With the trade of Miguel Montero, where does that leave us as far as catching?
-- John P., Phoenix
By dealing Montero, the D-backs saved themselves $40 million over the next three years, but they definitely created a hole behind the plate. Right now, there are two catchers on the roster in Tuffy Gosewisch and Oscar Hernandez, whom Arizona selected in the Rule 5 Draft. The D-backs really like Gosewisch's work behind the plate and the way he handles a pitching staff, which has always been paramount in a Tony La Russa/Dave Duncan-run team. It certainly seems like the D-backs need to add another catcher -- keep an eye on Toronto's Dioner Navarro as a possibility -- before Spring Training. Hernandez is someone the organization's scouts are very high on, but he played in the Midwest League last year and expecting him to make the jump from there to the big leagues seems like a reach. It appears the team wants to have catching prospect Peter O'Brien -- acquired from the Yankees last year in the Martin Prado trade -- work on his defense more in the Minors before giving him a shot in the big leagues. I still expect them to acquire another catcher before the season.
How much will the D-backs embrace advanced metrics under [Dave] Stewart? It seems that the organization is decidedly more "old school" than others, and La Russa is not a fan of the "new school" approach.
-- Thomas H., St. Louis
Keep in mind that during his time as manager in Oakland, La Russa was on the cutting edge of using numbers and matchups, particularly when it came to managing a bullpen. Then in St. Louis, along with pitching coach Duncan, he was an early pioneer in using defensive shifts. From what he has said since taking over as chief baseball officer, La Russa plans on making sure the organization utilizes analytics in making decisions and in game preparation. Where La Russa draws a hard line is in utilizing analytics once the first pitch of the game has been thrown. As a former skipper, he is very sensitive about the front office encroaching on a manager's moves during a game. He wants his manager and coaching staff to then be free to make moves that they see fit based on their read of how a hitter is swinging on a given day, how a particular pitcher looks and what their gut tells them. In November, the D-backs hired Ed Lewis to head up their analytics department.
Why do newcomers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa have spots in the rotation locked up already while someone like Chase Anderson, who pitched well for us last year, has to battle for the No. 5 spot?
-- Claire T., Chicago
I think there's been some serious misinterpretation of what Stewart meant when he was asked about his rotation in December. He simply was listing who, at that moment, seemed to be in the rotation. First of all, it's January and with as many young pitchers as the D-backs have, it's far too early to start saying who will be in the rotation. Webster and De La Rosa are not just going to be handed spots. About the only pitcher that could afford to look bad this spring and still make the rotation is probably Jeremy Hellickson. Possibly Josh Collmenter as well, but really Trevor Cahill, Vidal Nuno, Anderson, Randall Delgado, etc. will all get their chances to win spots.