Showing posts with label Arizona Diamondbacks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arizona Diamondbacks. Show all posts

Monday, April 24, 2017

My April 20 visit to Petco Park in San Diego

Petco Park in San Diego
While on vacation in Southern California, I had the opportunity to take in a game between the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park.

The Padres won, 4-1, behind a solid performance from former White Sox left-hander Clayton Richard, but that's not all that important. I went because I wanted to check out a ballpark I had never visited before, and I must say I came away impressed.

When I visit other parks around the country, I inevitably think to myself, "Man, the Sox could learn a thing or two from how they do things here."

The Padres, much like the Sox, are not contenders this year. They are rebuilding and everybody knows it. The announced crowd was 17,000-and-some people. That attendance figure for a Thursday night is similar to Chicago. There wasn't a lot of interest in the game despite the beautiful weather because, well, there are other things to do in San Diego, and people know the Padres are bad.

But there were several things that were not similar to Chicago that I found refreshing. For example:
  • There is ample street parking around the ballpark, and I think I paid 20 cents to park. That's right: 20 cents, not 20 dollars. The meters are not enforced after 6 p.m., and this particular game started at 6:10. We had a meter with some time remaining on it, and it didn't take much to get across the 6 p.m. threshold.
  • The ushers were friendly and knowledgeable. This is something common at places not named Guaranteed Rate Field, where the ballpark staff grunts at you, can't answer any questions and seems to get off on telling fans what they *can't* do. Petco Park ushers are mostly retired folks working a part-time job, and they were kind and helpful to us as out-of-towners who were not familiar with the ballpark.
  • Petco Park has a hockey-style "wait for the whistle" rule. That means, if you get up to use the restroom or to visit the concession stand, you have to stay on the concourse until there is a break in play, instead of being allowed to walk in front of everyone while the game is going on. Fans are allowed to come and go in between batters or in between innings. That works for me. As a grumpy curmudgeon who just wants to watch the damn game, I love it.
    Me, standing next to Tony Gwynn's retired No. 19
  • The Padres have a Hall of Fame area that is awesome. They have replica plaques for everyone who played for the Padres and is in the baseball Hall of Fame. They have an interactive area with videos and pictures of some of the best moments in Padres history, and they have a film that plays on loop highlighting the great career of Tony Gwynn. The Padres have a very modest  history, but they aren't shy about showing off some of the individual and team accomplishments they've had through the years. On the wall in there, they have a chart showing the top five players in franchise history in various categories. Gwynn is San Diego's leader in every offensive category except home runs (Nate Colbert is first in home runs), and he is the Padres' all-time hits leader by more than 2,000 hits. (Garry Templeton is a distant second.)
  • If you need to exit the ballpark during the game, you can re-enter. How awesome is that? I've always thought the Sox should allow that, especially since we get our share of rain delays in Chicago. (That's something they don't worry about much in San Diego). But as we've discussed before, the Sox have been known to make up rules as they go, and they have all kinds of bizarre rules in the name of "fan safety." Frankly, I've never felt as if I'm in danger at any ballpark in America, other than in Milwaukee, where the fans have an inferiority complex about anyone and anything that comes from Chicago. 
If you're ever in San Diego at the same time as the Padres, I'd recommend taking in a game at Petco. The sight lines are great, even if the team isn't, and the people are friendly and happy to have you there. The locals say Petco is "America's No. 1 ballpark," and it's hard for me to say that, because I haven't seen every ballpark in America, but they are correct that they have a nice place to watch a game.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Howie Kendrick, Jean Segura, Carlos Quentin, Mark Buehrle, etc.

Howie Kendrick
Shifting the focus from SoxFest and its aftermath, let's take a look at some of the other news and notes from around baseball the past few days.

Kendrick returns to Dodgers on two-year deal; Segura to Diamondbacks

Veteran second baseman Howie Kendrick signed a two-year, $20 million contract to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, a deal that figures to be a bargain for the Dodgers.

Kendrick turned down a qualifying offer that would have paid him $15.8 million for the 2016 season, and apparently could not find another team that was interested in coughing up a draft pick in order to sign him.

This move makes the Dodgers better, because Kendrick is a better solution at second base than a platoon of Chase Utley and Enrique Hernandez. Moreover, it keeps Kendrick away from the NL West rival Arizona Diamondbacks, who have needs in the middle infield and seemed to be a logical destination for Kendrick.

Apparently, the Diamondbacks didn't want to part with the 39th pick in the draft, which they would have surrendered to the Dodgers had they signed Kendrick. Instead, they traded pitcher Chase Anderson, infielder Aaron Hill and minor leaguer Isan Diaz to the Milwaukee Brewers for shortstop Jean Segura and pitcher Tyler Wagner.

Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart said the club is "seeking a little bit more offense" with this trade. OK, let's compare Kendrick and Segura.

2015:
Kendrick: .295/.336/.409, 9 HRs, 54 RBIs, 6 SBs
Segura: .257/.281/.336, 6 HRs, 50 RBIs, 25 SBs

Career:
Kendrick: .293/.336/.409
Segura: .266/.301/.360

If you were "seeking a little bit more offense," which player would you add? Kendrick, right? It's a slam dunk.

So, instead of surrendering the 39th pick in the draft to sign Kendrick and keep him away from the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks surrendered a major league pitcher (Anderson) and a good prospect (Diaz) to trade for Segura, who is clearly a lesser player than Kendrick.

This is a fail for Arizona.

Quentin comes out of retirement, signs with Twins

Former White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin, 33, will attempt a comeback with the Minnesota Twins. He signed a minor league deal Tuesday that would pay him $750,000 if he is added to the 40-man roster.

Quentin enjoyed his best season in 2008 with the White Sox, when he totaled 36 home runs and 100 RBIs. Injuries have plagued his career -- he hasn't played more than 86 games in a season since 2011. He last played in the majors with San Diego in 2014 and announced his retirement after Atlanta released him in April 2015.

Buehrle not signing a contract, not retiring either

Former White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, currently a free agent, says he's “not planning to sign, but not officially retiring," acccording to reports.

The 37-year-old lefty finished last season with a 3.81 ERA with the Toronto Blue Jays and probably could help a team as a veteran at the back of the rotation.

If some team has an injury to a significant member of its starting staff during spring training, I wouldn't be surprised if that team gives Buehrle a call.

Will anyone sign Thornton?

Continuing with this theme of former White Sox, they say left-handers can pitch forever. That being the case, how come relief pitcher Matt Thornton can't find a job?

Sure, he's 39 years old and not as overpowering as he used to be, but he held left-handed hitters to a .198/.205/.279 slash line and compiled a 2.18 ERA with the Washington Nationals last year.

Hard to believe some team can't use that.

Olivo gets minor league deal with Giants

Former White Sox catcher Miguel Olivo, 37, has signed a minor league deal with San Francisco. Olivo spent 2015 in the Mexican League, exiled after the Dodgers released him in 2014 for biting off a chunk of Alex Guerrero's ear during a dugout brawl at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday thoughts: Matt Davidson, Brad Penny, David Robertson

I was on board with the move last offseason when White Sox GM Rick Hahn traded closer Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for third base prospect Matt Davidson.

In theory, it's a trade I'd still endorse today. Closers have a short shelf life, and while Reed is a solid relief pitcher, he is not All-Star caliber. It's not a bad baseball move to trade a player like that for someone you believe will at some point play every day in your infield.

That said, it's hard not to be discouraged about what we've seen since Davidson joined the White Sox organization. 2014 was a terrible year for him. His slash line at Triple-A Charlotte was .199/.283/.362. His 20 home runs and 55 RBIs hardly made up for the 164 strikeouts in 539 plate appearances.

You'd like to believe it was just a poor season -- it can happen to any player -- and that Davidson will bounce back this year. Maybe he will, but it's been an ugly spring for him so far. He's 1-for-12 with four strikeouts in the Cactus League, and he committed errors on back-to-back plays Monday that opened the door for the Diamondbacks to score four unearned runs in their 6-2 win over the White Sox.

Davidson continues to struggle both with the bat and with the glove. He turns 24 next week, so you can still say he counts as a prospect, but it will be hard for the Sox to keep him in their plans if he doesn't show anything this year.

Penny getting a long look

Quick quiz: Name the pitcher who has logged the most Cactus League innings for the White Sox this spring.

It's not Jeff Samardzija or Jose Quintana. It's veteran right-hander Brad Penny, who is in camp on a minor-league deal.

Penny has worked 7.2 innings thus far. His results have been mixed. He's allowed three runs on 11 hits, and opponents are hitting a robust .355 against him. But, he has struck out six men, and he's only walked one. Unlike some other pitchers who are trying to make the roster (Daniel Webb, cough, cough), Penny is throwing strikes.

He's been a starter for most of his career, and there is obviously no room for him in the White Sox rotation. But team brass is giving him a long look this spring, perhaps considering whether he can be the 12th man on the pitching staff -- the guy who works in long relief or makes a spot start when needed.

Because of service time rules, five days before opening day, the Sox have to either add Penny to the major league roster, cut him, or give him a $100,000 bonus for staying on the minor league roster.

