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Posted on: July 10, 2009 10:57 am
 

The Worst Loss in Diamondbacks History...for now

Last night the Diamondbacks suffered the worst loss in their history, and once again the eighth inning was the setting for a disastrous display of dysfunction.  The collapse started in the seventh inning where fan favorite Doug Slaten faced 2 batters, gave up two multi base hits, one run, and recorded no outs.  Doug had recorded two outs in the sixth though, and apparently that was enough.  Doug, the bus back to Reno is leaving today at 10.  The Aces have missed you the past three days.

 

Then the eighth inning arrived with emerging fan favorite Juan Gutierrez pitching.  Juan did his job and loaded the bases for the Marlins while not recording an out.  Thankfully Scott Schoeneweis would take the mound to finish what Juan started and allow two of the three base runners to score.

 

From that point it was back to the team that we had been enjoying from April 6 to July 4.  A couple errors, some lazy play by Felipe Lopez that affected the team but won’t show up in the box score, and a bullpen that seems to average 2 runs scored for every one out.   

 

This was a terrible game and the largest blown lead in Diamondback’s history.  I don’t know what is more aggravating, the game or the post game press conference with manager and Up With People member AJ Hinch, who reminded everyone to focus on the past five games rather than this little hiccup.  "I just don't want to make too much out of this. Not that we can brush it off as a non-factor, but if you look at the perspective of the last two series and the first half of this game, there are a lot of positives to take from it."

 

What?

 

You just suffered the worst loss in the history of the Diamondbacks and that is what you have to say?  Put your cocoa down for a minute and get angry.  Show some passion; make us believe that you actually think this kind of loss is unacceptable, make us think that you’re going to go in the locker room and light a fire under these guys.  The players will only play as hard as you make them, and you making comments like this night after night allows them to become complacent with half hearted efforts and devastating losses.

 

The team just had one of the worst attendances for a game in their history earlier in the week with about 17,500.  This type of play and attitude will pretty much ensure that those numbers continue, and there is half a season left. 

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 9, 2009 2:08 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2009 6:15 pm
 

Time to Pick Up the Option on Brandon Webb

The Diamondbacks have not had the greatest track record when it comes to offering contracts to players; see Eric Byrnes, Chris Young, and Russ Ortiz.  Throughout the 2008 season there was talk off and on regarding Diamondback ace Brandon Webb’s contract extension.  It appeared that they had reached an agreement when the team’s insurance company balked due to Webb failing to meet their medical standards.

Now Webb is in limbo.  He’s been out all season, he’s just found out that he won’t need surgery last week, and he doesn’t know if he will pitch this season or for who he will pitch for next season, if he is able to pitch at all.  He’s made comments to the effect that he wants to pitch this season to show some team that he can still play, and reading those comments it can be inferred that he may be nervous about his future.

The Diamondbacks hold Webb’s contract option for 2010.  They can either buy him out for $2 million or pick up the option for $8.5 million.  The team owes it to Webb to pick up his option immediately if for nothing more than to give him the security that he will have a job next season.  Webb has either won or came in second in the Cy Young voting the past three years.  He started his career here and has never complained about his contract publicly despite peers like AJ Burnett signing contracts valued over twice what he was being paid.  The Diamondbacks have had a bargain with Webb the past few years.

There is little risk in picking up his option.  It is a six million dollar difference and it’s unlikely that they would be able to pick up anything more than a number four starter for that amount anyway.  The worst case scenario is that Webb pitches poorly and the team is out six million dollars.  But how much worse could Webb be than the average number four starter?

The best case scenario is that Webb comes back in full force, pitches like he used to, and the Diamondbacks now have their A and 1A pitching duo back.  Then they can look at offering Webb an extension, and if they decide they can’t afford it they will certainly be able to get a fair amount in return for trading him. 

The team just gave a three year contract to an unproven manager; the least they can do is pick up a one year option on a pitcher who has brought so much success to the organization.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 7, 2009 10:03 am
 

The Case for Mark Reynolds

Mark Reynolds should be the last player added to the NL All Star team.  He clearly has better power numbers than any of the other four and has a respectable amount of stolen bases as well. While he is the only player hitting under .300, his power numbers are so much better than the other players it more than makes up for the lower average. 

