Archive for Diamondbacks

The International Bonus Pools Don’t Matter

International baseball has been in the news often lately with the ongoing saga of Yoan Moncada (he’s in America now), the signing of Yasmany Tomas and yesterday’s news that Cuba-U.S. relations could be getting much better.  In recent news, at the yearly international scouting directors’ meeting at the Winter Meetings last week, sources tell me there was no talk about the recent controversial rule change and no talk about an international draft, as expected.

So much has been happening lately that you may have temporarily forgotten about last summer, when the Yankees obliterated the international amateur spending record (and recently added another prospect). If the early rumors and innuendo are any indication, the rest of baseball isn’t going to let the Yankees have the last word.

I already mentioned the Cubs as one of multiple teams expected to spend well past their bonus pool starting on July 2nd, 2015.  I had heard rumors of other clubs planning to get in the act when I wrote that, but the group keeps growing with each call I make, so I decided to survey the industry and see where we stand.  After surveying about a dozen international sources, here are the 11 clubs that scouts either are sure, pretty sure or at least very suspicious will be spending past their bonus pool, ranked in order of likelihood:

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Yankees Get Help, Tigers Get Help, D-Backs Get Projects

I was asked the other day why there hadn’t even so much as been any noise on the Yankees trying to find a new shortstop. It was a known wide-open hole, and it didn’t seem like any negotiations had developed. But, sometimes, things come together quickly. Other times, things come together slowly, and we just don’t hear about them in the lead-up. The Yankees now have their new shortstop, and it’s a player who’s been rumored to be available for a while. Yet what we don’t have is a two-team straight-up player swap.

The Yankees are getting Didi Gregorius, who’s long been a candidate to fill the vacancy, what with Arizona also having Chris Owings. But this is a three-team trade, with the Tigers involved, and they’re getting Shane Greene from New York. Finally, the Diamondbacks are getting Robbie Ray and one Domingo Leyba, both from Detroit. It’s a trade full of second-tier intrigue, and I think the best way to do this is to discuss the move by breaking it up into team-specific sections. It seems to me like the Yankees did well, and the Tigers did well, too. The Diamondbacks are taking the biggest risk.

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FG on Fox: Making a Player Out of Yasmany Tomas Scouting Reports

It was the Diamondbacks who managed to swoop in and get Yasmany Tomas signed to a contract. The raw terms are six years and $68.5 million, which is a bit lower than what was expected, but then that skips over the critical opt-out clause after year four. The clause is a benefit to the player and not to the team, so the clause has significant value, and you barely have to value it at anything to conclude that Tomas signed what’s effectively the biggest contract yet for a Cuban. While his deal doesn’t have the highest sum, it is the most player-friendly.

It remains to be seen what the Diamondbacks do with Tomas. It remains to be seen what the Diamondbacks do with the rest of their roster, and it remains to be seen whether this deal will end up being worth it. Arizona now has an extra-crowded outfield, with first base occupied by a young superstar, so it seems like some pieces will have to be moved around. That’s something to be thought about another day. For this day, let’s consider, what kind of player might Yasmany Tomas be?

There are a handful of good scouting reports out there to be read. Scouting reports provide a good idea of the current understanding of a player’s various strengths and weaknesses, and Tomas has been written up by Ben Badler and Kiley McDaniel, among others. My intention here is to take things one step further. Drawing upon what’s been written by people like Badler, McDaniel, and Jesse Sanchez, I want to identify player comparisons such that I can find an estimate of Tomas’ overall value. This, then, is a bit of an experiment, but let’s make a player out of the Yasmany Tomas scouting reports.

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D’Backs Land Yasmany Tomas

After weeks of rumors linking him to the Phillies, Braves, Padres, and Giants, Yasmany Tomas has reportedly signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The deal guarantees Tomas $68.5 million over six years, but critically, it apparently contains an opt-out after the fourth year; a concession which may have allowed the D’Backs to sign Tomas for less than the reported asking price.

Kiley McDaniel wrote up Tomas back in September. I’ll quote liberally from that piece here:

The consensus is that as a prospect Tomas ranks behind White Sox 1B Jose Abreu, who got six years and $68 million before the season, as Tomas is a riskier bat with less of a track record and a little less raw power. Many scouts prefer (Rusney) Castillo, who got seven years and $72.5 million last month, as Castillo is a plus-plus runner that can play an up-the-middle position and is a little better bet to hit for some scouts, as well.

