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An unofficial Arizona Diamondbacks community and blog

Updated: 2017-10-20T11:35:33-04:00


Snake Bytes, 10/20: Gardenhire’d


Our bench coach heads back to the manager’s seat in Detroit. Team news [Bless You Boys] Detroit stayed conservative with Ron Gardenhire - In the best organizations, you see openness and better communication between the coaching staff and the number crunchers. A good coaching staff not only takes a cursory interest in the analytics department’s work, but is actively engaged, exchanging ideas, and asking questions. From there, it requires commitment to put best practices into action, both as a team and on a player-by-player basis. None of that happens if the manager is only casually interested. Those requirements extend not just to Gardenhire, but to his coaching staff and his overall influence within the organization. Since his time with the Twins, has Gardenhire been converted? Source: In interview, #Tigers were impressed by Gardenhire’s openness to sabermetrics, which evolved during his tenure with #DBacks. @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) October 20, 2017 [AZ Central] Tony La Russa says it was his decision to leave - Tony La Russa said Wednesday that it was his decision to leave the Arizona Diamondbacks because the ballclub’s operations from the front office to the field would function just fine without him. “It’s not that I can’t contribute,” he said. “It’s that they don’t need it. These guys are sharp.” La Russa praised General Manager Mike Hazen and the front office staff, calling them “a really unique group of guys.” “I was really impressed,” he said. “They’re very smart. … They understand all the formulas, but they totally believe in the balance of the hearts beating and how you blend the reality of the dynamic of playing a game that can change inning to inning with the preparation that the metrics provide you.” [] Arizona D-backs' Arizona Fall League overview - There's no such thing as too much knowledge or too much versatility for a player, and Jack Reinheimer is working to acquire both during his stint with the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. "It's a good thing to be in this league," Reinheimer said. "Getting to pick these guys' brains and seeing what has been working for them, bouncing ideas off of them. I like doing that about hitting. It's a good opportunity for me to work on some things I want to work on... I think I just need to work on my consistency,. I've been trying to do that my whole career. It's up and down, but that's how the game goes." [ABC15] What MLB expansion and realignment could mean for the Diamondbacks - One prominent baseball writer believes expansion and realignment in Major League Baseball are on the way -- a move that would have a significant impact on all 30 existing MLB franchises, including the Arizona Diamondbacks. On Monday, Baseball America's Tracy Ringolsby wrote that there is "a building consensus that baseball will soon be headed to a 32-team configuration." This would include a pair of expansion teams, with the most likely host cities being Montreal and Portland, Oregon. How would this scenario impact the Diamondbacks? [Ariizona Sports] D-backs' Chris Iannetta uses winery to help wildfire first responders - Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris Iannetta and former major-league outfielder Vernon Wells have decided to do what they can to support first responders fighting California wildfires in Napa and Sonoma counties. The 34-year-old Iannetta, who will become a free agent this offseason, and Wells share a passion for wine and co-own the JACK Winery label. The former major league teammates created a shirt that reads “CA, Wine Strong” on the front. The winery, which is located in Napa Valley, announced via Twitter that 100 percent of the shirt’s sales will go directly to first responders. [] D-backs made huge leap in 2017 - There was not a whole lot the D-backs wanted to remember from 2016, but when it came to 2017, well, the memories could fill a book. From walk-off wins to a return to the postseason for the first time since 2011, this past season was packed with memorable moments. It[...]

Playoff Gameday Thread #17: Not yet dead



“He is not yet dead, put him back in bed. Keep him off the cart because he's not yet dead.”

5:08 pm: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs (Dodgers 3-1)

Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31) vs. Jose Quintana (LHP, 11-11, 4.15). Yesterday, the Cubs managed to do in the post-season what the Diamondbacks couldn’t: win a game against the Dodgers. That staved off elimination, at least for one more day. Chicago now just have to go past Kershaw, to take the series back to Los Angeles. Though Kershaw has been his usual mediocre playoff self this year, with a 4.76 ERA over two starts against the D-backs and Cubs. As with all the Los Angeles pitchers, homers have been his issue: he has allowed five in 11.1 innings. The Cubs also handled him well in a May 28 regular-season encounter, tagging him for 11 hits in just 4.1 frames.