He has 100% more homeruns than the next highest player, Sandoval, and 38% more RBI than the next two highest players, Kemp and Sandoval.  He is third in the NL in RBI, second in HR behind only Albert Pujols, and tied for ninth in SB.  He has a higher SLG than the other four, only behind Pablo Sandoval in OPS, and only behind Shan Victorino in runs scored.       

As far as contributing to his team Reynolds has 18% of his team’s RBI, the highest percentage of any of the five, 15% of his team’s runs, the highest percentage of the five, and 12% of his team’s total hits, which is about where the other four are as well.  


Below are the numbers for the player’s RBI, runs, and hits, followed by the percentage of that player’s teams total RBI, runs, and hits.   

Reynolds 61 RBI, 18%, 53 R, 15%, 81 H, 12% DBACKS 338 RBI 358 R 687 H

Sandoval 44 RBI, 14%, 37 R, 11%, 93 H, 13%
SF 316 RBI 337 R 721 H 35

Victorino 35 RBI, 9%, 55 R, 13.5%, 96 H, 13.7% PHI 393 RBI 407 R 698 H

Guzman 21 RBI, 6%, 41 R, 11.7%, 92 H, 13% WAS 337 RBI 350 R 712 H

Kemp 44 RBI, 11.7%, 43 R, 11%, 92 H, 12% LA 375 RBI 398 R 774 H

*Stats as of 7/6/09

Posted on: July 6, 2009 12:18 pm
 

Mark Reynolds Speaks Out

"It seems like we get down one or two runs and no one (cares) anymore."

The words Mark Reynolds spoke Friday came as a great relief to many Diamondbacks fans who have felt the same way for most of the season.  This team doesn’t try.  They play lackadaisically.  They just don’t seem to care.  Now, finally, we know that at least one of the players feels the same way.    

Reynolds continued, "This is the major leagues. You can't go out there and make three errors a night and expect to win a game. We look like the Bad News Bears out there and it's frustrating. It's to the point where stuff's got to change."

One of the major problems with this team is that there is a lack of leadership.  There are no veteran position players that play everyday that can guide this young team.  Except for Felipe Lopez, a journeyman, there is not one everyday position player has played more than three seasons in the Majors.  And the manager they just gave a three year contract to not only appears to be very non confrontational, but also had never managed one game of professional baseball, major league or minor, in his life.  Not really the person that most would have picked to lead a young team with no veteran presence. 

This season will actually end up helping the Diamondbacks in the years to come.  This is the season where a fairly inexperience group of players is learning to deal with constant injuries, critical media and fans, persistent trade rumors, and failed expectations.  This season many of the players on the Diamondbacks will learn what it means to be in Major League Baseball. 

I have maintained that at its core this team is a good team with good players.  With a few more pieces and a few less injuries they will be one of the better teams in baseball in the future.  The Diamondbacks could possibly have three All Stars this year; genuinely bad teams do not have three All Stars.  Right now the only NL teams with three or more players going are the Cardinals, Phillies, Dodgers, and Mets, with the Mets being the only team not in first place in their division.

Now it is up the players on the Diamondbacks to figure out what kind of team they want to be for the rest of the season.  Since Reynolds spoke out the Diamondbacks won their next two games and won their first series since June 18.  I am not expecting them to go .500 the rest of the season, but I am hoping that the bumbling, lazy play is something that is behind them.  

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 1, 2009 12:17 pm
 

Diamondbacks Mid-Season Report Card

Catcher
Miguel Montero is currently hitting .255 and is getting better defensively.  Chris Snyder is currently injured but was having an average season as well.

Grade C


First Base

The biggest problem with this position is that they do not have a first baseman.  They have used four different players at this position this season, Chad Tracy, Mark Reynolds, Tony Clark, and Josh Whitesell.  Only Reynolds has been able to hit with any success and only Whitesell has been able to field with any proficiency.  In addition, neither Tracy nor Reynolds are true first basemen, they are stop gaps moved from third base when the need arises. 

 

Grade F

 

Second Base

Felipe Lopez is a decent hitter, hitting .303, but he is a terrible second baseman.  He is out of position a lot of the time and shows no hustle at all.  Once you see him play everyday it is very obvious why he is nothing more than a journeyman playing on his fifth team in 8 years.

