Doug V

An Alternate Reality…

The Cardinals exist in two realities lately: when they play the Phillies, and when they play everyone else.

Going into our first series against the Phightin’ Phils, we had lost 6 in a row, including losing a series to a team that had lost 5 of it’s previous 6 (Cincinnati). We proceeded to sweep the Phils, making it look like we had turned things around. Then we lost 5 of our next 7, losing a series to Milwaukee, the current NL Central division leader, and a series to Baltimore, a team currently tied for last in the AL East.

Of all the teams we played in that stretch, starting from that 6 game losing streak until now, Philly has the worst record and isn’t close. Philly is currently 22-48. The next worse team is Cincinnati at 30-41.

That leads to an ominous conclusion: Right now, we can only beat really bad teams.

Now, obviously, that is a simplified conclusion, and this stretch of games, going from the losing streak until now (18 games) is a small sample size compared to a 162 game season.

Still, there were some bad signs during that stretch.

First, Mike Leake looked like he was human after all. Until yesterday’s win against the Phils, Leake had lost three in a row. Leake, along with Carlos Martinez, had been one of the staff’s anchors. If he starts to struggle, then we could be in trouble. Those three losses were against teams with good offenses (Cincinnati, Chicago, and Milwaukee) So I put more weight in those games than I do in games against the Phils.

Second, other starters are struggling as well.

Michael Wacha has a 4.76 ERA, and had a bad June, only getting past the 5th inning in one start. Adam Wainwright, who had looked like he was getting better, has gotten hammered in two of his last three starts, ballooning his ERA to 5.75 on the season. Guess who the good start was against? The Phils.

Third, the bullpen is being overused.

I noticed a lot of starts by Wacha, Wainwright and Lynn where those guys didn’t get out of the 5th inning. That’s going to expose our bullpen, and we don’t have an Andrew Miller or Chris Devinski to lean on, or a pen like the Royals of a couple years ago.

Fourth, the offense continues to struggle.

The offense is having some good games, don’t get me wrong, but given how the majority of the rotation is struggling and the over-exposure of our bullpen, it needs to have more of them. We need to be able to lean on the offense more, or the struggles will likely continue. Carlos Martinez can’t pitch every game.

Lest I be considered Captain Gloom and Doom, I will point out that there some bright spots as well.

First, Tommy Pham has been Phamtastic! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) He’s hit .286 with 9 homers and a .521 slugging percentage. However, if you take a closer look at those homers…6 against the Phils and Braves, two teams not currently known for their pitching, and two at the homer haven that is Coors Field, there is a small reason to be skeptical. Still, I think the average is legit at least, as is the .374 OBP. I’ll gladly take those, even without the power. He has helped give the offense a boost, and been a steady presence in LF, something we sorely needed after Randal Grichuk‘s struggles.

Second, Carlos has been Carlos. Outside a rough stretch from Mid-April to Mid-May, he’s performed well, and been our ace, somebody we can rely on. We sorely need that.

Third, Jedd Gyorko has quietly been having a good season. .297/11 homers/.514 Slugging percentage? More please.

So there are bright spots, but until we return to have success outside of playing the Phils, I’ll remain a skeptic.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

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Riding The Cards Coaster…

The Cards lost seven games in a row (Including the infamous Scooter Gennett game…Dang you Scooter!) and now have won three in a row thanks to a sweep of the Phillies. Ride that roller coaster baby!

A few thoughts as I try to catch up on blogging.

First, we’re lucky to play in the NL Central.

The Cardinals are currently 29-32, 3 games under .500. In any other division, that would put us waaaaaaaaaaaaay behind the division leader. In the NL Central, though, that only puts us 2.5 games behind division-leading Milwaukee, who sit in first at 33-31, just 2 games over .500. The whole division is bunched together, with last place Pittsburgh just 4 games out of first themselves.

Second, the rotation started to show some cracks during that losing streak.

Mike Leake got hit, Adam Wainwright started the Gennett game, etc. I don’t really want to go over it all, but the point is, it wasn’t pretty. Even Carlos Martinez struggled, for him, giving up 4 runs in a game for the first time since April. The question now is: Was it a new trend, or was it a fluke? In the sweep of the Phillies, Michael Wacha, Martinez and Wainwright were solid. The caveat here is that is was the Phillies. The Phightin’ Phils are 21-41, 20 games under .500. A better test of whether the struggle was a fluke or not is coming up starting today, as we face division leading Milwaukee next.

