Spring Training competition
42 days until Opening Day
7 days until first Spring Training game
The theme of the D-backs spring seems to be competition with the theory being that no longer will jobs just be handed out to players, they will have to be earned.
It’s a great idea that will foster a competitive atmosphere and force everyone to work harder than they have in the past and help them to reach another level, but it isn’t without some risk.
For example, let’s say for arguments sake that Kevin Mulvey or Zach Kroenke throw up zero after zero during the spring and by far and away post the best numbers of any of the starting pitchers this spring. And let’s also say that Zach Duke scuffles. Are the D-backs prepared to hand a starting role to one of those two and release Duke despite the fact that he’s owed $4.25 million this year?
And if they decided to keep Duke over someone who clearly outpitched him, what kind of message does it send to the clubhouse after you’ve spent weeks preaching that everyone has a chance to make the team? What does that do to the trust factor?
Again, it may not come down to that, but it is one of the risks you run when you say everyone can make the team.
It’s a little easier when it comes to position players and you’re talking about the competition at first base or left field. You play the best this spring, you get the playing time out of the gate. There are less big contracts involved at those positions.
I do understand the argument that you make bad player evaluations when you rely too much on their performance in March — when they might be facing players that will not start the season in the Majors — or September — when they might be facing pitchers that are only in the Majors because the rosters were expanded.
So yes, in theory, the D-backs should have a pretty good idea already what Brandon Allen, Juan Miranda and Russell Branyan can do at first, but given the struggles this team has had the last two years and the fact that the atmosphere in the clubhouse was one where some were clearly too comfortable, I don’t think the concept of earning a spot this spring is a bad idea.
My colleague Corey Brock wrote an interesting story yesterday on Chad Qualls.
It seems despite all his comments last year to the contrary — and let me say that he was extremely adamant in those comments — his left knee did indeed bother him and that is what he feels led to him having a horrible season.
Great quote from Gibson on why he wants his pitchers to be able to slash — i.e. fake a bunt, pull the bat back and swing away.
“You see guys just camp in there on your pitchers and I don’t like it,” Gibson said. “If they do that, my goal for us is we’ll have another option. I like to see guys hit the deck.”