Every team needs a staff saver. Could Penny be that guy? He hasn't pitched himself out of contention yet.

Robertson working on command issues

Speaking of closers, David Robertson hasn't been sharp in his first few spring outings. He allowed two runs in 2.2 innings pitched, while walking three and striking out just one.

Cause for alarm? No.

I watched Robertson work an inning Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, and by my unofficial count, he threw nothing but fastballs and cutters during his 23-pitch outing. Robertson has a put-away breaking ball in his arsenal, but he didn't use it even once -- despite facing both Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in that inning.

Robertson walked two, but got out of trouble when Pujols grounded into a double play.

It was clear from watching the outing that Robertson doesn't have command of his fastball yet, so that's what he was focusing on when he stepped on the mound Sunday -- results be damned.

That's why it doesn't make sense to put too much stock in spring training numbers. Guys might be working on specific things, and they may not be doing things the same way they would in a regular-season game.

It's an important thing to remember as a fan, even though it is sometimes hard not to draw grand conclusions from what you're seeing in spring ball.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Anonymous Diamondbacks player calls White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton 'selfish'

An anonymous Arizona Diamondbacks player recently called newly acquired White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton "selfish," according to an article that appeared on usatoday.com.

Eaton came to the White Sox from Arizona as part of a three-team trade on Dec. 10 that sent pitcher Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and slugger Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks.

According to the report, the Arizona player said the decision to deal Eaton was "addition by subtraction." He went on to describe Eaton as a "selfish me-me type player." In addition, Eaton allegedly "irked people in the clubhouse" and his "attitude has a tendency to wear on people."

You know what irks me? Players taking anonymous potshots at former teammates.

If you're gonna say something like that about somebody, man up and sign your name to it. My name is on everything I've written in my journalistic career. If I criticize somebody in print (or on the web as the case may be), my name is right there on it. That's the way it should be. If you don't want to own your comments, then don't make them.

I tend to dismiss these sorts of statements outright because, hey, I don't know the source. How can I weigh the credibility of such comments if I don't know who it's coming from? Right now, I have no choice but to assume the person who criticized Eaton is a complete wuss, too cowardly to back up his thoughts with his name.

I did like the way the 5-foot-8, 185-pound Eaton responded to these remarks in the usatoday.com article:

"The way I do hold myself, I need to be a little bit cockier," he said. "I need to have that presence because everybody tells me something I can't do. So I kind of have to have that presence about you, I feel. I think that's what makes me have a little bit of an edge because I am a little bit like that."

Good. To quote Lou Brown, I like that kind of spirit in a player. Coming off a 63-99 campaign, I think the White Sox could use a few more guys who play with a little bit of an edge.

If Eaton is able to produce the way I think he can, I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes a beloved player on the South Side. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

White Sox trade Addison Reed to Arizona for Matt Davidson

The White Sox rebuilding efforts continued Monday as the team traded closer Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks for third baseman Matt Davidson.

Davidson, 22, appeared in 31 games at the big-league level last year. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Reno, where his numbers were good. He posted a .280/.350/.481 slash line with 17 home runs and 74 RBIs. He was a Pacific Coast League midseason All-Star and was named MVP of the Futures Game in New York after hitting a go-ahead, two-run home run for the United States.

One question mark with Davidson is his defense. His fielding percentage sits at just .925 during his minor league career. That's not particularly good, but Sox fans might remember that Robin Ventura wasn't exactly Gold Glove material when he first came to the major leagues. As a 21-year-old third baseman in Double A, Ventura's fielding percentage was .930, not much better than Davidson's. Through hard work, Ventura became an elite defensive player. While I would never forecast that for Davidson, he will have an opportunity to improve his craft defensively if he listens to his new manager.

I like this move by White Sox manager Rick Hahn, who continues to add major league ready youngsters to his roster. Davidson has a chance to open the season as the everyday third baseman. If he does, he'll join Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia in a lineup that is getting younger and more athletic with each passing week. For my money, this is how you rebuild a team.

Sure, losing Reed hurts. He had 40 saves on a bad team in 2013. He's only 24 years old, so he still has some upside. He will help an Arizona team that is trying to position itself to win next year. The Sox, in contrast, are not likely to contend in 2014, so it doesn't matter much who their closer is. Maybe Nate Jones wins that job, or perhaps Daniel Webb takes the next step in his development and earns the position.

Either way, if you're the White Sox right now, a potential everyday third baseman is a much bigger priority than a closer. That's why Hahn made this swap. I agree with the reasoning.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

White Sox turn surplus into starting centerfielder

The White Sox resolved their logjam of starting pitchers by dealing one on Tuesday.