Third, either way, the pitching needs help.

Some players in the lineup are producing, like Kolten Wong, Jedd Gyorko and Tommy Pham, but others we expected to rely on are struggling, like Dexter Fowler, Stephen Piscotty and Aledmys Diaz. I expected a regression from Diaz, but the other two were expected to be key pieces in the lineup. We need Piscotty to be the solid all-around producer he was last year. As for Fowler, well, when he was a Cub, Joe Maddon famously said of him “When he goes, we go” or something like that. Well right now, he ain’t going, and we ain’t going.

Then there’s Matt Carpenter. Carp is hitting .223, obviously a disappoint, but he also leads the team with 11 homers and 32 RBI’s, and has a .344 OBP, which is solid, even if it’s low for him.

 

Bottom line is the offense needs to pick it up, because if the pitching shows any more cracks, we’re screwed with the offense in its current state.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

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What Is Productivity?

Nice to see the Cards win last night. (In fact, I was waiting for them to win before making a post. I don’t like grumpy posting.)

Last night, Yadier Molina has a sacrifice fly and a homer. The homer extending his hitting streak to 13 games, tied for the longest on the team this season, tying him with Kolten Wong.

His current slash line is .259/.301/.395. which isn’t very impressive.

To extend his streak, he went 1/4, which is only .250. The one, of course, was the aforementioned homer.

So what is productivity?

Is it hitting for a high average, but having days where you go 0 for 4 and contribute nothing, not even a sacrifice fly? Or is it getting a hit daily, even when it doesn’t raise your batting average?

I would argue the latter. You want your players to contribute as consistently as possible.

Some people probably expected Yadi to hit .300 like he did last year, but given that he hadn’t done that in a couple of years, that may not have been realistic. If he’s contributing daily like he is now. (he had a sacrifice fly as well yesterday, which contributed as much as the homer, as the homer was a solo shot) I’ll happily take that. Plus there’s always his excellent contributions on defense and being a pitching coach on the field.

Quick Thoughts:

Matt Adams trade: Was that trade due to the fact we have a first base surplus, or to save Mike Matheny from himself? We all remember Adams playing in the outfield, and while some might argue that him doing that may add trade value, I remember the initial reactions on twitter. Many people seemed repulsed by the idea and wondered what Matheny would do next, Yadi playing center field? Matheny has a reputation in Cardinals Nation of playing “his guys” who I think Adams had become. He didn’t seem to have a spot for him, so he made one. I’m glad Mo removed him from the equation and got a promising prospect in return. We need as many of those as we can get.

Mike Leake Pitched a gem last night, going 8 innings and allowing one run, and is currently the league leader in ERA. I hope he keeps it up for the entire season. Starting to actually seem possible.

 

As always thanks for reading.

 

 

 

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I thought, as a way to get myself going, I’d take a look at how some players are doing, guys who either struggled last year or missed 2016 entirely.

Lance Lynn is one of the latter guys, having missed last season due to surgery.

Before the surgery, Lance had emerged as a reliable starter, averaging 175-200 innings and 30 starts a year for 4 straight years. He was an all-star in his first full season, 2012, but his best years were 2014 and 15, right when he entered his prime. Then injury struck and he lost 2016. Everyone was curious to see how he rebounded from that.

So far, so good.

He’s 4-1 with a 2.75 ERA and a 1.195 WHIP. His K’s are slightly down at 8.2 K/9, compared to 8.6 K/9 in 2015, and his walks are up at 3.7 compared to 3.5, but some of that is due to his last start, where, while we won, it was mostly due to the offense picking Lynn up, as he struggled, going 4 innings, allowing 4 runs and walking four, unusual for a guy who usually has better control, but even Clayton Kershaw has bad starts, so it’ll be interesting to see how Lynn rebounds.

If his struggles continue, it could be a matter of batters simply re-acquainting themselves with him after his year off, or just a hot start. My hope, though is it really was one bad start, and he continues his upward progression.

I like Lynn better than Mike Leake for non-statistical and personal reasons. I love it when homegrown talent succeeds. I’m a fan of the almost gone “a player plays for one team his entire career” era. Like everyone else, I was heartbroken when Albert Pujols left (which may have worked out better in the long run, but still.) and ecstatic when Yadi re-signed, since he deserves to retire a Cardinal, after all that he has given our team. (Admittedly the tightwad in me hopes that Lynn’s familiarity with the club might lead to a hometown discount if the Cards try to re-sign him when the time comes.)

