21 May 2011
The shuffling of the Diamondbacks' roster continued this week with the release of 1B Russell Branyan and the waiving of SP Armando Galarraga. Branyan was brought in for his power bat, but he had dropped all the way down to .210/.290/.339, with only 1 HR and 2 RBI in 62 AB. Expected to drive in some runs, Branyan had come to bat with 46 Runners on Base, and had driven in only 1. And as a pinch hitter, Branyan had gone 0 for 15. Meanwhile, Galarraga's ERA had climbed to 5.91, and he had given up 13 HR in only 42.2 IP (2.7 HR/9 IP). He cleared waivers, and will report to AAA Reno. To replace him, the Diamondbacks have called up Micah Owings from AAA. As discussed last week, Owings has not had much previous success in the Majors as a starter, but has shown an improved K/BB ratio of 27/9 in the Minors this year.
The other aspect of the roster shuffling was related to the placement of 3B Melvin Mora on the bereavement list, along with the call-up of Sean Burroughs from AAA. Burroughs had been hitting .386/.434/.571 in Reno, and is probably battling with Josh Wilson to hold onto a roster spot when Mora returns. The Diamondbacks roster currently stands like this:
C: Miguel Montero, Henry Blanco
1B: Juan Miranda, Xavier Nady
2B: Kelly Johnson
SS: Stephen Drew, Josh Wilson
3B: Ryan Roberts, Sean Burroughs (Melvin Mora)
OF: Justin Upton, Chris Young, Gerardo Parra, Willie Bloomquist
This team has some positional flexibility, as Bloomquist, Roberts, and Nady can all play the infield and the outfield, but not a lot of power on the bench. The current bench players (Bloomquist, Nady, Burroughs, Mora, Wilson) have combined for a total of 2 HR in over 200 AB, and only Nady has ever shown significant power. Somehow, Henry Blanco does have 4 HR in 23 AB, but that's likely a fluke, and the backup catcher is really used as a pinch hitter anyway.
But the organization does have Wily Mo Pena in AAA, and Pena has been red-hot so far this year - .384/.449/.775, with 14 HR in 138 AB. Defensively, Pena is not very good at either LF or 1B, but he could be useful as a pinch hitter. Unfortunately, his track record as a pinch hitter is not very good either - a career .194/.250/.333 mark. But, he still could bring a power threat to the team, something that Mora, Burroughs, Wilson, and Bloomquist do not. Wilson was useful as a backup SS and pinch-runner, but a healthy Bloomquist can also fill that role.
The other possible addition in the next few weeks is LHP Zach Duke. After injuring his hand during Spring Training, Duke made his first minor league rehab start for Class A Visalia last week, throwing 68 pitches - 5 IP, 5H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4K. He will make a start for AAA Reno next, but could return to the Majors within a week or two. Most likely, he would replace Owings in the rotation.