The Dodgers will certainly want to end it here, with their ace, because a Cubs victory will further revive memories of the Red Sox Championship Series comeback in 2004. That’s not least because the Cubs’ current president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, was general manager in Boston at the time. While a 3-2 lead with two games at home (where Los Angeles has been very, very good this year) would still be a great position to be in, it’s not as good as putting the series to bed and having four off-days to rest and prepare for whoever comes through from the American League.

Detroit Tigers hire Arizona Diamondbacks’ bench coach Ron Gardenhire as manager



It appears the D-backs will have a vacancy to fill.

The Detroit Tigers will be hiring Ron Gardenhire as their next manager, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Gardenhire was brought on board to be Torey Lovullo's second-in command last November, bringing a wealth of managerial experience alongside the rookie Lovullo. Ron had been manager of the Minnesota Twins for 13 seasons, from 2002-14, compiling a record of 1068-1039 and taking them to the playoffs on six occasions. However, the Twins lost their last 12 playoff games under him, including three consecutive Division Series sweeps. [The streak reached 13 with their wild-card exit at the hands of the Yankees this season]

After leaving the Minnesota dugout at the end of the 2014 season, he stuck around the Twins organization as a special assistant. But he still wanted to get back into an active role, and jumped to Arizona when given the opportunity to work with Lovullo. Gardenhire said at the time, “I talked to a lot of people that know him as a great baseball guy, who is a young manager, his first time out there, and that’s exciting. For him to call me and ask me to help him out, I thought that was pretty cool.” Gardenhire had also recently interviewed for the vacant Boston Red Sox position - a spot which Lovullo himself could have been in line for, had he stayed in that organization.

With Torey now having a full year of his own managerial experience under his belt, it’s likely he won’t need such a veteran presence alongside him in the D-backs dugout for 2018. It will be interesting to see who the Diamondbacks select as a replacement.

The 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks: Rated


We asked. You answered. And here are the results Thanks to the 180 people who took the time to fill in our survey. In it, we asked you to rate all 45 of the players who appeared for the Diamondbacks this year, on a scale from one to ten. The poll closed yesterday morning, and we’ve been filtering and analyzing the results since. We did have to discard three obvious troll answers: The person who voted 1’s across the board. 3/10, must try harder... The person who (apparently) randomly voted 1 and 10. 5/10, reasonable effort shown. The person who voted 10 for Goldschmidt, and 1 for everyone else. I’d like to thank Mrs. Goldschmidt for her participation. 7/10, would troll again. Overall rating The chart below shows the average score given to each player, in descending order from best to worst. Not an enormous set of surprises here, with the players who had the best performance for us topping the charts. It’s not strictly related to their value though: J.D. Martinez had a higher rating, despite a lower WAR tally (resulting largely from his only appearing 62 times for the Diamondbacks). Zack Greinke also rates lower than both Robbie Ray and Archie Bradley, despite putting up significantly more bWAR than either. The criteria seem to take into account “value” as much as actual performance. The bottom represents a perfect storm of suck in both for Yasmany Tomas. It takes special effort to be rated worse than a pitcher who put up a literally infinite ERA for Arizona this year! Expectations vs. performance I thought it would also be interesting to compare the pre-season expectations for players, as measured by the rating they received in spring, against the actual performances, now the dust of the 2017 season has settled. This isn’t possible for all players: the likes of Martinez, Adam Rosales and David Hernandez were not on our radar in spring training, so there were no expectations for them. But for the 36 players we did consider, and who appeared for the D-backs this year, the chart shows the difference between spring and current ratings. A +ve number means they exceeded expectations, a negative number that they fell short. All told, 19 players performed better than we expected in spring, while 17 came in below projections. However, the overall tally of +/- scores was significantly positive, at +7.60; five players performed better than two points above expectations, while only Tomas fell short by the same margin. Put another way, the pleasant surprises were nicer, than the unpleasant ones were nasty. In general, it was the pitchers who did best, occupying the three top spots. I imagine if the first section drives the candidates for the SnakePit’s MVP award, the chart above may well be led by names we see in the ‘Unsung Hero’ category. We’ll be getting into the individual performance reviews, and breaking down each of the 45 players to appear. starting next week. [...]