As always, thanks for reading.

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I thought, as a way to get myself going, I’d take a look at how some players are doing, guys who either struggled last year or missed 2016 entirely.

Mike Leake, who we signed last year after we couldn’t get David Price, is off to a good start. Currently, Leake is 3-1 with a 1.35 ERA, a 0.990 WHIP and 1.9 WAR.

The problem is people are ecstatic over this, I’m not. we’re getting what we paid for. He signed for 6 years, roughly 93 million dollars, with the last year being a mutual option at 18 million dollars (gee 18 million dollars when he’s likely to have started his decline? I don’t see Leake being the one declining the option there…) I realize salaries in baseball are out of control and an averaged out salary of 15 million dollars a year isn’t quite what it used to be, but we definitely didn’t get what we paid for last year, even if you account for the fact that he made the lowest salary of his contract, 12 million.

If you’ve already forgotten last years ugliness, let me remind you: He went 9-12 with a 4.69 ERA, a 1.319 WHIP and 1.9 WAR.

In my mind, he’s starting to make up for what he did last year, and beginning to earn the salary.

If he were making, say 2 to 5 million, *then* I’d be ecstatic.

The next question is can he keep this up? Up until now, his career high in WAR was 2.8, so it doesn’t seem likely. While his BABIP of .277 isn’t outside of career norms, his 84.9 Left On Base percentage, or LOB%, is easily a career high. His best before this was in 2013, at 77.7 percent.

Also, before this year, he’d allowed 20 or more homers the last four years in a row. He’s allowed none so far. That seems flukey.

There’s also the fact that he’s on pace to earn more WAR in a half season than he had in any other *entire* season, as his career high of WAR for a season is 2.8.

I don’t think he’ll as bad as last year (I certainly hope not!) but I expect this to start normalizing out soon. If he ends up with an ERA between 3.50 to 3.80 with 3 to 4 WAR, he’ll have met my expectations.

As always, thanks for reading.

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To be honest, going into the Pirates series, the Cards had kind of sucked. If I were going to use weather phenomena to describe it, I’d use my local one and call it a hurricane. Missouri folks might call it a tornado. (Don’t worry about scale here people. The point is: disaster.)

Well, one bright spot so far has been Mike Leake.

It’s no secret that I haven’t been a fan of Leake, though more so for his contract than his baseball skills. When he’s on, he’s an above average pitcher. The problem is, we spent ace-like money to get him, not above average pitcher money.

I’ll stop my rant there as I’ve devoted plenty of time to it already in previous posts.

So far this season, we’re getting the above average pitcher.

In his most recent start against the Pirates, he allowed 7 hits and only struck out one, not exactly ace-like, but he only allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings. It’s not how you get the results, but the fact that you get them I guess. If he only struck out one per game the rest of the season and kept winning, I can happily live with that. Well so far he’s 2-1 with an 0.84 ERA for the season,with a 0.844 WHIP. Shiny.

Will he keep it up? I think that depends on the defense. As we all know, he’s not a flamethrower, but he does pound the zone and throw a ton of strikes. Well strikes are in the hitters zone, so he will give up his share on contact, particularly ground balls, so the defense needs to be on its toes when he pitches. This is also why Kolten Eong needs to start when he pitches, platoon be darned. Who’s ever the better 3B Jhonny, Jedd Gyorko, or heck even Greg Garcia, needs to be out there too. We need to back Leake up. We do that, and he might just have a chance of having a much better season than his own hurricane last season

As always, thanks for reading.

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A Tale Of Two Pitchers.

Will the real Carlos Martinez please stand up?

Before I get into the post, I realize I may be overreacting a little, but with the Reyes injury and everyone else’s struggles last year, it should be understandable that Carlos, our ace, will be watched closely. Same with pitcher number two.

In his last start, Carlos went 5 innings, gave up 5 runs. plunked two batters and threw a wild pitch. Not exactly an ace like performance. Plus this was against the Reds, who are, no offense, a weaker offensive team than the Cubs, who Carlos owned last week.

I wasn’t lucky enough to catch this one on TV like I did the Cubs game, so I can’t say whether he looked any different in this start as opposed to his first one.

Another thing to note: Carlos only gave up one walk, so even with the wild pitch and the 2 hit batsmen, it’s not like his control was terrible.

