Non-catcher position players are out on the fields this afternoon going through some drills, but the first full-squad workout is tomorrow morning, and D-backs manager A.J. Hinch can’t wait.
“I’m probably a little more on edge (than usual) today because I’m ready to get everybody in the same room,” Hinch said. “We’ve gotten off to such a good start, both in environment and mentality that I’m anxious to incorporate more guys into that.
“We do have everybody here, and we’ve had a lot of people here already. It’s not like we’re waiting to see a group of players. Guys are here, they’re hungry, they’re focused and I’m ready to get in front of them and begin.”
Catching Up with Edwin Jackson
Edwin Jackson is already becoming something of a favorite in these blog parts. In three conversations with him now — the day he was acquired, at Fan Fest and again today — he’s been approachable and enjoyable to interview. He already seems to fit in nicely among the rest of the players and Hinch noted being impressed with his bullpen sessions.
Here’s a snippet of my interview with Edwin. He’ll be on the cover of the first issue of D-backs Insider — you can grab one on Opening Day and throughout the first homestand — with more extensive info.
A press conference is happening in a few minutes with new D-backs pitchers Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson, but in the meantime, both guys took a few minutes to talk to D-backs Insider.
Sports Illustrated reporter John Heyman listed his winners and losers from the Winter Meetings in a column Friday, listing the D-backs among the group that did well:
8. Diamondbacks: GM Josh Byrnes is right that special starting pitching is needed in the NL West, and to that end, Edwin Jackson gives them a superb top three along with Brandon Webb and Dan Haren, who’s one of the best No. 2 starters in baseball, if not the best. Kennedy wasn’t going to be able to hack it with his soft stuff in the AL East, but Arizona believes it will translate better in their far less powerful division. They weren’t sure Max Scherzer has a varied enough repertoire to become a star in the rotation, but others think otherwise. In any case, it’s always better to trade relievers for starters and the deal Byrnes instigated clearly helps them in the short run.
On Thursday, in his assessment of the trade, Heyman also addressed Ian Kennedy’s presence in the deal:
(Kennedy) showed in the recent Arizona Fall League that he still carries the potential to fill a rotation slot in the National League. Nobody sees the Arizona league more than the D-backs, and they obviously were impressed with Kennedy, who had 28 strikeouts and just five walks in 29 2/3 AFL innings, reaching the low 90s on the radar gun.
After patiently waiting for the last 24 hours, D-backs fans can exhale — the three-way trade with the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers is complete.
The D-backs receive right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson from the Detroit Tigers, and right-handed pitcher Ian Kennedy from the Yankees.
The Tigers receive D-backs pitchers Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth, along with Yankees pitcher Phil Coke and outfield prospect Austin Jackson. The Yankees receive outfielder Curtis Granderson.
Jackson threw a shutout inning in the All-Star Game this past season. In fact, 2009 seemed to be a real coming-out party for the one-time Dodgers super prospect. In 2003, Jackson made his Major League debut on his 20th birthday at Chase Field against Randy Johnson and the D-backs. He threw six innings that day, allowing one run and four hits en route to a 4-1 win.
A few notes about Jackson:
— He had a stretch of 16 starts in 2009 (May 9 to Aug. 5) when he allowed three or fewer earned runs each start, posting a 7-3 record with a 2.46 ERA in that span. He was only the third Tiger (along with Mickey Lolich and Jack Morris) to have such a streak in the last 50 years.
— He finished seventh in the American League in ERA (3.62) and adjusted ERA (127) in 2009.
— In 2009, held opponents to a .247 average with a .310 opponents’ on-base percentage.
— He raised his strikeout-to-walk ratio from 1.4 in 2008 to 2.3 in 2009.
Here’s a Q&A with Jackson by Baseball Prospectus’ David Laurila.
As for Kennedy, the 2006 first-round pick of the Yankees was the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year as a member of the USC Trojans. He doesn’t have nearly the big league service time that Jackson has (only 59 2/3 innings for the Yankees in parts of the last three seasons) but he’s been fantastic in his minor league career.
In 46 minor league games (248 2/3 innings), Kennedy posted a 19-6 record with a 1.95 ERA, with 273 strikeouts and just 77 walks.
He missed the 2009 season because he needed an aneurysm removed from his right armpit, but he returned to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, and was able to show that he was healthy. He made seven starts and put up a 4.25 ERA, with 28 strikeouts and five walks in 29 2/3 innings.
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus noted that Kennedy, “looked sharp after missing most of the year following surgery” in the AFL this season.
Here’s a New York Times feature on Kennedy from 2008 Spring Training.