Playoff Gameday Thread #16: Cubs on edge of extinction



The Dodgers could clinch the National League pennant tonight at Wrigley Field.

2:08 pm: Houston Astros @ New York Yankees (2-2)

Dallas Keuchel (LHP, 14-5, 2.90) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (RHP, 13-12, 4.74). When the teams arrived in New York, the Astros seemed set fair to move quickly on to the World Series. Now, this is suddenly a new, best-of-three series. However, it still feels like the advantage goes to Houston, with Keuchel having won the match-up against Tanaka, when they faced off in Game 1. He threw seven shutout innings; not that his opponent pitched badly, with six innings of two-run ball. It just wasn’t good enough. However, momentum is certainly with the Yankees, after a dominant win in Game 3, and a late surge in Game 4, locking up the series.

6:01 pm: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs (Dodgers 3-0)

Alex Wood (LHP, 16-3, 2.72) vs. Jake Arrieta (RHP, 14-10, 3.53).

The apparently unstoppable Dodgers look to win their seventh consecutive post-season game, and toss the reigning champion Cubs from the playoffs. This would mean 17 consecutive World Series without a successful defense, the last being the Yankees in 2000. It’s already the longest streak among the four major sports, ahead of the NFL (12 Super Bowls since the Patriots in 2004-05), NHL (0 Stanley Cups, the Penguins having gone back-to-back) and NBA (0 championships, the Warriors having three-peated). The 2011-16 World Series saw nine different teams take part. with the Cubs the only one of the remaining four included there, it will likely be eleven teams in seven years.

Tony La Russa to depart Arizona Diamondbacks



The Arizona Diamondbacks have announced that Chief Baseball Analyst Tony La Russa will depart the organization at the end of the month. The Hall of Fame manager served as the club’s Chief Baseball Officer from 2015-16.

“I am grateful to everyone in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization for the opportunity to complete my baseball education,” said La Russa. “After years in uniform and working with the Commissioner and many special members of Major League Baseball, being a part of the D-backs was both exciting and educational. The challenges facing baseball operations, player development and scouting are unique, as it’s a 24-7, 12-month job and more demanding than I ever realized. The success in 2017 was a complete team effort throughout the organization -- including great support from our fans -- and with the current leadership in place, we can expect it to be the foundation for many winning years to come.”

“Tony’s contributions have played a significant role in helping put our franchise on the path to success and for that, we are all very grateful,” said D-backs Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick. “He has always represented the team with class and has left a mark on the franchise that will benefit us for years to come.”

“I would like to thank Tony for all of his contributions to our baseball operations and our community during his time here,” said D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall. “Having his Hall of Fame credentials, vast experience and knowledge of the game as resources to rely upon and learn from has been tremendous. The transition to the new leadership team has been smooth and flawless with his willingness and positivity. I will forever value his hard work and our friendship.”

“Tony has been of great value to me, personally, and our staff during the past season, and I’m very appreciative for all that he has done here and the manner in which he handled the transition,” said D-backs Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Hazen. “I always had respect for him and his accomplishments prior to working with him every day and that has only grown in the past year. I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”
— Diamondbacks press release

This doesn’t come as a surprise. La Russa had effectively been sidelined since the departure of Dave Stewart at the end of the last season, with very little being heard from him since the new front-office took over. It almost feels as if La Russa had been gently put out to pasture, in deference to his remarkable career as a manager and position as a baseball icon. Anyone else might well have been give a cardboard box and told to pack his things. The quote from him that the job was “more demanding than I ever realized” was perhaps particularly telling. His time here will stand as evidence that dugout savvy does not necessarily translate into front-office skills.

