Sunday, January 09, 2011

Now THAT's Turnover - Arizona Pitchers

There was a story this morning about the task ahead for the Diamondbacks as they try to rebuild their team. The story talked about trading away and not re-signing strikeout kings and rebuilding the bullpen. But one line stood out. In a throwaway line, the writer mentioned that of the 2008 Diamondbacks' pitching staff, not one pitcher remained that pitched that season. The Diamondbacks used twenty pitchers in 2008. Twenty! And they are all gone. Of course, little tidbits of facts like that get this Fan's mind wandering. And so this post is about those twenty pitchers.

It wasn't that the 2008 Diamondbacks couldn't pitch. They finished fifth out of sixteen National League teams in team ERA. They were third in strikeouts, third in hits allowed (fewest that is) and first in the entire National League in preventing walks. That's not a bad pitching staff. The bullpen wasn't very good. But the rotation was very good. So who were those twenty? And where did they all go? Here is a rundown in total:

  • Brandon Webb - Ah! Brandon Webb. What a good pitcher he was back then. He went 22-7 with a 3.30 ERA and 141 ERA+ in 2008. He made 34 starts and that was the fifth straight season he had made 33 or more starts. He came in second in Cy Young voting. But after that season (or during it), something broke and he pitched four innings in 2009 and none in 2010. He will try to resurrect his career in 2010 with the Texas Rangers.
  • Dan Haran - Haren went 16-8 in 2008 with a 3.33 ERA and a 139 ERA+. But he was even better than those numbers indicate. His Strikeout to Walk ratio was 5.15 and he walked fewer than two batters per nine (1.5) struck out 8.8 batters per nine. Haren had just as good a season in 2009 when he led the National League with a WHIP of 1.007 and in K/BB ratio of 5.87, the best of his career and easily the best in the NL. Strangely, he didn't even make the top 20 in Cy Young voting in 2008 and finished 5th in 2009. He started roughly in 2010 and the D-Backs traded him to the Angels, where he will toil in 2011. His numbers in 2010 were masked by a abnormally high homer rate. Otherwise, he was nearly as good as ever.
  • Randy Johnson - Johnson was 44 years old in 2008 but still went 11-10 with a great ERA and great K/BB ratio. There weren't too many better No.3 starters in the NL than Randy Johnson, 44 years of age or not. He is now retired and will soon be in the Hall of Fame.
  • Micah Owings - Owings made 18 ineffective starts for the D-Backs in 2008. His ERA was just under six. The Fan wished for so much better as he is a pitcher that can really hit. He has the highest slugging percentage in a season in history of any pitcher who's pitched 50 innings. Unfortunately, his OPS+ was higher than his ERA+. After the 2008 season, he was the player to be named later (ugh) in the Adam Dunn deal. He continued to pitched without success for the Reds in 2009 and 2010. He's now a free agent without a job.
  • Doug Davis - Davis was actually above league average in 2008. His 1.8 WAR was a decent showing for his $7 million in salary. Davis made 26 starts in 2008 and went 6-8 with a 4.32 ERA. He did a good job in keeping the ball in the yard that year but gave up a lot of hits and walked too many batters. He had an even better season in 2009 despite going 9-14 in 34 starts. But after the 2009 season, he signed with the Brewers as a free agent and was a total bust there. His ERA was over 7 and he missed a lot of time. It was $5 million wasted by the Brewers. Davis is a free agent again this year and is so far, unemployed.
  • Yusmeiro Petit - This Venezuelan pitcher was 23 in 2008 and the Diamondbacks had high hopes for him. He pitched 56 innings in 2008 and made eight starts and eleven relief appearances. His ERA was above league average at 4.31. Petit was thrust in the D-Backs' rotation in 2009 and bombed. He went 3-10 with an ERA near six. After that season, the D-Backs waived him and the Mariners picked him up, released him, signed him, released him and signed him again as a free agent. He didn't pitch at all in the majors in 2010 and pitched in the minors for the Mariners. Petit's problem was homers, which he gave up in super abundances.
