We’ve talked a lot about the Diamondbacks’ embrace of “gritty” players this year. The latest: Dbacks’ GM Kevin Towers sat down for an interview with Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic and, during the part of the conversation about the team’s attitude — and yes, Nick asks Towers about “grit” — Towers brings up a new old thing when talking about his new kind of player:
They want to be there. It’s positive thoughts. They feel they’re going to come through. They thrive on it. There’s others that, they may not tell you, but you can tell in their body language and even in their approach. It’s a mind-set. It’s kind of what Gibby alludes to, which is very important, it’s playing to the scoreboard. What do I need to do right now to help my ballclub win? I think we were missing that the last two years. Those type of players who understood the game and the scoreboard and what you need to do to help your club win that particular night …
The only other time we’ve heard about playing to the scoreboard or something like it is when folks have trotted out that lame, post-factual chestnut about how Jack Morris’ high ERA was a result of him “pitching to the score.” I can’t help but think that Kirk Gibson, a Morris teammate, somehow has carried that mysterious skill with him to Arizona and is now sharing its secrets with the Diamondbacks.
Look out, NL. There’s a team in Arizona that knows what time it is. Er, I mean what the score is.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.