Tag: Robbie Ray

Chip Hale, Dave Stewart, Tony LaRussa

2015 Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks


Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up. The Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Big Question: There’s nowhere to go but up, right?

Since winning the National League West in 2011, the Diamondbacks have turned in three straight disappointing seasons and finished last season with the worst record in the majors at 64-98. Tony La Russa was hired as chief baseball officer early on in the year, which essentially signaled that Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson were living on borrowed time. Sure enough, they were both fired in September.

Tasked with taking the franchise in a new direction, La Russa hired one of his former pitchers from the Athletics, Dave Stewart, to serve as general manager while De Jon Watson was brought over from the Dodgers as senior vice president of baseball operations. Chip Hale, who has coached with the Mets and Athletics in recent seasons, was then brought aboard for his first managing opportunity in the big leagues.

Stewart was outspoken when he was an agent and he has already said his fair share of interesting things as Arizona’s general manager. Most notably, when the Diamondbacks were briefly courting right-hander James Shields in free agency, he said they were more of a “true baseball team” as opposed to teams which are more geared toward analytics. This was likely just an attempt at a sales pitch to appeal to a player they only had a small chance of actually signing, but it’s not the first impression you want after the grit-centered philosophy of Towers and Gibson fizzled out.

Getting back to contender status is going to be a process. The team’s big offseason move was signing Yasmany Tomas to a six-year, $68.5 million contract, but the third base experiment has been a bust so far and he’s still learning to hit major league pitching. Interesting arms like Jeremy Hellickson, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Robbie Ray, and Yoan Lopez were brought in over the offseason, but this is a team that is going with Josh Collmenter as their Opening Day starter. He would be a back-end starter on a good staff. After dealing catcher Miguel Montero to the Cubs, Stewart didn’t seem so keen (or didn’t have the budget) to acquire a suitable replacement, so Tuffy Gosewisch stands to get most of the playing time in the early going. Peter O’Brien, who Stewart was hoping could be a solution behind the plate, was having trouble throwing the ball back to the mound this spring and could be bound for the outfield. Barring a last-minute move, this could be the weakest catching situation in the majors.

This lineup has a couple of interesting pieces in place, which I’ll get to in a minute, but expectations are understandably low for 2015 in a division which also has the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres.

What else is going on?

  • After finishing second in the NL MVP balloting in 2013, Paul Goldschmidt was well on his way to a comparable follow-up last season by hitting .300/.396/.542 with 19 home runs and 69 RBI across 109 games before he suffered a broken hand on a hit-by-pitch in early August. He’s back to 100 percent now and remains the shining light on this roster.
  • Aside from the excellence of Goldschmidt at first base, the infield is in flux. Assuming Tomas doesn’t work out at third base, young Jake Lamb is a possibility there, but Aaron Hill could also get some time at the hot corner if the D-Backs go with Nick Ahmed at shortstop and try Chris Owings at second base. Trading Hill, which has been rumored, could clear the way for all of the youngsters to get playing time. I’m guessing we’ll see that configuration sooner or later.
  • This outfield has a lot of moving pieces and not all of them are ideal fits. A.J. Pollock is locked in as the starting center fielder while Mark Trumbo appears set to start in right field, but David Peralta, Ender Inciarte, Cody Ross, and Tomas are also in the mix. Trumbo and Tomas in the corners might not be pretty. They also have similar offensive profiles. Which is to say, power without much patience.
  • This rotation doesn’t look particularly strong right now, but it figures to get better as the season moves along. Patrick Corbin and Bronson Arroyo are both working their way back from Tommy John surgery and should be ready to return by mid-season. Things didn’t go as planned for top prospect Archie Bradley last year, but he could surface in the majors soon with a good showing in Triple-A.
  • Perhaps my favorite story to watch with this team will be Daniel Hudson, who has lost much of the last three seasons due to a pair of Tommy John surgeries. The 28-year-old returned for three relief appearances down the stretch last year and has flashed mid-90s velocity this spring. It’s unclear if he’ll be used as a starter or reliever, but here’s hoping he can finally stay healthy and deliver on the promise he showed in the early part of his career.

Prediction: This could really go either way with the Rockies, as they look like two of the weakest teams in the majors, but I’m going to say a repeat of Fifth Place, NL West.

Josh Collmenter is the Diamondbacks’ projected Opening Day starter

Josh Collmenter Getty

After officially dealing left-hander Wade Miley to the Red Sox yesterday for Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, and infield prospect Raymel Flores, Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart addressed the state of his starting rotation. It looks, uh, pretty iffy going into 2015:

Collmenter is coming off a nice season in which he posted a 3.46 ERA over 28 starts and five relief appearances, but going into 2015 with him as your No. 1 starter doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. As for the fifth spot in the rotation, the Diamondbacks have a host of candidates, including Vidal Nuno, Robbie Ray, Randall Delgado, Andrew Chafin, Trevor Cahill, Chase Anderson, and Daniel Hudson. Patrick Corbin and Bronson Arroyo should be back from Tommy John surgery at some point during the year and top prospect Archie Bradley could make an impact at any time.

