Sunday Notes: Torey Lovullo Loves Arizona’s Young Talent (So Does Gabe Kapler)

Gabe Kapler was asked about next season’s more-balanced schedule when he met with the media during the Winter Meetings. More specifically, he was asked about not having to play as many games against powerhouse division rivals like the Dodgers and Padres. His response began with an unexpected nod to the team that finished in fourth place with a record of 74-88.

“The Diamondbacks were really tough on us this year,” said the Giants manager, whose club went 9-10 versus Arizona. “They’re a really challenging team. I think about the Diamondbacks a lot, because they’re so gifted and athletic, and they’re all so young. Torey [Lovullo] does a great job, and Mike Hazen… their whole front office is a good group.”

Arizona’s young talent on the position player side includes Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy, and Geraldo Perdomo, with more reinforcements on the way. Carroll, who debuted at the end of August, is No. 4 on our Top 100 — a list that includes five D-Backs — and the farm system that Hazen oversees as Arizona’s GM ranks sixth-best among the 30 organizations.

How does this group compare to the young talent Lovullo worked with as Boston’s bench coach from 2013-2016, and before that as the team’s Triple-A manager?

“It definitely overlaps,” Lovullo told me in San Diego. “100 percent. The Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Blake Swihart group of kids that eventually transitioned into being world champions is something that Amiel Sawdaye and Deric Ladnier worked very hard to create. Those players now are taking it to the next level.”

Projecting any of Arizona’s current crop to one day approximate the accomplishments of a Betts or Bogaerts, and to a lesser extent a Bradley (Swihart underachieved his potential) would be bold, and likely unwise. How the players compare at comparable ages is a fairer question, so I posed it to Lovullo.

“It is [hard to compare them], but I’m going to be biased and say yes,” Arizona’s manager for each of the last six seasons replied. “They’re very similar. I want to be respectful of the kids that walked into Boston’s World Championships, but I feel like we have that level of talent.”



Lou Limmer went 4 for 18 against Bob Lemon.

Chet Lemon went 6 for 17 against Dave Lemanczyk.

Pepper Martin went 11 for 27 against Peaches Davis.

Sixto Lezcano went 5 for 8 against Dan Petry.

Peaches Graham went 6 for 26 against Johnny Lush.


Xander Bogaerts will get 11 years/$280M from the Padres. Trea Turner will get 11 years/ $300M from the Phillies. Which team will reap better value over the course of those contracts? I asked that question in a Twitter poll following the signings, and the result was a landslide. Of the 501 people who cast votes, 76.8% opted for this year’s National League champions, while just 23.2% went with the underachieving Red Sox.

Turner, is nine months younger than the 30-year-old Bogaerts and has a 135 wRC+ and 13.1 WAR over the past two seasons, while his contemporary has a 132 wRC+ and 10.4 WAR. Those numbers suggest the poll results were correct. However, it is worth noting that Turner relies on his legs more than Bogaerts does. As a veteran player told me recently, speed wanes as you age, but power doesn’t. That’s not to say that Bogaerts is a power hitter and Turner isn’t — the latter has actually slightly outperformed the former in that regard in recent seasons — but Turner’s edge in speed and athleticism is arguably the biggest separator, value-wise. He’ll need to retain those qualities to remain an elite player.

Those things said, good luck to both Philadelphia and San Diego in repeating longterm value with the respective contracts. Even though Boston needed Bogaerts more than the Dodgers needed Turner, I can’t blame Chaim Bloom and Red Sox ownership (the ultimate decisions-makers) for failing to match the Padres offer. As bad as it looks to the frustrated fanbase, 11 years is a long time.


Mike Elias feels that better sequencing will be one of the keys to Kyle Gibson’s having a better 2023 season with the Orioles than he did with the Phillies in 2022. Baltimore’s $10M free-agent acquisition logged a 5.05 ERA over 31 starts with Philadelphia this year, and he allowed 176 hits — 24 of them of the long-ball variety — over 167-and-two-thirds innings.

When Elias announced the signing in the club’s Winter Meetings hotel suite, he told reporters that the numbers on the back of Gibson’s baseball card aren’t what matters, but rather how he projects. Along with citing the 35-year-old right-hander’s six-pitch mix, he said that his team’s pitching department saw ways in which Gibson could improve.

I asked the GM if he could elaborate.

“First off, I think he had a lot of bad luck last year,” Elias replied. “We’ve got a great defense and a more-forgiving home ballpark — I think that’s going to help him — but we [also] have some thoughts about sequencing that we’re hopeful will be helpful to a guy with the wide array of pitches he has. I would say that would be the main area.”

So, sequencing as opposed to lessening or increasing the usage of, or even eliminating, any of the six pitches?

“In this particular case, I guess so,” said Elias. “But that’s always something that our pitching department is doing: throttling up or throttling down individual pitch frequencies, or just helping maintain the quality of the stuff itself, or possibly improving it. In his case, a guy with his pitch-ability, the command he has of these six different pitches, there’s a lot of opportunity to make some improvements in sequencing.”


