Scouting Report: Arizona Diamondbacks

 

chris-owings

 

Welcome to my new scouting report series. Before spring training ends, I hope to cover every team. We start with one of the most active teams of the off season, the Arizona Diamondbacks. They went in to free agency as a mediocre team that lacked a rotation and veterans in the lineup. But the D-Backs have some of the best sleepers in the league, an some young stars to happen. What are the D-Backs looking like?
Off-Season Review

The Diamondbacks started the off season very quiet. It looked like their only targets were veteran infielders like Howie Kendrick, and some insurance in the rotation. Besides trading away Jeremy Hellickson to the Phillies for prospects, their November was very quiet.

But as December began, teams really started to negotiate for the top players in free agency, starting with some major aces. The Red Sox made the first major move, they signed David Price to a seven year, 217 million dollar deal. But surprisingly, not the Dodgers, Giants, Cardinals or Nats but the D-Backs were first to follow, signing Dodgers ace Zack Greinke to a six year, 206 million dollar contract. Greinke had a breakout in 2015 after eleven subpar seasons between Kansas City, Milwaukee and Los Angeles. He lost in the Cy Young race, but hopes to continue his dominance in 2016.

They shortly after traded Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte for Shelby Miller and Gabe Speier.

Their rotation was now among the best to match their sleep lineup that boosted them in 2015.

Until February, they were very quiet. More Kendrick rumors were in the air, but they ended up trading Aaron Hill, Chase Anderson, Isan Diaz and cash for shortstop Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner.
So that problem was solved, but A.J. Schugel was claimed off waivers by the Pirates, so they signed closer Tyler Clippard, so current closer Brad Ziegler could take his place in a set up role.

The D-Backs close the off season looking better than ever on paper, but their lineup has development questions. Spring training will show a lot about this team’s faith.

Hot Stove/Free Agency Grade: B+
Spring Training Questions

Will the lineup live up to its name?

This is a tough one to answer. Besides Goldy, Yasmany Tomas and A.J. Pollock. David Peralta also is alright, and Chris Owings, Jean Segura and Jake Lamb are still developing. Owings needs to be a better general hitter, Segura didn’t develop very well when he had the chance, and Lamb is good in the field, but needs to improve his bat. It could go either way.

Who are some key non-roster players?

There are a ton of pitchers that could crash the roster like former Reds reliever Sam LeCure, Wesley Wright, Braden Shipley, Matt Stites, Will Locante and Adam Loewen. Former Giants infielder Joaquin Arias and outfielder Jason Bourgeois could make some bench spots.

Is the rotation fulfilled enough?

I think the rotation is just fine. Greinke and Shelby Miller had amazing 2015 seasons and hope to continue, Patrick Corbin has looked fine in his TJ recovery, and the rest of the rotation is filled with young stars Rubby De La Rosa and Robbie Ray. Archie Bradley or Josh Collmenter, maybe even Zack Godley and Daniel Hudson could be spot starters. So it looks like the D-Backs are looking good and their moves paid off, even with the loss of Jeremy Hellickson and Chase Anderson.
Who is the biggest sleeper in the lineup?

I don’t think that the biggest D-Backs sleeper is any of the young infielders. Outfielder David Peralta is among the best, and the veteran hasn’t gotten much attention in the MLB. On the D-Backs staff, he is well known in the lineup, but only Diamondbacks diehards or MLB analysts would call him an MVP contender in the NL. Although this is only his third year, he has really gotten his name out recently.

D-Backs Projected Roster

Rotation               Bullpen
Zack Greinke.      Archie Bradley
Shelby Miller.     Enrique Burgos
Patrick Corbin.      Josh Collmenter
Rubby De La Rosa   Tyler Clippard
Robbie Ray                Evan Marshall
Zack Godley
Brad Ziegler

Lineup                            Bench
C: Welington Castillo     Phil Gosselin
1B: Paul Goldschmidt   Nick Ahmed
2B: Chris Owings        Oscar Hernandez
SS: Jean Segura           Tuffy Gosewisch
3B: Jake Lamb              Joaquin Arias
LF: Yasmany Tomas
CF: A.J. Pollock.
RF: David Peralta

Projected Record: 88-74
That’s all for today everyone. See the Braves new look in the next post in this series.

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Ranking The Teams 30-25: My Version: The Dreaded Bottom

Another solid start by Matt Garza is wasted

 

Every year around mid-February ESPN’s David Schoenfield has done his ultimate preseason power rankings.  Last year I followed.  Now over the entire February Break, starting today, I’m doing it again.  So welcome to my 2nd annual preseason power rankings. We start with the easiest teams to rank, the bottom ones.  Alright, now for #30.

