10 Reasons the Arizona Diamondbacks Need to Call Up Trevor Bauer Now
After the Arizona Diamondbacks selected standout UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft, the club assigned him to Class-A Advanced Visalia, where Bauer pitched two innings, striking out three on one hit and one walk in his professional debut.
After just three starts in Visalia, Bauer was promoted to Double-A Mobile, where he stayed for the remainder of the 2011 season. After eight more starts for Mobile, Bauer was again promoted, this time to Triple-A Reno of the Pacific Coast League, where the young righty tied a career high in his Reno debut, hurling eight innings, striking out 11 and allowing just one run on four hits.
With an overall 9-3 record in the D-Backs' system and a 2012 spring training regimen that saw Bauer pick up a 1-0 record while recording a 3.60 ERA, the Diamondbacks should seriously consider promoting Bauer to the big league club.
Why We May Not See Bauer Soon: How Much Is Too Much?
In 1999, Harvard University suggested starting off essays, narratives and hypothetical pieces with a counter-argument—as part of the introduction, just after the introduction or at the conclusion, the Socratic logic being that "good thinking constantly questions itself."
Therefore, reason No. 1 as to why the Diamondbacks should call up Trevor Bauer—"NOW," as I'm reminded by my assignment editors—may indeed appear counter-intuitive, provocative and perhaps introspective.
At the very least, this slide may cause you to rethink your definition of the word "now."
As Dave Regan reminds us, we are still around two weeks away from a huge concept in the world of sports agency.
Though prospects who make their MLB debut at this phase of the season will be ineligible for free agency for the next 6.5 years, we have not yet reached that point when teams will only have to concern themselves with three arbitration years instead of four.
If Bauer makes his MLB debut "now," as in this weekend, the D-Backs could be in the lurch for millions of dollars, whereas if Bauer makes his MLB debut "now," as in next month, the D-Backs could save themselves that financial headache.
The question is, how much money is "now" worth?
Status Quo Simply Isn't Working
The money point made, take a look at any Diamondbacks calendar and you'll see it—L, L, W, L, L, L, L, L, W, L, L, L—and that is just the stretch from May 2 through May 14.
Then again, even as a chooser, the Diamondbacks would still be wise to pick Bauer.
Bauer Is Ready for the Next Level
Whether it has been his seven innings of no-run ball in Triple-A or his overall domination of the Southern League while with Mobile, Bauer's minor league scouting report clearly indicates he is ready for the next level.
Since recording a 2011 WHIP of 1.519 in A-Advanced and Double-A, Bauer has taken great steps in lowering his walks-plus-hits/innings pitched number: With Mobile in early 2012, Bauer earned a WHIP of 1.221, and with Triple-A Reno, Bauer was able to dramatically lower that figure to 0.846.
With just 3.5 hits per nine innings pitched at Reno, Bauer's H/9 has already come a long way since he surrendered 10.8 hits per nine last year with Mobile.
Rarely do prospects improve as they promote from minor league level to level, but Bauer has thrived on the increased competition. He deserves that final promotion.
Precedent: Wade Miley
When Daniel Hudson was taken out of the rotation due to a shoulder injury, manager Kirk Gibson called Wade Miley's number, and Miley has not disappointed since.
Miley has dominated in his nine appearances and six starts this season, recording a 5-1 record and 2.14 ERA to go along with a 1.19 WHIP, down from a 1.65 WHIP in 2011.
Miley has been like Bauer, starting off his minor league career with a high 4.91 ERA in his first season of Short-A ball before working his way down to a respectable 3.64 ERA in Reno.
The progression has been similar, and the D-Backs' treatment of Miley suggests a willingness to give their prospects a real chance.
Starting Pitching Woes: Time for a Change
As I previously wrote, the Diamondbacks have a starting pitching problem: Ian Kennedy, last year a Cy Young Award contender, has fallen back to earth with a 4.47 ERA and 3.84 FIP, both significantly inferior to his 2011 figures of 2.88 and 3.22, respectively.
