Diving into the depths: Arizona Diamondbacks

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Joe Saunders
2. Ian Kennedy
3. Daniel Hudson
4. Zach Duke
5. Armando Galarraga
6. Barry Enright
7. Aaron Heilman
8. Kevin Mulvey
9. Jarrod Parker
10. Wade Miley
11. Micah Owings
12. Josh Collmenter
13. Matt Torra
14. Pat Corbin

It appeared that the Diamondbacks set their rotation when they acquired Duke from the Pirates, but they’ve since brought back Heilman as a possible starter and traded for Galarraga. That means Enright, who got off to such a nice start as a rookie before losing each of his final five starts, might be returned to Triple-A for a bit. I’m pretty skeptical about Enright anyway, and Galarraga should prove to be an upgrade in the fifth spot.

Bullpen
1. J.J. Putz
2. Juan Gutierrez
3. David Hernandez
4. Aaron Heilman
5. Sam Demel
6. Kam Mickolio
7. Esmerling Vasquez
8. Mike Hampton
9. Carlos Rosa
10. Micah Owings
11. Armando Galarraga
12. Clay Zavada
13. Kyler Newby
14. Jordan Noberto
15. Zach Kroenke
16. Brian Sweeney
17. Rafael Rodriguez
18. Daniel Stange
19. Joe Paterson
20. Yonata Ortega

Baseball’s worst pen from 2010 got a makeover with the Putz signing and the Mark Reynolds trade. There will be plenty of competition for the final full spots, as holdovers Vasquez and Rosa try to fight off some newcomers. I think Hernandez will prove to be the team’s second-best reliever.

Catcher
1. Miguel Montero
2. Henry Blanco
3. John Hester
4. Konrad Schmidt

First base
1. Juan Miranda
2. Xavier Nady
3. Brandon Allen
4. Micah Owings
5. Andy Tracy

Second base
1. Kelly Johnson
2. Geoff Blum
3. Willie Bloomquist
4. Tony Abreu
5. Ryan Roberts
6. Cody Ransom

Third base
1. Melvin Mora
2. Geoff Blum
3. Ryan Roberts
4. Tony Abreu
5. Willie Bloomquist
6. Cody Ransom

Shortstop
1. Stephen Drew
2. Geoff Blum
3. Willie Bloomquist
4. Tony Abreu
5. Cody Ransom

Yeah, the budget was quite limited, but the Diamondbacks should have done better than Mora, Nady, Miranda, Blum and Bloomquist as their offensive pickups. My current guess is that Miranda starts at first against right-handers, with Nady shifting back and forth as the first baseman against lefties and the left fielder against most righties. Allen, who has the most offensive potential of the team’s first base-left field candidates, will probably go back to the minors to work on his defense.

Left field
1. Xavier Nady
2. Brandon Allen
3. Gerardo Parra
4. Cole Gillespie
5. Wily Mo Pena
6. Willie Bloomquist
7. Collin Cowgill

Center field
1. Chris Young
2. Gerardo Parra
3. Willie Bloomquist
4. Cole Gillespie

Right field
1. Justin Upton
2. Gerardo Parra
3. Cole Gillespie
4. Wily Mo Pena
5. Willie Bloomquist
6. Collin Cowgill
7. David Winfree

Just 23, Parra is awfully young to be at a career crossroads. However, he might not have the bat to help the Diamondbacks as a corner outfielder. Gillespie is the better bet offensively, and he could get a chance to overtake Parra as the team’s fourth outfielder. As a right-handed hitter, he’d make more sense for the club if the plan is for Nady to cover first against lefties.

Bryce Harper is really just a tiny bit better Adam Lind when you think about it

Associated Press
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Tom Boswell of the Washington Post writes about an important matter facing the Washington Nationals over the next year: what to do about Bryce Harper, who is entering his walk year and will be a free agent a little over 12 months from now.

That’s a fine and important question. The Nats do need to decide whether to offer Harper a long term deal, when to offer it and, above all else, how big that deal should be. Should it be $300 million? $400 million? Should it be conventional or unconventional, with opt-outs and such? It’s not every day that a generational talent comes along and it’s even more rare that the generational talent hits free agency at the age of 26, so the decisions facing the Nationals are not easy ones.

Boswell acknowledges that bit of trickiness, but he also, strangely, spends a whole lot of time trying to portray Harper as an ordinary talent. He starts with health, comparing him poorly with Stephen Strasburg, who is ranked 30th in games started over the past five years. In contrast . . .

In those same five years, Harper ranks 90th in games played, just 126 a season, and now he says he should have skipped quite a few more games in 2016 when he had a balky shoulder. That’s almost six weeks out per season.

Nowhere in the column is it mentioned that the several weeks he missed in 2017 was the result of a freak injury in wet conditions and that, despite that, Harper worked his tail off to come back and be ready for the postseason. Not that Boswell doesn’t mention the postseason of course . . .

Harper, for the fourth time, failed to lead his team out of the first round and has career playoff batting average and OPS marks of .215 and .801. By the high standards of right fielders, he’s Mr. Average in October.

I suppose it’s not Boswell’s job to refrain from insulting a player on the team he covers, but he certainly seems hellbent on insulting not only Harper, but our own intelligence via comparisons like this:

In the past five years, in those 126 games, Harper averaged 26 homers, 72 RBI and a .288 average. Over the last nine years, Adam Lind averaged 128 games, 20 homers, 70 RBI and hit .273. That’s selective stat mining. Harper is much better, in part because he walks so much. But Harper and Lind in the same sentence?

“A person can eat delicious chocolate cake or lead paint chips. The chocolate cake is much better, but chocolate cake and lead paint in the same sentence?” I guess Boswell gets points for acknowledging that it was a misleading comparison, but if he thinks it is, why make it in the first place? If you want to eliminate this one as an outlier, cool, because he makes a lot of other comparisons like that in the piece.

This is not necessarily new for Boswell. Here’s something he wrote about Harper in 2014:

Harper has not driven in 60 runs in either of his two seasons. He has only five RBI this year. He’s never had more than 157 runs-plus-RBI. Ryan Zimmerman has had between 163 and 216 six times. Adam LaRoche, no big star, has had 175 or more three times. Fourth outfielder Nate McLouth once had 207. Can we get a grip? Counting their three top starting pitchers, Harper may be the Nats’ seventh-best player. If forced to choose whether Harper or Anthony Rendon would have the better career, I’d think twice. Harper is in a self-conscious, fierce scowl-off with baseball. Rendon dances with it and grins. Baseball loves relaxed.

That was written 16 games into his age-22 season.

I’m not sure what Boswell’s beef with Harper is. I’m not sure why he’s contorting himself to portray him as an ordinary player when he is fairly extraordinary and, most certainly, a special case when it comes to his impending free agency. In his career he already has 26.1 career bWAR, 150 homers, an MVP Award under his belt and, if it wasn’t for that freak injury in August, would have a strong case for a second one. Guy has a career line of .285/.386/.515 and he turned 26 four days ago. He’s younger than Aaron Judge.

My view of things is that players should ignore the media for the most part, but they don’t always do that. Sometimes the hostility or criticism of the local press — especially from the most respected portions of the local press who have the ability to shape fan sentiment — gets to them.

Which is to say that, if this kind of noise keeps up, I wouldn’t be shocked if Harper puts up a line of .340/.480/.650 in 2018 and then walked the hell out of D.C. for New York or Chicago or L.A. or something. Would anyone blame him?