February 2012

Montero – Rooting? Parra – Packing? Maybe …

by Ben Catley

Talk about two opposite directions …

It’s looking more and more like Miguel Montero (2002-03) is going to get what he has been trying for over the past couple of years – stability. The catcher, who signed a one-year deal to avoid arbitration, may soon be inking a long-term deal.

This is good news … what is the baffling part is what to do with OF Gerardo Parra (2006).

Some of that became a little bit clearer when D-backs manager Kirk Gibson essentially said that Parra needs to learn to play center field. Which he will, especially since it will mean more playing time for him.

And, for some D-backs faithful, is better than the alternative – trading him away.

It seems as if that Parra-to-the-Nationals rumor has gone away, but we shall see. Although Chris Young may want to be on notice about his job as well.

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Stat of the day: Three former Osprey appear on this list of projected starters/relievers/starting lineup. Add Lyle Overbay and Parra, and your former Osprey on the D-backs roster looks to, at the moment, be at five.

Pitchers & Catchers – Reported

by Ben Catley

So as the 2012 version of Spring Training gets underway for the Arizona Diamondbacks, one could wonder what people can expect to see from the Snakes. And while no one truly knows, the bottom line could be another NL West title run.

While titles aren’t won just by the evidence of hard work, or the threat of it, depending on your outlook on it … it will factor in to whatever happens. So when manager Kirk Gibson gives every indication of having a hard camp, just like last year, you can start thinking that things could end up the same way as they did last season.

And I’d say that ended up pretty good, wouldn’t you?

– Gibson also was quoted as saying “There are Goldys, Shaws and Collmenters in our locker room .. Who are they? That’s one of the things that Spring Training is all about.”

Let me call one name to watch out for – Adam Eaton.

You think it’s a little awkward now in the outfield, where apparently Gerardo Parra has a solid season in left field, wins a Gold Glove, and may lose his starting job, wait until the 2010 Osprey alum opens eyes this spring.

Call it a prediction (one I will explain a lot more next week, when I take my stab in the dark about which former Osprey are the next to crack a MLB roster), or call it a hunch, but I get the feeling that Eaton will be in a D-backs uniform before September call-ups.

– Usually, at this point and time, the minor-league players are making their way to Spring Training, which gets underway about a week later than the Major League camp. However, there are a number of players which have reported early, among them being pitcher Robby Rowland (2010-11). It could be a big year for the youngster, who hasn’t yet turned 21, as the numbers have not met the expectations his third-round draft status produces. That could change, however, as Rowland started to find a feel for pitches that he had struggled with during his first two seasons at the tail end of 2011. If he can find consistency, and keep the ball down in the zone, there may be a chance that Rowland will advance upward through the system.

– There’s also the fact that the D-backs open up, in some people’s eyes, as the favorite to win the NL West again. Which could increase the expectations on what is still a relatively young team. The San Francicso Giants, buoyed by the return of catcher Buster Posey, are considered the best challengers.

– While it’s hard to predict how spring will go, if you’re Bryan Shaw (2008), it’s good to see your name on the “almost lock” list when you enter camp. However, no one in the rotation or the bullpen has earned a spot … yet.

Truth be told, it would take one heck of a bad spring for Shaw to not be in the bullpen, and an amazing spring for someone, say, like Charles Brewer, to make the starting rotation. But, as they say, that’s why the play the games.

Finding the greener (or any) pastures …

by Ben Catley

Ten days before pitchers and catchers report to Diamondbacks Major League Spring Training, and 15 days before the early minor-league arrivals roll into the Salt River complex.

– A handful of former Osprey managed to crack the NL West All-Prospect team, selected by MLB.com. Archie Bradley (2011) was named to the starting pitcher list, while shortstop Chris Owings (2009) earned the nod at shortstop.

– Bradley is No. 2 and Owings is fourth on the D-backs Top 20 Prospect list, also by MLB.com. Also on the list are former Osprey David Holmberg (2010, 7th), Bobby Borchering (2009, 11th), Andrew Chafin (2011, 13th), Anthony Meo (2011, 14th), Charles Brewer (2009, 15th), Adam Eaton (2010, 16th) and Justin Bianco (2011, 19th). Read more about it here.

