MLB Winter Meetings Day 4: D-backs Steal Giants LHP On Rule 5 Draft Day

He's not Carl Crawford or Cliff Lee, but the Diamondbacks did get a young arm -- Joe Paterson -- in the Rule 5 Draft.

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MLB Winter Meetings Day 4: Rule 5 Draft Day (AKA Steal Some Talent Day)

The MLB winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., are winding down which means for most GMs, a trip back to their winter homes in places like Toronto or Cleveland. For Kevin Towers and the Diamondbacks staff, it's a cross-country trip from mid-60's weather back home to mid-70s weather. Arizona might not be able to field a decent baseball team, but the weather sure can't be beat!

In non-weather related baseball news, the Diamondbacks used their number three pick in the MLB Rule 5 Draft to snag a pitcher away from division rival / World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. The Diamondbacks plucked left-handed pitcher Joe Paterson out of that winning organization where he was relegated to the minor leagues thanks to the strength of the Giants pitching staff.

Paterson now comes to the Diamondbacks where according to yet another arcane MLB rule, he will have to stay on the 25-man major league roster all season or he gets offered back to the Giants for half of the $50,000 the Diamondbacks paid to steal him. It's similar to the return policy at Walmart but less complicated.

For more on the Rule 5 Draft rules, visit Wikipedia who's founder has not to the best of our knowledge been arrested for sex-related "crimes".

Paterson, 24, is a legit prospect with a 3.03 ERA (22 ER in 65.1 IP) with 26 walks and 64 strikeouts over 53 games between Single-A San Jose and Triple-A Fresno last season. Over parts of four seasons in the Giants' farm system, he owned a 20-12 record and 2.64 ERA (64 ER in 218.0 IP) in 175 games. He limited the opposition to a .222 batting average (178-for-802) with 80 walks and 232 strikeouts.

In 2009, Paterson finished third in the Eastern League with 55 games played and was named to the EL mid-season All-Star Team. Paterson was selected by the Giants in the 10th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Oregon State University, where he was a member of the Beavers team that won the 2006 College World Series.

The Diamondbacks also selected Jose Rivero, an outfielder from the Seattle organization. Rivero hit .272 with 41 RBI and seven home runs in the Mariners' Rookie and single-A system last year. He mostly played in left field.

The Diamondback made one more move today, giving up Ceasar Valdez to complete the Zach Duke trade with the Pirates. AZ Snakepit isn't all that sad to see him go.

Valdez appeared in nine games for the Diamondbacks last year, but posted an unimpressive 7.65 ERA, allowing 29 hits and 10 walks in twenty innings. He worked just shy of a hundred innings in Reno, with a 5.90 ERA there, and a K:BB ratio of 92:49. He is still fairly young (25), but had spent most of the past two years at Triple-A, without showing much sign of improvement. He feels more like a AAAA player than anything, so I've no problem at this point with his departure.

 


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Paul Konerko Almost A Diamondback, Mike Hampton Is, Henry Blanco Could Be

The big Arizona Diamondback news of the day (so far) from the MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL was the deal that was almost done with first baseman Paul Konerko. The D-backs reportedly offered Konerko a three-year deal worth $30 million to replace Adam LaRoche at first base. Right now, someone called Juan Miranda is penciled in to play that position. Konerko accepted a $37 million contract to stay with the White Sox instead of coming to Phoenix.

The other signing of the day is left-handed pitching legend Mike Hampton. Hampton, you might recall, signed a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks last season and was with the club for the final few weeks of the summer. At 38 years young, Hampton will compete for a spot in the bullpen and/or become the official "old man of the pitching staff" and provide a team that was lacking experience even more of it.

Kevin Towers, having now signed Hampton along with the aging Melvin Mora to platoon at third base, still isn't done looking for old guys that understand how to play the game "the right way." Backup catcher Henry Blanco is also reportedly (allegedly) close to signing a one-year deal with the team.

To recap, the Diamondback had revamped their bullpen with the addition of three power arms: David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio, and closer J.J. Putz. They traded away strikeout/power hitting third baseman Mark Reynolds. They replaced Reynolds with veteran utility guys Melvin Mora and Geoff Blum. They signed lefty Zach Duke to the starting rotation. They underbid on Konerko and they resigned Hampton and are closing in on Blanco.