That said, Abreu and Castillo were both signed for their age-27 seasons while Tomas will be 24 next year and should be big league ready at some point in 2015. Scouts on the low-end for Tomas mention Dayan Viciedo as a comparable while more scouts think Yoenis Cespedes is a better offensive comparison, though Cespedes is quicker-twitch athlete with more speed and defense value.

While Kiley was attempting to compare and contrast the recent Cuban free agents for market valuation reasons, his projected peak line is almost a dead ringer for what Justin Upton has done in the big leagues, as I noted last week. Kiley’s guess of a .275/.350/.480 would equal out to about a 130 wRC+ in a neutral park, so even if he’s a minor defensive liability, that line would still make Tomas an above average player, probably in the +3 WAR range.

However, reports suggested that some teams felt that he profiled more as a DH, and if the defense is more Michael Morse than Brandon Moss, that could limit his overall value, especially in the National League. Whether this turns out for Arizona might depend entirely on how well he’s able to field his position; the D’Backs probably don’t need another Mark Trumbo, though Tomas will also expected to be a better hitter.

With just four team-controlled years, the D’Backs are buying Tomas’ age 24-27 seasons, and allowing him to potentially hit free agency again at perhaps the peak of his career. This seems like a near perfect fit for Tomas, as he gets $68 million in guaranteed money if he sucks, and yet he still gets a chance for a mega-contract if the power is as advertised. The opt-out could even give him the leverage to renegotiate into a much-larger deal with Arizona in a year or two if he follows the Cespedes/Puig/Abreu career path, as I’d imagine the White Sox would already be looking to tear up their deal with Abreu if he was only three years away from free agency.

By giving the fourth year opt-out, the D’Backs are limiting their own upside if Tomas hits, while still taking on all the risk associated with projecting performance from a guy who has never played in the U.S. before. However, a $68 million risk isn’t really that substantial of an investment anymore, and if he hits like scouts have been projecting, he should easily be worth the contract before he opts out. If Arizona backloaded enough of the money so that they can substantial value in the first four years of the deal, then the benefits could easily be worth the risk.

If Tomas is more of a DH than an outfielder, or if his raw power isn’t accompanied by a decent approach at the plate, the D’Backs could end up paying $68 million for a player who might fit better in the AL. That said, even if that does prove to be the case, he’d probably still have some appeal to teams in the junior circuit, and the price tag is low enough that he shouldn’t be too terribly hard to move if it comes to that; after all, we just saw Billy Butler get 3/$30M from the A’s, and Tomas has now signed for a similar annual average value.

Cuban free agents have proven to be remarkable bargains of late. The opt-out will serve to make this one less of a bargain, most likely, but it still seems like a reasonable risk for the Diamondbacks to take. $11 million per year for right-handed power might quickly look like a bargain if the rest of the skillset is even reasonably passable.


Diamondbacks Decide to Find Out What Jeremy Hellickson Is

Over his first full season, back in 2011, Jeremy Hellickson ran a mediocre 115 FIP-. It wasn’t a particularly awful mark for a rookie, but that doesn’t suggest the kind of talent you build around. Yet, the same year, Hellickson also posted an ERA- of 76. By the numbers you don’t notice while watching, Hellickson was 15% worse than average. By the numbers you do notice while watching, Hellickson was 24% better than average. The ERA-/FIP- difference of 39 points was, to that point, the biggest full-season difference since 1996. Hellickson became a pitcher of intrigue.

And then he went and doubled down. As a sophomore, a 117 FIP-. As a sophomore, an 80 ERA-. That’s a difference of 37 points, which is basically tied with his first difference of 39 points, and it’s also one of the greatest single-season differences in recent history. One time, you might be comfortable writing off as a fluke. But twice in a row? That’s twice the sample size. Oh, the questions we all asked. Through his first 400-some innings, Hellickson looked like one of the fabled breakers of modern analytics.

Now it’s November 2014 and Hellickson is property of the Diamondbacks. Some things have changed.

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FG on Fox: The Rarest Pitch in Baseball

You might think the rarest pitch in the game is the knuckleball — only two pitchers regularly throw it right now. But there is a pitch that only Brad Ziegler throws often.

Ziegler throws a changeup — out of a submarine arm slot. Nobody else throws the same pitch with the same mechanics.

