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

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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.

Derek Jeter, Larry Walker elected to the Hall of Fame

Derek Jeter
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Longtime Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and outfielder Larry Walker were elected into the Hall of Fame. Voting results from the Baseball Writers Association of America were unveiled just moments ago on MLB Network. Jeter (99.7%) and Walker (76.6%) were the only players on the 2020 ballot to earn at least the 75 percent support necessary for induction into Cooperstown. Jeter was in his first year on the ballot and Walker was in his 10th and final year.

Jeter, 45, was selected by the Yankees in the first round, sixth overall, in the 1992 draft and would spend the remainder of his professional career with the organization. Over parts of 20 big league seasons, Jeter hit .310/.377/.440 with 260 home runs, 1,311 RBI, 1,923 runs scored, and 358 stolen bases.

Jeter was a terrific player during the regular season, winning the 1996 American League Rookie of the Year Award, five Silver Slugger Awards, and earning 14 All-Star nominations. However, he did his best work in the postseason, helping the Yankees win five championships during his tenure. He even earned the 2000 World Series MVP Award. Overall, across 734 postseason at-bats, Jeter hit .308/.374/.465 with 20 homers, 61 RBI, 111 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases. While his postseason line is similar to his regular season line, it is worth considering that he faced tougher pitchers on average under more pressure in the postseason.

While defensive metrics weren’t kind to Jeter, he made some very memorable plays in the field. There was, of course, his flip to catcher Jorge Posada to tag out Jeremy Giambi at home plate in the 2001 ALDS, salvaging a throw that missed the cutoff man in the seventh inning of a game the Yankees only led 1-0.

There was also Jeter’s famous dive into the stands in the 12th inning of a July 1, 2004 game at home against the Red Sox. With the two clubs tied at three apiece, the Red Sox threatened with a runner on second base. Pinch-hitter Trot Nixon hit a weak fly ball down the left field line. Jeter ran full speed into the outfield, catching the ball that would have otherwise landed fair, his momentum taking him full-bore into the stands. After a few tense moments, Jeter famously popped his head up, face bloodied from making contact with a seat.

Jeter retired as the Yankees’ all-time leader in games played (2,747), hits (3,465), doubles (544), and stolen bases (358). He’s second in runs scored (1,923), third in total bases (4,921), fourth in walks (1,082), fifth in career WAR (72.4), eighth in batting average (.310), and fifth in RBI (1,311). Jeter is sixth on the all-time hits list behind Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, and Tris Speaker.

Jeter, who was one vote shy of unanimous election, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller on July 26. Simmons and Miller (posthumously, in Miller’s case) were elected by the Modern Baseball Era Committee last month.

Walker, 53, was not drafted. Rather, the Expos signed him to a minor league contract in 1985. He would go on to spend 17 seasons in the majors, the first six with the Expos, the next nine and a half with the Rockies, and the final season and a half with the Cardinals. He hit .313/.400/.565 with 383 home runs, 1,311 RBI, 1,355 runs scored, and 230 stolen bases.

That Walker spent a majority of his career with the Rockies was used by some against him, as Coors Field has famously inflated hitters’ numbers. Unsurprisingly, Walker had a 1.172 OPS at Coors Field. However, even his aggregate away split — an .865 OPS — was significantly above-average, even considering the offense-friendly era in which he played. Walker was also a tremendous defensive corner outfield, racking up 94 defensive runs saved above average according to Baseball Reference.

Other players receiving a majority of support from the BBWAA, but under the necessary 75 percent include Curt Schilling (70%), Roger Clemens (61%), Barry Bonds (60.7%), and Omar Vizquel (52.6%).

Players who received less than a majority of support but more than the five percent minimum to remain on the ballot are: Scott Rolen (35.3%), Billy Wagner (31.7%), Gary Sheffield (30.5%), Todd Helton (29.2%), Manny Ramírez (28.2%), Jeff Kent (27.5%), Andruw Jones (19.4%), Sammy Sosa (13.9%), Andy Pettitte (11.3%), and Bobby Abreu (5.5%).

Players who received less than five percent of the vote and thus will fall off the ballot are: Paul Konerko (2.5%), Jason Giambi (1.5%), Alfonso Soriano (1.5%), Eric Chávez (0.5%), Cliff Lee (0.5%), Adam Dunn (0.3%), Brad Penny (0.3%), Raúl Ibañez (0.3%), J.J. Putz (0.3%), Josh Beckett (0%), Heath Bell (0%), Chone Figgins (0%), Rafael Furcal (0%), Carlos Peña (0%), Brian Roberts (0%), and José Valverde (0%).