Saturday, July 31, 2010

Arizona Diamondbacks: After the Deadline...

Looking over each trade the DBacks have made since Jerry DiPoto took over as interim GM, I must admit I have mixed emotions.  After the firing of GM Josh Byrnes and Derrick Hall's recent statement about reducing payroll had me predicting a major sell-off; however, the quality of their returns do leave me questioning this organization's long-term strategy. 

It's obvious DiPoto and Hall are looking to stockpile on a lot of young mid-range arms but a few of these trades do seem a bit desperate as many of the players listed below were traded with low returns.

On July 25: Dan Haren is traded to the Angels for LHP Joe Saunders, RHP Rafael Rodriguez, LHP Patrick Corbin and PTBNL (LHP Tyler Skaggs).

Upon hearing about this trade I must admit I was incredibly disappointed; I knew Haren would be one of the first DBacks relocated but what stung me was that I felt the DBacks were selling a talented/premium position player at a very low price. I’ve never been much of a Saunders fan: his flyballs are up this season and he has average command to compliment his diminishing K rate (career 1.73 K/BB rate).

As for the other pieces, Rodriguez profiles as a serviceable reliever. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball (tops off at 93 mph) but he does have some sink along with a changeup which keeps opposing left-handers honest.

Patrick Corbin profiles as a mid-rotation starter similar to Joe Saunders. Since he was drafted in ‘09, Corbin has focused full-time on pitching and has seen his velocity jump a bit from his days at JC (where he topped off at 89 mph). Corbin is a sinker ball pitcher but a lot of his success depends on if he can develop a serviceable changeup. His command is good and scouts love his makeup and mechanics.

Tyler Skaggs ranks among the top 10 Angel prospects. He is 19 years old and is still expected to fill out his 6’4” frame. Skaggs is putting up decent numbers in low A (8.96 K/9, 2.3 BB/9) but isn’t blowing the competition away due to his under-developed secondary stuff (although scouts do profile his curve as above-average). According to Baseball America, Skaggs profiles as a future #2-3 starter.

The Dbacks did pick up a couple of intriguing LHP's but I still feel the team unnecessarily gambled by shipping off a proven front-rotation starter (with a favorable contract) for an average starter (eligible for arb. after this season) and a couple of low A "projects."  For this trade to be advantageous for the DBacks both Skaggs and Corbin will have to hit their ceilings.  That's asking for a lot.

July 30: Edwin Jackson is traded to the White Sox for RHP Dan Hudson and LHP David Holmberg. The White Sox agree to pay the remainder of Jackson’s contract this season and all of next.

I’m actually a huge fan of this trade. Dan Hudson has fallen out of favor with Guillen and new pitching coach du jour Dom Cooper. Coming into this season, I was high on Hudson. He strikes out a ton of batters but command has been problematic this season (6.3 BB/9 in 15 MLB innings, 3.0 BB/9 in 93 minor league innings). A lot has been made about Hudson’s high flyball rate in 34 MLB innings this season (52%) but his minor league career numbers do not seem alarming (34.7% in 319 IP).

David Holmberg’s stock was very high last season as an 18 year old. This season his K rate is down (6.3) but he has made strides with his command. Holmberg is another product of the 2009 draft class and has the body scouts love (6’4”, 215 lbs.). His fastball was never dominating but his plus curve is a true out-pitch. Like Corbin and Skaggs, a lot of his future success depends on the development of his change-up. Scouts often compare Holmberg to either Barry Zito or David Wells.
July 31: Chris Synder, AAA SS Pedro Ciriaco and $3M are sent to the Pirates for Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby, RHP D.J. Carrasco.

To me, the shocker is that Bobby Crosby is the youngest player coming our way at age 30. Carrasco is a serviceable reliever with 2 more arbitration years remaining. This is a pure salary dump and both Carrasco and Church are under control for next season (although there is a high probability one of them will be non-tendered before the 2011 season).

Church will be 32 at the end of this season and his power potential seems to have faded away. Expect Carrasco to stick around next season if he can keep up his low amount of HR’s allowed this season (0.75 HR/9 in his career).

July 31: Chad Qualls is traded to Tampa Bay for a PTBNL (Rays also pay the remainder of his contract: $1.48M).

I have not read a timetable as to when the DBacks will select their PTBNL, this will probably depend on how well Qualls performs.  Another salary dump since Qualls awful season won't allow him to qualify as a Type B Free Agent. 

Overall, it's apparent the DBacks are looking to stockpile their farm with many young pitchers and the money they shed comes in at roughly $48M.  The AZ Snakepit recently provided a great collection of quotes from the AZ front office after the Haren deal.  It's a mish-mash of pro's and con's and is essential reading for those of us trying to get to a handle on their thinking. 

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