 

Grade C

 

Third Base

 

Mark Reynolds has been having a great season and is among the league’s top hitters in power number categories.  His replacements, however, have not shared his success. Ryan Roberts is batting .257 and Augie Ojeda is batting .234.  Reynolds has trouble fielding some routine plays, but has also made some incredible plays at other times.  Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks he is the best fielding player at that position with a fielding percentage of .945.  In fairness to the other two, Roberts and Ojeda have both been used all over the infield this season, but Roberts has a 3B fielding percentage of .920 and Ojeda a dismal .880.

 

Grade B+

 

Shortstop

 

Because of the expectations going into the season this has been one of the more disappointing positions for the Diamondbacks.  Stephen Drew was thought to be in the top five to ten shortstops at the beginning of the year.  He was injured for some time and is currently is hitting .251 on the season with a respectable fielding percentage of .980.  He has improved his batting average every month, and hit .292 for June.  If he continues to play like he did in June shortstop will be one of the bright spots on this team.

 

Grade B

 

Left Field

 

This position is most likely the weakest spot on the team.  The projected starter at the beginning of the season, Conor Jackson, is not much for power but hits consistently around .300.  He has been out most of the season with Valley Fever and was hitting only .182 while he was playing.  The next player for this position is Eric Byrnes, batting .216, making bizarre errors and diving after unreachable balls, and fielding only .964.  He was recently put on the DL for a broken hand.  The final player at this position is Gerardo Parra, a AA call up.  He started out very hot when he was first called up, but has since cooled off, which was expected. 

 

Grade D-

 

Center Field

 

While there have been several players to play this position the large majority of starts have been made by Chris Young.  Young is batting an abysmal .194 with no pop in his swing this year.  He has looked completely lost at times and although an above average fielder there have been fly balls hit at the warning track where it appears that he is afraid of running into the wall to make a crucial out.

 

Grade F

 

Right Field

 

Justin Upton is coming into his own.  He’s the best hitter on the team with a .320 average and an OPS of .975, but still makes simple mistakes in the field and at times has shown his age. 

 

 

Grade A

 

 

Starting Pitching

 

Dan Haren is the best pitcher in the National League and fellow starters Doug Davis and Max Scherzer have both had good seasons as well with sub 4.00 ERAs.  Jon Garland and the fill in the blank fifth starter have both struggled.  Losing Brandon Webb on Opening Day definitely put an unexpected burden on this piece of the team and they have won only 2 of the starts in his place in the rotation.

 

 

Grade B

 

Bullpen

 

Every pitcher in the bullpen has struggled at times this season, possibly with the exception of Clay Zavada, a AA call up.  Every pitcher has been personally responsible for losing a game for the Diamondbacks this season regardless of whether or not they actually have a loss on their record.  They have been embarrassing and inconsistent and none of them have lived up to any expectations the team or the fans may have had at the beginning of the season.

 

Grade F

 

Overall Grades

 

Offense

Two players batting over .300, team average ranks 27 in MLB and OPS ranks 21. 

 

Overall Grade D

 

Defense

Most errors in the majors.

 

Overall grade F

 

Pitching

Team ERA is ranked 22 in MLB.

 

Grade D

 

Overall Team Grade

Third worst winning percentage in all of baseball.

 

F

Posted on: June 29, 2009 3:44 pm
 

The Worst Value in Baseball

The Diamondbacks management likes to claim that they are one of the best values for baseball based on the average price of a ticket and their new “value” items served at the concession stands.  So you can get a lower level ticket in the outfield for $15, get your $4 beer in a water cooler cup, and get your $1.50 kids sized hot dog and sit down to watch a baseball game.  But since only one out of two teams on the field is actually playing shouldn’t everything be half off?  $7.50 ticket, $2.00 water cooler cup of beer, and $.75 kids dog?  That would be the appropriate value. 

 

What is the actual value of seeing a team commit three errors in an inning?  What is the actual value of seeing an opposing player get an inside the park homerun off a bunt?  What is the value of watching a pitcher who gives up eight runs in the second inning?  What is the value of watching players play sloppy, lazy, comical baseball?

 

The Diamondbacks aren’t winning this season.  That is something that the players know, the fans know, the media knows, and the front office knows.  It has been acknowledged for about a month and this weekend should have converted any hold outs that still thought they might have a chance.  The notion of them being .500, winning the wild card, or even being competitive is laughable right now.

