Bryan Shaw – from extra to feature star?

by Ben Catley

OK, before I go diving into this whole three-team trade that the Arizona Diamondbacks pulled off which involved a couple of former Pioneer League players, let me say that I do think a lot of the players which I have broadcasted games for during my 20-some year endeavor in calling games on the radio.

That being said, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a great pickup and lost what will be a valuable bullpen piece in a 24-hour span on Tuesday.

The great pickup, right-handed starter Brandon McCarthy, is not a former Osprey – although he did pitch for two seasons in the Pioneer League with the Great Falls White Sox. I can tell you this without looking it up because I called McCarthy’s collegiate starts – heck, I called nearly all of them – while he pitched for Lamar Community College in Lamar, CO, and then followed up with updates on him during Area Athlete Update segments on my sportscasts there. Yes, prior life. I will leave that right where it sits, because that’s more of a personal thing. Also, not part of the trade … but, still, an added piece none the less.

Then there is reliever Bryan Shaw (2008), who became expendable the moment the back end of the D-backs bullpen had more depth than the New York Jets could dream of having at quarterback.

The 2008 Osprey alumnus, and the closer in the last no-hitter offered by the Osprey pitching staff, in 2008, may be the hidden gem in the recent 3-team trade that involved the D-backs, Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds.

Why, you ask? Shaw was being groomed to be the potential closer in the mix, or at least a serviceable backup for current closer JJ Putz. Once the D-backs starting adding guys to the bullpen depth, Shaw became the odd-man out. After all, when you now can go David Hernandez, Heath Bell and Putz on the back end of games, and use Tony Sipp as a left-handed specialist, with Joe Paterson to spell from time to time, well … you get the idea.

Shaw was headed either into Triple-A exile or out the door … which makes him a perfect fit in Cleveland. But there’s more to that than meets the eye.

You see, the Tribe has their problems with the closer position. In all honesty, they have had issues hanging onto a closer they wanted to keep for more than one season (well, this side of Jose Mesa and Bob Wickman, anyway) since Doug Jones found a knuckle-curve and a closer’s job in the late 1980s.

Right now, the Tribe has Chris Perez, but he is having a falling out with management at the moment. And while the Indians have arms on the farm, none of them have the closing potential Shaw can bring to the party. Plus, he already has done it (albeit sparingly) at the Major League level.

It’s apparent, though, that for the moment, Shaw is seen as a candidate for the 7th inning or later in the eyes of Cleveland. So we can only hope, for his sake, that it will turn out the way we hoped it would for him in a D-backs’ uniform.

Speaking of that … it shall be interesting to see how former Billings Mustang Didi Gregorius will do with the D-backs. All indications is that the native of the Netherlands will need more minor-league seasoning, but we know that, at least early in his career, he didn’t like D-backs pitching.

How so?? Gregorius was just 11-for-41 (.263) in 10 games against the Osprey in 2009. He was in the AFL Future Stars Game, and had a solid season at Double-A, plus spent a little bit of time with the Reds after the September roster expansion … so we shall see.

Well the Justin Upton blockbuster trade is passe’, for now, but apparently, the D-backs are ready to try and choose Gerardo Parra (2006) over Jason Kubel.

(Wait, wasn’t a year ago when there were trade rumors about Parra?? Oh, how things change …)

Yes, Kubel is now the outfielder in the crosshairs of trade talks, and several teams are apparently interested. This would free up left field, where the D-backs feel is the best fit for Parra, with Upton in right and the current committee of Adam Eaton (2010) and A.J. Pollock in center. (OK, we know Eaton’s winning that job if he heals fully from the broken hand, which he will.)

Another development – guess who is a candidate apparently for a contract extension?? Paul Goldschmidt (2009) happens. Again. The right side of the infield (Aaron Hill as well) could be locked up long-term. Miguel Montero (2002-03) is already on lockdown thanks to last season’s deal.

And while, personally, I think that the D-backs are missing the boat on Shaw, it’s becoming more apparent that GM Kevin Towers is getting closer to saying the words uttered famously by the ficticious manager Lou Brown … “My kind of team Charlie, my kind of team …”

If it ends up in wins, playoff appearances and a repeat of 2001, no one in Snakeville will complain.

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