– Miami Marlins utility player Emilio Bonifacio (2003) became the second player in the organization to win an arbitration hearing earlier this week, and will get quite the raise. The difference between the two sides was, in relative terms of baseball salaries, small … $250,000, to be exact … but the raise for Boni will bump him up from $425,000 to $2.2 million. Stat that did some swaying – Bonifacio led the Marlins with a .296 batting average last season, and stole 40 bases.

– Greg Smith (2005) has found a new home, signing a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this week. Smith is 8-18 in the majors with a 4.51 ERA with Oakland and Colorado. Last season, Smith started out in independent ball before getting picked up by the New York Yankees organization, but did not spend any time with the big club.

So get the suntan lotion ready … it’s nearly time for baseball season.

MLB Spring Training Attendees

Here’s the list of former Missoula Osprey players whom will be in Major League Spring Training camps later this month, by team (non-roster invitees are listed in italics, Osprey seasons in parenthesis) … you can also read the whole story here:

Arizona Diamondbacks (11): RHP Charles Brewer (2009), C Rossmel Perez (2007), IF Chris Owings (2009), IF Rusty Ryal (2005), OF Adam Eaton (2010), C Miguel Montero (2002-03), RHP Yonata Ortega (2007), RHP Bryan Shaw (2008), 1B Paul Goldschmidt (2009), 1B Lyle Overbay (1999), OF Gerardo Parra (2006).

Colorado Rockies (3): LHP Jorge De La Rosa (1999), OF Carlos Gonzalez (2003), C Wilkin Castillo (2002).

Oakland A’s (3): RHP Evan Scribner (2007), LHP Jordan Norberto (2006), RHP Jarrod Parker (2007).

Detroit Tigers (2): RHP Jose Valverde (2000), LHP Daniel Schlereth (2008)

Toronto Blue Jays (2): RHP Sergio Santos (2003), RHP Jerry Gil (2000)

Boston Red Sox (1): IF Pedro Ciriaco (2005)

Cleveland Indians (1): RHP Hector Ambriz (2006)

Cincinnati Reds (1): LHP Clay Zavada (2006)

Minnesota Twins (1): RHP Esmerling Vasquez (2004)

Miami Marlins (1): IF Emilio Bonifacio (2003)

New York Mets (1): OF Scott Hairston (2001)

Signings and Countdowns …

by Ben Catley

First, 17 days until pitchers and catchers report, 24 days before players report. However, there are a number of former Osprey who have reported early to Arizona, for one reason or another, to get ready for Spring Training.

Ahh, the excitement of pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training … it’s like, when you were a kid, the buildup to Christmas in a way for baseball fans, where everyone is feeling good about their teams, hoping for the best of successes in the upcoming year.

And, if you’re on the arbitration list, it can get even more, uh, interesting. However, the suspense of it all went away for former Osprey catcher Miguel Montero (2002-03), who agreed to a deal right before his arbitration hearing. Literally, right before the hearing.

It’s been quite a 12-month span for Montero, who made his first All-Star squad while having a big season – leading National League catchers in doubles (36), RBIs (84) and slugging percentage (.471) and was second in home runs (18) and on-base plus slugging (.821).

For the D-backs, they have had just two arbitration hearings in franchise history, and (at the moment) none since 2001. That is an achievement in itself.

– OK, because this blog has been known to have a “Goldy” fix … and, believe me, if you knew Paul Goldschmidt like we do, you would understand why we like talking about him … here is today’s entry. Imagine Upton/Goldy as your slugging ticket for the D-backs this season.

– Don’t know if I posted this before or not, but here’s a feature on former Osprey starting pitcher Robby Rowland.

– The 2011 D-backs first-round pick, and former Osprey pitcher, Archie Bradley, did pretty well for himself during Instructional League this past fall. No wonder he’s high on the prospect lists.

I will also pass along this little nugget on Spring Training – and it’s non-Osprey related. Someone older than yours truly has a non-roster invite to a Major League camp. Omar Visquel, who turns 45 in April (less than a month before me), will head to Florida and try to earn a spot on the Toronto Blue Jays roster. Amazing.

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