that the only rightfielder who’s got balls is Carlos Quentin.

We apologize to our reader(s) for taking so long to recognize this important story and resolve not to drop any more balls like this in our back yard.

Fades ‘n Trades

– Grace and Brennaman initiated a rehearsed dialogue last night about the team’s utter lack of urgency. The broadcasters exempted Eric Byrnes and Orlando Hudson by name, but made it clear by omission that this deficiency (that Diamondhacks has been droning on about for more than a year) is, essentially, a players’ problem. Grace exorted "this team has as much talent as any team in the NL West. Somebody’s gonna win the division and it might as well be us!"

If talent’s not the problem, Mark, you sound like you’re more or less absolving the front office. Which is fine. But if only a pair(three if you include Webby) of the roster’s 25 guys earn a free pass by name, isnt it more plausible that this collective failure reflects a systemic problem rather than twenty three independent deficiencies? If the talent’s there, more or less, isnt this a leadership deficiency? Isnt it a:

M-A-N-A-G-E-R-I-A-L problem.

In this entire diatribe, why do you and Thom neglect to once mention the name Melvin while silently defaming almost the entire team’s lack of collective urgency?

Because Bob’s your bud. And it’s not in your interests, as club employees, to blame the newly rewarded skipper for the lion’s share of this team’s problems. That’s why. 

– Livan lost again last night, despite pitching well**.

** "Pitching well" is defined here as not allowing too many earned runs while misplaying balls hit back to the mound that result in unearned runs that help cost your team the game.

– In other news, Orlando Hudson will be leading off today for the first time this year. Also, Greg Aquino threw 40 pitches of soft toss and reported no pain afterwards. Bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock is breaking in a new mitt, and former Blue Jay and Dodger slugger Shawn Green was traded.

Nats Cough Up El Puque

LivanbandwPerhaps desperate for another bat in the lineup, the Diamondbacks traded two minor league pitchers to the Washington Nationals today for 2004 Silver Slugger Award winner Livan Hernandez.

Diamondhacks hopes Eisler Livan Hernandez Carrera, a lifetime .237 hitter, will pinch hit for Chad Tracy whenever contact with a thrown ball is remotely fortuitous. 

Departing Washington DC immediately for Phoenix is Livan, on a jet plane.

( Dont know when he’ll be back again.)

Much like his half brother Orlando, Livan is half a hurler as well, living off the Livanfat fat of past glory with a current ERA over five, in a pitcher’s park.

Unlike El Duque, Eisler eats up innings like empanadas, maintaining his considerable girth – and some value – to a team whose #1 hoss just went off his feed.

Goodnight Moon

Diamondhacks likes the Julio for El Duque swap engineered by Haverford wunderkind Josh Byrnes.

Is El Duque "washed up"?

Officially 36, but likely older, Hernandez has a remarkable 52 Ks in 45 IP. Our concern about El Duque involves other virtues as much as his inability to record outs. What upside is there to a reknowned competitor who obviously knows how to pitch?  What magical adjustments can Orlando make that he hasn’t already tried?

Tinkerbell

The best "adjustment" could be a move to a pitcher’s paradise, supported by an excellent hitting team. Shea’s hopeful townies may further the illusion that Orlando is a sufficiently effective pitcher – at least until the Mets cough up first place. Last year, Duque went 9-9 (5.12 ERA) with the champion White Sox and  batters are hitting .292 vs him in 2006. Relying on warmer weather seems ill advised as his toasty Chase Field ERA exceeds eight.

The twenty seven year old Julio’s been almost as bad(5.06 ERA) this year, moreso at Shea(6.57), but he too strikes out a batter or more per inning. He’s saved 84 games and joins Aquino, Vizcaino and Lyon as former closers who give Melvin flexibility as Valverde falters.

Moonsmile An interesting career stat about Julio involves Mr Sunshine:   

Jorge’s career ERA is 6.07 in day games and just 3.45 at night. That’s over 300+ innings, so we think it significant. Considering he piled up most of those IPs in Baltimore, fending off the Yankees, Sawx and Jays, 3.45 sounds like a refreshing May zephyr to Phoenicians. Moreover, due to the heat, Arizona plays a limited number of matinees.

Good morning.

Bad afternoon.

Good night.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.