“On the bright Sunday afternoon of March 18, 1984, Randy Johnson took the mound for the University of Southern California at Arizona State University’s Packard Stadium.
He was among the most interesting collection of sports figures ever assembled on a college baseball field.
The game featured two players who would break the major leagues’ single-season home run record (one still holds it). One would become an NFL linebacker and head coach, another would eventually be a major-league manager. Then there was a center fielder deemed the best player of all of them, a seeming Hall of Famer in waiting.
Oh, and the umpires included a Phoenix resident who would become the first (and still only) woman to rise to the ranks of Class AAA baseball, one notch below the big leagues.”
Plus ASU’s 4th outfielder, a kid named Mike Devereaux who was the only team-member not to vote the starting left fielder off the team, because he didn’t want to get his starting job that way.
But there was one thing the Diamondbacks didn’t do, something that raised eyebrows for many in the industry: They left a sizeable chunk of their $12.8 million draft allotment unspent, leaving some $1.7 million in pool money on the table. That’s the most unspent pool money by a team in the four years since the current collective bargaining agreement went into effect….
Given some other moves the team has made — blowing up its international pool for only one player (Yoan Lopez) rather than signing several; apparently not getting full value for Touki Toussaint when he was sold to the Braves — it seems fair to wonder if the organization cares about maximizing value.
Soon-to-be-enshrined Hall of Famer Randy Johnson joined the Arizona Diamondbacks for opening day, taking the mound to throw out the first pitch.
Johnson stood taller than everyone around him on the field, them calmly walked out to the mound and zoomed his first pitch over the plate like he wasn’t even trying, like he was doing these things yesterday. Johnson, 51, hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2009 but obviously isn’t out of practice, even though he devotes his time to photography these days.
Saunders agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal to rejoin the Diamondbacks’ rotation, a contract that’s not only for fewer years and dollars than Saunders expected on the open market but one that pushes the club’s payroll even further above its anticipated threshold.
“It’s a veteran who pitched well in the division on a division-winning team who can help lead (the pitching staff),” Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers said. “And it allows our (pitching prospects) more time in the minor leagues to develop. We don’t think it’s going to be too long before they’re ready, and if there’s an injury we’ve created more depth.”
Saunders was non-tendered in December, as the Diamondbacks believed the roughly $8.5 million he would have earned in arbitration would be better allocated elsewhere….
“Joe said he had some offers that were out there similar to what we talked about prior to tender date,” Towers said, referring to a two-year, $12 million contract the club offered in December. “They were East Coast-based, and he said he wanted to stay in Arizona—that he’d take less to stay.”
Last year Kubel, a lefty, hit .273 with 12 homers and a .766 OPS in about 400 plate appearances. Parra, also a lefty, hit .292 with 8 homers and a .784 OPS in just under 500 plate appearances. Parra created 71 runs to 59 for Kubel. Given the fewer plate appearances for Kubel, you can say offensively the two players were pretty even. But it’s defense that made Parra a much better player than Kubel in 2011. Parra saved an estimated 12 runs for Arizona last year. He won a Gold Glove in recognition for his superlative play in the field. Kubel cost his team about 3 runs defensively. That 15-run difference is huge.
...The most interesting number is the projected Runs Created, the Bill James statistic that measures total offensive contribution. Kubel has 77 projected runs created while Parra has 78. Parra has a few more at-bats, but I think you can easily say that these two players are pretty close offensively.
But not defensively. In the last three seasons Parra has saved 33 runs defensively while Kubel has cost his team a total of 3. That’s 36 runs better for Parra, and it makes him a better overall player than Kubel. Factoring offense and defense, you can estimate that with similar regular playing time, Parra will produce about 85-90 runs when you add in his defense compared to 75-80 runs for Kubel.
It’s possible that the Diamondbacks know something that we don’t know. Maybe they have another deal in the works. Maybe there’s something wrong with Parra. Maybe they can project players better than we can. But whatever it is, I don’t get it.
The D-backs have agreed to terms with free-agent outfielder Jason Kubel on a two-year contract with an option, a baseball source confirmed Monday.
The move is somewhat surprising in that the D-backs had not been linked in any rumors to Kubel, nor had they been rumored to be in the market for an outfielder.