30. colorado-rockies Colorado Rockies

Welcome to the bottom Rockies.  So, this team has focused their off season mainly on pitching, trying to fix a horrible rotation.  The rotation still sucks real bad.  The bullpen is what has improved.  Signing guys like Jason Motte and Chad Qualls and trading for Jake McGee isn’t going to help the rotation much.  They do however have some young guys in the rotation, which is a sign of an upcoming rebuild, which could be a good thing for the future.

But with some of the signings they made, they weren’t supporting that.  Guys like Gerardo Parra and Mark Reynolds aren’t going to last as long as say, Jon Gray.  Those were the biggest signings this off season, and a lot of the bullpen guys are a little washed up, too.  This is still a very old team, and they are in serious need of a rebuild.

Even if they did snag a couple of good hitters, the guys in the Rockies lineup that are still young don’t know how to hit.  Well, some of them pay off in the field, like DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado, even hard hitting Carlos Gonzalez is a stellar fielder.  But in the end this team is still a washed up mess who’s starters are only going to last a few innings and even in a batter-favored ballpark, still lacks hitting in some parts of the lineup.

Projected Record: 67-95

 

29. cleveland-indians  Cleveland Indians

The Indians were a mediocre team in 2015.  What happened?  Three major things happened to this team.  First, some guys like Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis are getting old and washed up.  Signing Mike Napoli didn’t help much either, Santana’s only older by a few years.  Also, they lost a few players to free agency and didn’t sign enough players to make up for it.  Ryan Raburn, Jayson Aquino, Chris Johnson, Mike Aviles and Gavin Floyd were lost this off season. Their only signings, Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis.  Third, injuries are really affecting the team.  Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis are still recovering from their injuries.  Trading away Michael Bourn, David Murphy and Nick Swisher last July also hurt.

But there are places I could be wrong.  I am like the only person ranking the Indians this low, and I have good reasoning, but there’s a whole other side to it that I just don’t believe.  Here’s some of it:

The Indians had a really good farm system going into last season, and they have some of those guys in their lineup, like Francisco Lindor, Abraham Almonte and Giovany Urshela.  Losing Ryan Raburn hurt though, and they don’t have any more major prospects coming up soon to replace him.

Even though they didn’t sign many people, they traded for their fair share.  They acquired both Kirby Yates and Joey Butler via trade, and they only had to give up cash considerations.  That cash did however help the Rays sign Steve Pearce to replace Butler.

Even though those players are recovering from injuries, they’re the stars of this team, maybe they’ll pick up the pace and shine late in the season. But don’t be too too hopeful for the Indians, they need to get really lucky if they want a chance at anything.

Projected Record: 68-94

 

28. milwaukee-brewers  Milwaukee Brewers

This is another team that needs a lot of good luck if they want to do well.  Even though in my projected standings, the Brewers are in dead last, worst in the MLB, they just have more of an opportunity to improve in the future, unlike the two teams below them in the ranks, that completely screwed themselves for the next few years likely.  This is the point in the ranks where you’ll start to see some rebuilding teams that have room for improvement down the road.  They’re the worst team this year.  In the future, that could change.

They do have a decent, somewhat young lineup.  Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun are very intriguing.  Orlando Arcia could be a future star.  But especially after trading Khris Davis, they have some serious holes.  The outfield will have to work with Domingo Santana, Ramon Flores and Kirk Nieuwenhuis to fill the spots not taken up by Braun.  Chris Carter and Scooter Gennett aren’t the most intriguing, and either Aaron Hill or Will Middlebrooks will have to step it up at third base.  Don’t even get me started on the pitching.

Matt Garza and Wily Peralta will compete for the team ace, even though neither of them has any ace qualities.  Then you have lately acquired Chase Anderson, followed by Taylor Jungmann, and then Jimmy Nelson.  Alright, I’ll give them credit for the lower rotation.  But the bullpen really sucks.  After trading both K-Rod and Jonathan Broxton, they are left with Will Smith, Michael Blazek and Tyler Thornburg as closer options.  Zach Davies or Tyler Cravy will be the long reliever, but the rest of the bullpen is out of place.  So maybe this year will be a long year, but the Brewers actually could improve in the future.  They have more prospects like Brett Phillips on the way after Arcia, and this team looks to be in full rebuild.

Projected Record: 65-97

 

27. atlanta-braves  Atlanta Braves

If the Braves want to succeed, they need some serious luck.  Actually, even though they have future potential, that just won’t happen this year, it’s nearly impossible.  Especially with the rotation they have.  After trading Shelby Miller, the Braves are left with Julio Teheran as an ace, Bud Norris as an SP2, and they have to depend on Mike Foltynewicz, Matt Wisler, Williams Perez, Kyle Kendrick and David Holmberg to fill the other spots.  The bullpen’s even more of a mess.

