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Daily Archives: January 10, 2012

Do the Diamondbacks Have a Strong Enough Rotation to Win the NL West?

Wednesday January 11th, 2012

Sam Evans: Last year, the Diamondbacks came out of nowhere and won 94 games.  This was thanks mostly in part to their offense. But having three pitchers throw over two hundred innings each didn’t hurt. This offseason, the Dbacks gave up some of their premium minor league talent to acquire Trevor Cahill, who should prove to be another solid pitcher in their rotation.

Last year, Arizona’s best pitcher was Ian Kennedy. He had a breakout year, finishing fourth in the NL Cy Young voting. Kennedy had a 3.22 FIP, 2.88 ERA, and was worth a 5.0 WAR. Kennedy has turned into an ace ever since coming over from the Yankees in 2010. If Kennedy can turn in another workhorse season, the Diamondbacks will have their first All-Star pitcher since Dan Haren in 2009.

Daniel Hudson deserves almost as much credit as Kennedy for the Dbacks success. Hudson was worth a 4.9 WAR in 2011, and was better than his 3.49 ERA suggested. Another Dbacks pitcher who has less than two years of throwing two hundred innings is going to be heavily relied upon in 2012.

On December 9th, Arizona traded top prospect Jarrod Parker, outfielder Collin Cowgill, and reliever Ryan Cook for Trevor Cahill, Craig Breslow, and cash considerations. The Dbacks will probably come out on top in this trade. Jarrod Parker is going to be a stud for the A’s, but he still has some developing to do. Arizona acquired a front of the line starter, who brings much-needed consistency to the Diamondbacks rotation.

If the Diamonbacks have an area to improve in 2012, it’s their league worst GB% ( 41.9%). Cahill will already be a big boost to that, as he brings his 55.9 GB% from 2011.

After Josh Collmenter had pitched only 36.1 innings last season, he had garnered a following of non-believers. They said that once Collmenter faced the team for a second time, his effectiveness would disappear. Part of this opinion was probably formed because Collmenter was never a top prospect, yet was making the prospect experts look silly. Collmenter proved the haters wrong, finishing with a 3.38 ERA in 154 innings. This just goes to show that we can’t be right about prospects all the time.

In 2012, Collmenter will have a bigger workload and higher expectations. But if he proved anything last year, it’s that he’s up for a challenge.

The fifth starting spot for the Diamondbacks is still unknown. The Dbacks could bring in a free agent like Hiroki Kuroda or Jeff Francis. They also have some organizational options such as Wade Miley, who started seven games last year, or even 2011 first-rounder Trevor Bauer, who seems to be major league ready.

All of the Dbacks top three starters have come in through trades. With pitchers like Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer on their way to the majors, it looks like the Dbacks are starting to find homegrown talent as well.

I would say that the Dbacks rotation is second in the N.L. West only to the Giants. With a far superior offense than the Giants, it looks like Arizona has a pretty good chance of being able to win their division again in 2012.

**Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

 

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Chris Swauger MLB Blog: My Offseason (Part 2)

Tuesday January 10, 2012

Chris Swauger-  MLB reports Blog (Swags’ Hotspot):  A minor league baseball season lasts about five and a half months from start to finish.  Add in anywhere from a month to six weeks for Spring training and playoffs and the total time playing adds up to about seven months.  Seven months of grinding out games, bus rides, and late-night meals.  Days are filled with early work, extra work, batting practice, bullpens, conditioning lifts, rehab, pre-hab, post-hab, and so on.  Free time is a precious commodity and soreness is an epidemic.  However, when September rolls around, all of us are left with five months to do…absolutely nothing.  After days upon days planned to the minute, what am I supposed to do when I don’t have anything planned for months?

