Arizona Diamondbacks

What Happens If Chad Qualls Is Traded?

We touched on the topic of a possible Chad Qualls trade in our last post, but that was just my speculation.  Diamondbacks beat writer Nick Piecoro, writing for the Arizona Republic, finds the team unlikely to move their closer.  However, he's heard "nearly half of baseball" has inquired.  I asked Piecoro a few more questions about the situation, to determine the best course of action for fantasy owners.

RotoAuthority: If the D'Backs trade Qualls, who do you see stepping in as closer?  Is Jon Rauch the favorite?  What would be the pecking order?

Piecoro: With Tony Pena gone, Rauch would be Qualls’ successor as the closer. There’s really no one else in the bullpen with experience in the ninth inning. I guess if Tom Gordon gets back from his rehab and has some solid outings, he could work himself into the picture. But that’s a ways away.

RotoAuthority: Daniel Schlereth is currently on the DL in Double A with a strained rib cage muscle.  Once healthy, do you see him as a candidate for saves with the big club this year?

Piecoro: No, I don’t really see Schlereth as a candidate this year. Maybe somewhere down the road, but he hasn’t really refined his fastball command enough yet to the point where I would see them trusting him in the ninth. He has the weapons to do the job – his curveball is a swing-and-miss pitch to lefties and righties – but at this point he doesn’t throw enough strikes.

An Eye On Chad Tracy D'Backs beat writer Steve Gilbert has been saying it for a while now - "Chad Tracy is going to have a very good season."  As if on cue, Tracy went 3 for 4 with a home run on Opening Day yesterday.  This was after a .367/.424/.567 spring performance.

Tracy is a nice sleeper while it lasts.  He wasn't impressive in 273 ABs last year.  Quietly, though, projection systems like him for a .340 OBP and .450-.460 SLG.  And projection systems don't know about Tracy's ordeal with microfracture knee surgery, which is finally over.  He's the team's cleanup hitter, and maybe that guy who hit .308-27-72-73-3 in 503 ABs in '05 is still in there somewhere.

Max Scherzer Concerns

Should we be worried about D'Backs starter Max Scherzer?  Last year, he had a monthlong bout with shoulder inflammation.  Already this year his arm did not feel great when he started throwing, according to's Steve GilbertNick Piecoro talked to Arizona GM Josh Byrnes, who said nothing's changed structurally with Scherzer in comparing his June and December MRIs. 

Byrnes isn't concerned (at least publicly) and projects 170 innings for Scherzer.  Much like Joba Chamberlain (more on him in a future post), Scherzer's fantasy value is tied to his very unpredictable innings total.

Scherzer is being drafted in the 16th round on average, so drafters respect the injury concerns.  Still, that's after a guy like Aaron Cook, who shouldn't have any mixed league value in 2009. 

Say Scherzer reaches that 170 IP mark.  I have him for a 3.83 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and K/9 over 10.  He'd be worth $13.38, more than Edinson Volquez and about the same as Ricky Nolasco, Jered Weaver, Ted Lilly, and Zack Greinke.

Drop Scherzer to 140 IP, though, and he's down to $8.11 (about where I have Hiroki Kuroda and Johnny Cueto).  Here's the thing though.  Scherzer's not like Mark Buehrle, who is worth $7 because he can rack up some counting stats across 210 IP.  Scherzer, like Joba, burns bright.  If he's healthy he will probably pitch well, and if he's hurt he'll be on the DL.  If that's the case, you can sub in a tolerable 60 innings off the waiver wire and end up with good value overall.  The only risk is that he's moved to the bullpen.  For a 15th or 16th round pick, that's a risk worth taking.

Stephen Drew Examined

Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew is a popular undervalued/sleeper pick this year.  He's being drafted sixth among shortstops, typically in the 8th round.  Drew, 26 in March, posted a fantasy line of .291-21-67-91-3 in 611 ABs last year.  What's more, his second half production, if replicated over 600 ABs, would come to .326-20-76-96-2 (a $16 value).

If Drew does manage to replicate his second half work over a full season, it'd be hard to argue that he'd be the fourth-ranked fantasy shortstop.

I have a safer projection for Drew: .277-18-72-80-4 in 565 ABs.  This line has him ranked 13th at the position, worth less than $4.

If you think Drew is more capable of something like .290-20-75-85-5, then he is creeping into Michael Young/Derek Jeter value.  Drew is right around his peak age, so there is something to be said for taking the upside guy over these two declining veterans (or an injury risk, Rafael Furcal).  I would like to see Drew run more.  Otherwise I remain unconvinced that I can't get similar production from Miguel TejadaJhonny Peralta, Troy Tulowitzki, and J.J. Hardy later in the draft.

I should add that Alexei Ramirez slots in as my fourth-ranked SS if his 16 games played there in 2008 cuts it for your league.  Certainly can't go wrong with him at 2B though.

