Blum in Arizona

Timing is everything with analyzing signings like this one. The signing of Geoff Blum probably has little to do with the knowledge that Mark Reynolds is much on the market, but until that other string is tied in a knot, the two will dangle next to each other. That dangling state leads folks to wonder whether Blum is the Diamondbacks’ new third baseman or if he’s just the placeholder. And that line of thinking is unfair to Blum and unfair to the Diamondbacks, unless Blum being the starter is the plan, in which case this whole ordeal is just unfair to Diamondbacks’ fans.

The last time Kevin Towers employed Geoff Blum there were legitimate reasons for doing so. His reputation for being a smooth fielder repeated itself like a chorus during those seasons and made his offensive ineptitude tolerable – if only on a platoon basis. Those reasons may no longer apply. The defensive metrics featured on this site no longer hold Blum in esteem. Even if they did, he turns 38 early next season, meaning his lateral movement and quick reactions could nosedive in an instant.

If Blum’s glove is indeed on the downswing, then his employability has plummeted too. He’s not much of a hitter despite switch-hitting status. He’s more likely to face a right-handed pitcher, and has fared okay against them over the last three seasons (2010-2008 wRC+: 100, 76, and 88). His playing time against southpaws is too sparse to hold much value, meaning the weird shift in performance (2010-2008 wRC+: 24, 150, 67) is not proof that Blum’s bat sat in critical condition.

While the financial terms were unavailable at the time of this writing, the Astros declined his $1.65 million option for a reason. That means something like $1.5 million represents the line, while the safe bet is under. If Towers wanted a familiar face with some intangibles – presumably Blum is nice to the clubbies and youngsters alike – then fine. The deal lasting two years instead of one is a bit worrisome, but one has to figure the cost is low enough to absorb without issue. The real issue with this signing is the opportunity cost.

Unlike the Eric Hacker signing, Blum A) cannot be optioned to the minors, and B) will (likely) make more than major league minimum. And to sign a 24th or 25th guy before non-tenders? The demand for Blum simply cannot be that great to demand such decisive action and the addition of another year to a contract that many would have considered one year too many.

This signing would make a lot more sense if it came in February and not November (and for one year instead of two). Timing is often the difference between obtuse and opportune bench player signings.




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15 Responses to “Blum in Arizona”

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  1. chuckb says:

    The idea that “we had better jump on Blum before someone else does” is a little bizarre to me. It does seem to be a prelude to a Reynolds trade as the D-backs can now feel a little more secure that third base will be taken care of in the event that they are able to trade Reynolds.

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    • Dan says:

      That does not make me feel any more secure. Like, at all. As mentioned in the article, if Blum as the starter is the plan, the whole ordeal is indeed unfair to D-backs fans…

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      • chuckb says:

        Nor should it make D-backs fans feel more secure but it might make the front office and field staff more secure in knowing that they’ve got someone who’s played some 3B at the major league level ready in the event that they’re able to trade Reynolds. Otherwise, this signing is really strange.

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  2. DIVISION says:

    Living in Phoenix, if the D-backs trade Reynolds, not only will they face a certain and harsh reality in the form of fan backlash but face an even harsher reality of having Blum’s offensive ineptitude manning third base. With Reynolds you get someone who is at least league average (UZR rates him higher) defensively with a the possibility of power and production. Blum is a downgrade in both areas and even Kevin Towers would be foolish to trade Reynolds UNLESS he gets a major haul. Either way, it won’t play here if Blum is playing in lieu of Reynolds……..and fans here will not show up if that’s the case.

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    • diamondhacks says:

      The majority of AZ fans may be losing patience with ownership, but they’re also losing patience with Reynolds. He’s booed regularly and is generally perceived, fairly or not, as the biggest drain on the offense.

      No current Dback is popular enough to jeopardize attendance via his singular departure. Talk of ‘boycotts’ and ‘harsh and certain’ backlash, based on Geoff Blum manning third or Towers failing to land ‘a major haul’ for Reynolds, sounds overstated to me.

      The Diamondbacks will draw based on the usual stuff: how well they play, ticket prices, the economy….not on specific outrage over third base.

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      • DIVISION says:

        No one on the current team is more popular than Reynolds.

        Justin Upton is probably close, but outside of him……..no one.

        Economics will play a huge role, sure, but many of the fans who did continue to show up last year were only there to watch a few players because the team a whole was horrible.