Initial thoughts on the Yankees-Tigers-Diamondbacks trade

Robbie Ray

These are not deep thoughts. Just thoughts:

    • It’s cool that the Tigers, Yankees and Diamondbacks can get together for three-way trades every few years. The last one — with Curtis Granderson, Max Scherzer and all of those guys — set the gold standard, but this one is good too.
    • It’s also cool that Didi Gregorius is involved in his second three-way trade in a couple of years. If he doesn’t parlay this — plus his playing abilities — into some sort of nickname like “three-way” or “triple threat” then what’s the point, man?
    • I like this trade for the Yankees. Gregorius will be, at his worst, as good as Derek Jeter was on offense in 2014 and his 2013 hitting suggests he can be better than that, even if he’s never a particularly dangerous hitter. That plus a defensive game which is streets ahead of anything Jeter did in, oh, the past 15 years, will make him a nice upgrade over The Captain, all for a very low, low salary. This is way better than signing, say, Stephen Drew and hoping he can return to old form or trading for a big name like Elvis Andrus who will cost a lot and not be as good as his reputation. Gregorius is a legit shortstop who is team-controlled. Those don’t grow on trees.
    • Of course, even if he’s a better hitter and defender and he’s cheaper, there will be a certain segment of Yankees fans which will be on his case for anything he does because he’s not Derek Jeter. Which sucks, but which is inevitable. As someone once said, don’t replace the man, replace the man who replaces the man. Someone has to play shortstop in New York in a post-Jeter world, and unfortunately for Gregorius, it’s him.
    • For the Tigers, Shane Greene is an interesting pickup. He had 14 starts last year and was a tick above league average, which looks good. But he also outperformed his considerably longer minor league track record with that. He has some good tools, though — a nice fastball and some groundball tendencies — which could make him one of those guys who pitch better than his minor league numbers may suggest. Some guys just take a bit to put it together. And it’s not like the Tigers need an ace in the rotation. A good guy on the back end is totally cool.
    • For the Dbacks, I dunno, Robbie Ray was horrible in the bigs in a short stint in 2014. He struck out a lot of guys and walked a lot of guys in the minors. Last year he posted a 1.59 ERA through is first five starts at Triple-A, with a 21/5 K/BB ratio in 28 innings, showing his promise, but he is not a flawless prospect and the Dbacks, in recent years, haven’t done well with the pitchers they’ve acquired. He’ll be a good first test for the new regime.
    • The Dbacks will also be getting shortstop Domingo Leyba from the Tigers. He’s only 19 and hasn’t played above A-ball, but he hit very well across two levels in 67 games last season. In leagues in which he was very young. He’s not projected to stick at short, however, so he’ll have to hit if second base is where he ends up.

This will get all the press because of Gregorius being the guy who replaces Derek Jeter, but it’s a fun baseball trade all around.

Derek Jeter’s replacement: Yankees acquire Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius in three-team trade

Arizona Diamondbacks v Colorado Rockies

Now we know who’ll be filling Derek Jeter’s big shoes in New York, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Yankees have acquired Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius in a three-team trade that also involves the Tigers.

According to Rosenthal–following up on an initial report by Sweeny Murti of WFAN radio in New York–the Yankees will send right-hander Shane Green to the Tigers, who will send left-hander Robbie Ray and minor-league infielder Domingo Leyba to the Diamondbacks.

Gregorius was pegged as the Diamondbacks’ long-term shortstop when they acquired him from the Reds in the three-team deal that sent away Trevor Bauer, but that was under the old regime. And he also didn’t play well in 2014, hitting .226 with six homers and a .653 OPS in 80 games at age 24.

[ RELATED: How the trade impacts both teams ]

Former general manager Kevin Towers once said of Gregorius: “When I saw him he reminded me of a young Derek Jeter.” And now he’ll get a chance to replace an old Derek Jeter.

Greene debuted this year after six seasons in the minors and pitched well as a 25-year-old rookie, throwing 79 innings with a 3.78 ERA and 81/29 K/BB ratio. He’ll presumably step right into the Tigers’ rotation, giving them a cheap complement to all the expensive veterans.

Detroit acquired Ray from Washington in last offseason’s swap for Doug Fister, but he pitched poorly in the minors this year and got knocked around in a 29-inning debut for the Tigers. He’s still just 23 years old, but his stock has definitely dipped. Leyba is 19 years old and played this past season at low Single-A, hitting .323 in 67 games.