MLB Team Report - Arizona Diamondbacks - INSIDE PITCH
PHOENIX -- For the first time since general manager Kevin Towers took over in late 2010, the Arizona Diamondbacks will be sellers at the trade deadline. With a capital "S."
Injuries to key players and ineffectiveness by others leave the D-backs with little to shoot for except retooling and avoiding the stigma of finishing with the worst record in the majors.
The D-backs hired Hall of Famer Tony La Russa to the newly created position of chief baseball officer in May, and he is spending much of his time familiarizing himself with the organization and talking baseball with Towers and manager Kirk Gibson. All agree changes are forthcoming, in part to whittle salary from a built-to-win-now, franchise-record $112 million payroll for 2014.
"If I can't bring a couple of tweaks to this thing, then they made a bad decision bringing me on. But I think there are some tweaks," La Russa told FOXSportsArizona.com in late June.
La Russa, Towers and Gibson met with scouts to evaluate the roster in advance of the July 31 trade deadline with an toward the future, and the D-backs already made two moves, sending free-agents-to-be Joe Thatcher to the Los Angeles Angels and Brandon McCarthy to the New York Yankees.
Those were the easy deals. Money will play a part in any others. Infielders Aaron Hill and Martin Prado and outfielder Gerardo Parra are proven commodities, and because of gluts in the middle infield and outfield, they could be available. Their salaries make any trade more problematic, however. Hill is owed $24 million in 2015-16, and Prado is owed $22 million over the same period. Parra has one more year of arbitration eligibility (at perhaps $6.5 million) before entering free agency.
The D-backs have young, controllable middle infielders in Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius and Nick Ahmed, and the farm system is stocked at third base. After early injuries to outfielders Mark Trumbo and A.J. Pollock, the D-backs got long looks at rookies David Peralta and Ender Inciarte, and they like what they saw.
In potential deals, major-league-ready prospects are the target.
"If you are looking at need, it is probably starting pitching and the outfield," Towers told FOXSportsArizona.com. "You want the best players, but if you have to wait a year or a year and a half for a better player, you do. You move toward getting the best player available."
The 2014 season started on a sour note and never improved. No. 1 starter Patrick Corbin and setup man David Hernandez underwent Tommy John surgery a week apart in late March, and the D-backs struggled to an 8-22 start. Free agent pickup Bronson Arroyo, the team's most efficient starter, pitched through elbow soreness for six weeks before bowing to Tommy John surgery in July.
The D-backs were unable to pick up the slack on the mound. McCarthy did not win any of his 10 starts at Chase Field, and Trevor Cahill struggled so mightily that he was taken out of the rotation in April and optioned to the minors with his consent in June. As part of the deal, Cahill was told he would be called back to the majors this season.
Among NL teams, only Colorado had a worse team ERA, fewer quality starts and a worse ERA from starting pitchers. The Arizona rotation has given up 72 home runs, tied for third most in the majors.
The team's All-Stars, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and catcher Miguel Montero, were the bright spots on offense. Goldschmidt is hitting .308 with a major-league-high 36 doubles and 16 homers, the only major leaguer with 30/15 at the break. Montero leads major league catchers with 52 RBIs at the break.
MLB Team Report - Arizona Diamondbacks - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost one
FIRST-HALF MVP: 1B Paul Goldschmidt posted the best offensive numbers in the National League in 2013 -- you could look it up -- and he had an even better first half this year. He leads the majors with 36 doubles and is the only player with at least 25 doubles and 15 homers at the break. He is doing that despite constant interference from opposing managers -- he walked 26 times in his past 23 games, continuing a trend that began in the second half of what easily could have been an MVP season in 2013.
FIRST-HALF-GRADE: D-minus -- It is true that every team has injuries, and in baseball circles it is considered bad form to use them as an excuse. At the same time, the D-backs' injuries were debilitating. Arizona had 12 players on the disabled list at one time, and only Texas has missed more player-games to injury. The loss of No. 1 starter Patrick Corbin, a 2013 All-Star, was a devastating blow to a team that was thin in starting pitching to begin with. LF Mark Trumbo, acquired to complement Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup, missed 10 weeks with a stress fracture. Blossoming CF A.J. Pollock also is expected to miss about that much time with a fractured right hand.