  • Max Scherzer - Maxwell was also 23 in 2008 and was a late season call up making his major league debut. He had absolutely no luck in seven starts and nine relief appearances as he finished with an 0-4 record despite an ERA of 3.05 with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Scherzer made 30 starts for Arizona in 2009 and had a decent season for his first full season. His 9-11 record was again unlucky as his stats were decent across the board. After the 2009 season, he was part of that huge, three-team trade that sent players all over the place. Scherzer headed to the Tigers and had a solid season there with a record of 12-11 with a 120 ERA+. Personally, the Fan never would have swapped Scherzer with Ian Kennedy.
  • Edgar Gonzalez - This Mexican pitcher was signed by the Diamonbacks way back in 2000 as a 17 year old. They had high hopes for him and kept trying him on the major league level. His season in 2004 is legendary in Arizona for all the wrong reasons. He made ten starts, lost nine of them, gave up 2.9 homers per nine and had an ERA of 9.32! They tried him again in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Gonzales actually went 8-4 in 2007 despite and ERA of 5.03. But the D-Backs were optimistic enough with Edgar's 104 innings enough to try him again in 2008. It didn't work. He went 1-3 with an ERA of 6.00 in 48 innings. He was granted free agency after the 2009 season, signed with Oakland and went 0-4 for them in 2009 with an ERA of 5.51. He was signed by the Dodgers and is again a free agent. Gonzalez didn't pitch in the majors in 2010 and hopes that his 14-25 major league record with a career 5.51 ERA and 1.6 homers per nine lands him a job in 2011. That's a rundown of all the guys that started in 2008. And now the pure relievers.
  • Brandon Lyon - Lyon was a 14th Round draft pick for the Blue Jays way back in 1999. He signed just after New Years in 2000 and just a year later was pitching for the Blue Jays at the big league level. That seems a bit rushed to this Fan. Lyon made 11 decent starts for the Jays in 2001 and several bad ones in 2002 and the Blue Jays waived him. The Red Sox picked him off waivers and he was traded to Pittsburgh but then back to Boston. He had a good season for Boston in 2003 all as a reliever. Lyon was then part of the big Curt Schilling deal and pitched several years for the Diamondbacks though he didn't pitch at all in the majors in 2004. The D-Backs tried to make him the closer in 2005 and despite reaching 14 saves, was not very good. They forgot about the closing thing after that and Lyon responded with two great years in a row in 2006 and 2007. He again became the closer in 2008. He did reach 26 saves in 2008 but he was WAY too hittable and gave up 11.6 hits per nine innings. Lyon then signed as a free agent with the Tigers and had a very good year for them in 2009 (not in the closer's role). He signed with Houston for 2010 and became the closer there midway through the season and finished with 20 saves. He will toil again for the Astros in 2011.
  • Chad Qualls - Qualls has 460 appearances in the majors all in relief. A former second round pick by the Astros, he was part of the trade after 2007 that send Valverde to the Astros and Qualls to the D-Backs. Qualls had some very good years in Arizona and was superb in 2008. He became the D-Backs closer in 2009 and had another super season and finished with 24 saves. Qualls blew up in 2010 though (among many others) and was shipped to the Bay Rays for their stretch run. He's a free agent now and still hasn't signed anywhere.
  • Tony Pena - Pena was 20 years old when the Diamondbacks signed him out of the Dominican Republic. He made his debut and was somewhat unsuccessful in 25 outings in his rookie season of 2006. He made 75 appearances in 2007 and was a real work horse and he pitched very well. He didn't do as well in 2008, though he did get into a whopping 72 games. His hits per nine went up but he was still pretty effective. He started the 2009 season with Arizona and got into 35 games and still gave up a lot of hits. On July 7, 2009, the team traded him to the White Sox for Brandon Allen. He got into 32 more games with the White Sox with mixed results. Pena did not have a good year in 2010 for the White Sox, though he pitched in a lot of games (including his first three starts of his career). His K/9 rate has gone down consistently the last four years while his walk rate has steadily gained. Not a good combination.