The Sox sent Hector Santiago and a player-to-be-named (probably Brandon Jacobs) as part of a three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Angels, receiving Adam Eaton.

The 25-year-old left-handed outfielder has been highly touted coming through Arizona's farm system since being drafted in the 19th round of the 2010 draft. After a successful cup of coffee with the D'Backs in 2012 in which he hit .259/.382/.412 over 103 plate appearances, last season was derailed for Eaton when a torn UCL in his throwing arm sidelined him July. He ended up batting .252/.314/.360.

Eaton probably owes his low draft position to his modest stature (he is only 5-foot-8), but the results speak for themselves: In 1,560 minor-league plate appearances Eaton has slashed a .348/.450/.501 line, and has mostly answered questions about his ability to stick in centerfield.

That batting average isn't likely to carry over to the American League, but Eaton still has the offensive tools to be a very good leadoff hitter.

This is a big get for a White Sox team that probably wasn't going to stretch Avisail Garcia in center, and has apparently moved on from the idea of Alejandro De Aza playing there regularly. The Sox are now set to deal either De Aza, or incumbent left fielder Dayan Viciedo. If they don't like the offers for either player, De Aza probably becomes a fourth outfielder and Viciedo likely loses playing time against right-handed pitchers, against whom he's only managed to hit .242/.287/.388 so far in his big league career (vs. .322/.357/.551 against lefties).

As far as the players the Sox gave up, Santiago was a fun player to watch, and a fun player to root for, but despite the huge strikeout numbers (8.7 K/9), he still hasn't managed to get his walks under control (4.5 BB/9), and is too often victimized by home runs (17 allowed last year in 149 innings).

Santiago was not likely to repeat his 3.56 ERA from last year with those factors working against him. It's also an open question if he can handle a starter's workload as last year he wore down noticibly as the season progressed, partially evidenced by his declining K rate each month from May on (10.0 in May, 9.9 in June, 9.5 in July, 6.7 in August and 4.7 in September).

That's not to say Santiago can't improve, the same way Quintana did in a second season spent primarily as a starter. But Santiago was still the rotation's weakest link, making him the most expendable piece the Sox could give up in trade.

Jacobs, an outfielder that came over from the Red Sox in the Matt Thornton trade, only batted .237/.291/.327 at Charlotte after his arrival. The 23-year-old will be eligible to be taken in this week's Rule V draft, though probably won't be selected.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

So, trading for Max Scherzer worked out well for the Tigers

I often say it's hard to make snap judgments when a trade is made. You often need three or four years before you can decide whether a particular deal is good or bad for the parties involved.

It's now been four years since the Detroit Tigers acquired right-hander Max Scherzer as part of a three-team deal with the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona gave up Scherzer in that trade, and I'll bet that's a move they still lament to this day. On Wednesday, Scherzer was named the Cy Young Award winner in the American League by a landslide. He received 28 of the 30 first-place votes.

Scherzer, the lone 20-game winner in baseball this year, finished the season 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA for the AL Central champion Tigers. He easily outdistanced second-place finisher Yu Darvish in the voting.

Let's go back and look at that trade from December of 2009.

The Tigers traded pitcher Edwin Jackson and outfielder Curtis Granderson and received Scherzer, outfielder Austin Jackson and relief pitchers Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth.

The Yankees dealt pitcher Ian Kennedy, Coke and Austin Jackson and acquired Granderson.

The Diamondbacks gave up Scherzer and Schlereth and got Edwin Jackson and Kennedy.

If you're an Arizona fan, are you gagging yet?

Edwin Jackson had a brutal year for the Diamondbacks in 2010. He's played for three teams since. Currently, he's the Cubs' problem. Kennedy did have a couple good years in Arizona, including one very good year in 2011, but he's since fallen on hard times. The Diamondbacks traded him to San Diego for spare parts and future considerations in a midseason deal this past summer.

Likewise, the Yankees got a couple good years out of Granderson, but he had an injury-plagued 2013. He's a free agent this offseason and is likely headed elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Tigers got a legitimate top-of-the-rotation starter in Scherzer and a leadoff hitter and top-notch center fielder in Austin Jackson.

Shrewd move by Detroit. The Tigers have made more good moves than bad over the last five years, and that's why they go to the playoffs every season.

Kershaw wins NL Cy Young

The National League Cy Young Award voting was also one-sided. Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw was a slam-dunk choice, earning 29 of 30 first-place votes.

Kershaw finished 16-9 for the NL West champions, and his 1.83 ERA was the best mark by any qualifying pitcher in the last 13 years.