Stewart: Diamondbacks Will Focus On Starting Pitching
By Joseph Jacquez
Dave Stewart will focus on starting pitching this off-season. Photo Courtesy of azcentral sports
Diamondbacks General Manager Dave Stewart appeared on MLB Tonight and MLB Network Radio last week, and he also spoke to the Arizona Republic about the team’s off-season plans, and what the Dbacks will do with their roster. He revealed a lot and gave us a perspective on what this new front office will do.
Here is what I know for sure: he believes that this team shouldn’t have lost 98 games last year given the talent on the roster. Most people believe that injuries and the fact that players weren’t going all out for Kirk Gibson were the main factors.
Here is the other thing I know: Stewart’s top priority for the Dbacks is to rebuild their starting rotation, and he would prefer to do it in the trade market. The team will look at the free agent market.
Here are my takeaways from what Stewart has said in the past week.
The Dbacks will not be in on James Shields, Max Scherzer, and Jon Lester
This really isn’t surprising at all. The Diamondbacks goal this off-season even before they hired their new front office was to reduce their payroll. A number in between 90-100 million is reasonable according to Team President Derrick Hall. Shields, Lester, and Scherzer will cost a lot of money, and acquiring one of them to anchor the team’s rotation would only increase the team’s payroll.
The Diamondbacks need to upgrade their starting rotation. Teams don’t win without a solid rotation. However, the Dbacks have more affordable options that would fit the team’s financial abilities.
The Dbacks will focus on Rebuilding their Rotation
This is the most obvious part of this whole off-season, but at the same time there are a ton of options to consider. The Dbacks best option would probably be to go into the trade market starting with this week’s General Manager’s meetings, and then continuing in December at the Winter Meetings.
The free agent market certainly offers bargain options. Brett Anderson who has been mentioned as a great fit for the Dbacks could be an option. Other options include Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang, Josh Johnson, Kyle Kendrick, Brandon Morrow, Colby Lewis, Colby Lewis, Justin Masterson, Edison Volquez, Ryan Vogelsong, Chris Young, and even Kenta Maeda are all options.
While the Dbacks will look at all the options on the market, the best bet for this team will be on the trade market, at least that is what Stewart is indicating. The Mets seem to be the perfect trade partner, but there are certainly other options.
Mark Trumbo will play RF Next Year
Stewart appeared on MLB Tonight last week and told the show that the plan is to play OF Mark Trumbo in right-field next season.
Trumbo played LF last year, and when he was on the field, he did a nice job defensively. He didn’t make many mistakes, and it looked like he settled in. From that aspect moving him to RF doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t like moving around.
In my opinion this doesn’t matter when it comes to what I would do with him. I’m sure the Dbacks want to give him a chance to produce over a full season because he has proven he can be an impact bat in the middle of the lineup.
However, I think Inciarte, and Peralta are better options in terms of getting on base, and they certianly have better range in the outfield. Both proved that they deserve to play a lot, and if the Dbacks want to reduce payroll, Trumbo is a great candidate. He is not worth 8 million especially if he cant stay on the field and get on base.
Ender Inciarte and David Peralta will Platoon in LF
Dave Stewart also said that the plan is to have Inciarte and Peralta play LF. Personally I don’t like this at all. Both are starting to become stars, and both need playing time every day to play well. Both were rookie of the year candidates this year.
Again I think shipping Trumbo and spend his $8 million on pitching would be the best option. This team wants to be young and having an OF of Inciarte, Pollock, and Peralta is pretty good. The range would be amazing.
This decision I think goes against what the Dbacks want to do and that is field a young team, and cut payroll.
Jake Lamb and Aaron Hill will Compete for the Job at Third Base
The Diamondbacks infield is pretty much set in stone according to what Stewart said on MLB Tonight. Despite what reports say about potentially trading Miguel Montero, the Dbacks want to keep him behind the plate because they don’t really have another option in the short term.
Paul Goldschmidt will be at first, and the Dbacks want to keep Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings up the middle at 2B and SS.
The real battle will take place at 3B where Aaron Hill and Jake Lamb will battle in spring training for the starting spot.
To me, several factors come into play. First, if the Dbacks don’t believe Lamb is ready to play everyday, than they will probably keep Hill around especially if they decide to trade Didi.
.However if the Dbacks do want to get younger, and believe that Lamb is the future at 3B and is ready, then they should move Hill and reduce some more payroll to spend on starting pitching. To me Hill and Trumbo are in the same situation. Lamb, and Brandon Drury are the future, and they need to start now.
To me moving Hill and making Lamb the primary third basemen makes a lot of sense, but ultimately the Dbacks might decide to keep Hill.
Archie Bradley Needs More Time At Triple A
Despite throwing the ball really well in the Arizona Fall League, Archie Bradley will likely remain in Triple A to start the season but Stewart didn’t rule out the possibility of him being called up. This decision does make sense.
Bradley was injured all of last year, and when he was healthy he struggled at both Double A and Triple A, posting an era over 6 . His control of his fastball is a problem, and if a pitcher doesn’t have that than that is a problem.
However, he is throwing well, and he mixed in a slider to go along with a great curveball. Even if doesn’t pitch this year, the Dbacks are in great shape with Bradley, Aaron Blair, Braden Shipley, and Touki Toussiant.
It’s going to be an interesting hot stove season for this team for sure.