I have worked the part-time jobs (Team Sports Associate and near-Employee of the Month at Dick’s Sporting Goods).  I have worked the awful jobs (landscaping). I have worked the desk jobs (best receptionist EVER at Sportscenter Tampa Bay). I have done the internships (at the University of Tampa). I have given batting lessons.  I have coached AAU teams.  In all my experience trying to fill the time between the end of the season and Spring Training, I have done some crazy things and met some strange characters.  Still, the two things that I have enjoyed the most in the off-season are playing winter baseball in Latin America and substitute teaching.  I have played two seasons in Colombia for Los Caimanes de Barranquilla, as well as this past offseason in Panama for Los Caballos de Cocle.  In the interim, between seasons I have substituted grades K-8 in my hometown of Tampa, Florida. These are two very different activities, but they both have some interesting similarities.

The strongest bond that Winter Ball and substituting share is they are both utter chaos.  Be it a locker room full of fired up Latinos or a classroom full of sugar crazed 3rd graders, someone or something is bouncing off the walls. Not that I am the calmest person in the world, but these people make me look like a Zen master on adderall.  It takes one bikini clad chica to walk across the television screen (which happens about twice every second on Latin American TV) to send every native player into a fist-pumping, chest-bumping, eardrum-thumping frenzy.  It takes just the mention of recess, lunch or PE to whip a room full of elementary school students into gymnasts; chairs are flipped, tables are hurdled and cartwheels are performed.  I can honestly say that if the world was filled with my teammates and students, I would rule it with a Maxim and a jungle-gym.

Not far beyond the realm of complete disarray are the absolutely absurd questions, answers, and statements I have heard in Winter Ball, as well as in the classroom.  This past season in Panama, we were short an infielder on our team because of an injury.  Our coach came to the cage and asked, “Hey [nameless player], can you play third base?” He responded “Oh yeah!” I responded, “Dude, you’re left-handed.”  He replied, “Well yeah, but if I was a righty I’d be better than like, Derek Jeter.”  I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe and ended up with the hiccups. This same player also told his teammates that a pregnant waitress would not be serving tonight because she was on “fraternity leave.”  Once again, I couldn’t breathe.  I similarly busted out laughing this year when I opened up the floor to questioning in front of a group of 8th graders.  I said they could ask any question they wanted. The first question I got was “Do you have a girlfriend?” The second was “How much do you bench?”  Such simple minds… and I love it. 

One other question I got from a 5th grader was “If you are a baseball player, how come I’ve never seen you on TV?”  Yeah…about that…well I am just a minor leaguer right now so I don’t play with the big league Cardinals yet.  “Oh so you suck?” was the response.  Leave it to an 11-year-old to give me a nice dose of reality; just when I thought I’d gained some status around the elementary school campus.  However in all seriousness, he was right.  I have only begun to prove myself and in the big scheme of things, I am still just an Internet-streaming broadcast minor league player.  It is great motivation to get better and stay humble.  The same can be said for Winter Ball.  Taking an 0 for 4 or making an error can give a quick ego check and a nice reminder that I still have a lot to prove.  There is still much work to be done in my career.

The one thing that has been consistent throughout my career is that I have loved every minute of it.  The pure joy that I get out of playing this game is only matched by the happiness that I experience seeing a student light up when he solves a problem- or a concept clicks.  When the kids get excited about learning, I am reminded out how I feel when I get a hit or make a good play.  It’s that same feeling that keeps me going.  I have come to think of professional baseball as a roller coaster: I am just enjoying the ride so far, during the season and out of it.  The journey itself has been the reward.

Follow me on Twitter (@cswag8) if you would like to get a daily perspective and interact with me.

Until next time,

Swags

 

***Chris Swauger (AKA Swags) is an outfielder in the St. Louis Cardinals system.  Swags played for the Springfield Cardinals (AA) in 2011.  With his own Blog Page on MLB reports known as Swags’ Hotspot, Swags provides a behind the scenes look into the life of a professional baseball player.  One of the funniest guys we know, these blog entries are a MUST read for every baseball fan! *** 

You can catch Part 1 of Swags’ Offseason report by clicking here

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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