The thing I wonder though is this: Opening day was exciting. Everybody was amped up, including Carlos. He’s a big game pitcher, we know this. Was the energy worn off in the second start as he settles into the long 162 game season?

It was probably just one bad start. That’s what his track record over the past two years implies, but you never know.

as for our second pitcher…

Adam Wainwright also pitched well in his first start, and struggled in his second start, particularly against a fellow named Bryce Harper.

Harper went 2 for 2 with a walk versus Waino. The walk interests me the most as it was a 3-2 count.

I know Harper is a beast and is coming off of a down year (for him. Many other batters would happily take his 2016) and looking to prove that 2015 wasn’t a fluke.

Still, was this a walk of respect to a talented guy off to a hot start? Or was this a sign that Waino doesn’t trust his stuff?

I know Waino is older and isn’t the same guy he used to be, but if he wants to come close to who he used to be, then confidence is key. Facing the best batters and giving them your best, not walking them.

I love Waino and I want to see him confident out there.

As I said with Carlos, this was probably just one bad start, though given Waino’s year last year, I’m a little more pessimistic with him.

Hopefully, These are in fact two isolated bad starts in a year full of many very good starts by both guys.

As always thanks for reading.

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Fox sports did an article on this year’s Cy Young Candidates, and there was one notable name missing in my mind: Our boy Carlos Martinez. Here are Carlos’ career stats. The stats show a player on the rise. He had a career-high 5.9 WAR last year, leading the team and making him the Most Valuable Cardinal (MVC) for 2016.

While it’s true his strikeout rate declined from 9.2 in 2015 to 8.0 in 2016, his hits per 9 innings also declined, from 8.4 to 7.8. He had the best WHIP of his career at 1.224.

There *was* a bit of BABIP drop, from .324 in 2015 to .287 in 2016. 2016 was only his 2nd full season, though, so it’s too early to tell if that BABIP was a little flukey or the new normal. The team has better defense this year, so his BABIP will be interesting to watch.

As far as the decline in strikeout rate goes, you have to remember that he pitched in a career-high 195 innings last year, so he probably faded down the stretch a little. (Looks at stats) actually, I’m wrong. His best rates came in July, August and September/October (8.7, 9.6 and 9.0, respectively). However, his best months may have been March/April and June, when he had his lowest K rates (6.4 and 6.0) as he had his best ERA’s and WHIP’s those months.

Back to the main question: Is he a Cy Young candidate? I think so, but I think the number of innings pitched will be a key factor. If he, say, approaches 215 to 230 innings while coming close to or exceeding the stats he had last year (a similar WHIP, same or better K/9, etc) he’ll become an obvious candidate. It’s not like he needs much more WAR for consideration. He had 5.9 WAR last year, remember? Well in 2012, Clayton Kershaw had 6.2 and was the runner-up.

I think the biggest thing holding Martinez back is something he has no control over: Recognition. Everybody knows who Kershaw is, but not everyone knows who Martinez is. Hopefully, with a good year and increased innings, Carlos Martinez will make everyone learn his name.

As always, thanks for reading.

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As you all know, Yadier Molina is up for an extension, talks about which are going to resume when the season starts.

Well, recently, Ken Rosenthal wrote an article about Yadi’s influence on Puerto Rico’s entry into the World Baseball Championship (WBC). Here is the article.

According to the article, Yadi has been studying the opposing WBC teams for at least 6 months, even suggesting lineups. During the tourney, he helps arrange the pitching rotation, runs the pitching meetings, and suggests pitching changes based on the pitcher is doing and how tired he is. Yadi is often looking towards the next inning or two.

While technically Puerto Rico has a pitching coach (Ricky Bones), it seems to me Yadi isn’t just a coach on the field, but off the field is well. The article almost makes it seems like Puerto Rico doesn’t *need* a pitching coach since they have Yadi.

I covered this already here, approaching it from both sides, but this article, showing how much influence Yadi can have on a team, tilts me a little further onto Yadi’s side of things.

Now, I’m sure Yadi is teaching Carson Kelly some of this stuff, that’s the type of guy he is. However, as much as he tries, as much as he is taught, Kelly won’t be Yadi. You can’t teach a guy some of the stuff Yadi is doing. Yadi is basically an unofficial second pitching coach, and a lot of the stuff he has learned has come from experience. Well if Yadi moves on, he won’t be around to shape similar experiences for Kelly, by observing from the dugout. But if Yadi stays, Kelly will be the one sitting in the dugout, not getting any hands on experience. Yadi could point out something that happened while he was out there, but it won’t be the same.