The lineup isn’t great either.  Freddie Freeman is really the only major bat, even though Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte and Erick Aybar have some power.  Gordon Beckham and Emilio Bonifacio need a breakout year if they have any hopes of doing anything, and platooning outfielders Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn need a wake up call. they were once everyday starters.

Despite being owners to the #1 farm system in the MLB, signing all washed up veterans his making less room for these prospects who could one day make the Braves great again.  The Braves need to stop stockpiling on older players and let the young minor league stars take over the lineup.

Projected Record: 66-96

 

26. philadelphia.phillies Philadelphia Phillies

Alright, this team may be ready for a better year, but they kind of sabotaged their future.  They were in a good rebuild exiting 2015 and might be a little better this year, but signing veterans to short-term contracts is not helping this team for when they could be good enough to win a pennant if the prospects live up to their name.  For a couple of years, despite my much better predicted record for this team then the teams just above it in the rankings, they’ll be stuck in this position.

What they did this off season is fix their rotation by signing Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton, and trading their young closer Ken Giles for Brett Oberholtzer and Vincent Velasquez.  Okay, Velasquez could be a long-term solution, but not the other guys.  They also snagged Peter Bourjos, Edward Mujica, Andrew Bailey and Ernesto Frieri, all somewhat close to retirement.

What should they have done this off season?  Traded away all their older players for more prospects to support their farm system. Ryan Howard still is around.  At least the rotation looks a lot better, but unless they get some more prospects, that won’t last very long.  The only good thing that comes out of is a couple years where the Phillies get like 10 more wins.

Projected Record: 75-87

 

25. la-angels-of-anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The Halos have some big holes, and need a lot of luck if they want to even be in the playoff race at all.  Their rotation is not very promising.  Jered Weaver is going nowhere but down, I have a feeling Garrett Richards‘ performance in 2015 might have been a one time thing, I don’t know how well Tyler Skaggs and C.J. Wilson will come back, Andrew Heaney isn’t quite ready, and Hector Santiago and Matt Shoemaker are all washed up.  They also have holes in left field and second base, unless Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry create an efficient platoon.  Besides Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Yunel Escobar, they don’t have much of a lineup.  They are just a washed up team that needs to rebuild.

 Projected Record: 71-91

 

So that’s all for today with my preseason power rankings.  Be on the lookout tomorrow for Part Two, 24-19.  I also will be releasing my NBA Midseason Report soon.  So who will be in the next wave?

 

 

 

 

 

Red Sox Cream Angels, Miley Pulls It Together as Napoli Homers Again

The Red Sox defeated the Angels by a score of 6-1.  Wade Miley had a perfect game going until the 5th inning, and Mike Napoli is on fire and hit his 5th home run in 5 games and an RBI double.  Both pitchers had  perfect games until the bottom of the 2nd.  In between 3 outs, Xander Bogaerts hit a base hit to left followed by a 458 foot 2 run home run into deep deep center field by Mike Napoli.

From there early on, it was a pitcher’s duel.  Two Red Sox singled but other than that, no hits, no walks, no errors.  Up until the 5th, where the Angels broke up Miley’s perfect game and a later no hitter with a walk and single, making it 1st and 2nd with a Wade Miley 1-hitter.  In the bottom of the 5th, the Red Sox struck to make up for it.  Brock Holt led off with a ground rule double where a fan prevented another fan in the next row from catching the double.  Then Sandy Leon bunted and Holt was sent to third base.  One out, man on third.  Then Dustin Pedroia hit a sacrifice fly to score Holt.  3-0 Sox.

In the 6th, the Angels scored their only run.  Erick Aybar hit a single, and Mike Trout followed with a double and Aybar ran all the way around.  In the bottom of the 6th, Bogaerts doubled, then Napoli was intentionally walked with two down, making it 1st and 2nd.  The final out was Napoli getting picked off at first.  besides a Red Sox 1st and 2nd, no hits in the 7th.  One was a walk. Featherston on the Angels was hurt and Johnny Giovatella came in for him.

However, back in the top of the 7th and 8th, defense was key, even though Brock Holt hurt his wrist on a single.  On the 1st out, Pedroia reached out and flipped to first in an amazing play, nearly jumping off and catching the ball off the ground.  Then Holt followed with a great grab and another throw to 1st. In the 8th, after Holt got hurt on a single, Holt reached out again, and threw quick to Pedroia after getting up fast, who threw to Napoli for an amazing two outs.

