Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Winsome, Lose Some

Whew! Well, it's been an interesting couple of weeks since I've been here. I think we can safely finally but not unconditionally say things are looking up a little for the DBacks as long as we realize we are still balancing on the precipice - could go either way. I've been on too many rollercoaster rides with this team to get warm and fuzzy feelings about things yet. The re-emergence of Chris Young's bat has me feeling better about things than I probably would have without it.

Jon Rauch was a huge addition to the pen. He'll be the closer next year. If the DBacks let go of Valverde last winter I don't see how it's likely they would keep Lyon. I bet there's a good chance Rauch may even end up closing before the year is out. Should Lyon continue to be shaky and the DBacks be embroiled in the thick of a Division race it's nice to know we have Big Jon Rauch (insert rolling eyes here) for backup.

Which looks like it will happen. The Dodgers made a huge move (IMO) by acquiring Casey Blake. Blake seems to be just what the doctor ordered as he arrived in LA hitting .398 with RISP. Doubtful the Dodgers are done yet. The Rockies are showing signs of another 2nd half hot streak, and the Padres seem to be waking from their slumber as well with Jake Peavy pitching a very strong game his last outing. Everyone is looking to get better. Another swoon like the first half and you can count us O-U-T even though the NL West still seems intent on sending a sub .500 team to the playoffs this year.

The Texiera/DBacks rumours keep on trucking. Will they? Won't they? I like Tex, but no way do I trade Connor Jackson for a player who won't be back after the season. However, I'd part with Chad Tracy and Micah Owings in a heartbeat. I'm not sure how much Owings' stock has dropped, but maybe sweeten the pot with a low level prospect. As much as I cringe when I watch Jackson at first base there won't be a place for him next season when Byrnes is back, and we need CoJack's bat. The outfield and first will be too crowded (Tracy, Clark).

Extension talks are on with Dan Haren. This is a good thing, but it will be interesting to see how it impacts the talks with Webb. We need to find a way to sign O-Dawg. I'm hearing he's not willing to take the hometown discount so I'm doubtful it would be done. I've heard thoughts of moving Reynolds to 2nd which leaves a big gaping hole at 3rd. Tracy is not a great third baseman. Of course neither is Mark. Joe Crede will be available or if we leave Reynolds at third then maybe we could go after someone like Mark Ellis at 2nd.

It's been awhile since the DBacks have been buyers at the trade deadline. I think the Texiera trade (or probably any others) won't happen, but it will be fun to talk about the next few days.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Army We Have

What do you get when you put two teams together who don't know how to win? You get last night's 11 inning 7-5 D*Backs win over the Nats. That win, being hailed as the latest "turn around game" for the Snakes, puts their record at 3-3 since the LAST turn around game (the six run ninth inning comeback against Milwaukee on July 3rd).

Thank you Bob Melvin for letting a pitcher with 104 pitches start the ninth inning. A really big THANK YOU goes to our third baseman who leads the league in errors for making 3 more last night (2 in the ninth).

One of the headlines I saw following the game last night was: "It Wasn't Pretty But It Was A Win". This reminded me of another coach in another sport at another time in Phoenix.

I don't know how many times, after having nearly blown a basketball game with poor execution and less than stellar defense (usually in games they should have won easily), Westphal started a post game press conference with that very same comment. The one exception where I ever saw him exhibit any kind of public determination or feistiness was when he made the "3 in a row" prediction after losing the first 2 games of a best of 5 playoff series at home against the Lakers. The Suns made it to the NBA Finals in 1993 and came within a few seconds of forcing a game 7 against Michael Jordan's Bulls. During the rest of Westphal's tenure, though good, they were disappointing underachievers.

I realize this is what bothers me so much about Bob Melvin. I don't question his competitiveness or desire to win, but if he can't communicate that to the fans how do we know he can transfer it to the team? All in all, the team I see on the field is a mirror reflection of Melvin's laid back attitude. It manifests itself as malaise and ennui. It's infectious. As a fan I feel the same way.

Let's see some feistiness. Let's kick some dirt or pick up a base and throw it in the dugout. As fans, let's toss 25,000 bobble heads on the field in protest on July 19th and show them that we are mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore. It's time to do SOMETHING.