A quiz:

Cy Young became baseball’s all-time leader in career wins, a distinction he still holds, in 1903. Which Hall of Fame pitcher had the record before Young? (A hint: he has one of baseball history’s better-known nicknames.)

The answer can be found below.



The Los Angeles Dodgers have promoted Aaron Bates from assistant hitting coach to co-hitting coach, where he will serve alongside Robert Van Scoyoc. Both have been featured in our Talks Hitting series, Bates here, and Van Scoyoc here.

The Portland Sea Dogs, who were honored with the 2022 Bob Freitas Award as baseball’s top Double-A franchise, have entered into an agreement with Diamond Baseball Holdings, which owns multiple minor-league affiliates. The Maine-based club will reportedly retain its staff, as well as its affiliation with the Boston Red Sox.

Pat Hughes has been honored with the 2023 Ford C. Frick Award, which is presented annually for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. A big-league broadcaster since 1983, Hughes has been the radio play-by-play voice of the Chicago Cubs since 1996.

Kevin Gregg is the recipient of the 2022 Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence. Formerly with the Boston Red Sox, the son of former National League umpire Eric Gregg is the VP of Baseball Communications for the Philadelphia Phillies.

John Lowe has been honored with this year’s Baseball Writers Association of America Career Excellence Award. Lowe covered baseball from 1979-2014, the last 29 of those years as the Tigers beat writer for the Detroit Free Press.


The answer to the quiz is Pud Galvin (given name James Francis Galvin) who was credited with 365 wins from 1875-1892. If you guessed Old Hoss Radbourn — born on today’s date in 1854 — he had 310 wins from 1881-1891.


Firing Al Avila and replacing him with Scott Harris appears to be a step in the right direction for a Tigers team that largely underachieved with Avila in charge. The 36-year-old Harris is both younger and more progressive than his 64-year-old-and-comparably-old-school predecessor. He is also coming to Detroit from a different organization, the San Francisco Giants. I asked A.J. Hinch how going from Avila to Harris will impact him as a manager.

“Everybody is different to work for,” said Hinch. “I’ll give you an example: I did all the medical updates, and now we’re giving out a medical update sheet. Different practices, different processes, expectations for how we’re going to run the day-to-day from one boss to another… It’s been different from Josh Byrnes in Arizona to Jeff Luhnow to Al to Scott, the general managers I’ve worked for.”

Which of Hinch’s previous bosses is Harris most comparable to?

“You want me to comp my boss?” Hinch replied, drawing laughter from the reporters on hand. “Who is the most elite boss I’ve ever had in my life? I’m not dumb. This is not my first time at this podium.

“I know he has no off-button,” continued Hinch, turning serious. “He can match working hours with me or anybody else that I’ve worked with. I think his continuous learning, his curiosity, decision-making processes… I’d rather describe him as elite across the board, and you can compare him with anyone you want.”

My best guess is that Byrnes is the most comparable, although it could be Luhnow. Avila seems least likely, given that Tigers ownership saw the need for a change.



Per The Kyodo News, Yakult Swallows superstar Munetaka Murakami will be posted to MLB after the 2025 season. The 22-year-old third baseman won NPB’s triple crown this year while slashing .318/.458/.710 with 56 home runs.

Tyler Beede has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $1.17M (US dollars) contract with NPB’s Yomiuri Giants. Drafted 14th overall in 2014 by San Francisco out of Vanderbilt University, the 29-year-old right-hander has pitched in 58 big-league games, 33 with the Giants and 25 this past season with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Carter Stewart has a 1.06 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 17 innings with the Puerto Rican Winter League’s Gigantes de Carolina. A first-round pick by the Atlanta Braves out of a Melbourne, Florida high school in 2018, the 23-year-old right-hander had a 3.19 ERA this year with the Western League affiliate of NPB’s Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

Humberto Mejía has a 2.18 ERA, and has fanned 42 batters while issuing just two walks in 45-and-a-third innings with the Dominican Winter League’s Leones del Escogido. Released by Arizona in May, the 25-year-old Panamanian right-hander pitched for the Miami Marlins in 2020, and the Diamondbacks in 2021.

Brannon Jordan is 3-0 with a 0.69 ERA, and 19 strikeouts in 13 innings, for the ABL’s Brisbane Bandits. A ninth-round pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2021 out of the University of the South Carolina, the 24-year-old right-hander had a 4.31 ERA this year between Low-A Carolina and High-A Wisconsin.

Chan Eui Song leads is slashing .386/404/659 in 47 plate appearances with the ABL’s Geelong-Korea. The 23-year-old infielder/outfielder had a .699 OPS this year with the KBO’s LG Twins.


A 19-year-old third baseman in the Tampa Bay Rays organization is flashing good power in the ABL. Following a first full professional season that saw him go deep 11 times in 271 plate appearances between rookie ball and Low-A Charleston, Junior Caminero has six home runs and a .526 slugging percentage in 20 games with the Perth Heat. Earlier this week, I asked Blake Butera for a snapshot scouting report on Caminero, who is No. 4 on our Rays Top Prospects list, and No. 60 on our Top 100.

