D-backs photographer Jordan Megenhardt has been going to Salt River Fields regularly since construction began, and he went this morning to document the progress. What you’ll notice from these photos is that the facility is nearly done, which is very exciting for those of us who have been monitoring things closely.
We’ll head out to the facility in the coming weeks for a tour, and post some video here on D-blog. In the meantime, here are some of the things Jordan saw today:
Photography: Barry Gossage
As you may have heard by now, second baseman Roberto Alomar was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, a deserving honor for a player who batted .300 with a .371 on-base percentage and played spectacular defense over 2,379 games in the Major Leagues.
Alomar was also, notably for us Arizonans, the first Hall of Famer player to ever suit up and play for the D-backs. He played 38 games for the D-backs in 2004, his final year in the big leagues.
I figured this would be a good opportunity to look at how former D-backs players have fared on ballots since 2004, the first year any former D-backs player would ever be eligible for Hall voting (Arizona began play in 1998, and a player must be retired for five seasons to be eligible).
The number next to the player’s name is the total vote count for him and the percentage of possible votes he received. Any player over 75 percent is elected to the Hall of Fame, while anyone under five percent falls off the ballot. This is for D-backs players only, so it wouldn’t count former coach Robin Yount, who is a Hall of Famer, or current coach Alan Trammel, who is still on the ballot.
Devon White – 0 – 0%
Bobby Witt – 0 – 0%
Todd Stottlemyre – 1 – 0.2%
Mark Grace – 22 – 4.1%
Matt Williams – 7 – 1.3%
Jay Bell – 2 – 0.4%
Dan Plesac – 0 – 0%
Roberto Alomar – 397 – 73.7%
Shane Reynolds – 0 – 0%
Roberto Alomar – 523 – 90.0%
Raul Mondesi – 0 – 0%
Carlos Baerga – 0 – 0%
Lenny Harris – 0 – 0%
Here are some of the eligible players who will come up on the ballot in future years:
Team Awards Record 75 Season Tickets Valued at Nearly $115,000
Through their annual one-of-a-kind season ticket scholarship program for fans experiencing financial hardships, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that 20 families will receive a total of 75 lower-level season tickets valued at nearly $115,000 to attend D-backs games at Chase Field during the 2011 season.
A group of D-backs employees, including President & CEO Derrick Hall and Special Assistant Luis Gonzalez, surprised Phoenix resident Randi Caudle at her home this morning by awarding her four season tickets for her family to attend D-backs games at Chase Field in 2011. Caudle’s husband, Dale, nominated her for the season-ticket scholarship program because they have not been able to attend many D-backs games over the past couple of years since she is the family’s soul provider by working full-time at Fry’s Food Store and also attending Estrella Mountain Community College as a full-time student.
The D-backs also provided parking passes and food concession coupons to some families experiencing additional hardships. The team received nearly 100 online nominations prior to the Nov. 30 deadline. Those families or individuals who did not receive season tickets were awarded tickets to multiple games throughout the 2011 season.
“Challenging economic situations for the Caudle family and the other 19 families we awarded season-ticket scholarships to this year are the reason we created this first-of-its-kind program three years ago,” Hall said. “It is extremely rewarding to give assistance to our fans during a time in need because we can offer a break to some of the difficult circumstances these families are experiencing.”
The D-backs have given a total of 179 season tickets valued at nearly $365,000 to 57 families during the season ticket scholarship program’s four years of existence.
Keeping ticket prices affordable for families to attend games at Chase Field has been a priority for the D-backs. The team has had the lowest average ticket price among all Major League Baseball teams and all Valley professional sports teams for the last four seasons. The D-backs identified many affordable merchandise and concession items throughout Chase Field during the 2010 season with their “value items” logo, including more than 12 concession items that were $4 or less and seven items in the Team Shop available for less than $10.
In need of some left-handed help to add to a bullpen that was starting to lean dramatically to the right, the D-backs made a pair of moves over the last two days that should ignite some good competition in Spring Training.
On the heels of re-signing veteran lefty Mike Hampton to a minor league deal, the D-backs selected Joe Paterson in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning. If you made it out to watch the D-backs prospects play for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall league, you might already be familiar with Paterson, who was there representing the San Francisco Giants. (If the above photos look strange to you then, well your instincts are correct. Paterson was loaned to the Phoenix Desert Dogs for a day to get some work and help give a day off to some Desert Dogs hurlers.)
Paterson’s effectiveness is tied as much to his funky delivery as his actual stuff as the photos here should demonstrate. And lefthanders do seem to have a great deal of trouble picking up his pitches; they hit just .216 off him this year. He’s a nice, low-risk Rule 5 pick because lefty specialists are the kind of position that can be overpaid in the free agent market relative to the finite amount of innings they pitch. And because Hampton is on a minor league deal, if he and Paterson are going neck-and-neck next March, they actually could keep both by moving Hampton to Reno out of the gate.
