Tag: Phoenix

Arizona Diamondbacks Adam Eaton Activated from Disabled List

According to Jody Jackson of Fox Sports Arizona, Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder Adam Eaton has been activated from the disabled list and will be in the starting lineup tonight versus the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Adam Eaton suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow during spring training and has been on the disabled list ever since. Eaton was set to open up the season as Arizona’s starting center fielder and leadoff man. Tonight he will finally fill that role. It may be three months late, but Eaton will be batting leadoff for Arizona as the starting center fielder when the Diamondbacks take on the Dodgers at Chase Field.

Eaton’s return brings up an interesting situation for the Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson. The roster currently has a logjam in the outfield, with Gerardo Parra, Jason Kubel, Cody Ross and A.J. Pollock all playing significant time this season. Who will be the odd man (or men) out is the question the organization will need to face soon. With only Parra locked in as a starter, one or more of the remaining three may find themselves as trade bait in the very near future.

This is a good problem to have for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have been mentioned in many trade rumors as the trade deadline nears. It is believed by many that they may be looking to bolster the pitching staff to help strengthen the team for a playoff run.

Getting Eaton back in the lineup could provide a much needed spark for the offense. Eaton is a max effort player that provides energy for his teammates to feed off of. It will be great for Diamondback fans to see him on the field tonight.

Game Info:

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Arizona Diamondbacks

Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona

9:40 ET

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Texas Rangers: Endy Chavez and the Red Hot Texas Offense

The Texas Rangers have outscored their opponents 57-23 in the past eight days, and Endy Chavez has been the unsung hero of this recent hot streak. While players like Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz have been hitting balls out of the park, Chavez has been hitting .435 in 13 games while crossing the plate 11 times.

The emergence of this new hitting machine has surprised many in the Rangers fan base. Chavez began the year in AAA Round Rock hitting .305 in 30 games. He recently made his first major league appearance since 2009 where his season ended with a torn ACL. He was called up after Julio Borbon was placed on the disabled list but has remained on the roster despite Borbon being activated.

Chavez is putting up career high numbers in a lot of offensive categories and in many cases is outpacing the player he was sent to temporarily replace. Here’s a look at some figures comparing this year’s stats with his previous career-high stats.

  AVG OBP SLG WAR Cutters Seen Fastballs Seen Strike Contact Ball Contact
Career High .306 (2006) .348 (2006) .464 (2002) 1.1 (2008) 4.2% (2009) 70.4% (2002) 93.1 (2008) 78.5% (2008)
2011 Season .435 .469 .696 1.1 13% 58.2% 95% 87.5%

It’s very telling that he’s seeing fewer fastballs and more secondary pitches yet his average is up over .100 on his career high. Even dropping pitches outside of the strike zone isn’t enough to keep him off the bases.

If Borbon wants to come back to the majors, he’s going to have to improve his plate discipline. He’s certainly more of an elite defender in the outfield than Chavez but the Rangers can’t afford to keep Endy’s hot bat on the bench. Don’t be surprised to see a trade involve David Murphy because the Rangers don’t really have a need for two outfielders to warm up the dugout during games, especially if the Rangers really want Borbon to come back.

Can he keep this hot streak alive through the rest of the season? Only time will tell.

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2011 MLB All-Star Game: American League (Most Deserving) Roster

The roster I am proposing for this article is not a prediction of what I think the final roster will look like.  History has shown that fan voting and other hidden agendas tend to slightly skew the final roster from what it truly should resemble.  Instead, this will focus on who truly deserves to go to the 2011 MLB All-Star game as of right now.  Why right now?  We are almost halfway to the halfway point of the season, that’s why.  All selection rules will apply (i.e. one player from every team, etc.).

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Arizona Diamondbacks 2011: The Race for the First-Base Job

One of the more intriguing position battles this spring is the battle for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ first-base job. There are three candidates to win the position—Brandon Allen, Juan Miranda and Russell Branyan.

Let’s see how they are doing so far this spring and who appears the favorite to win the starting job in the desert.*

Miranda: .250/.417/.536 with two HRs and two doubles in 28 ABs.

Allen: .333/.344/.467 with no HRs and four doubles in 30 ABs.

Branyan: .464/.500/.857 with three HRs and two doubles in 28 ABs.

