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D'Backs Venom - An Arizona Diamondbacks Blog | Page 12
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Written by Amit Lal | 01 October 2011

Jaymes Langrehr, a writer for the Brewers Bar, answered some questions for us about the Brewers just before the upcoming series.

1) What are your thoughts on the Brewers going with Zack Greinke on 3 days rest for Game 2?
He only threw about 70 pitches in the season finale, so it is possible there won't be much of an effect. Even if it is a short start, the bullpen is strong enough to pick him up if needed.

2) Will the Brewers just use three starters in a Best of 5 series, or will Randy Wolf or Chris Narveson get a start?
Narveson likely won't be making many starts this postseason. I think they could get away with only using three starters this series, but whether or not they do depends on how Greinke feels.

3) The left side of the infield has been a weak link all year, with McGehee and Betancourt. Will the Brewers make a change for the playoffs?
It doesn't seem very likely now, and it's too late to really do anything about it. They best they could do is sprinkle in starts for Jerry Hairston, which would help a little.

4) How do the Brewers' fans feel about the possible departure of Prince Fielder? Is there still a chance he stays?
Fans have known it was coming for awhile, so I don't think there any hard feelings. There's a slim chance he stays, but I don't think it would be all that smart to tie up that much of the payroll into a single player.

5) Is Rickie Weeks back at full strength for the playoffs?
Offensively it's possible. Defensively, he's looked a half step slow and he hasn't been running full speed on the bases. Weeks at 80% is still better than the alternatives, though.

6) Nyjer Morgan is one of the most interesting and controversial players around. How do Brewers' fans feel about him?
Tony Plush is a rockstar in Milwaukee. Trading for him has been a big success on the field, and he finally has a fanbase willing to accept eccentric characters. In the clubhouse, he's kept guys loose and having fun. It seems like the teams that have a problem with him are those set in a traditional mindset (St. Louis, his old team in Washington, etc.).

7) What do you see as the key for the Brewers to win this series?
Avoid defensive gaffes that allow runs to score or extend innings. The starting rotation is very good, but can rack up a high pitch count due to strikeouts. They don't need misplays to further extending innings.

Thanks again to Jaymes Langrehr of the Brewers Bar for the insights.

Written by Amit Lal | 30 September 2011

This year, the 2011 Playoffs include two playoff teams that rank near the bottom in team payroll. Based on the opening day team salary numbers, the Diamondbacks rank #25 at $53.6M and the Rays are #29 at $41.1M. Interestingly, both teams had cut their payroll significantly this year, with the D'Backs dropping from $60.7M (#24 in 2010) and the Rays coming down from $71.9M (#19).

At the other end of the spectrum are the Yankees and Phillies, whose $202.7M and $173.0M payrolls rank #1 and #2. Filling out the 2011 playoffs are four teams from the middle of the payroll pack - Tigers ($105.7M, #10), Cardinals ($105.4M, #11), Rangers ($92.3M, #13) and the Brewers ($85.5M, #17).

The chart belows shows a graph of team wins plotted with opening day payroll.

2011 Wins and Opening Day Team Payroll

Written by Amit Lal | 29 September 2011

It came down to the final day of the season, but the NL playoff teams and matchups are finally set, with the Phillies hosting the Cardinals and the Brewers hosting the Diamondbacks. The Phillies clearly have the strongest starting rotation, with both Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee expected to finish among the Top 4 in the NL Cy Young voting, and Cole Hamels a certain Top 10 finisher. The Brewers just barely edge out the Diamondbacks for 2nd place, with the trio of Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum, and Zack Greinke all capable of shutting down an opponent. But none of the three had a dominating regular season. Right with the Brewers are the Diamondbacks at a very close #3, led by the amazing season of Ian Kennedy. Daniel Hudson has been solid, and both Joe Saunders and Josh Collmenter have been much better than expected. Ranking 4th are the Cardinals, whose pitching staff will be without ace Chris Carpenter until Game 3. Let's take a closer look at the likely starting rotations for each team.