The focus was pretty obvious for the D-backs during these winter meetings — the pitching needed major upgrades. The team, already happy with the first four spots in the rotation (Kennedy/Hudson/Saunders/Enright) was able to take a flier on a fifth starter in Zach Duke while also adding four new pieces to the bullpen (Putz/Hernandez/Mickolio/Paterson).
“The starting pitching is better, the bullpen is better, character I think will be better, experience is better, versatility will be better,” D-backs General Manager Kevin Towers said.
“There may be less power but we scored runs last year. We scored enough runs but we just didn’t hold them, if you look at our run differential. We were about league average in offense, they just scored too many runs on us.”
Random note: Joe Paterson played college baseball at Oregon State University. He pitched on the Beavers’ 2006 National Championship winning team where he was a teammate of D-backs outfielder Cole Gillespie.
Photography: Greg Fiume/Getty Images
The D-backs’ most significant move so far this offseason was the trade that sent third Mark Reynolds to the Baltimore Orioles for a pair of right-handed pitchers.
Those pitchers — David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio — will add depth to an Arizona bullpen that is getting stronger by the day.
Hernandez is the key piece in the deal, as he experienced some real success after being moved from the rotation to the bullpen last year, which suits him in part because he is primarily a two-pitch guy (fastball/curve combo with an occasional changeup).
He made his last start of the year on May 21, and from then on was quite good. In his last 33 games, he threw 37 innings with a 3.16 ERA, with 45 strikeouts and 13 walks.
Hernandez’s opponent-hitting numbers were solid in that time, holding batters to a .236 average, .310 on-base percentage and a .371 slugging percentage. Hernandez should easily slide into the back of the bullpen for the D-backs this season, as his stuff should work in a late-inning role. He dials up his fastball in the low- to mid-90s (average fastball was 93.6 MPH in 2010).
Mickolio is a bit more of a mystery, as he has less big league experience. He’s pretty huge — 6-foot-9, 255 pounds, which I think makes him the third-tallest D-backs player ever, after Randy Johnson and Jon Rauch — and has made a handful of appearances for Baltimore over the last three years. In that time he’s posted a 4.32 ERA with 26 strikeouts and 14 walks in 25 innings.
His ERA has been high at Triple-A the last two years (5.80 in 2009 then 6.37 in 2010) although his strikeout and walk rates were essentially the same as when he was quite successful there (1.80 ERA) in 17 2008 games. He might well be an example of ERA being a poor way to judge a reliever.
Random note: Mickolio was born in Wolf Point, Mont. and went to high school in Bozeman, making him one of only three Montana natives playing in the big leagues right now (along with Taylor Tankersley, who was born in Montana but didn’t go to H.S. there, and Rob Johnson). There have only been 26 Montanans all time in the big leagues.
You may have heard about the deadline tonight for teams to offer arbitration to free-agency eligible players, of which the Arizona Diamondbacks have two. But you may wonder what it is and why it matters (or you may not wonder either of those things, you may not care at all). Hopefully this post will help describe why arbitration exists, why it’s important and why you really should care.
I’ve never worked in a baseball operations department, and I’ve not spent years of my life studying the process and weighing the risk/reward of arbitration the way baseball ops guys have done, so what I can offer you is a dime-store tour of the process.
The D-backs have two players — Adam LaRoche and Aaron Heilman — who are eligible for arbitration, with a deadline of tonight at midnight eastern to make an offer. This is not a contract offer, per se, simply the declaration of the intention to make an offer for an arbitrary hearing that would award a player a one-year contract. The player has the right to refuse arbitration and head to free agency.
There are a few different types of arbitration in the legal world, but simply defined, it’s a process wherein two parties see an independent third party, who then solves a dispute of some kind between the two. The type used for baseball is often called Pendulum Arbitration. Each side, in this case a baseball team and a baseball player, submit a number that is intended to be that player’s one-year salary for the next baseball season. The arbitrator then must choose one side’s number or the other (like a pendulum swinging from left to right) but the arbitrator cannot settle on something in the middle.
After choosing to offer arbitration to a player, if the player accepts, the team and player still have a few months to work out a contract on their own if they so choose. Arbitration hearings are then usually done around Spring Training if they don’t work something out.
So Why Should a Team Offer Arbitration?