Based on these numbers so far, it would appear that Branyan is the front runner for the job. However, according to a post by Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic, the Diamondbacks view Branyan as more of a left-handed power hitter off the bench against right-handed pitching.

This would be a good role for Branyan considering that he had an .874 OPS against righties in 2010 and can’t play a lick of defense. Pinch-hitting suites Branyan well.

Thus, the true front runner for the job seems to be Miranda, the former New York Yankee prospect, who has never done much at the major-league level. However, his opportunities have been limited. In three years, he has only had 94 plate appearances. That’s what happens when you have Jason Giambi and Mark Teixeira in front of you.

Miranda, who is also a better defensive player than both Branyan and Allen, is a career .281/.367/.478 hitter with 62 HRs in four minor-league seasons.

That leaves Allen as the apparent odd man out. It’s pretty clear that the Diamondbacks don’t have much faith in Allen at this stage of his career.

Since the Diamondbacks acquired Allen from the Chicago White Sox in 2009, they have gone out and also acquired Adam LaRoche, Xavier Nady, Miranda and Branyan—all of whom have played or can play first.

Most likely Allen will be ticketed for Triple-A. However, if Miranda stumbles out of the gate, look for the Diamondbacks to call him back up quickly and give him the chance at the major-league level he deserves.

*Stats were as of March 12.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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2011 Arizona Diamondbacks Season Preview and Predictions

Once again, the Arizona Diamondbacks ended the season at the bottom of the NL West. The Diamondbacks went just 65-97 in 2010, their worst record since going 51-111 in 2004.

The Diamondbacks are turning to general manager Kevin Towers, who was signed in September of last year. Towers wasted little time renovating the Diamondbacks roster.

Here is a closer look at what the Diamondbacks’ starting lineup and starting rotation will look like this season, plus our MLB predictions on where they will end the year in the NL West.


Starting Lineup

The Diamondbacks’ offense lived off the long ball last season.  If they weren’t going yard, they were more than likely striking out—they set a major league record with 1,528 strikeouts. The Diamondbacks parted ways with Adam LaRoche and Mark Reynolds, who combined for 383 strikeouts last year.

Arizona is hoping a strong nucleus of young talent and some nice new pieces will help them be more consistent in 2011. 

The Diamondbacks figure to score a lot of runs with the players they have returning at the top of the order. Chris Young provides power (27 home runs) and speed (28 stolen bases) at the leadoff spot. Kelly Johnson is the ideal No. 2 hitter; he not only has the power to drive the ball all over the field, but also hits for a nice average.

Those two set the table for Stephen Drew and Justin Upton.  They didn’t exactly go off last season, but they should only continue to get better. Arizona is also extremely high on catcher Miguel Montero, who never got it going last year because of a knee injury. If he can stay healthy, we believe he will really help this team turn things around.

The other spots in the order will be filled with the additions of first baseman Juan Miranda, who will finally get a shot at showing what he can do, third baseman Melvin Mora, who really turned it on after the All-Star break last season despite his age, and Xavier Nady, who is expected to take over the starting job in left field.


Starting Rotation

The Diamondbacks made a couple of big moves, trading away Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson midway through last year, in hopes of rebuilding for the future.  They also couldn’t be happier with the pickup of Daniel Hudson, who dazzled Arizona fans with a 7-1 record and 1.68 ERA in 11 starts after coming over from the White Sox.

Right away, Hudson made his mark as one of the top pitchers on this staff.  He definitely has the talent to become one of the top pitchers in the league.

Arizona received Joe Saunders in the Haren trade and, while he went just 3-7 with a 4.25 ERA, he went 33-14 over his previous two seasons.  We think his numbers will be much better this year.

The Diamondbacks are also high on Ian Kennedy, who went 9-10 with a 3.80 ERA in his first full season as starter. Kennedy has the makings of an ace as well, and could end up challenging Hudson for the top spot in the rotation.

The other two spots in the rotation will likely go to Zach Duke and Armando Galarraga. Neither has quite lived up to his potential and, if they don’t get it figured out early, we wouldn’t be surprised if a couple prospects ended up taking their spots.