The Red Sox rallied in the bottom of the 8th though.  Ramirez led off with a single.  Bogaerts got another single, making for a 4-hit game, Bogaerts’ second.  Ramirez went to third.  First and third, one out.  Then Napoli followed with a 2 run RBI double, making it 5-1 Red Sox.  Next, after Castillo reached on his infield single, Sandoval hit for the injured Holt, after being out with a knee injury for several games.  I was surprised that he was hitting lefty vs a left handed pitcher, being a switch hitter.  After struggling and injuring his knee being hit by the pitch batting righty, maybe he would permanently switch to a lefty.  But it worked.  Sandoval hit a sharp single to left, scoring Napoli, but catchng Castillo between second and third, making for a second out.  Knowing Sandoval was hurt, Jason Bianchi ran for Sandoval.  Bianchi was called up today as Victorino went on the DL with an aggrivated calf.  Knowing he’s injury prone, I’m not shocked.

Bianchi took over at third as Koji Uehara came in and threw a 1-2-3 inning, earning him a save, and Miley the win.  The Red Sox defeated the Angels by a score of 6-1.  Be on the lookout for tomorrow’s Memorial Day ceremonial day game recap in Minnesota against the Twins.  I expect big things from Big Papi in this 3 game series.  Even in a small slump, I could see him following through against a past team of his, as he always does.

Napoli Homers Twice to Boost Red Sox Past Angels

The Red Sox ended up creaming the Angels 8-3.  Napoli smashed two homers high into left field.  One nearly hit a target saying, it’s my birthday, hit it to me and the other nearly left Fenway.  The game started off slow in the top of the 1st for Steven Wright and the Red Sox.  Erick Aybar led off with a single.  Then Albert Pujols hit a ground rule double into the bullpen and Aybar headed for third.  Kole Calhoun followed with a double to left to score Pujols and Aybar, and all of the sudden it was 2-0 Angels. Wright was able to finish with the two outs he needed on David Freese and Matt Joyce.

There wasn’t much action over the next few innings, but Napoli hit is home run to the birthday sign to break up what would’ve been a 1-2-3 2nd inning.  The Red Sox struck again in the 3rd inning.  Holt led off with a walk, followed by a Dustin Pedroia single, as Holt chugged along to second base.  Betts hit for Shane Victorino, who had gotten injured in the 3rd inning.  Betts followed through with a line drive single to left, sending Pedroia to third and scoring Brock Holt, to tie the game 2-2.

Through the 4th, 5th and top of the 6th, only one hit by L.A., and one walk by Boston.  But it was time for the Red Sox to strike.  Ramirez was on first with two outs.  “Andrew, watch Napoli’s second home run, my dad had said to me.”  About 10 seconds later, I watched Napoli’s bomb fly over the monster and onto Lansdowne Street. Ramirez scored along with Napoli, making it 4-2 Red Sox.

Ogando came in on relief in the seventh and threw a lot faster than Wright did wit his knuckleballs, making it hard for the Angels hitters to transition.  He worked around a walk given up by Wright to earn himself two more outs.  As Wilson left the game in the bottom of the 7th, the Red Sox struck again, this time on Angels reliever Mike Morin, to start at least.  Swihart led off with a walk, followed  by a Pedroia strikeout.  But Betts reached first on a right field error by Kole Calhoun, the guy who earned the two Angels RBIs.  Swihart advanced to second.  Then Ramirez got a base hit to load the bases.  The Angels were onto their third pitcher of the inning when Bogaerts got a base hit to score Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts, making it 1st and 2nd, while the Red Sox took a 6-2 lead.

The Angels scored on Tazawa though, as Aybar doubled followed by a Mike Trout single to score him.  6-3 Red Sox.  The Sox scored again in the bottom of the 8th,  Holt singled, and Swihart followed with another base hit where Holt came all the way around to the plate to score and Swihart advanced to second on a throw.  With two down, Betts singled to score Swihart.  8-3 Red Sox.

Koji Uehara came in.  When I say that Uehara gave up two consecutve walks, you might think he blew it, but he worked around it to earn him the save.  The Red Sox pounded the Angels in an 8-3 win to tie the series 1-1.   The series finale is to be played at 1:35 pm today.  I might be on with another post later today, especially if they win the game, winning them the series.  Napoli has now had 4 home runs in 4 games, and if he continues to ditch his slump, he may finally have a batting average over .200 and help the team win.  Wade Miley is on the mound for the Sox today, facing Angels starter Hector Santiago.  The Sox also play a 2:00 game tomorrow against the Twins at Target Field.  It’s during the day because of Memorial Day, and Target Field will host Memorial Day ceremonies.