Kubel, 29, hit .273 with 12 home runs and 58 RBIs for the Twins in 2011. He was originally drafted by Minnesota in the 12th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft…
Over his career, Kubel has split his time between the outfield corners. With the D-backs, it would appear that he would become the starting left fielder with Gerardo Parra being shifted to a fourth outfield position, or used in a trade to acquire another position of need.
Overall, Lane is a .241/.314/.457 hitter with 61 homers in 1,208 major league at-bats. He came in at .291/.358/.460 with six homers in 213 at-bats for Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate last season. In his 13 innings on the mound, he had a 4.85 ERA and a 12/2 K/BB ratio…
The Diamondbacks will likely have right-hander Micah Owings back in their pen next year. It’d be fascinating to see the team try to pair the two once in a while: they could alternate between left field and the mound, with Owings facing righties and Lane taking on lefties.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Diamondbacks are “close” to acquiring right-hander Trevor Cahill from the A’s for multiple prospects, adding that right-hander Jarrod Parker and outfielder Collin Cowgill are “in play.”
However, Bob Nightengale of USA Today says Parker “is not in a potential deal” because Arizona plans to have him in the Opening Day rotation.
Top prospect Trevor Bauer isn’t eligible to be traded yet because he was the No. 3 overall pick in June’s draft, although technically he could be a “player to be named later.”
UPDATE: Rosenthals adds that veteran reliever Craig Breslow would also be heading to Arizona in the deal.
1.Astros take Rhiner Cruz from Mets.
2.Twins take Terry Doyle from White Sox.
3.Mariners take Lucas Luetge from Brewers.
4.Orioles take Ryan Flaherty from Cubs.
5.Royals take Cesar Cabral from Red Sox; traded to Yankees for cash.
6.Cubs take Lendy Castillo from Phillies.
8.Pirates take Gustavo Nunez from Tigers.
21.Braves take Robert Fish from Angels.
22.Cardinals take Erik Komatsu from Nationals.
23.Red Sox take Marwin Gonzalez from Cubs.
25.Diamondbacks take Brett Lorin from Pirates.
29.Yankees take Brad Meyers from Nationals.
1. Trevor Bauer, rhp
2. Archie Bradley, rhp
3. Tyler Skaggs, lhp
4. Jarrod Parker, rhp
5. Matt Davidson, 3b/1b
6. A.J. Pollock, of
7. David Holmberg, lhp
8. Chris Owings, ss
9. Wade Miley, lhp
10. Patrick Corbin, lhp
The Diamondbacks’ talent level also improved significantly on the minor league level in 2011, and they now boast one of the deepest pools of pitching talent. Skaggs is one of the best lefty pitching prospects in the game, and Holmberg and Corbin give Arizona two more promising southpaws. Jarrod Parker returned after Tommy John surgery cost him all of 2010 and earned a spot on the postseason roster.
Dipoto and Montgomery oversaw a draft that added even more mound talent. The Diamondbacks had two of the top seven picks and landed Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley, then followed up with Andrew Chafin (supplemental first round), Anthony Meo (second) and Evan Marshall (fourth). The Angels took note of DiPoto’s role in Arizona’s reconstruction, hiring him as GM in October.
The new series will follow the lives of five wives, ex-wives and girlfriends of professional Baseball players as they struggle to balance relationships, friendships and chaos. The Baseball Wives are: Anna Benson (wife of retired Arizona Diamondbacks’ Pitcher Kris Benson), Tanya Grace (ex-wife of retired Chicago Cubs’ First Baseman Mark Grace), Chantel Kendall (ex-wife of Kansas City Royals’ Jason Kendall), Brook Villone (wife of Ron Villone) and Jordana Lenz (linked to no particular athlete in particular – but I’m sure she has an MLB ex or two somewhere).
All those who chose to oppose his field must yield!
Among the nearly 3,000 athletes who participated in the 2011 Ford Ironman Arizona triathlon on Sunday in Tempe, Arizona was former Major League Baseball star Eric Brynes. Byrnes is now an on air analyst for the MLB Network after 12 years in the big leagues with multiple MLB teams including the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Byrnes was no where close to being in Ironman shape only 11 months ago but now he’s an Ironman athlete who just finished swimming 2.4 miles in Tempe Town Lake, cycling 112 miles through the desert landscape of southern Arizona and running a full marathon in 10 hours and 45 minutes.