Now, here's a little insult added to injury. Some of us have claimed that the biggest move the Diamondbacks made last winter was one they didn't actually make at all: not re-signing Tony Clark. Some so-called "experts" have dismissed this idea and have chosen to focus upon the empty seats at Chase Field instead of the product that's been put on it. Who can fault the fan who chooses to put a hundred bucks in the gas tank instead of coming to the park to watch a baseball team play with all the excitement of a John McCain campaign speech? Oh, and they need to make more signs.

Myrow's arrival could signal Clark's departure via trade

Another knife through the heart. Trading within the division is difficult. What would Arizona be willing to give up to a division rival, taking for granted the division rival would give up anything to us at all? Nick Pierco mentions former D*Backs first baseman Richie Sexson who was released by the Mariners yesterday. He would be a cheap pick up since the Mariners are on the hook for his $14 million contract. That should tell you how poorly Sexson is hitting this year. Last time I checked, we weren't looking for another .218 hitter. I'd love to see Casey Blake in Sedona Red, but I'm not sure he's someone we can afford.

Someone once said, "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want." Well, this is the one we built, but it's not too late because we haven't lost the war. Yet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


ABC News wonders if catcher Chris Snyder will be able to come back from his injury at all - from a mental stand point. Read it and wince.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Micah Owings' Greatest Hits

Pathetic. Really, really pathetic. Micah Owings, in his bid to become the next Rick Ankiel, dinked as many batters as our batters dinked hits (3).

Justin Upton was scratched from the lineup sending the coaching staff scrambling to find more players to play out of position.

There just isn't much more to say.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Beat The Gnats

Wow, thank God for the Nationals. (Sorry, Michael.) The Nationals managed just six hits today, but we'll give them some credit as they were facing All-Star pitcher Brandon Webb who reportedly didn't have his best stuff. The Nats just can't get any R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

The D*Backs, on the other hand, are definitely on a roll as they recorded their second straight win by defeating the Nats 2-0 on the strength of a blistering 4 hit game. Come on, boys, let's keep those bats hot!

After the flurry of ball busting trade activity in the NL Central, the NL West may now pick up the complimentary coffee maker/espresso machine located under the flashing blue light and head for the door. Might as well beat the traffic.

Meanwhile, as if the season weren't bizarre enough the name Bonds, Barry Bonds, is being rather fecklessly tossed about the upper echelons of the Arizona front office. FOR REAL. This kind of reminds me of a basketball team that went after some guy named Shaq. Note from Mr Kerr to Mr Byrnes: That didn't really work out all that well.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Daylight Fading - Padres 4, Diamondbacks 2

Daylight fading
Come and waste another year
All the the anger and the eloquence are bleeding into fear
Moonlight creeping around the corners of our lawn
When we see the early signs that daylights fading
We leave just before its gone*

Can you picture this team without Orlando Hudson? Close your eyes and think about it. That's next year's team you see.

*Daylight Fading by Counting Crows

July 4th - THE GAME (Time To Pray)

Nick Oza/The Arizona Republic  I have so many thoughts about yesterday's game that I'm going to start with the one that will be the quickest to write and shortest to read.

After making a brief appearance in the 9th inning Thursday, the Arizona offense took another night off as the D*Backs fell to the Padres 5-1. San Diego pitcher Cha Seung Baek started the game with a 1-4 record and an ERA over 5.00, but held the Snakes hitless through 5 2/3 innings to get the win over June pitcher of the month Dan Haren. Haren pitched another strong game going 7 and giving up 2 runs. Somebody somewhere must have said this is a game that on paper favored the Diamondbacks and jinxed us. Baek had given up 10 earned runs in his previous two starts and was winless in his last five. As usual, Arizona bats have a way of making even pitchers like Baek look like Cy Young.

The rest of the game was rather typical:

*Chad Tracy, who had doubled home the first Arizona run in the bottom of the 7th with two out was lifted for a pinch runner who failed to score. Connor Jackson was moved from left to first and promptly made a throwing error the very next inning. This led to another run given up by....

*Reliever Chad Qualls who was sent into the game in the top of the 8th and was not able to keep the runner from crossing the plate, extending the Padres lead to 3-1.

*The bullpen, in two innings, managed to give up more runs than the starter had allowed in the first seven.

The Diamondbacks are in first place ( by just 1/2 game over the Dodgers) by virtue of their dominance over division rivals this year. If teams like the Padres start looking forward to coming to Chase Field then it's going to be a very long second half of the season.

Photo by Nick Oza/The Arizona Republic