Major League Baseball has a compensatory system designed to buffer the blow of a team losing a player to free agency. If a Type A Free Agent (there are tiers of free agency determined by a player’s accumulated time and accomplishments in the Major Leagues) leaves a team, the team then receives a first-round pick and a sandwich pick in the next year’s draft (though top 15 picks are protected… if the Diamondbacks sign a free agent this year, they can’t lose their No. 3 overall pick for doing so).
For example, the Detroit Tigers signed Victor Martinez to a contract on Tuesday. The Tigers had the No. 19 pick in the 2011 draft, so that pick will now go to the Boston Red Sox, who lost Martinez in free agency.
There is some serious benefit to offering arbitration to a player who might leave in free agency, especially if that guy is a Type A free agent. A first-round pick, even one in the bottom half of the round, carries huge value to a team.
Just from picks in the past 10 years, you could build a strong team with prominent players that have been drafted with first round picks or supplemental picks that were awarded to teams losing free agents — Adam Wainwright, Kelly Johnson, David Wright, Nick Swisher, Joe Blanton, Conor Jackson, David Aardsma, Adam Jones, Gio Gonzalez, Huston Street, Jacoby Ellsbury, Colby Rasmus, Clay Buchholz, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Bard, Chris Coghlan, Joba Chamberlain and Ike Davis all fit that description.
One of the very best prospects in baseball, Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout, was a compensatory pick in 2009 after the Angels lost Mark Teixeira to the Yankees. The supplemental-round pick the Angels got for Teixeira was Tyler Skaggs, who is now one of the best prospects in the D-backs’ system after coming here in the Dan Haren trade last July.
The catch is that a team can only receive those draft picks if they offer arbitration to that player and that player rejects arbitration and signs elsewhere. The Rangers and Rays, for example, wouldn’t even blink at the chance to offer arbitration to Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford, respectively, because with the option of signing huge, multi-year deals, there is no risk that those players would consider accepting a one-year arbitration deal.
So Why Shouldn’t You Just Always Offer It, What Are the Risks?
Well, there is the risk that he’ll accept it and, in some cases, that is a bad thing. This is particularly the case with two types of players — aging position players and relief pitchers.
In the case of an aging position player, this is a guy that has put in a lot of service time in the Major Leagues and has accumulated a lot of stats, but might be in the decline phase of his career. In his case, an arbitrator is likely to rule in favor of the higher figure (which is always the player’s submission, obviously). So the team not only risks bringing that player back on an expensive one-year deal, but also there is the risk of bringing him back at all. The team may be ready to move on, but would be stuck with a contract.
Relief pitchers can some value for a team, obviously, but offering arbitration to one involves the risk of the player accepting, and the team bringing him back on a deal that is larger than what they would normally offer in a standard one-year free agent contract.
The decision to offer arbitration is a gamble. Yes, you’d love to have the insurance of a first- or second-round pick if that player leaves in free agency, but if you think that player will accept arbitration and make a great deal of money in doing so, sometimes you’re better off declining the chance.
So Why Do I Care?
Because, as noted above, a team can bring in quite a haul of prospects through supplemental picks.
Back in 2009, the D-backs’ farm system had taken quite a hit, because the majority of the team’s top prospects were either promoted to the Major Leagues or sent away in trades (such as the Dan Haren deal that sent prospects to Oakland in return for the All-Star pitcher).
So the D-backs were in a good position to stock up the farm system. There were a number of free agents on the team that were likely to get more money in the open market than they would get on an arbitration deal, so the team offers arbitration.
That year, the D-backs lost Orlando Hudson, Juan Cruz and Brandon Lyon to free agency. But in losing them, the team got the draft picks that they used to select A.J. Pollock, Matt Davidson, Chris Owings, Mike Belfiore and Eric Smith. Today, those players are five of the top prospects in the organization.
So What Happens Now?
The D-backs will choose whether to offer arbitration to LaRoche and Heilman. If they offer to one or both of those guys, and the player(s) accept, then the D-backs will work out a one-year deal with the player. If they offer and the player rejects, the D-backs will receive draft picks when another club signs those guys. If they choose not to offer, the D-backs will receive no draft pick compensation in return for the player leaving, but will also not carry the risk of signing a player they might not have been planning on bringing back in 2011.
So offering arbitration or not to a player might seem like a small news story in November, but the decision has wide-ranging effects on the organization for years to come.
Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images
While rumors swirled about big trades in the works, the D-backs made a less notable move Thursday, dealing minor league pitcher Scottie Allen to the New York Yankees for first baseman Juan Miranda.
Miranda, a native of Cuba, signed with the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 2006. He debuted in American pro ball in 2007, splitting games between high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. He has spent parts of the last three seasons in the Major Leagues — including 33 games with the Yankees in 2010 — while playing the majority of his games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.
In 423 minor league games, Miranda posted a .281/.367/.478 line, hitting 62 homers 195 walks and 357 strikeouts.