...Byrnes remembers racing one of his triathlons and getting crazy comments yelled at him, “I was kind of the joke of the triathlon. People were yelling, ‘Go beach-cruiser dude!’ as I was getting passed by 16-year-old girls. As many of us know….it only takes a taste before we are ‘bit by the bug,” he said.
“But he’s prepared for everything. He has the feel for the game, and he also takes all the sabermetrics and all that stuff and combines it into what he wants to have available.”
“You wouldn’t think it of ‘Gibby,’ but that’s part of his repertoire of a manager,” Williams said. “He has an idea of what he wants to do and has an idea of what the other club is going to do, and he reacts accordingly. I think it worked very well.”
...Mark Weidemaier, a longtime Dodgers scout, served in that capacity for the D-backs.
“He has tremendous recall. Excellent powers of observation,” Weidemaier said.
“That smart. That cerebral. Ultra-prepared. Reminds me of (Tony) La Russa in that regard. As far as the pre-game preparation, as far as knowing the scouting reports, having read them, understood them, studied video, incorporated that with the reports . . . I mean, this man is not going to leave any stone unturned. His ability to prepare the players, to get the mind set, the positive imagery, the positive thinking, looking forward to thriving in the moment and not feeling pressure but looking at it as an opportunity to excel, I think he’s a master. He’s got a special talent.
“I’m going to go out on a limb and say he could potentially be the Phil Jackson of major league baseball.”
Kirk Gibson, who directed the Arizona Diamondbacks in a worst-to-first season as winners of the National League West title, was voted NL Manager of the Year in balloting by the BBWAA.
Gibson, 54, placed first on 28 ballots and second on the other four of the 32 ballots, submitted by two writers in each league city, to score 152 points, based on the 5-3-1 tabulation system. He was the only manager in either league this year to be named to every ballot.
Joe Maddon, who guided Tampa Bay from a nine-game deficit in the wild-card standings on Sept. 3 to the Rays’ third playoff appearance in four seasons, was named the American League Manager of the Year for the second time in his career.
Maddon, 57, was listed first on 26 of the 28 ballots, cast by two writers in each league city, and second on one to score 133 points, based on the 5-3-1 tabulation system. He also won the award in 2008.
3. Brian Cashman, Yankees (5 in ‘10, 6 in ‘09, NR in ‘08, 8 in ‘07) . It was a banner year for the Yankees’ baseball operations department, even if it didn’t end with a new banner to fly over Yankee Stadium.
After seeing their top target Lee bolt to Philadelphia, Cashman put his faith in the likes of Ivan Nova (whom he had refused to trade to Seattle for Lee in July of ‘10) and low-rent free agents Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. No one could’ve anticipated how well those would work out, most of all Colon, but look: It’s not like the Yankees pulled his name from the sky. Cashman listened to a recommendation from Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, who was managing Colon in Dominican winter ball.
Cashman also hit on veteran additions Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones, and in all, luck dictates that the Yankees won’t do as well in the bargain bin this upcoming winter. But CC Sabathia is back, the lineup is largely intact and the Yankees have a farm system that appears poised to contribute even more in 2012 than it did this past season.
It also should be pointed out that the Yankees GM job, because it is the Yankees GM job, offers unique challenges both internally (the late George Steinbrenner’s “World Series title or bust!” philosophy lurks) and externally (the media and fan pressure is greater than ever). Cashman, who just re-upped with a three-year deal, handles those demands quite well.
Selig gets and takes credit for the [minority interviewing and hiring] program, and I suppose he deserves it because he was the commissioner who implemented it, and he did it before the National Football League instituted a similar program, the Rooney Rule. ...
This off-season clubs created openings for six general managers and five managers. A total of seven members of minorities were interviewed. White male interviewees numbered at least three times that number.
Clubs don’t always include minorities in their interviews, and the commissioner often shrugs it off, offering some lame excuse for the team. ...
But when Selig exempts teams, he misses the point of his own policy. The idea is to allow minorities to be exposed to the interviewing process and to enable themselves to be exposed to other teams for possible future consideration. No interview, no exposure. ...
Since the end of the 2009 season baseball has had nine subtractions and only three additions among minority general managers and managers. But two of the additions, Guillen and Fredi Gonzalez, also count among the subtractions, and the third addition, Edwin Rodriguez, became a subtraction when he resigned last season from his managing job with the Marlins.
In other words, no new minority appears on baseball’s landscape. ...
