NL West Notes: Ziegler, Dodgers, LaRussa, LaRocque, Hawkins

Diamondbacks submariner Brad Ziegler is one of the most fascinating, and most effective, relievers in the game, Rany Jazayerli writes for Grantland. Tracking the notable successes of the small number of soft-throwing, under-handed throwers in baseball history, Jazayerli wonders whether there could be some value in looking for more such pitchers. Of course, as he explains, Ziegler is even more unique than most in that he has figured out how to retire opposite-handed hitters. Here’s more from the National League West:

  • For all its talent, the Dodgers‘ roster lacks flexibility, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. That, in turn, complicates any possible maneuvers to upgrade the team, which is off to an uninspiring start. But if upgrades are difficult to identify with regard to the team’s key roles, that could be because they may not really be needed. Los Angeles has an enviable rotation that is not likely to be altered substantially, and actually stands at fifth in the bigs in position player fWAR to date. While it is arguable that the team could stand to enjoy stronger performances out of the bullpen and bench, those are the spots most readily upgraded over the summer. The Dodgers can certainly look to do just that if the struggles continue over the summer, and might also consider displacing or supplementing A.J. Ellis behind the plate. (Of course, the more drastic move of shipping out a high-priced outfielder could also be on the table, even if the return is minimal.)
  • The unyielding Tony LaRussa is a poor fit for the Diamondbacks, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. As Passan notes, he will become the game’s oldest head of baseball ops in his first time in the role, and will need to maintain a much broader focus than he did in the dugout. Moreover, while prominent owner Ken Kendrick has cited the need for the organization to better utilize analytics, says Passan, LaRussa is driven first and foremost by his gut and vast experience.
  • LaRussa talked about his view of sabermetrics today in an appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (via Vince Marotta of ArizonaSports.com). “My opinion is that it’s a valuable tool, but mostly a tool to help you identify talent and then prepare the talent,” said LaRussa. “I think the biggest problem I see is there are teams that have gone way overboard and they are really interfering with the way the managers and coaches conduct strategy during the game by running the analytics and forcing them into it.”
  • If and when LaRussa moves to replace Kevin Towers as the team’s general manager, current Cardinals director of player development Gary LaRocque could be a prime candidate, reports Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com (Twitter links). LaRocque has an extensive scouting background, and has overseen the fast-tracked development of many of the Cards’ impressive young players.
  • Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins says he does not expect his age-41 season to be his last, tweets Morosi. “If I stay healthy, I’ll play [in 2015],” said Hawkins. The veteran righty has worked to a 4.11 ERA in 15 1/3 innings, though he has struck out only 3.5 batters per nine (against 1.8 BB/9). He is earning $2.25MM this season, and Colorado has an equally-priced option ($250K buyout) for next year.


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