Only six sidearmers threw at least 25 changeups last year, and if you up that number to 100 thrown, there’s only Ziegler and (lefty) Aaron Loup on the list. If you limit the list to just submariners, Ziegler’s the only one that throws a changeup regularly.

Turns out, the physics of throwing a ball from that angle could be the reason so few sidearmers boast a solid changepiece.

Take Ziegler’s slider as an example. Back when he threw overhand, before 2007, he was putting traditional slider spin on the ball from his old arm slot. Thanks to Matt Lentzner at The Hardball Times, we know what that slider spin looks like. From his piece, here are the spins on the ball on pitches leaving from your traditional three-quarter arm slots:

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Stock Report: November Prospect Updates

I’ve said it before but could stand to say it again: prospect rankings don’t have a long shelf life.  Usually, players ranked in the offseason don’t change much over that offseason, or at least we don’t have a chance to see any changes since they normally aren’t playing organized ball.  Every now and then a player with limited information (like a Cuban defector that signed late in the season) will go to a winter league and we’ll learn more, but most times, players look mostly the same in the fall/winter leagues, or more often a tired version of themselves.

This means that updating prospect rankings before we have a nice sample of regular season games to judge by (say, late April), seems pretty foolish.  The two mitigating factors in the case of my rankings is that I started ranking players before instructional league and the Arizona Fall League started and I also did draft rankings, which are constantly in flux.

I was on the road 17 of the last 18 days, seeing July 2nd prospects (recap here), draft prospects and minor league prospects.  I’ll take this chance to provide some updates to my draft rankings from September and below that, some players that looked to have improved at the AFL, particularly those from clubs whose prospects I’ve already ranked.

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Archie Bradley Impressed Last Night, Still Has Work To Do

When our other prospect writers submit scouting reports, I will provide a short background and industry consensus tool grades.  There are two reasons for this: 1) giving context to account for the writer seeing a bad outing (never threw his changeup, coming back from injury, etc.) and 2) not making him go on about the player’s background or speculate about what may have happened in other outings.

The writer still grades the tools based on what they saw, I’m just letting the reader know what he would’ve seen in many other games from this season, particularly with young players that may be fatigued late in the season. The grades are presented as present/future on the 20-80 scouting scale and very shortly I’ll publish a series going into more depth explaining these grades.   -Kiley

As the entire internet seems to know, Arizona Fall League kicked off yesterday and I scooted over to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick for the nightcap that featured an Archie Bradley v. Tyler Glasnow pitching matchup.

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On Chase Anderson’s Two Changeups

Chase Anderson started out with a curveball, back when he was barely a teen. But the young Diamondback starter was told to shelve it, found a changeup, and the rest is history. Except that it looks like he has two changeups, which is even more fun than one.

“My curve ball when I was younger was a better pitch than my changeup,” said Anderson before a game with the Giants in early September. “But I learned my changeup when I was 13 and threw it more because it was easier on my arm as a kid,” Anderson continued before admitting that, yeah, his dad told him to stop throwing the curve.

The curve has been a great pitch for Anderson this year (“my equalizer”), mostly because it gives him another option when his fastball command is gone. “My fastball command has been spotty in certain starts, but the curveball I’ve been able to throw for strikes to get ahead,” said Anderson.

He’s been just as likely to throw his curve as his sinker on the first pitch this year. “It’s a really good 0-0 pitch to get you over and get strike one and get ahead,” he admitted. The change is a better swing and miss pitch because “They can see the curveball, but the changeup is hard to see, looks like a fastball and then it’s slower, messes with your depth perception,” the pitcher pointed out. “Curveballs they can see out of your hand unless it’s Clayton Kershaw‘s and you can’t see it at all.”

And so Anderson works to get ahead so he can use the change and curve to put batters away. Sometimes, he uses the changeup to get ahead, but he wants to be careful about how often he does so. “You have to learn to have confidence to spot a 2-0 or 3-1 heater — if you throw a 3-1 changeup in the first inning, they’ll know you go to your changeup when you’re behind in the count,” Anderson said. “You don’t want to get into patterns.” It’s either fastball or change in 2-0 counts, but Anderson has only thrown two 3-0 changes all year. (Maybe he could consider throwing a few more. Maybe even a lot more.)