  • Juan Cruz - Cruz has been around a long time. He was signed by the Cubs way back in 1997 and has kicked around a lot. But in 2008, he was unbelievable with 71 strikeouts in 51.2 innings. It was his second season in a row for the Diamondbacks with a K/9 rate over 12!. He became a free agent after 2008 and the Royals gave him $2.25 million in 2009 and $3.5 million in 2010. But his K/9 rate plummeted in 2009 with the Royals and he struggled. He struggled again in 2010 and the Royals released him. He is currently unemployed.
  • Doug Slaten - Slaten was the D-Backs LOOGY in 2008 and it didn't go well. His peripherals were all bad. He was even worse in 2009 and Arizona waived him. The Nationals picked him up and he had a very good year for the Nationals in 2010. It looks like he has resurrected his career nicely.
  • Leo Rosales - Rosales might actually pitch for the D-Backs again. He is a free agent without a home, but he's pitched off and on for three years with the Diamondbacks. 2008 was his debut season and he got into 27 games and was decent.
  • Jon Rauch - Rauch is one of those guys that surprise you. He's pitched for five different teams and led the league in appearances for the Nationals in 2007 (173 appearances in two years for that club!). Despite all that moving around and change in roles, he holds a 117 ERA+ for his career in 415 appearances. In 2008, the Nationals traded him to Arizna for Emilio Bonifacio (no loss there). Unfortunately, that was his only bad stretch in his career. He was awful for the D-Backs going 0-6 with an ERA of 6.56. They traded him to the Twins in 2009 and he's pitched well for the Twins ever since. He is a free agent now and has yet to sign.
  • Brandon Medders - Medders was drafted very late in the draft back in 2001. Since then, he can't seem to get a full time major league job despite not pitching that badly in his efforts. His trouble is walks as he gives up too many of them. He has 258 appearances in the minors and 210 in the majors. He got into only 19 innings for Arizona in 2008 and gave up 11 walks. The Giants signed him as a free agent and he had a good season in for them in 2009. He pitched mostly in the minors in 2010, but pitched enough for the Giants that he'll get a World Series ring.
  • Billy Buckner - Buckner was a second round draft pick for the Royals who eventually traded him to the Diamondbacks for Alberto Gallaspo. He showed promise in 2008 in fifteen innings, so much so that they put him in their rotation in 2009. That was a disaster. Buckner can't seem to stop giving up gopher balls which derails otherwise good peripherals. After his bad 2009 season, he was part of the equally disastrous Dontrelle Willis trade. The Tigers released him soon after. The Rockies have signed him as a free agent with hopes of turning him around.
  • Jailen Peguero - A true journeyman pitcher, Peguero has been signed as a free agent five times and released three times. Despite all the moving around, he only has 24 big league innings, all of them with the Diamondbacks in 2007 and 2008. He was recently signed by Houston as a free agent as he continues to plug away.
  • Connor Robertson - Robertson was drafted in the 30th Round in 2004 by the Oakland A's. The fact that he got two cups of coffee in the majors already beat those odds. He pitched in seven innings spanning six appearances for the Diamondbacks in 2008. His ERA was 5.14 and he picked up one loss. After the season, he was traded to the Mets for Scott Schoeneweis and pitched for the Mets' farm system in 2009. He is now out of baseball.
  • Wil Ledezma - This pitcher shows that if you throw with your left arm, your career can go on forever. Ledezma has pitched for five different teams, the most recent being the Tigers in 2010. He was just picked up by the Pirates on waivers from the Blue Jays who had signed him as a free agent. He pitched only four innings for the 2008 Diamondbacks and didn't give up a run.

There you are, your twenty Diamondback pitchers of 2008. All of them gone, many forgotten and some wished to be forgotten. They made up the 162 game season of the Diamondbacks and are scattered like the wind. It's really extraordinary that not one remains with the team. It's an amazing turnover. But the Fan is too tired after this exercise to see if any other teams share the same fate.

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