        You lose one of your marquee players, it’s going to hurt marketability, regardless of how Towers trys to sell it.

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      • diamondhacks says:

        div,

        Mark’s relatively popular, on a team with only one truly marquee player (Upton), who isnt universally perceived as such locally. Maybe a more accurate descriptor for Reynolds is ‘most visible’ Dback. Unfortunately, that’s increasingly due to the twin lightning rods of K’s and .198. His stock with the bulk of fans who dont read Fangraphs, and the like, has suffered at least as much as his recent trade value.

        You’re making it sound like he still enjoys strong local support – like Luis Gonzalez did after an off year or two -but Mark and his ISO simply dont inspire that degree of unconditional, widespread appeal. Not after a campaign that was popularly viewed as horrendous.

        The relatively few fans who bought tix after the team stumbled did so, I imagine, for the usual broad array of entertainment reasons. Maybe some focused on players in lieu of the team or generic ballpark experience, but your implication that a sizable or important block of fans based purchases on the mere presence of Reynolds is very tenuous. Especially since he endured a miserable second half, objectively and subjectively, so much so that during his ABs, many Diamondback fans preferred to look away.

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  3. jwb says:

    Arizona GM Kevin Towers has stressed since taking over the reigns in September his preference for having veteran hitters coming off the bench.

    “It’s hard for young guys to be effective pinch-hitters coming off the bench,” Towers said just before the close of the 2010 season. “If you don’t have that experience or those guys that are threats, it makes it pretty easy on the opposing manager, because he has no fear of anyone that is coming off the bench.”

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20101111&content_id=16077670

    So it seems like he’s really not looking at Blum as a replacement for Reynolds.

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  4. DIVISION says:

    Most likely they wait until Reynolds has a bounce back year (production-wise) before they trade him because Towers is smart enough to maximize trade value. If he pawns Reynolds for a few league average relievers to shore-up the bullpen, the fans will boycott.

    Fans here are losing patience with the ownership group, so there isn’t much margin for error. Arizona fans are smart, they simply don’t show up if the product on the field isn’t quality.

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    • Bryant says:

      Betting on Towers to maximize trade value is a longshot at best. The Reynolds situation reeks of what happened with Khalil Greene a few years back with the Padres; he was caught grasping at straws and had to deal him off for near nothing.

      He is known for his loyalty (Blum, Sweeney, Nagy, Young…possibly even Hoffman) and laid back reputation, but he’s a self-described gunslinger who is far from adept at planning for the future.

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      • DIVISION says:

        I’m going to go out on a limb with my thinking that Reynolds is more popular in Phoenix than Greene was in San Diego.

        It’s not a valid comparison.

        It’s already been written about here and the fans aren’t going to buy-in if Towers moves Reynolds for spare parts. It has to be something big or he’ll never live it down.

        Phoenix is not San Diego.

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  5. Isaac says:

    Luke Gregerson was the player the padres got later for Greene. He’s only the best 7th inning pitcher in baseball.

    Also don’t be fools. Towers knows that Blum can play 3rd, 2nd, and maybe short in a pinch. Obviously he’s a player for the bench. I’m a padre fan and I know two of Towers key areas of focus… bullpen and bench players.

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  6. Chris H says:

    Love that Towers is back in the NL West! He’s such a buffoon.

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  7. DIVISION says:

    diamondhacks,

    I may be overreaching on the popularity of Mark Reynolds. I just know from following the team that he’s definitely a fan favorite. I can see Towers trading him, but not right now unless he gets something he can sell the fanbase on. Pawning him off because of his K-rate seems short-sighted, but then again, that’s Towers’ reputation. I hope Reynolds has a bounce-back year whether he gets traded or not.

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  8. David K says:

    “Also don’t be fools. Towers knows that Blum can play 3rd, 2nd, and maybe short in a pinch. ”

    We already have 2 or 3 guys that fit that description: Augie Ojeda, Ryan Roberts, and Rusty Ryal. I think they each make less than $1.35 mil./yr too. Oh boy, we have a “veteran” now with a .250 AVG, .310 OBP that can get a few hits off the bench. Like that was the Dbacks real problem last year.

    I feel that Towers didn’t fill a real need, he devoted more monay to that non-need that could have been satisfied by others at a lower cost, and the team just got older in the process. UGH!!

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