 

While the Diamondbacks aren’t winning what they can do is try and gain the confidence of the fans and maybe the respect of the rest of the league.  There are only three guys that hit with any consistency, and once Felipe Lopez gone they will only have one hitter over .300.  There are only three pitchers that have pitched with any consistency, and once Doug Davis is gone they will only have two starters with ERAs under 5.00. 

 

They have committed the most errors and are tied for the worst fielding percentage in all of baseball.  Right now they need to move the players with any value and they need to pick up a few free agents that will play above average defensively, regardless of how they perform at the plate.  They need to decide if they want to use Mark Reynolds at first or third and leave him there, and let him try and improve.  Then get a left fielder with a fielding percentage above .985, either a first baseman with a FP over .950 or a third baseman with a FP over .960, and a second baseman with a FP over .985

 

At least with some decent fielding they can try to gain back some of the respect they’ve lost with their ridiculous play.  Just a couple guys that are out there that may be able to help the Diamondbacks play defense at a professional level are Damion Easely who has a career 2B FP of .984.  He also hit .269 last season with the Mets, an average that would put him in the top five on the team. Jay Payton is available for LF and has a career FP of .990. Jim Edmonds is also available.  There are no third basemen or first basemen available in the search that I did, but Agustin Murillo has committed 0 errors in 31 games at 3B for the Reno Aces. 

 

 Right now the Diamondbacks are averaging about 26,000 fans per game.  I would expect that to drop below 20,000 by the end of July if the team does not at least take some action. 

 

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 24, 2009 12:05 pm
 

The Worst Player in Baseball

Most people are of the consensus that Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball.  He hits for average, power, and is a good fielder.   We are all very fortunate to be able to watch him and will probably be telling our grandkids about him.  But who is the worst player in baseball? 

 

Out of 89 position players with qualifying at bats this player ranks 87<sup> </sup>in SLG with a .271%, 85 in OBP with a .277%, 88 in OPS with a .548%, and  89 in batting average with a .191%.  The strange thing is, is that this player was actually very good about 7-9 years ago.  From 1999 to 2002 he hit at least 35 home runs and batted .298. But he’s steadily declined since then and had some problems with injuries, very strange.

 

Currently he makes $9,000,000 for his contributions, actually making him a worse value that Eric Byrnes. So who is the worst player in baseball?  Congratulation Brian Giles!  You make all the fans in San Diego very proud. 

Posted on: June 23, 2009 10:50 am
 

NL Best

In April the rest of the league looked at the National League West and scoffed.  Of course the Dodgers were developing an enormous division lead, look who they play against.  The Rockies have no pitching, the Giants have no hitting, the Padres are a mess, and the Diamondbacks lost their ace opening day and couldn’t put up more than two runs a game during the month of April. 

 

So the Dodgers rolled, arguably the best team in baseball.  They could hit, they could pitch, and they could do no wrong.  Then the Giants slowly crept into the picture, steadily gaining ground and improving their record.  Their pitching has been among the best in baseball, ranking third in ERA.  Matt Cain is proving to be dominant with adequate run support for the first time in his career, and since his early season guffaws Tim Lincecum has returned to Cy Young status.  

 

Now it is the end of May, and the NL West had one great team and one good team with the other three in shambles.  The Diamondbacks had already fired Bob Melvin, and with an 18-28 record the Rockies followed suit and relieved Clint Hurdle of his duties May 30.  Typically firing a manager midseason will have marginal success.  It is largely an aesthetic move to appease the fans until the team can get more permanent repairs in place.  However, since firing Clint Hurdle the Rockies have gone 19-5.  They were hitting .239 in May, and are now hitting .294 in June. They have also lowered their ERA 1 run since the move, going form a 4.44 ERA in May to a 3.44 ERA in June.

 

Here we sit, 23 days into June, just a few weeks before the All Star break, and suddenly the hapless NL Worst is not so hapless.  The NL West is the only division in the National League to have at least three teams with a .520 win percentage or higher, and one of only two in all of baseball.  There are three teams that rank in the top eight in runs for the NL, Rockies, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks, and the Dodgers and Giants rank 1 and 2 in National League ERA.  They are also the only division to have three teams with winning interleague records.

 

Perhaps it is time for a new moniker.  Perhaps the NL Worst is now the NL Best.  And perhaps it is time for the rest of the nation to start giving the NL West its due.

 

 

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com