About those 2-0 changeups. They look a bit different than his 0-2 changeups. Anderson changes his change depending on the count. “I almost throw two changeups — a strike changeup and a strikeout changeup,” Anderson said, adding that the two-strike pitch comes with “more pronation.”

If that seems surprising, maybe it shouldn’t be. Pronation is key to great changeups, and he’s been throwing the change forever. If there are ‘inside of the ball’ and ‘outside of the ball’ pitchers as Gavin Floyd suggested, Anderson knows which group is his: “I’m an inside of the ball guy.”

What does that extra pronation do to the pitch? Here are his changeups in buckets depending on how many strikes the count started with:

  Velocity Horizontal Vertical
0 Strikes 80.9 -9.79 6.18
1 Strike 81.1 -9.97 6.04
2 Strikes 81.2 -10.04 5.78

Looks like pronating more led to more drop on the pitch, and slightly more horizontal movement. Here are two changeups at the extremes of those ranges — the get-me-over on the left, and a two-strike diver and darter on the right. The two-striker moved six and half inches more horizontally, and dropped three and a half inches more vertically.

AndersonGetMeCHAnderson2StrikeCH

Almost — but not quite — two different pitches, no?

Chase Anderson still has to work on fastball command, though he thinks it could be about confidence. “I think it’s a mental thing, you try to make the perfect pitch instead of letting the pitch do what it’s going to do,” he said about occasional bouts of homeritis brought on by getting into hitter’s counts.

But even when his fastball isn’t quite there, he has good command of a big breaker, and two changeups. That’s usually enough. “If you have a three pitch mix, and you can locate one or two — somedays three — you can do well,” said Anderson.


Evaluating the Prospects: Arizona Diamondbacks

Evaluating The Prospects: Texas RangersColorado RockiesArizona Diamondbacks & Minnesota Twins

Scouting Explained: Introduction, Hitting Pt 1 Pt 2 Pt 3 Pt 4 Pt 5 Pt 6

The Diamondbacks have a solid system fronted by three right-handed starting pitchers that could all be factors in Arizona by the end of 2015.  The system has added depth with recent trades and solid drafts, but most of the top talent is in the upper levels, so Arizona will need to continue restocking the farm to have a continuous pipeline.

Here’s the primer for the series and a disclaimer about how we don’t really know anything.  See the links above for the two previous installments in this series and another series about how I evaluate, including four part on the ever-complicated hit tool, with more installments in that series coming soon.

Most of what you need to know for this list is at the above links, but I should add that the risk ratings are relative to their position, so average (3) risk for a pitcher is riskier than average risk (3) for a hitter, due injury/attrition being more common. I’d also take a 60 Future Value hitter over a 60 FV pitcher for the same reasons. Also, risk encompasses a dozen different things and I mention the important components of it for each player in the report.  The upside line for hitters is the realistic best-case scenario (in general, a notch better than the projected tools) and the Future Value encompasses this upside along with the risk rating for one overall rating number.

Below, I’ve included a quick ranking of the growth assets that Arizona has in the majors that aren’t eligible for the list and Dave Cameron shares some general thoughts on the organization. Scroll further down to see Carson Cistulli’s fringe prospect favorite and my first stab at an emoji scouting report. The next team up in the series, working from the bottom of the standings on up, is the Minnesota Twins.

Big League Growth Assets
1. A.J. Pollock, CF, Age 26
2. Chase Anderson, RHP, Age 26
3. Patrick Corbin, LHP, Age 25
4. Chris Owings, SS, Age 23
5. Didi Gregorius, SS, Age 24
6. Randall Delgado, RHP, Age 24

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Where Do The Diamondbacks Go From Here?

Nobody could ever accuse Kevin Towers of being anything less than bold. Few teams have been as interesting as the Arizona Diamondbacks over the last few years. Setting aside the quality of his moves, the sheer volume and often puzzling circumstances surrounding them garnered Arizona more headlines than such a middling team typically deserves.

His moves cut against the grain of prizing young, cheap talent and instead focused on a loose set of criteria, most of which was derived from the ability to play above one’s tools. It didn’t make the team better but it sure spilled a lot of ink. The problem is a simple one: a general manager’s job is to win and make money for the club, not generate think-pieces and schadenfreude. The Diamondbacks didn’t win and now Towers is out as the general manager, with the search for his replacement beginning in earnest (the list of candidates is as long as your arm.)