2011 Projections: Fifth Place NL West

While we believe Towers will be able to make Arizona a contender again, we don’t think it will be this year. The rotation is strong at the top, but there isn’t a lot to be excited about after that. Offensively, the Diamondbacks could surprise—but when it’s all said and done, we don’t see much improvement this year.

The Diamondbacks’ MLB odds to win the West this season are currently listed at +1300.

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MLB: Spring Training Games Offer New Beginnings

Spring training games offer much for the baseball world.  They offer knowledge; they offer glimpses of the upcoming season; they offer looks at minor league up-and-comers; and they offer first looks at those recovering from injury.  

Spring training games are not your average gamesthey do not feature a team’s starters all the way through for the most partbut they do offer looks and lessons to be learned.

The first few days of spring training are in the books, and baseball teams and fans have already learned much.  T

he Yankees have learned that Bartolo Colon can still pitch, but he is very, very heavy on the mound. The Braves have learned that Chipper seems to be recovering fairly well from his knee surgery. The Twins have learned that neither Mauer, nor Morneau are completely healthy.  

The Rockies have learned that even spring training games can result in injury as a collision between Ian Stewart and Carlos Gonzalez showed. The A’s learned that Michael Choice is a baller.  The Padres and Mariners learned that minor league pitchers in spring training games can have some very, very bad showings that lead to massive run productiona total of 25 runs scored.  

The Phillies learned that their aces are on point, but Chase Utley has knee tendonitis. The Marlins learned that Mike Stanton has a strained right quad.

Spring training can also lull teams and fans into a false sense of success.

Teams get a good spring win/loss record, and everyone starts to see visions of the post season dancing in their heads, only to come crashing back to earth when the regular season begins.  

Spring training games have to be taken with a grain of saltespecially early on.  

While there is much to be learned from spring training games, the real story only starts to develop as opening day approaches; but that is still several weeks away.  

In the meantime, teams and fans can enjoy a little bit of what they might see in the regular season, and a lot of what they might see in the future from minor leaguers who get playing time.  

All in all though, every bit of knowledge is to be absorbed like a sponge for all those winter starved baseball lovers.

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MLB Fantasy Debate: Justin Upton vs. Alex Rios?

While there’s some question as to who’s better between Carl Crawford and Carlos Gonzalez or between Ryan Braun and Matt Holliday, there’s little doubt that those are the top four outfielders. The outfielders after them are a different story.

Enter Justin Upton and Alex Rios.

Upton is one of baseball’s top young players. It’s no surprise then that when Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers put his name on the trading block a few months back, almost every team made an offer. Towers wisely pulled him off the block after he realized he couldn’t risk trading away someone as talented as Upton.

Rios had a career year in his first full season with the White Sox. He’ll look to continue to prove that his disastrous season in 2009, in which the Blue Jays placed him on waivers and didn’t even demand a player in return, was an anomaly.

Today we’ll decide which outfielder should be drafted first.

Each player is assigned a grade for each of the five standard offensive categories plus a few extra I felt were important to factor. Grades are based on my expectations for the season and take into account both the player’s expected performance relative to the entire player pool and relative to the position he plays at. Grades were averaged using the standard 4.0 GPA scale to provide a cumulative “Professor’s Grade.”


Category Justin Upton Alex Rios Edge?
Professor’s Grade 3.34 (B+) 3.24 (B) Upton
Runs B+ B+ Draw
Batting Average B+ B+ Draw
Home Runs A- B Upton
Runs Batted In A- B Upton
Stolen Bases B B+ Rios
Health B- A- Rios
Potential Ceiling A B Upton
Pick Security B B+ Rios


The Case for Upton 

After batting .300 with 26 HR and 20 SB in 2009, Upton was destined for stardom in 2010. Unfortunately, he failed to reach 20 HR or 20 SB and saw his batting average dip to .273 before a shoulder injury forced him to miss most of September.

It’s easy to forget that Upton is still just 23 years old. The former No. 1 overall pick has all the tools you look for in an elite fantasy player. Not counting the freakishly strong Mike Stanton, Upton has the most power of any major leaguer under the age of 24. He’s also athletic enough to steal 20-plus bases, a feat he has already accomplished in his young career. As if that’s not tantalizing enough, he’ll be batting out of the three-hole in a hitter’s ballpark.

