Well, he did it again. Just when we thought the dust may have settled around general manager Kevin Towers’ feet, the baseball community got the surprise announcement early Saturday morning, that he had added another outfielder in 32 year-old Cody Ross.Ross played last season with Boston.
In a way, it’s a little bit laughable. We now sit with five outfielders on the roster: Jason Kubel, Justin Upton, Gerardo Parra, Adam Eaton and Cody Ross. I know Class AAA outfielder A.J. Pollock has been listed as the sixth man here, but he really wasn’t expected to fit into the opening day picture.
Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Jason Kubel (13) follows through on a solo home run in the 11th inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The Diamondbacks defeated the Dodgers 4-3 in 11 innings. Image: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
On top of the surplus in the outfield, it seems we’re sitting with just shy of 20 shortstops as well. However, the difference between our abundance of players at the shortstop position and those in the outfield, is that the outfielders we have are solid, everyday players. All of them.
With the signing of veteran journeyman Cody Ross, it could very well allow Adam Eaton more time to develop at Reno (AAA) – which wouldn’t be a bad thing. An outfield that included Kubel, Upton and Ross would be strong. With Parra able to come off the bench again it adds another left handed bat as well as a gold glove defender. I would say that perhaps Ross was brought in for this type of role with either Parra or Eaton being the main man, but there’s no way Towers would pay $26 million for a platoon guy? Would he?
So where does this leave us? Most of the rumors surrounding the team immediately following the acquisition of Ross pointed to Kubel being the most likely to be dealt. Teams interested include the White Sox, Mariners and Rangers. There are two sides to this rumor. One, Kubel is coming off one of his best power years in his career with 30 doubles, 30 home runs and 90 RBI’s. He also set a career high in outfield assists (14) while committing just one error all season. His trade value is probably at an all-time high and Towers obviously recognizes this. If he wants to fill a hole on his roster, Kubel is the guy to catapult him there.
On the other hand, if the Diamondbacks are serious about contending in 2013- and I believe they are- then they’d be crazy to part ways with the 30 year old. When Kubel is healthy, he can be counted on as a middle of the order guy to produce 25 home runs with 90+ RBI’s. Sure, he hit a serious rough patch in August but the guy also carried the team for the first three months of the season. The fact that he offers another left-handed bat cannot be over looked either with our heavy right-handed hitting batting order.
The D’backs got more than they bargained for in Kubel in 2012 and should expect similar results in 2013. With a GM that sometimes seems more interested in dealing players just to deal them, you have to hope that at some point he would recognize his core players and hang on to them. At 30, we could be looking at the start of Kubel’s prime. A similar thing happened to David Ortiz when he was let go from the Twins at age 28 and headed to Boston to have some amazing offensive years (I’m going to avoid the fact steroids could have been involved).
This, of course, leaves Parra as the odd man out once again. We arepotentially looking at another year of him platooning and never really getting his shot as an everyday outfielder.This is the type of role that the 25 year-old has stated that he is getting tired of. Towers mentioned yesterday that ownership has given him the OK to hang on to all of his outfielders heading into the new season, which would put their payroll around $95 million. This is well above their original anticipated total.
But, Towers is known for being a keen baseball mind. Remember, that during last year’s off-season, Towers acquired Kubel and everyone thought he was crazy for creating a ‘crowded outfield.’ That play seemed to workout just fine for the D’backs this past season.