The Diamondbacks team  Towers inherited wasn’t a world beater, though it did claim the 2011 National League West crown. One could convincingly argue that the franchise is actually in worse shape now compared to Towers’ first day on the job. What exactly has the outgoing general manager left the next person to fill his chair? More than you might think.

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A Point in Defense of Tony La Russa

One thing we know almost for certain: the Diamondbacks hit Andrew McCutchen intentionally, as revenge for the Pirates knocking out Paul Goldschmidt. One thing people believe, that might or might not be true: McCutchen’s rib injury is related to the beanball. McCutchen figures it’s not a coincidence; his manager, on the other hand, thinks linking the two is a “conspiracy theory”. Whatever the case, the Diamondbacks are receiving attention in August, their philosophy being brought back into the spotlight. And Tony La Russa, who works for the organization now, has spoken up in response to the media criticism:

“I don’t see where the Diamondbacks should catch all this (expletive) they’re catching,” La Russa said.
[...]
The crux of his argument lies in what he believes to be the Pirates’ pitching philosophy. They don’t just pitch inside, La Russa said. They pitch up and in. And by choosing to do so, they have to live with the consequences.

La Russa doesn’t think his team is the offender it’s portrayed as. He thinks the Diamondbacks are being broadly perceived unfairly, and if you look past their own quotes and look instead at the numbers, you can see where La Russa might be on to something. People like to think of the Diamondbacks as one thing, but in reality, their issue is less about the pitches, and more about the things they say.

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How Did Clayton Kershaw Get Bombed?

The last time Clayton Kershaw allowed a run, his team was trailing the Giants in the National League West by seven and a half games. The Dodgers have since caught up, in part because of the whole thing where Clayton Kershaw hasn’t allowed any runs, and for as much as this is a particularly pitcher-friendly era for the game, Kershaw these days has achieved a basically impossible level, standing out from the group of pitchers standing out from the rest of the pitchers. If the best pitchers get strikeouts while limiting walks and homers, 2014 Kershaw has been just about perfect, improving from a Cy Young campaign that was his second in three years.

It is absolute silliness that Clayton Kershaw owns a 1.85 ERA. I’ll note also, for good measure, he hasn’t allowed a single unearned run. It is additional absolute silliness that Kershaw is one start away from possessing a 1.16 ERA. Through 13 starts, he’s allowed 18 runs, but in 12 of those starts, he’s allowed a combined 11 runs. On May 17, Kershaw allowed 39% of his runs in 8% of his appearances, getting yanked in the second inning. Kershaw entered that game with a 1.74 ERA. Since that game, he’s posted a 0.97 ERA. That was a start that didn’t at all fit the greater pattern, so it makes you wonder: how did it happen? How did Clayton Kershaw get bombed by the Diamondbacks in the middle of May?

Let’s take a look. If nothing else, this post reveals what an actually mortal Clayton Kershaw can look like. It is an increasingly unfamiliar image.

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The Yankees Bet on Brandon McCarthy and xFIP

The Yankees just pulled a rare feat by trading Vidal Nuno to the Diamondbacks for Brandon McCarthy. Only once in the last five years has a team traded for a pitcher whose results were so out of whack with their process and peripherals. Of course, that was when the Dodgers traded a player to be named later to the Phillies for Joe Blanton in 2012, but the Yankees have a few reasons to believe that this will turn out better for them than that trade did for the Dodgers.

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The Diamondbacks’ Grit vs. Win Expectancy

It’s fairly safe to say that Arizona manager Kirk Gibson doesn’t care for Ryan Braun that much. Braun torched Gibson’s Diamondbacks in the 2011 LCS, just before Braun was found to have been taking some form of PEDs. The suspension, repeal fiasco, and Braun’s name coming up in the Biogenesis scandal never sat right with Gibson and he’s been a vocal critic ever since.

This fact and this fact alone could be the reason D-Backs reliever Evan Marshall threw at Ryan Braun twice in a row, hitting him the second time and earning an ejection. It could have been compounded by the fact that Brewers starter Kyle Lohse hit two batters himself earlier in the game. It could have to do with the two batters that were hit the night before. There could be a lot of reasons for it, but one thing is clear; the Diamondbacks playing tough-guy baseball was a bad move as far as the numbers go and ended up costing them the game in this case. Read the rest of this entry »


Sinkers, Change-ups and Platoon Splits

You’re a pitcher? You need a change-up.

