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MODEST PROPOSAL
March 26, 2012
The Diamondbacks' decision to sign free-agent outfielder Jason Kubel was a head-scratcher to some. Incumbent leftfielder Gerardo Parra, 24, not only had a .292/.357/.427 line and went 15 for 16 on stolen base attempts, but by some measures he was the best defensive leftfielder in the NL in 2011. Kubel, though, gives manager Kirk Gibson some important flexibility: He can trade defense for offense. Parra's speed gives him sufficient range to shift to centerfield—a nice option to have because Arizona's regular centerfielder, Chris Young, has always struggled against righthanders. Having Kubel, a career .282/.342/.490 hitter against righties, allows Gibson to put him in left, Parra in center and Young on the bench in an effort to squeeze extra runs out of his lineup—particularly when groundball pitcher Trevor Cahill is starting, making outfield defense less of a concern. The Diamondbacks may also have taken advantage of a park effect when they signed Kubel, a former Twin, to a low-rate, two-year, $16 million deal. The move from the Metrodome to outdoor Target Field hurt him the last two years and suppressed his numbers. Back indoors at Chase Field, he should be closer to his career production levels.
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March 26, 2012

Modest Proposal

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The Diamondbacks' decision to sign free-agent outfielder Jason Kubel was a head-scratcher to some. Incumbent leftfielder Gerardo Parra, 24, not only had a .292/.357/.427 line and went 15 for 16 on stolen base attempts, but by some measures he was the best defensive leftfielder in the NL in 2011. Kubel, though, gives manager Kirk Gibson some important flexibility: He can trade defense for offense. Parra's speed gives him sufficient range to shift to centerfield—a nice option to have because Arizona's regular centerfielder, Chris Young, has always struggled against righthanders. Having Kubel, a career .282/.342/.490 hitter against righties, allows Gibson to put him in left, Parra in center and Young on the bench in an effort to squeeze extra runs out of his lineup—particularly when groundball pitcher Trevor Cahill is starting, making outfield defense less of a concern. The Diamondbacks may also have taken advantage of a park effect when they signed Kubel, a former Twin, to a low-rate, two-year, $16 million deal. The move from the Metrodome to outdoor Target Field hurt him the last two years and suppressed his numbers. Back indoors at Chase Field, he should be closer to his career production levels.

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