Thinking about this, I thought about a possible solution: Make Yadi a coach.

The days of player-coaches are long gone, but maybe they shouldn’t be. Yadi is already an unofficial assistant pitching coach, so make it official. The WBC proves (as if we already didn’t know) Yadi is already doing a lot of what a pitching coach does. Plus, this guarantees him a job after he retires, if he wants one. It would also be a sign of respect from the organization, never a bad thing. So make him an official Assistant Pitching Coach.

Just some food for thought.

As always, thanks for reading.

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As you all know, we lost Alex Reyes for a season due to a torn UCL and our favorite surgery, Tommy John.

The question becomes, how do you replace him?

There are two ways: Directly and indirectly.

Directly, of course, is by replacing his innings. Trevor Hooth over at Redbird Rants covered this here in an excellent article but I’ll give my two cents. The best candidates to do replace the innings, in my mind, are Michael Wacha, Marco Gonzales,  Luke Weaver, and Trevor Rosenthal.

1) Michael Wacha

Wacha, of course, has had success as a starter. As recently as 2015, he was an All-Star, going 17-7 with a 3.38 ERA. You wonder how much of that was luck, though, because in 2016, with a nearly identical BB rate and K rate, he went 7-7 with a 5.09 ERA. his batting average on balls in play, or BABIP, tells part of the tale: in 2015 it was .276, in 2016 it was .337. Yes, part of that was due to shoulder issues as he missed time due to a shoulder injury, but what if some of it was the Cards defense? The D wasn’t exactly shiny last year, as noted elsewhere in the Cardinals Blogosphere (or whatever it’s called.). The Cards know that and have been working on that, though I’ll believe it when I see it.

2) Marco Gonzales

Marco had TJ surgery last year and is going to need so rehab, so he likely wouldn’t join the rotation until late May at the earliest, and that’s the best case scenario. Still, he did ok in 2014 as a starter, going 4-2 with a 4.15 ERA, starting in 5 of 10 appearances. Not bad for a 22-year-old. We’ll see if he builds on that when/if he makes it back to the bigs since there’s a chance he may spend the whole season in AAA rehabbing, which may be wise. You don’t want to rush him.

3) Luke Weaver

Weaver struggled last year going 1-4 in 9 games (eight started) with a 5.70 ERA. I would give this a small sample size, or SSS asterisk, though. it was only 36 innings after all, and the kid has owned AAA lately. Plus, as I told a friend on twitter, 9/10 kids struggle when they first reach the bigs. The tenth was Reyes. Weaver is only 23 years old and is our second best prospect. If Wacha falters even a little, I wouldn’t hesitate giving Weaver a shot. Heck, if Weaver’s spring training numbers are markedly better than Wacha’s, I’d go with the kid.

4) Trevor Rosenthal

This one makes the least amount of sense to me. Not because Rosie doesn’t have the potential to start, he does. Rather, I think he has more value as a shutdown bullpen swingman ala Andrew Miller. He should continue working on developing his secondary stuff, which he’s doing in preparation to compete for the starter role, then when the time comes, management should assign him the swingman role, and he’ll have those additional pitches, which will help him do the job that much better.

Indirectly is by the rest of the rotation manning up. Specifically the back-end, guys like Mike Leake and Lance Lynn.

Last year Leake pitched like a #5 starter if that. He went 9-12 with a 4.69 ERA, and this guy was our big FA signing last year. (He was plan B IE we gotta sign *somebody*! Plan B options scare me.) People talk about other pitchers, but I think Leake is one of the keys. He needs to pitch like he did from 2013 to 2015, not like he did last year, or he’s not worth the money we spent (even then, I think we overpaid.)

Lynn needs to bounce from surgery. Honestly, I think he has a better chance of doing so than Leake rebounding. However, Lynn relied almost exclusively on his fastball before the injury, so if he has lost any velocity, he could be in trouble.

Other things like Adam Wainwright bouncing back from a bad season, and Carlos Martinez continuing to excel and not letting his new contract make him complacent (doubtful, the kid has a fire in him) would help, but the most pressure is on the 3-5 spots, as those are the biggest unknowns.

As always, thanks for reading.