Despite Upton’s disappointing stats last year, there were signs of encouragement. His walk rate was 11.2 percent, up from 9.4 percent in his breakout 2009 season. It’s rare for a player as young as Upton to show such a knack for drawing walks and it will only help increase his R and SB potential. Upton also improved his line drive rate and GB/FB ratio, which bodes well for an increase in power and batting average.

The sky is the limit for Upton and he certainly has the potential to produce first-round numbers.


The Case for Rios

Rios truly is a five category producer. He was one of three players to reach 20 HR and 30 SB, with Hanley Ramirez and Drew Stubbs being the others. It was the second time Rios reached both of those marks and the first time he did so in the same season.

Rios is also one of the few power speed players that won’t hurt your batting average. If you take out his 2009 season, Rios hasn’t batted less than .284 since 2005.

Furthermore, Rios plays in a hitter friendly lineup. He’s surrounded by talented players such as Adam DunnPaul KonerkoCarlos QuentinGordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez. While he doesn’t have the same potential as Upton, he has shown more consistency and durability.


Who Should I Draft?

Upton and Rios are close in value, but I believe Upton is the better pick. From the chart above you can see that they each have the advantage in three categories, but Upton has the better overall grade.

You can also see that Upton has a distinct power advantage, a skill set that is becoming harder to find. The only real categorical advantage that Rios has is speed, but Upton will still contribute there for you. While Rios is definitely a safe pick due to his consistency, Upton’s potential is far too great to ignore.

He’s already one of the best young players in the game and has much room to grow. It’s for that reason that I’m taking Upton over Rios.

Check out our other head-to-head matchups, found only at Baseball Professor, as well as our other preseason coverage.

Miguel Cabrera vs. Joey Votto

Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Clayton Kershaw

Ryan Zimmerman vs. Alex Rodriguez

Kevin Youkilis vs. Kendry Morales

Carl Crawford vs. Carlos Gonzalez

Cole Hamels vs. Brett Anderson

Rickie Weeks vs. Ian Kinsler

David Price vs. Justin Verlander

2011 Fantasy Sleepers

2011 Draft Coverage

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MLB Trade Rumors: 10 New York Yankees Moves To Hold Off the Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox effectively dominated the Winter Meetings, landing both Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. 

Their lineup is loaded, and have a deep rotation looking to have a bounce-back year in 2011.  The Yankees, meanwhile have stood steadfast, and have yet to make a significant move besides re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

With the AL East’s balance of power currently shifted in Boston’s favor, the Yankees will no doubt strike back, resuming baseball’s Cold War.  Here are 10 possible moves the Yankees can make to turn back the tide:

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Arizona Diamondbacks Sign Versitle Infielder Geoff Blum to Two-Year Deal

November 15, 2010

PHOENIX—The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed utility infielder Geoff Blum to a two-year, $2.7-million deal.

New Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers wanted to strengthen the bench for 2011 and he did so with a familiar face.

“The signing of Geoff Blum is the first step in identifying how we can improve Kirk Gibson’s options off the bench next season,” Towers said in a statement. “Geoff is a veteran that can play nearly every position on the field while also having the experience of contributing to key situations late in the game as a pinch-hitter off of the bench.”

Let it be known that Blum was a player on the San Diego Padres from 2005-2007, and during that time the Padres had won two division titles and were a slide away from a third consecutive playoff appearance.

Towers clearly knows the formula to having a good bench.

“It’s hard for young guys to be effective pinch-hitters coming off the bench,” Towers said in late September. “If you don’t have that experience or those guys that are threats, it makes it pretty easy on the opposing manager, because he has no fear of anyone that is coming off the bench.”

Geoff Blum last year was a .267 hitter with 2 HR and 22 RBI in 202 AB.

This is clearly a step in the right direction for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Five 2011 MLB Surprise Teams

Now that the least interesting World Series in years is finally over, all 30 MLB teams can again have hopes and dreams for the upcoming season. Most of the 2010 playoff teams are again favorites heading into the off-season, but there is always yearly change in who makes the playoffs. 

The following list is mostly compiled of teams who were not competitive at all late into the year. The teams are in order of how much change their 2011 season will be from their respective 2010 seasons. A major motif for these teams is how their youth will take it to the next level.

Here are the teams that were considered afterthoughts in 2010, but who are going to surprise everyone in the 2011 season. 

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