The big questions remaining on the roster are in left field -- which is basically open with potential young players Brandon Allen and Gerardo Parra being shopped -- and of course first base could certainly benefit from an upgrade.

Financially, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic estimates that the team still has approximately $8 million left to spend in their budget. Perhaps some of that money will go for a new team mascot? We kid, Baxter, we kid!

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Diamondback Ink Closer J.J. Putz To Two-Year Deal

The Arizona Diamondbacks closer-by-committee of last season will hopefully be a thing of distant memories (nightmares) as the team inked a deal with J.J. Putz. The deal is for two years with a team option for a third and is reported to be worth $10 million in guaranteed money with $4 million in 2011 and $4.5 million in 2012. The club option is worth $6.5 million and includes a $1.5 million buyout.

Here's the numbers on Putz according to the team's official press release.

Putz, 33, went 7-5 with 3 saves and a 2.83 ERA (17 ER in 54.0 IP) in 60 games last season with the Chicago White Sox. He collected 65 strikeouts and finished tied for fourth among American League relievers with a 4.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He also finished tied for second in wins and fifth in strikeouts-per-9.0 innings (10.83) among AL relievers. Putz strung together a White Sox franchise-record 27 consecutive scoreless outings from May 14-July 28, while his 27.0 scoreless innings during that time was the 10th-longest streak in team history.

Over parts of eight seasons in the Majors with the Seattle Mariners, New York Mets and White Sox, he posted a 30-24 record and 3.19 ERA (144 ER in 406.1 IP) with 106 saves, 138 walks and 421 strikeouts in 397 relief appearances. In 2007, Putz became just the 12th closer in Major League history (14th overall) to record more saves (40) than hits allowed (37) en route to being named the Mariners Most Valuable Player by the Seattle Chapter of the BBWAA. He also became the first Mariners pitcher to win the AL Rolaids Relief Man Award. Putz ranked fifth among all big league relievers (third in the AL) with 76 saves from 2006-07, including a stretch of 31 consecutive saves from Sept. 30, 2006-July 20, 2007. He also ranked third among AL relievers with 204 games played from 2005-07. Putz was selected by the Mariners in the sixth round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft.

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MLB Winter Meetings Day 2: Quiet Day On Diamondbacks Front With No Putz Signings

After a flurry of activity on the first day of the MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL, the Arizona Diamondback and GM Kevin Towers have made it through the entire second day without releasing a single press release. Justin Upton wasn't traded, and likely won't be. Second tier players Gerardo Parra and Brandon Allen could be offered up as redundant pieces but so far are still under Towers' control.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the deal that wasn't announced. All of your favorite Diamondbacks Insiders -- your Piecoros and Magruders and Buster Olneys -- all had reported that the D-backs would be announcing the J.J. Putz signing today. He was only pending physical examination which makes us wonder if Putz (pronounced, Pütz) is being held up by some kind of ailment. He did miss time last year with tendinitis in the knee and had elbow surgery while with the Mets in 2009.

It would seem the Diamondbacks aren't going to repeat the mistake the Mets made by glossing over his physical prior to signing him. In this report from Staten Island Live.com (which surely must be a reputable source since it's on the Interet), Putz reported that he had a bone spur that the Mets basically ignored until it got to the point it needed surgery and instructed him to lie to the media about it. That didn't sit well with Putz.

"The toughest part was having to face the media and tell them that you feel fine, even though you know there's something wrong," Putz said in this February 2010 article.

The elbow didn't seem to be an issue last season in Chicago where he had a bounce back season throwing 54 innings in 60 games. His velocity has declined however, from a 96 mph fastball in 2007 to an average of 93.9 last season. 

Putz threw the heater almost 80 percent of the time in 2007 but only 59 percent in 2010. He threw more sliders (14%) and far more splitters (21%) then in years past. The right knee tendinitis that sent him to the 15-day DL in late August last season was the only health issue he had in an otherwise stellar year. Putz posted an ERA of 3.86 in the final month of the season after he came back from the knee injury. 

For more up-to-the-second updates, visit AZ Snakepit.com.

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