Rookie Patrick Corbin has also struggled in his limited work at the major league level, and after he compiled an ERA over five, the Diamondbacks optioned him back to Triple-A Reno to make room for catcher Konrad Schmidt.
Schmidt is expected to remain available until Miguel Montero's recovery from a left groin strain and once Montero is back, there will likely be a roster spot open.
Hopefully, Arizona will offer it to Bauer.
Closer J.J. Putz's problems have been fairly obvious this season—he has already blown three saves out of 12 chances, earning the loss in each game in which he has blown a save. Though the offense is certainly not without its contribution to this dramatic late-inning turnaround, Putz must assume primary responsibility for these three losses.
The bullpen has experienced a rough run as of late, surrendering four runs to Los Angeles on Monday and seven on Tuesday. Indeed, when the bullpen has performed flawlessly, as was the case on May 16 versus Colorado, the damage had already been done by the starter (Corbin).
For manager Kirk Gibson, it sure is a nightmare. Allow a starter to work a comfortable six innings, and the bullpen may indeed struggle with innings seven, eight and nine. Tax that starter too long, and the runs are surrendered by the time the bullpen does come in.
As Bauer's recent start with Reno indicates, the North Hollywood native is capable of eating up innings while holding the opposition to very few runs, an ability that would greatly reduce stress on a fledgling Arizona bullpen.
For instance, Drew is 29, Blum 39. Injured reliever Takashi Saito is 42 years old.
By comparison, Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin and Bryan Shaw are all 25 or under. Even A.J. Pollock, who briefly appeared in the Arizona outfield and slugged his first career home run this year, is 24 years old.
Even Miguel Montero's replacement, Konrad Schmidt, is one year younger than the 28-year-old All-Star catcher.
In tying to solve a starting pitching problem on a team where no MLB pitcher is younger than 22 years old, perhaps it's time to go with a younger 21-year-old.
It's Not over Yet
If there's one thing 2011 showed the baseball world, it was that the season is never over—not even in September.
With a 99.6 percent chance of reaching the playoffs on September 3, the Boston Red Sox were in cruise control, but boy did those fighting Rays hang around until the end.
By the time the dust had settled, Tampa Bay was the AL Wild Card, and Boston was left out in the cold.
The Diamondbacks are 10.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead, but just 5.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the NL Wild Card. And because MLB has announced an additional Wild Card slot for the 2012 season, the D-Backs can focus their attention on the Cardinals, who are just five games in front of Arizona.
Five games back, 117 games to play.
Bring in Trevor Bauer—it's time for that playoff push.
Education & Influence
That's right, Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson helps make the case for Trevor Bauer's promotion to the show.
Over the past year, Wilson and Bauer have formed a working relationship. "He's got a fascinating approach, he's really smart, he's a super sharp guy," Wilson said, describing Bauer (h/t mlb.com).
During this past offseason, the duo trained and talked for hours at Ron Wolforth's Texas Baseball Ranch, where Wilson was clearly impressed by Bauer's approach to the sport: "I see a lot of potential there."
Yet the praise and respect was mutual, with Bauer saying, "I'm glad to hear that it was valuable for him, because it was definitely valuable for me to get to know him."
It is exactly that type of camaraderie that Bauer should expect to thrive on at the major league level, and given that he has passed his pilot program with Wilson with flying colors, there is nowhere to go but up.
Considering that Bauer is already in Triple-A, that "up" surely must be Chase Field.
The Bryce Harper Treatment
They called it HarperMania, even setting up a website with the same name, and Bryce Harper recorded a modest batting average of .250 with an OPS barely over .700 in Triple-A.
The stage is set, with top picks Stephen Strasburg and Harper already having revitalized—and propelled—a lackluster Washington Nationals squad to first place in the NL East. Perhaps it is time for the Diamondbacks to follow suit.
With Washington's average attendance up by about 2,500 when compared to 2011, the positive effect of exciting prospects is very real and creates an atmosphere the D-Backs should greatly hope to emulate.
The only question remaining is, are the Diamondbacks willing to open themselves up to losing money in order to put themselves into a greater position to potentially earn more?
Or can "now" wait another month?