If you're picking top four, you can probably get Jose Reyes or Hanley Ramirez.  If you have the fifth through ninth pick, you can take Jimmy Rollins.  Those three are so far above the other shortstops that I make every effort to get one.  Beyond that trio you have to settle for a shortstop that is flawed in some way.

Thoughts on Scherzer

We wrote about Max Scherzer ten days ago, and spoke very highly of him.  He's been called up to the bigs, but will be used as a reliever for now.  Scherzer available in Yahoo at this moment, so there might be a waiver wire battle for his services (especially in keeper leagues).

Here is a look at Arizona's rotation:

  1. Brandon Webb - healthy ace.
  2. Dan Haren - healthy co-ace.
  3. Micah Owings - sprained ankle on Saturday; doesn't seem major.
  4. Randy Johnson - always shaky, but healthy currently.
  5. Edgar Gonzalez - easily replaced or moved to pen if need be.
  6. Doug Davis - hopes to return May 9th following thyroid cancer surgery.

So Scherzer doesn't have the obvious path to the bigs Johnny Cueto did.  But the last three starters listed all have concerns (of course, we wish Davis well). 

Do you use a #1 waiver claim on Scherzer?  I lean toward no, with thoughts of saving it for Clayton Kershaw.  Kershaw has a similar situation though - he'd have to get past Esteban Loaiza (not a problem), Hong-Chih Kuo (often injured), and Jason Schmidt (shakier than Randy Johnson but equally well-compensated).  Neither Kershaw nor Scherzer is a lock to get the rotation gig.  Without it, they don't have much value in non-keeper mixed roto leagues.  I wouldn't value them highly as relievers (unless Scherzer found himself closing). 

I'd save the claim for Kershaw as I see his path as slightly clearer.  And keep in mind that other dark horses could emerge like Nick Adenhart or Adam Miller.  That said, I wouldn't argue with you much if you did go for Scherzer.      

Eyeing Max Scherzer

Alright, it's officially time to get excited about Max Scherzer as the "next big thing."  Here are the numbers on the 23 year-old starter:

3 starts (Triple A)
17 innings
0.00 ERA
0.59 WHIP
15.35 K/9
1.59 BB/9
3.71 H/9
0.00 HR/9
2.00 Groundball/flyball ratio

Those are video game numbers.  Admittedly it's just three starts, but this reminds me of the way Tim Lincecum kicked off his '07 season.  Actually, Scherzer's been better.

I was recently asked which waiver wire pickups could net decent strikeouts for your team.  Scherzer is officially #1 on that list, when he comes up.  At this rate he could force his way into the picture before June.  There are many scenarios I can envision where Arizona needs a starter.

Some scouts see Scherzer as a future closer rather than a starter, just like many folks thought Lincecum was better suited for the pen.  Scherzer is best known for his high-velocity heater with sinking action, followed by a pretty good slider.

D'Backs Closer Situation

I wanted some insight on Arizona's save situation, so I went to a man who would know: beat writer Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.  I asked:

Fantasy leaguers are treating it as a foregone conclusion that Tony Pena is second in line for saves if Brandon Lyon falters.  Do you see Pena ahead of Chad Qualls for save chances?  I figured the veteran might get extra consideration.

Piecoro's response:

It was definitely between Lyon and Pena in the offseason.  But from seeing the way Qualls has thrown through spring and his first couple of appearances, I wouldn't be surprised if he ultimately puts himself in the discussion.  Pena hasn't been particularly sharp in his first two appearances (hard hit balls, if not hits allowed) and wasn't exactly lights out in the spring, either.  Qualls has looked fantastic.  I guess if something were to happen today, it's very probably Pena's job if only because of the hierarchy (he's the eighth inning guy).  But i wouldn't rule out Qualls passing him at some point.

A Look At Chris Snyder

Longtime reader finite24 has been talking up Chris Snyder quite a bit recently, and the Arizona catcher deserves a closer look.

I have the 27 year-old hitting .252-14-54-44-0 in 375 ABs, a $3.64 value.  That's about what he did in '07 except for a few less ABs.  Let's dig a bit deeper though.

  • Snyder hit .262-10-37-25-0 in the season's final three months (221 ABs).  It makes you wonder if .262-20-74-50-0 is possible; that'd be worth $10.
  • There are signs Bob Melvin might move Snyder up from the eight-hole in the lineup.
  • Snyder is clearly ahead of Miguel Montero on the depth chart this year.  Plus, Montero is a bit behind this year because of a broken finger.
  • Snyder's hitting .342/.419/.842 with five homers this spring in 38 ABs.  That's .455 above his career SLG of .387, which indicates he will have a better than normal season.
  • It's hard not to like Snyder; he's flying under the radar and is a fine endgame catcher.

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