Allen was an 11th round pick of the D-backs in the 2009 Draft and spent the 2010 season as part of a pretty solid South Bend rotation. There, he started 16 games with a 4.73 ERA in 78 innings, with 79 strikeouts and 22 walks. Allen did not crack Kevin Goldstein’s top 20 D-backs prospects on the recently released Baseball Prospectus list.
One thing the D-backs have a lot of in their system is mid-level right-handed pitching, and first basemen are another thing they have in spades. So this is a surplus-for-surplus trade from the D-backs perspective, with the local team receiving the guy who could play in the big leagues today if need be.
In what is indisputably considered to be one of the most exciting World Series ever played, the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees nine years ago today to bring our state its first major professional championship.
Curt Schilling went pitch-for-pitch with Roger Clemens in a spectacular Game 7, which was topped off by Randy Johnson pitching brilliantly out of the bullpen, and Luis Gonzalez knocking in the series-winning run on a blooper to left-center field.
We all have our distinct, personal memories of that great night, and please feel free to share yours in the comments section.
Here is Tom Verducci’s great cover story that ran in the Sports Illustrated that featured the cover above.
Josh Collmenter is playing for his fourth different team in 2010, at four different levels.
The tall right-hander played for the Visalia Rawhide of the Class-A Advanced California League, the Double-A Mobile Bay Bears and the Triple-A Reno Aces. Now, the starter with the funky delivery is doing his thing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League, and he’s doing it well.
Through three starts for the Scorpions, Collmenter has a stellar 1.80 ERA over 10 innings, with six strikeouts. Among starters with at least 10 innings so far, only two pitchers have an ERA better than Collmenter’s.
“I’m happy with everything,” he said of his results so far. “I really didn’t know what to expect, going against stacked lineups. But I’m just trying to execute and not change anything I’ve done all year. (Success) helps build the confidence.”
With his minor league track record in 2010 — a 3.38 ERA with 133 punchouts in 152 innings, 137 of which were at Mobile and Reno — coupled with likely significant changes at the Major League level, an appearance on the big league team in 2011 is a realistic goal for Collmenter at some point, if not at the outset of the season. It’s an impressive opportunity for a guy who was drafted in the 15th round only three years ago.
“We’ve got a lot of guys coming in, new guys, and they’re going to be doing who knows what with the organization,” Collmenter said. “I know there are going to be opportunities and a lot of holes to fill, so hopefully (I’ll advance), that’s the goal.”
His weapon is his changeup, and it drew rave reviews from former Mobile teammates Barry Enright and Konrad Schmidt. Collmenter has had success locating the pitch where he needs it, and his unique delivery (which involves holding his right hand behind his head for longer than a pitcher would generally keep it there) makes it difficult for a batter to pick it up.
“The biggest key last year was being able to throw it for strikes and really use it,” Collmenter said. “The changeup is the pitch that really got me where I am in my development, level to level. I’ve been able to hone that and make it do different things if I want to get a strikeout or if I want to get a groundball. The biggest key for me is being able to throw the changeup any time.
“My repertoire has been the same, pretty much since college. So I’m just fine-tuning that. It’s pretty much just changing up how I use it and when I use it. I’m working on throwing strikes with my off-speed pitches. I’m not going to throw the ball by guys, so I try to keep them off balance.”
Even more than the chance to pitch, the Fall League offers players the chance to get to know teammates inside the organization that they may not have played with before, or opposing players who they’ve played against but haven’t gotten to know previously.
“It’s been fun, being around different guys that you don’t get to play with or talk to during the season,” Collmenter said. “There are guys that you recognize and it’s cool to branch out and get to know everybody. It’s really laid back and the competition, you can’t beat it.”
— Outfielder Marc Krauss started for the Scorpions in left field on Thursday, going 1-for-4 with a double. Last Friday, Krauss had highlight-reel night, driving in seven runs with a double and a grand slam in a 12-4 win for Scottsdale over the Peoria Javelinas. More than anything, it will be fascinating to watch Krauss’ development over the next few weeks in the AFL, as many of the pitchers in the league come from more advanced levels than him.
— Outfielder A.J. Pollock has been terrific for the Scorpions so far. His .387 average is second among Scottsdale players, and he’s hit four doubles with seven RBI in eight games. Pollock didn’t play all year after suffering an elbow injury in Spring Training, so it’s great to see him off to such a hot start here.
— Pitcher Bryan Shaw hasn’t allowed a run yet in AFL play, throwing six shutout innings with four hits and two walks allowed. Shaw spent the season starting at Double-A (4.26 ERA in 33 starts), so his development will be interesting to keep an eye on.