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The Torture Of Potential

As we all know, Alex Reyes underwent an MRI today, and the worst happened: a UCL tear and Tommy John surgery resulting in a lost season and possibly decreased velocity when he comes back, meaning there is a chance, when he finally returns, that we’ll never see the dynamo that we saw at the end of last season.

This, my friends, is the torture of potential.

Reyes is different than Aledmys Diaz. Diaz, while we knew he was talented, wasn’t expected to do anything close to what he did (raising expectations that he’ll do the same this year, something I’ve covered in the past but may write more about in the future.)

Reyes, on the other hand, has been watched closely for a while. I myself have partaken in this. I remember drooling over videos of this young fireballer as he worked his way up the system, counting the days until he joined the big league club. I was slightly worried when he failed a drug test, but I ultimately dismissed it as a young kid making a mistake and resumed counting the milliseconds until he joined us.

The thing we’re losing track of here is that many highly touted prospects, whether due to personality issues or injury issues, flame out.

There is, of course, the famous case of Billy Beane, the former Mets prospect who flamed out and didn’t find success until he became a GM.

On a more local note, remember Rick Ankiel?

Ankiel was a two-way player, a rare talent who could pitch and hit. His potential tantalized us. In the end, looking at the stats, he had one good season as a pitcher, and one as a hitter for us, and that was it. Whatever the cause (it’s been a while since I’ve thought of Mr. Ankiel, and I wasn’t as ardent a follower of the Cards then as I am now.) he didn’t realize his full potential like we had hoped or expected.

And that’s the key here. We expect too much of these kids. One of my fellow bloggers said something along the lines of “fans are “reaching for their brown bags now to help them breathe”

We need to back off a little and lower our expectations. Our high expectations had nothing to do with this injury, but putting so much pressure on a 22 year-old isn’t healthy. It needs to be more like it was with Diaz: a pleasant surprise. Hopefully, the injury will help us ease off on Mr. Reyes a little, and when he comes back, we won’t put the world on his shoulders again.

As always, thanks for reading.

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Prospect Watch: Harrison Bader

I enjoyed talking about our catching prospect Carson Kelly, so I thought I’d look at another prospect, Harrison Bader.

Bader made it to AAA last year, where he struggled. That was only in 161 AB’s though, and he had hit in all previous levels. Plus, remember, we just drafted him in 2015, as a 3rd rounder.

The interesting thing about Mr. Bader is where he plays: the outfield. He’s gotten time in all three positions out there, in fact.

We just signed Dexter Fowler, we have a pair of corner outfielders who are young in Randal Grichuk (24) and Stephen Piscotty (25). So where does Bader fit?

The instinctive reaction would be to say 4th OF/ PH/1B (he has no training there yet, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get him some.)

Currently our extra OF are Tommy Pham and Jose Martinez.

Pham is the veteran of the bunch, as last year was his second full season with the club. He hit 9 homers in 183 PA’s, not bad. His average, however, was only .226. One thing I did like was his OBP, which sat at .334, over a hundred points higher than his BA.

Martinez is a minor league journeyman who has hit for average in the minors (he hit .384 for Omaha in 2015 in 396 PA’s.) He hasn’t shown much power, though (10 homers in 2015, and a career high 11 last year.) Unless that ability to hit for a high average translates to the bigs, he’s nothing more than a bench player.

Both are 27 or older (Pham is 28 and Martinez is 27) so they are currently at or very near their primes, so what you see is what you get.

Bader, in contrast to the gentlemen mentioned above, is only 22, and already has displayed more power potential than any of them. He had a .283/.351/.497 slash line in AA last year with 16 homers before earning a promotion to AAA.

Given his struggles in AAA last year after being promoted (he had a .231/.298/.354 slash line in 161 PA’s) I don’t expect him to make an appearance in the bigs this season, but if he rebounds and continues to develop, I can see him being a 4th OF in 2018.

The more interesting question, though, is beyond that. We appear to be set at CF and RF with Fowler and Piscotty. Grichuk struggled a bit last year, hitting only .240 with a .289 OBP. The 24 homers and .480 SLG weren’t bad, though. Grichuk is still only 25, so he hasn’t reached his prime yet. Plus, he’ll be moving over to LF with the acquisition of Fowler, a position he’s better suited for. If he rebounds, Bader may become trade bait. if he doesn’t, we may have a position battle on our hands at some point.

As always, thanks for reading.

Editor’s Note: The initial version of this post included Jeremy Hazelbaker, who was selected by the Diamondbacks on waivers this offseason.  We regret the error.

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