By electing not to add a significant catcher to their ranks, the D-Backs are essentially giving prospect Peter O’Brien, acquired in last summer’s Martin Prado trade, a vote of confidence. J.J. Cooper of Baseball America isn’t so sure that’s a wise idea, and he explains his reasoning after speaking to several scouts from around the game. O’Brien’s large frame limits his agility behind the plate, causing him to struggle with receiving breaking balls to his right. He also has an inconsistent transfer motion when attempting to throw runners out, and while he’s caught 24 percent of base-stealers in his minor league career, he caught just three of 31 last year in Double-A. Cooper notes that few scouts believe he can catch long-term, and even fewer think he could do so in 2015. One pro scouting director to whom Cooper spoke said he’d yet to see a report from a single evaluator who thought O’Brien could be a big league regular behind the plate.
Here’s more on the D-Backs’ catching situation and the NL West…
- Fangraphs’ Mike Petriello also examined Arizona’s current supply of catchers (albeit, before the team signed Gerald Laird), noting that some teams wouldn’t be content with the current group competing for their backup job, let alone the starting job. However, the offensive loss may not be the biggest issue for the D-Backs, Petriello notes. Rather, the drop from Miguel Montero’s excellent pitch framing could be significantly detrimental to pitchers such as Jeremy Hellickson, Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster. All are coming from organizations that have employed excellent framers (Christian Vazquez in Boston and Jose Molina in Tampa), and yet each has either struggled with command or struggled to match his peripherals. Petriello, like Cooper before him, wonders if the Snakes will truly take this group into camp or make an addition. Even after adding Laird to the mix, I find myself in the same boat.
- The Padres have “won the offseason,” MLB.com’s Richard Justice opines. While teams like the Cubs, Red Sox, Marlins, White Sox, Blue Jays and Mariners all got better, GM A.J. Preller’s nearly unprecedented roster overhaul has taken the Padres from baseball’s worst offense to legitimate NL West contenders, in Justice’s eyes. While the Red Sox may have made themselves a better all-around offense than San Diego, he notes, Boston already had the trio of David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia in place and was therefore starting from a higher point. Preller’s moves have created expectations and excitement among a fan base that previously had been highly skeptical of the new regime.
- Yasmani Grandal feels that he can rebound with the Dodgers in 2015, he told reporters, including Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times, at this weekend’s fan festival. Grandal feels that a knee injury caused his overall production to plummet in 2014 and points to a strong winter ball showing — he hit .328/.469/.541 in 19 games — as evidence that his knee is “like it was before.” Grandal is open to any distribution of playing time with fellow backstop A.J. Ellis and said he’s already met with Ellis and manager Don Mattingly about the coming season. Ellis and Grandal both gave the same message to Mattingly, he tells Hernandez: “Whatever it takes to win.”