That automatic response seems reasonable enough given the state of modern pitching analysis. You’ve probably heard it plenty of times about pitchers like Justin Masterson or Chris Archer. After all, the change breaks away from opposite-handed hitters and helps pitchers neutralize platoon threats.

But you know what? There’s another pitch that breaks away from opposite-handed hitters: the two-seamer or the sinker, whatever you want to call it. And yet lefties love sinkers from righties. So why do two pitches with similar movement have such different results?

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A.J. Pollock, Better Than You Think, Now Gone

Who’s the best all-around center fielder in baseball? Well, that’s easy. It’s Mike Trout. I could give you a bunch of stats to illustrate that, but I won’t. It’s Mike Trout. Discussion over, at least on that point. Second-best? You can make a case for Carlos Gomez. You can also make a case for Andrew McCutchen. There’s not really a wrong answer there between the two. One gives you a bit more defense, one a bit more offense. No matter which one is No. 2 or No. 3, it’s safe to say that they’re the only two names there.

But after that, it gets a little more questionable. If this was two years ago, maybe Austin Jackson is in that conversation, but he’s well into his second consecutive year of decline from a great 2012, to the point that’s he’s playing like a replacement player right now. Colby Rasmus has his supporters, and he’s also got a .266 OBP. Lots of people like Adam Jones, and it’s hard to argue with the 55 homers he hit over 2012-13. He’s also been a below-average hitter in 2014. Jacoby Ellsbury probably belongs in the discussion, but his 98 wRC+ isn’t doing him any favors. Maybe you like Coco Crisp, although his once-stellar defense has collapsed in recent years.

I guess the point here is this: how many total names would you have to go through — Desmond Jennings, Lorenzo Cain, Denard Span, Juan Lagares, etc. — before you got to Arizona’s A.J. Pollock, who broke his hand over the weekend when Johnny Cueto hit him with a pitch? A dozen? More? And yet, Pollock is one of just five true center fielders worth six WAR since the start of 2013. (I’m discounting Shin-Soo Choo here, who isn’t a center fielder now and was merely trying to impersonate one last year.) If you prefer “over the last calendar year,” he’s still No. 5, behind the big three and Ellsbury. With 2.5 WAR through 50 games this year, he was on pace for 6 WAR in 2014 alone, and had been behind only Trout and Gomez before getting hurt. Read the rest of this entry »


The Diamondbacks Still Can Reload

When the Diamondbacks won the National League West division in 2011, they looked like they had a pretty decent future. This week, things don’t look quite as rosy. According to our Playoff Odds page, only four teams have less of a shot at reaching the postseason as of this writing — the Astros, Twins, Cubs or Marlins. None of those teams were expected to contend for a playoff berth this season. The Dbacks were. Unless things change fast, they will not actually contend for a playoff spot, and then the question becomes how can the organization right the ship?

Since Jonah Keri had a great look over at Grantland at how we got to this point, and since I try to follow the mantra of Chris Tucker/Smokey and not bring up old ‘ish, I won’t waste your time repeating it. Here though, if you don’t feel like clicking through, is the money quote:
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George Springer, Archie Bradley & The Service-Time Dance

The Houston Astros added outfielder George Springer to their major league roster on Tuesday night and batted him second in the lineup in their game on Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals. Springer had an infield hit in five at-bats plus a walk in his debut.

Astros fans — indeed, fans of young baseball talent — have been pining for Springer’s call up since last season when he batted .301/.411/.600 in 589 plate appearances with 37 home runs and 45 stolen bases between Triple-A and Double-A. That followed his successful 2012 campaign in Double-A and high Single-A, when he posted a .302/.383/.526 line in 581 plate appearances. In February, Baseball America ranked Springer as the 18th best prospect. My colleague Marc Hulet put Springer at No. 14 on his Top 100 prospect list.

Yet Springer remained in the minors, without even a whiff of the big leagues last September, when the Astros expanded their roster. And he was sent back to Triple-A during spring training, with no place on Houston’s 40-man.

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Brandon McCarthy Is Bulking Up

When we last talked to Brandon McCarthy, he was looking for a change-up. He didn’t find it. But he did find what he hopes will be the key to a successful — and full — season this year: Bulk.

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