Trying to be less stodgy this week, I wanted to take a look at my pre-season enthusiasm for the Diamondbacks. Going into my high stakes league (11 owners, each with AL and NL teams, 63 total players, 7 hitting categories and 5 pitching, with AL and NL calculated separately and summed) auction I was enamored, as were many others, at the potential of the Arizona young players. I traded a $13 Ervin Santana for a $7 Stephen Drew, I kept a $7 Carlos Quentin, traded a $4 Reed Johnson for Jose Valverde, auctioned Miguel Montero for $5, Edgar Gonzalez for $2 and Juan Cruz for $1. After my auction I “invested” in a Diamondbacks hat, and have watched a good portion of their games on Extra Innings. Have they rewarded my love?? Well, they have been as useful to me as a chastity belt to Paris Hilton. Here is how they all look so far:
1. Stephen Drew–I talked about him in a post at my Fantasy Baseball Generals blog, namely that he was overrated, based on his minor league performance. I will be talking about this in some depth in my next column. I took a chance on him though, and figured that I would be able to dump him if he didn’t pan out. But going into the auction I must admit that I was swayed off of my opinion by all the stuff I read (so much for the “independence” condition of being a successful fantasy GM). To date, he still hasn’t improved much, if at all, since my trade. He is at .233/.294/.335. At least there appears to be a good explanation for his failures so far; he wasn’t as good as the hype.
2. Carlos Quentin–He has really surprised me so far. Could his slow start be blamed on his labrum problem?? He recently said that it wasn’t bothering him, but his performance is a washout:.205/.291/.349. Ugh. I have to hope that he will turn it around and that he really is bothered by the labrum issue. On the positive side, his hit rate is a lowly 25% so that has to improve, or so I hope. But I also hoped to be stranded on an island with Yunjin Kim and Evangeline Lilly. On the bad side he isn’t making much contact, only 76%. Overall the outlook is mixed.
3. Jose Valverde–He has been everything one could expect. In my league I was roundly lambasted for the Reed Johnson trade, which I have discussed on my blog. Reed was very lucky last year with a 36% hit rate, and Valverde clearly had the right skill set for the job: in 2006 he had 12.6 K/9 IP and has never been below 10. The control is a bit of an issue, as it is for many closers (4.0 BB/9 IP) but I was prepared to live with it and hope for the best. Even if Reed doesn’t get hurt this trade is a win for me.
4. Miguel Montero–He was a player that didn’t stand out until I was close to auction day, and since I was targeting many Diamondbacks I was obligated to take a closer look. I thought that Chris Iannetta would be the main target of the other owners, allowing me to get Montero cheap. So i jumped in early and snagged him for $5. Iannetta went for $5 about 45 minutes later, and I thought I had made a huge blunder. So much for game theory and anticipating your opponent’s moves. Thankfully Iannetta hasn’t exactly been replacement level either.
There is nothing positive to say about Montero other than that he has 4 HR in 89 AB. He has been a disaster. His hit rate is an absolutely dreadful 21%. Normally I would expect a turnaround based on such a low hit rate, but it is definitely possible that he is just overmatched. I will admit to being snookered. His only two excellent seasons in the minors were at Lancaster and Tucson, two hitter’s paradises. Lancaster did, after all, host a 30-0 game this year (!) He has never batted above .260 aside from those two stops. Well, at least the owner of Iannetta isn’t happy either.
On the pitching side of the ledger things are no brighter. I had hoped to get at least one league average starter out of the Gonzalez/Cruz duo, and one above average reliever.
5. Juan Cruz–He was a hidden gem, or so I thought. He has a 3.19 xFIP, 11 K/9 IP and a 4.1 BB/9 IP rate. Drop his walk rate by one (and this can be said about a LOT of pitchers I suppose) and he would be an all star talent. He has actually been a bit unlucky, allowing a 35% hit rate. Overall though his performance is mixed: 2-1 record, with a 4.37 ERA, 28 Ks in 23 IP, but a WHIP of almost 1.5.
6. Edgar Gonzalez–Here was the guy I hoped would be a league average starter. I felt that he would pitch well enough to win a regular rotation gig. Doug Davis and Micah Owings have kept him out so far, despite, in Davis’ case, inferior skills. Well, I admit defeat here. He is still a solid pitcher but probably won’t be a rotation regular this year. His 5.06 ERA looks ugly on the surface, but on skills he has an xFIP of 3.96. The 7.6 K rate and 1.9 BB rate are stellar. He would be the Yankees best pitcher if he were in their rotation. OK maybe this is a bit of hyperbole, but he is still worthy of being in most team’s rotations. His HR rate is due to bad luck.
Aside from Jose Valverde, who only helps in one category, since my league doesn’t have Ks as a category, they are all having either no impact or worse, mostly worse unfortunately. The hitters all have low hit rates, aside from Drew who I no longer own, so at least there is some hope. Despite my current first place position overall, my NL offense is middle of the pack, and it is easy to see why. Maybe next year I will follow the No Diamondbacks Plan and see how that goes.