PIVOTAL POST-BREAK PLAYER: RHP Addison Reed had a schizophrenic first half. When the closer was good, he blew opponents away, posting 21 saves and 42 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings. However, when he lost his mechanics, things went the other way. His five failed save conversions are tied for the most in the NL, and no other reliever gave up more than his nine home runs. Is he the long-term answer at closer? The second half may tell.
BUY OR SELL: We already know which way the D-backs are going. The only question is who will go. Salary considerations will be a factor. The D-backs agreed to pay $2.05 million of the remaining $4.5 million owed RHP Brandon McCarthy in sending him to the Yankees for LHP Vidal Nuno, and the more money the are willing to eat, the more likely it is that 2B Aaron Hill, 3B Martin Prado or OF Gerardo Parra could be dealt. LF Mark Trumbo is probably better at first base or in the American League.
INJURY STATUS: All-Star LHP Patrick Corbin's season-ending-before-the-season-started Tommy John surgery was the biggest blow, but only the first. RHP Bronson Arroyo's season ended in June because of an elbow injury that also required elbow reconstruction, leaving the D-backs with rookies Chase Anderson, Mike Bolsinger, newcomer Vidal Nuno and reliever-turned-starter Josh Collmenter in the rotation at the break. OF Mark Trumbo, OF A.J. Pollock, INF Eric Chavez and INF Cliff Pennington all have missed or will miss significant time.
TOP PROSPECT: RHP Archie Bradley was deemed not quite ready for a promotion when RHP Trevor Cahill was sent to the bullpen in late April, and two weeks later, Bradley was shut down for a month because of elbow soreness. Bradley appears back on track, however, giving up only three earned runs in his first four starts at Double-A Mobile after returning to the mound June 26. It would not be a surprise to see Bradley, who throws in the high-90 mph range, in the majors later this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's all part of the equation. When a ballclub is 15 games under .500, it's going to affect attendance. The performance affects attendance. It puts us behind what our projections were. Dollars are part of the equation. That said, it is not all about saving money." -- D-backs GM Kevin Towers, on how the $112 million payroll figures into possible trade-deadline moves.
MLB Team Report - Arizona Diamondbacks - ROSTER REPORT
--RHP Bronson Arroyo (complete tear of right ulnar collateral ligament) went on the 15-day disabled list June 16. He is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery in the near future, probably July 15 or 16.
--SS Chris Owings (strained left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 26. An MRI exam July 1 showed no structural damage. He was cleared to begin throwing in early July, and he is expected to be activated July 18.
--3B Eric Chavez (sprained left knee) went on the 15-day disabled list June 9, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 29.
--C/INF Jordan Pacheco (right shoulder tendinitis) went on the 15-day disabled list June 25.
--INF Cliff Pennington (partially torn left thumb ligament) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 2. He underwent surgery June 4. He might be able to resume baseball activity in late July or early August.
--CF A.J. Pollock (broken right hand) went on the 15-day disabled list June 1. He underwent surgery June 2 to repair a fractured fourth metacarpal.
--RHP Daniel Hudson (Tommy John surgery in June 2013) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 29, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 19. He threw breaking balls in a bullpen session May 13, the first time he has spun the ball since returning to the mound in April. He threw a simulated game June 24. He likely will begin a rehab assignment in August with an eye toward returning to the majors in September.
--LHP Matt Reynolds (Tommy John surgery in September 2013) went on the 15-day disabled list March 19, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 1. He threw his first bullpen session June 10. There is no timetable for his return.
--RHP David Hernandez (Tommy John surgery in April 2014) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 14. He will miss the entire season.
--LHP Patrick Corbin (Tommy John surgery in March 2014) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 19, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 4. He will miss the entire season.
LHP Wade Miley
RHP Randall Delgado
RHP Chase Anderson
RHP Mike Bolsinger
LHP Vidal Nuno
RHP Addison Reed (closer)
RHP Brad Ziegler
RHP Josh Collmenter
LHP Oliver Perez
RHP Evan Marshall
RHP Matt Stites
LHP Eury De La Rosa
1B Paul Goldschmidt
2B Aaron Hill
SS Nick Ahmed
3B Martin Prado
INF Didi Gregorius
LF Mark Trumbo
CF Ender Inciarte
RF Gerardo Parra
OF Cody Ross
OF David Peralta
OF/INF Nick Evans