Analyzing 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks attendance


Crowds were a little bigger - and perhaps more enthusiastic? - at Chase Field this year. Let’s dig into the numbers. MLB attendance Crowds across all baseball was down a little this season. The final tally for 2017 was 72,670,423: that’s down almost half a million from 2016, when the figure was 73,159,674. However, that is across a total of more than 2,400 contests, meaning the drop per game was only 201. There were some external factors which should be taken into account, such as the hurricanes which saw the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins both forced to play some of their “home” games out of their markets. On the other hand, attendance got a one-time boost by the new park in Atlanta: this led to the Braves having the biggest increase of any team this season. But it does continue something of a trend: coincidentally, that 201 drop is the same decrease as occurred between 2015 and 2016. However, it means this year saw the lowest total crowds across MLB since 2002. It’s more than two million below the recent high of 74,859,268, reached in 2012, and is approaching seven million off the all-time high in 2007 (79,503.175). This apparent loss of interest is not confined to the ballpark, either. Overall, prime-time league television ratings were down 6% compared to last season, though as in attendance, there were wide variations between teams. The Yankees and Braves were up 56%, the Tigers down 38% [the D-backs were +28%]. Is this trend cause for concern, or just a reflection of the increasingly fractured nature of leisure, with many more competing options for our attention? If it continues going forward, and the bubble bursts, then the broadcast networks who signed expensive deals for the right to televise MLB games (including our own Fox Sports Arizona) may be regretting their decisions, before these lengthy contracts expire. Where the D-backs stand The Diamondbacks attendance was 2,134,375, which was up just shy of a hundred thousand (98,159) on 2016. This was the fifth-largest increase: overall, 12 teams saw crowds go up, and 18 dropped. The D-backs improved only one spot across baseball, climbing from 21st to 20th. Though it was close: they were just 1,070 behind the 19th-placed Mariners - less than fourteen per game - and 4,116, or 51 per game, behind the Padres for 18th. It was the highest figure for the team since 2013 (2,134,895), and the biggest year-on-year increase since 2008, when crowds at Chase went up by more than 184,000, in the wake of the division title the previous year. The increase was about twice that posted the last time the Diamondbacks reached the post-season: in 2011, crowds were up by 48,735 on the 2010 figure. On that occasion, they also increased again the following year, and we should likely expect a similar bump for 2018. If the team can reach 2.2 million - a viable goal - it would be the first such season since 2008. The chart above compares attendance in Arizona with our siblings in Tampa, since both franchises opened their doors in 1998. Obviously, they are different markets, so rather than comparing raw numbers, I’ve taken the inaugural year for each as the baseline (the D-backs drew about 1.1 million more than the then Devil Rays that season), and given that a value of 100. Subsequent seasons are scaled comparatively to that, so we can see how the two teams have done at retaining their initial fan-base. Both lost about 600,000 in their sophomore season: however, that was a significantly higher percentage in Tampa, 25% compared to 16% for Arizona. Since then, the only period where the Rays surpassed the D-backs is their “window of contention” from 2008-13, when they reached the playoffs four times in six years, including a World Series appearance. Since then, they have ticked back down consistently, and are now little more than 50% of their opening draw. The impact of the summer p[...]

Playoff Gameday Thread #15: Championship series double-header



The Yankees look to build on yesterday and level the series, while the Cubs seek to start their own comeback.

2:08 pm: Houston Astros @ New York Yankees (Astros 2-1)

Lance McCullers (RHP, 7-4, 4.25) vs. Sonny Gray (RHP, 10-12, 3.55). If the top of the rotations here appear strongly to favor Houston, with Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander getting it done, the back ends do appear to tilt towards New York. C.C. Sabathia certainly gave the Yankees cause for hope, helping take a shutout into the ninth ining, as New York crushed Houston 8-1. Our old friend, former Diamondback Will Harris gave up a three-run homer to Aaron Judge there. If today’s game goes anything like yesterday’s, this series will suddenly become a best of three. Though with Keuchel and Verlander waiting, I’d still be betting on the Astros.

5:08 pm: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs (Dodgers 2-0)

Yu Darvish (RHP, 10-12, 3.86) vs. Kyle Hendricks (RHP, 7-5, 3.03). Having suffered comeback losses in both the first two games of this series, the Cubs will try to get on the board at home in Chicago. They’ll need to get their offense working, having managed only seven hits in Los Angeles, which gives them a .117 average. Basically, the entire Cubs roster has hit like a bunch of pitchers in the first two games, with an OPS of just .375. All of a sudden, the D-backs performance at the plate in the Division Series doesn’t seem so bad after all...