“The bat is really exciting,” said Butera, who managed the Charleston RiverDogs this season.” It’s a loud bat with a lot of power, but also with a really good feel for hit. He’s able to get the barrel on the ball. He also recognizes offspeed early, which is something that normally comes later on with development and experience. He knows how to make adjustments at-bat to at-bat.”

Asked if Caminero profiles as a power hitter, Butera opined that he does. The 30-year-old manager added that the teenager’s body is “pretty mature right now” yet still has room to grow. He sees him as “a corner infielder who is going to hit for power in the big leagues.”

Caminero, whom our lead prospect writer Eric Longenhagen described earlier this year as being “much bigger than his listed height and weight [6-foot-3, 180 lbs.] is currently a third baseman. Butera likes his glove — “he has the ability to attack hops and read hops” — although he feels that the youngster has room to grow range-wise. Overall, he considers Caminero a solid defender who will only get better… on both sides of the ball.


Fernando Perez was a guest on Friday’s episode of FanGraphs Audio, and my conversation with the former big-league outfielder, and current San Francisco Giants coach, included his expectations for a player who signed with the Chicago Cubs during the Winter Meetings.

“I expect Cody Bellinger to be incredible this year,” Perez said on the pod. “He has the incentive of a one-year deal, and perhaps this time next year it ends up being a very large deal. This is a person that had shoulder surgery, and the way that feels… it feels like you have new hardware. Your whole life you play a sport with these levers that you know very well, and then you have a surgery and one of these levers feels like an inch shorter and a bit tighter. It takes a while to learn how to use that lever again. That’s the best way that I would explain it.”

Bellinger, whose $17.5M deal includes a mutual option for a second year, has scuffled to the tune of a 69 wRC+ in 900 plate appearances since going under the knife. My colleague Chris Gilligan wrote about the former MVP earlier this week.



The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams wrote about how, at the San Diego airport, Chaim Bloom tried to process the reality of the Red Sox without Xander Bogaerts.

Covering the Corner’s Chris D. Davies hopes that signing Josh Bell is the start of a great offseason for the Cleveland Guardians.

Our Esquina’s José de Jesus Ortiz looked at how Oliver Marmol is settling in as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Mariners took former Toronto Blue Jays first-rounder Logan Warmoth in the minor-league portion of Wednesday’s Rule 5 draft. Kate Preusser wrote about Seattle’s selection at Lookout Landing.

Amazin’ Avenue’s Allison McCague wrote about how New York Mets right-hander Tylor Megill looked fantastic in 2022… until he got hurt.



Trea Turner had 195 hits in 2021, including 130 singles and 65 extra-base hits. In 2022, he had 194 hits, including 130 singles and 64 extra-base hits.

Willie Wilson had 184 singles in 1980, the most in one season for a switch-hitter. The Kansas City Royals outfielder had 230 hits in all, and a .326 batting average.

Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs in 1961, the most in one season for a switch-hitter. The New York Yankees outfielder had 43 home runs and a .291 batting average hitting left-handed. He had 11 home runs and a .371 batting average hitting right-handed.

Jeff Kent batted .289 in home games and .290 in away games. He batted .290 with a .356 OBP in the first half of the season, and .290 with a .356 OBP in the last half of the season. He had an .855 OPS against right-handed pitchers and an .855 OPS against left-handed pitchers.

Dave Winfield had a .475 slugging percentage, a 128 wRC+, and 59.9 WAR
Bobby Abreu had a .475 slugging percentage, a 129 wRC+, and 59.8 WAR.

Tony Gwynn had a .370 wOBA, a 132 wRC+, and 65.0 WAR.
Dwight Evans had a .375 wOBA, a 129 wRC+, and 65.1 WAR.

On today’s date in 1975, the New York Yankees traded Doc Medich to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Willie Randolph, Ken Brett, and Dock Ellis. Randolph amassed 51.4 WAR — all with the Yankees — from 1976-1988, the most of any second baseman over that 13-year stretch.

The Anaheim Angels signed Mo Vaughn as a free agent on today’s date in 1998. “The Hit Dog” had put up a 144 wRC+ with the Boston Red Sox over the previous six seasons. He had a 115 wRC+ in his two years with the Angels.

Players born on today’s date include Slim Harriss, who went 95-135 while pitching for the Philadelphia Athletics and the Boston Red Sox from 1920-1928. Born William Jennings Bryan Harriss, in Brownswood, Texas, the right-hander had a 20-loss season with both teams.

Also born on today’s were Eddie and Johnny O’Brien, twin brothers who played together with the Pittsburgh Pirates, occasionally as double-play partners, from 1953-1958. Both also pitched, with each sibling finishing with one career win.

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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1 year ago

This was my favorite Sunday column in quite a while. Good quiz, good poll, good callbacks to yesteryear, and yet another outrageous quote by AJ Hinch. I swear he is the least intelligent sounding person you interview—I know he’s got to be smarter than he sounds but he seems so desperate to avoid doing any sort of analysis or presenting himself as any sort of analytical sort.

The Ancient Mariner
1 year ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I’m curious: what about his quote did you consider outrageous?