Are the Diamondbacks Done Looking for Pitching?
By Joseph Jacquez
A lot of Diamondbacks fans are upset and don’t understand the trades of Miguel Montero, the longest tenured Diamondback, and Wade Miley, the teams 2013 Opening Day starter.
Those trades are sending mixed signals to fans about what direction this team is really going in. Are we rebuilding. retooling, or doing a little bit or both? Does new management want to win next year; or are they waiting till 2016?
Here is the bottom line that fans need to understand: as valuable as Miley and Montero were to this team, the team didn’t win with either one of them last year.
In fact the Snakes had the worst record in baseball last season at 68-94. When that happens, change is bound to occur, and that is exactly what has happened.
Kirk Gibson was fired, and so was Kevin Towers. Under Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa, the front office has completely changed.
Dave Stewart is the new general manager, and DeJon Watson is his right-hand man. So far this winter, this new front office has made a huge impact. Whether you like the moves or not, this front office has done what it said it was going to do.
Going into the offseason, the plan was to acquire a bat, shed salary, and get younger and deeper, practically on the starting pitching side.
So far, the Dbacks have accomplished all of those goals, and its not even Christmas yet.
They signed 24 year old slugger Yasmany Tomas, traded for pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, and traded Miguel Montero and his $40 million salary to the Cubs for pitching prospects.
They also traded Didi Gregorius to the Yankees for some pitching prospects from the Tigers, to clear the SS logjam.
With La Russa at the helm, you have to trust what this team is doing. Right now, we dont know what this team is trying to do, but what this team does next might determine that.
The Dbacks aren’t done yet, and more moves are coming. The Dbacks still have a logjam in the OF, and they should trade at least one outfielder.
Despite having so many options in the starting rotation already, the Dbacks might not be done looking for pitching.
Lets be honest, this team doesn’t have a true no.1. Right now Josh Collmenter would be the opening day starter.
If this team plans on competing this year, they have to get a no.1 starter. Even when Miley was here, he wasn’t a true ace.
This report from Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic suggests that the team is still in on James Shields, and Max Scherzer, arguably the two best players still available on the free agent market.
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The Dbacks have cleared about $16 million from their 2015 payroll, and the market could very well come to the Diamondbacks, just like it did for Tomas.
Yankees G.M. Brian Cashman told NBC that Scherzer is to expensive for his team. Right now, Scherzer’s agent Scott Boras is looking for $200 million.
Now that the Yankees are supposedly out, does the price go down, and could the Dbacks afford him? The money is the big question. If his price stays in the $200 million range, then the Dbacks likely wont go after him.
That leaves Shields, who will be more affordable. Either Scherzer or Shields would be a huge upgrade to a rotation that had the fourth worst era in the majors in 2014.
James Shields might be a great fit for the Diamondbacks. Photo Courtesy of Getty Images.
Both pitchers are in the middle of their primes, and sometimes you have to overpay to get a no.1 starter that you desperately need.
Only two starters pitched more than 115 innings last season, not counting Miley who was traded to the Red Sox. Additionally, just two of the seven starters that made at least 14 starts for the Dbacks managed an era below 4.00.
Shields pitched 227 innings last season compling a 3.21 era, a 3.59 FIP, and a 3.56 xFIP. Scherzer pitched 220.1 innings with a 3.15 era, 2.85 FIP, and a 3.12 xFIP.
According to Beyond the Box Score, Trevor Cahill would lead the Dbacks rotation with a 1.2 fWAR in 2015. Scherzer had a 5.7 WAR last season, and Shields had a 3.7 WAR.
It remains to be seen how aggressive the Dbacks will be on Scherzer or Shields, but if either is acquired, it would be a big boost.
Run support is always an issue, but when you have the chance to acquire a no.1, then you have to go for it.
Shields is mainly a ground ball pitcher, and Scherzer is a fly ball pitcher. Shields might be a better fit for Chase Field.
The more likely scenario is that the Dbacks will wait till next winter, when the team believes the free agent starters market is better, and will include the likes of Johnny Cueto, and Jordan Zimmerman.
So what do you think? Should the Dbacks acquire Scherzer or Shields, or should they wait till next winter to add an ace? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.