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Written by Amit Lal | 21 September 2011

In an excellent article by Mike Fast at Baseball Prospectus (free access), catchers are analyzed with PitchFX for their ability to get extra called strikes for their pitcher. The basic concept is as follows:
1) Using pitch location data from the PitchFX system from the years 2007-2011, Mike first established a standard strike zone by marking the boundaries where a pitch was called a strike at least 50% of the time.

RHB zone: -1.03 < px < 1.00 and (0.92 + batter_height*0.136) < pz < (2.60 + batter_height*0.136)
LHB zone: -1.20 < px < 0.81 and (0.35 + batter_height*0.229) < pz < (2.00 + batter_height*0.229)

2) He then counted the number of called balls and strikes tallied by each pitcher in the borderline zone to get a baseline number of "extra strikes" for each pitcher.
3) He then broke down the data for each pitcher-catcher combination, subtracting off the pitcher's baseline data.
4) Using Dan Turkenkopf's data on the value of switching ball/strike calls, the Runs Saved by each catcher was estimated.

Many more details are in the article, but the results showed that the best catchers for getting extra strikes for their pitchers were:

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Written by Amit Lal | 21 September 2011

As expected, the Diamondbacks called up top prospect Jarrod Parker on Monday, after Mobile completed their AA playoff season (with a Southern League championship). Parker's overall numbers in AA were good but not spectacular - 11-8, 3.68 ERA, 1.278 WHIP, 130.2 IP, 112K, 55BB (8.5K/9, 3.9BB/9). But his performance in the second half of the season was much better - he allowed 1 ER or less in 10 of his last 14 starts for Mobile. Over those final 14 games, his ERA was down to 2.57, and his walk rate dropped to a better 2.6BB/9.

Now that Parker has joined the Major League club, the next question is whether he will be added to the postseason playoff roster.  This actually involves three questions:

  1. Is Parker even eligible for the postseason roster?
  2. Does he have enough time to impress management to earn a spot?
  3. Whose roster spot would he take if he does pitch well over the final week?

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Written by Amit Lal | 16 September 2011

RHP Trevor Bauer and LHP Tyler Skaggs are two of the Diamondbacks' Top 4 Minor League prospects, along with righthanders Jarrod Parker and Archie Bradley. There had been some discussion of Bauer getting a September call-up and possibly making the Diamondbacks' playoff roster. But the long playoff run of the AA Mobile Bay Bears, along with some struggles by Bauer in his last two starts, probably means that he will not be called up this season. If he had, he would have been one of the rare players who went from the June draft to the Major Leagues in the same season.

But what about the 2012 season? Will Bauer be ready for to compete for a rotation spot next spring? As we will see below, that would still make him one of the fastest risers in all of baseball. Another potential option for the 2012 rotation is Tyler Skaggs. Skaggs has rocketed through the High A California League and the AA Southern League, striking out 198 batters in 158 IP (11.3K/9). Many feel that he too is ready for the Majors.  After the break, let's take a look at how many starts these two have made in the Minors, and compare that with the minor league service of currently successful Major League pitchers.

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Written by Amit Lal | 09 September 2011

There is no question that the Diamondbacks' outfield defense has very good range, and has been a big part of the team's success this year. According to the Ultimate Zone Ratings (UZR) at FanGraphs, the most valuable defensive player in the National League this year has been Gerardo Parra, with Chris Young #2 and Justin Upton #6. In terms of just range (excluding arms and errors), the Diamondbacks have 3 of the Top 5, with Upton the NL leader by far. At the team level, the Diamondbacks' UZR of +52.6 Runs gives them a 12.8 Run advantage over the #2 Reds (+39.8), and a whopping 39.2 runs over the #3 team, the Padres at +13.2. Let's take a closer look at the Diamondbacks' outfield defense and how the various defensive metrics rate them.

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