Tag: Aaron Hill

Nick Punto

Diamondbacks sign Nick Punto


Released by the A’s last month, veteran utility infielder Nick Punto has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Diamondbacks. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that it includes an invitation to spring training.

Oakland cut Punto despite owing him $2.75 million for 2015, which was odd considering he had a pretty typical season in 2014 and the A’s deemed him worthy of a two-year deal last offseason.

He figures to be a part-timer in Arizona, backing up all over the infield at age 37, although the Diamondbacks already have a similar player in Cliff Pennington to fill that role (barring, say, an Aaron Hill trade).

Diamondbacks, Marlins interested in James Shields

james shields getty

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com has the scoop …

So far, we’ve heard very little about the market for free-agent right-hander James Shields.

Well, here is one interested team:

The Arizona Diamondbacks.

Rosenthal says it “may be impossible” for the D’Backs to fit Shields into their current payroll, but they could free up money by trading catcher Miguel Montero or second baseman Aaron Hill. There is a clear need for a front-line starter in Arizona, and new chief baseball officer Tony La Russa is exploring all of his options.

Shields registered a 3.21 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 180/44 K/BB ratio across 227 innings (34 starts) this past season for the American League-champion Royals. The 32-year-old declined a one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer from Kansas City earlier this month, so his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation.

Rosenthal also adds that the Marlins are considering signing Shields:

Need a young shortstop? Call the Diamondbacks

chris owings getty

With a new general manager and (eventually) a new manager the Diamondbacks will no doubt be looking to make lots of roster moves this offseason and Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes that they may see what offers are out there for a young shortstop.

Arizona has several in 22-year-old Chris Owings, 24-year-old Didi Gregorius, and 24-year-old Nick Ahmed, all of whom have flaws but also have a chance to develop into quality starting shortstops. And that’s always something plenty of teams need.

Piecoro speculates that perhaps the Diamondbacks could trade one of those shortstops for a similarly talented but flawed young starting pitcher or maybe even do that while also shedding Aaron Hill and his remaining contract.

Whatever the case, if new general manager Dave Stewart starts calling around for various trade targets you can be sure other teams will ask him about his stockpile of shortstops.

Dave Stewart’s first move as Diamondbacks GM was the easy one

Kirk Gibson, Kevin Towers

When the Diamondbacks brought in Tony La Russa as team president, it was a given that manager Kirk Gibson would be shown the door. The only question was timing. Now that they have a new general manager in Dave Stewart, the timing was right: Gibson was ousted Friday with three games left in the season. Technically, it was Stewart’s initial move as general manager, and practically, it gives him what should be a popular head start with the fanbase, even if the call was made before his arrival.

The real work for Stewart will start in a few weeks. Former GM Kevin Towers left him an absolute mess to work with after selling off several of the team’s best prospects for less talented players who fit his mold of what a team should look like. Making the situation even more difficult is that, by and large, the younger players the Diamondbacks have introduced this year have held their own. That’s a good thing, for sure, but it’makes it a lot more difficult to decide where to upgrade.

Here are the 26-and-under players the Diamondbacks have tried this year:

Didi Gregorius (24): .221/.288/.364. Plus defense at short
Chris Owings (22): .261/.300/.406. Adequate at short, potentially plus at 2B.
Nick Ahmed (24): .200/.235/..277 in 65 AB. Top-notch defensive potential at SS.
Jake Lamb (23): .237/.273/.395 in 114 AB. Solid defense at third.

A.J. Pollock (26): .307/.353/.512. Looks like a keeper in center.
Ender Inciarte (23): .275/.318/.355. One of the league’s best defensive outfielders
David Peralta (26): .286/.319/.447. 111 OPS+. Subpar defense in right.

If you put five or six of those guys alongside Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero next year, you’re still probably not going to have a very good lineup. But who are the keepers? Pollock seems like an obvious choice, and Owings has more room to grow. I’m not a big fan of Gregorius or the other two outfielders.

The Diamondbacks also have Aaron Hill under control for two more years and $24 million. Mark Trumbo is due about $6 million in arbitration. Laughably, Cody Ross is due another $9.5 million for next year (including his $1 million buyout for 2016). If the Diamondbacks are willing to give away 2015, they can pay someone to take Hill, probably sell low on Trumbo and continue to play the youngsters. If they’re not, then they’ll need to upgrade at third base and hope that Inciarte or Peralta can excel in right, with Trumbo back in left. Or they could trade Trumbo anyway and sign a free agent outfielder.

In the rotation, the Diamondbacks have Wade Miley, Josh Collmenter, Trevor Cahill, top prospect Archie Bradley, Daniel Hudson and then these guys:

Chase Anderson (26): 4.01 ERA, 105/40 K/BB in 114 IP
Randall Delgado (24): 6.61 ERA in 4 starts, 4.63 ERA, 74/28 K/BB in 58 1/3 IP as reliever
Vidal Nuno (26): 3.76 ERA, 69/20 K/BB in 83 2/3 IP since arriving in Brandon McCarthy deal.
Andrew Chafin (24): 3.86 ERA in three late starts

With Patrick Corbin hoping to return from Tommy John surgery in June and Bronson Arroyo potentially back in July.

The Diamondbacks aren’t at all likely to sign one of the aces available this winter, and it’s worth wondering whether it makes sense to spend big for a third or fourth starter when contending seems like a long shot. If all breaks right, the Diamondbacks could finish next year with a very promising rotation led by Corbin and Bradley, with top prospect Braden Shipley banging down the door and perhaps even Hudson recapturing his former promise. In the meantime, I don’t see how a $10 million-per-year band-aid will do much good.

So, that’s the dilemma Stewart faces. The smart strategy would seem to be to proceed quietly, let the team take its lumps in 2015 in an effort to reemerge as a contender in 2016. But with a new team president, a new GM and a new manager, it’s hard to imagine they won’t try to make some sort of splash, for better or worse.

Mike Trout is about to become the ninth #2 hitter with 100 RBI

mike trout getty swing

Mike Trout is having another MVP-caliber season and a litany of statistics will tell you that. RBI is somewhere around 15th on the list of statistics that illustrate just how good Trout has been. Trout’s league-leading total of 100 (98 of which have come as a #2 hitter) does provide some historical context, however.

As MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez notes, only eight #2 hitters (including Alex Rodriguez twice) have reached triple digits in RBI. Here’s the list, via Baseball Reference:

Player G Year
Aaron Hill 158 2009
Jay Bell 144 1999
Edgardo Alfonzo 146 1999
Alex Rodriguez 145 1998
Alex Rodriguez 123 1996
Ryne Sandberg 153 1990
Dwight Evans 153 1984
Robin Yount 138 1982
Eddie Mathews 145 1959
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/6/2014.

It makes sense why this doesn’t happen more often: #2 hitters rarely have Trout’s power. Often, they’re high-contact hitters and bunt at a higher rate than anyone else aside from the pitcher in the National League. Even Angels manager Mike Scioscia admits Trout is an atypical #2 hitter. From Gonzalez’s column:

“There’s no doubt this guy’s a multidimensional player. He’s not just a table-setter. I think eventually when he settles into the middle of the lineup and he has [teammates] on-base in front of him, he’ll have the potential to knock in 120 runs.”

Along with the 100 rib-eyes, Trout has a .285/.369/.549 slash line with 31 home runs and 14 stolen bases. While he won’t have to contend with Miguel Cabrera for the AL MVP award this time around, the field is relatively more wide open, as Victor Martinez and Jose Abreu have each put up fantastic numbers themselves. Depending on one’s trust in defensive metrics, Alex Gordon and Josh Donaldson will draw some support as well, among others.