From what I have been able to piece together – Major League Baseball will not disclose lists of candidates for each team – three members of minorities (one each Hispanic, black and female) were interviewed for six general manager openings, two for the same opening, and four (three Hispanic, one black) were interviewed for five managerial vacancies, one candidate by two teams.
That’s not exactly a torrent of candidates. If Selig is “quite satisfied that all the clubs have done what they’re supposed to do,” he needs to set a higher standard. How can Selig be satisfied that Major League Baseball has only seven people who are considered worthy of being interviewed for top jobs? He shouldn’t be satisfied; he should be embarrassed.
Japanese teams post a player through their commissioner’s office, which notifies its American counterpart to make an announcement to all 30 clubs. Interested teams have four days to submit a secret bid, known as the posting fee. If the highest bid is accepted, the team making it has 30 days to negotiate exclusively with the player. If no deal is reached, the posting fee is returned to the major league club and the player’s rights revert to his Japanese club.
The posting system was created to address player transfers in December 1998, mostly as a response to the messy process that ultimately landed pitcher Hideki Irabu with the Yankees. ...
The first player to change leagues through the new system was another Dominican, pitcher Alejandro Quezada, also of the Carp. Before the 1999 season, he made history when the Cincinnati Reds won the first posting with a bid of $400,000 for his negotiating rights. Quezada, who later changed his name to Diaz, pitched in the Reds’ minor league system through 2003, but never appeared in a major league game.
Nearly two years later, the heralded outfielder Ichiro Suzuki became the first Japanese player to use the system. His Orix club reaped a $13.1 million posting fee from the Seattle Mariners after he signed a three-year, $14 million contract.
Over all, 11 players - nine Japanese and two Dominicans - have signed with major league teams through the posting system. Six postings failed to produce a player transfer, the first five because no teams bid.
Will WFB be going to California, or over the hills and far away?
Versatile infielder/outfielder Willie Bloomquist is drawing “a lot of interest” on the free agent market, agent Scott Boras said, adding that his client could land with a team that views him as more than a utility player.
But it’s a possibility that job won’t be with the Diamondbacks, and there is disagreement between the team and Boras as to who’s to blame for the communication breakdown that got them here.
A few days after learning that Bloomquist had declined his end of a $1.1 million mutual option, the Diamondbacks agreed to terms on Wednesday with infielder John McDonald on a two-year, $3 million deal, seemingly filling their need for a utility man off the bench. ....
“Is it our duty to be in touch with them every hour on the hour so we know nobody else signed?” Boras said. “When you want someone, you go get them. We’re not the employer. They offer the contracts and pay the money. We don’t.
“It sounds to me like what happened is, they got upset when Willie opted out. They got emotional and they went out and signed a guy who hit .169.”
Interesting comments by Napoli on his time with the Angels, I don’t recall seeing anything about them when he made them
In August, Napoli told the Dallas Morning News he felt constrained by Scioscia’s high demands on his catchers.
“I always felt like I was looking over my shoulder to see if I was doing things right,” Napoli said. “I had ‘bad hands.’ I was so worried about my setup and the mechanics all the time. I learned a lot. I learned a lot of what I do there, but playing there just wasn’t much fun.”
A hysteria-inducing 3-2 win over the D-backs in Game 5 clinched the NL Division Series, a win-or-go-home game decided in the bottom of the 10 inning on Nyjer Morgan’s single after John Axford’s first blown save since mid-April.
Carlos Gomez, at second after a single and a stolen base, raced home on Morgan’s hit to give Milwaukee’s its first postseason series win in 29 years.
The NL Championship Series opponent still awaited as the Brewers celebrated with 44,028 deliriously towel-waving fans, but this much was clear: Milwaukee is four NLCS wins away from the World Series.
The Arizona Diamondbacks came home and created a new way to celebrate big hits and now that it has started rolling, there may be no stopping it.
Changing the complexion of the NL division series with a powerful display, the Diamondbacks hit another grand slam among their team-record four homers to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 10-6 Wednesday night and force Game 5.
Outgunned by Milwaukee’s “Beast Mode” in the series’ first two games, the Diamondbacks came up with “The Snake” after returning to the desert in an 0-2 hole.
The brainchild of catcher Miguel Montero, the hand gesture — a cupped right hand that makes a striking motion — has taken over the series as Arizona has bashed its way toward what may be its greatest comeback in a season filled with them.