Posted on: June 17, 2009 11:54 am

The Guts to Pull the Plug?

Anyone out there who doesn’t think the Diamondbacks should start trying to move players immediately needs to sit down and actually watch this team.  More often than not they are not good, and more often than not they are not really in the game.  Last night they had only one more hit than error in a 5-0 loss to the Royals.


There are things that certain players do that give you hope for the future.  If they get a few more pieces and they can get Brandon Webb back to his old self there is no reason they will not be able to compete next year.  This year however is a lost cause.  They are 11 games under .500, 16 games behind in the division, 8 games back in the wild card race with only the Nationals behind them, and have the second worst record in all of baseball.  


There are 97 games left, so it’s easy to say that there is a lot of baseball still to be played.  To reach .500 on the season they need to play .556 baseball for the next three and a half months. Currently only 5 teams in baseball have winning percentages over .556.  Is it very realistic to say that the Diamondbacks will be able to be one of the top five teams in baseball the rest of the season?


It is time to stop being so myopic about this team.  This season they just aren’t going to do it.  It doesn’t mean that we stop watching them for the rest of the year, it doesn’t mean that we can’t find good things within the team despite their record.  Mark Reynolds was just named co NL MVP for last week.  Max Scherzer is one of the more exciting pitchers to watch and he’s just getting started.  Dan Haren has been utterly dominant almost every fifth day for the team. 


The team as whole does not work and Josh Byrnes needs to start making the changes necessary to get the team ready to compete next season.  No one on the team, in the front office, sitting in the stands, or watching on their couch at home wants to see a sequel to the 2009 season anytime soon.       

Posted on: June 15, 2009 6:19 pm

Another Weekend, Another Two Losses

Another disappointing weekend for the Diamondbacks.  They took close games and turned them into ones that were out of reach.  The bullpen inherited runners and allowed a good majority of them to score.  They won the first game of the series but then could not find a way to win one of the next two and secure a series win, something they have done only two or three times this season. 

They were playing a very winnable series, the Astros have not been a great team this season, but unfortunately that hasn't mattered much for the Diamondbacks this season.  Regardless of who they play they just seem to lose.  There is always one part of the team that cannot produce or hold up their end of the bargain while the other areas play reasonably well.  Rest assured either the hitting, starting pitching, defense, or bullpen will have a bad night and give up the runs or fail to get the runs that the other areas cannot make up.

Mark Reynolds continued to have success.  If he continues to grow like he has been this season he will be a vital part of the team for years to come.  It is not unreasonable to think that he will be a player who hits 40 HR and bats around .270 every year.  He still strikes out a ton, but when he does make contact he seems to be getting on base.  In most situations it doesn't really matter if a player stikes out, flies, or grounds out.  So what he brings to the team far outweighs any negatives that he may cause by setting strike out records.  

The team plays the Royals next, and again plays a winnable series.  The Royals have come down to Earth after a great start, but the Diamondbacks right now are one of the worst teams in the league, so I'm sure the Royals are saying the same thing. 
Category: MLB
Posted on: June 10, 2009 11:45 am

From Good Draft to Bad Night

The Diamondbacks are apparently acutely aware of one of their deficiencies that has plagued them for the last part of the decade, and addressed that need in full yesterday in the 2009 draft.  They used their first four picks, all in the first 50 overall, to get position players.  Their first pick was Bobby Borchering, a big switch hitting corner infielder.  Their next pick was AJ Pollock, an outfielder from Notre Dame who hits for average.  They then picked a power hitting third baseman and a shortstop.  Not until their fifth pick did they select a pitcher.


This gives me hope that the team may be coming to grips with the fact that some of the players they were counting on developing into stars just isn’t going to happen and that they need to have some hitting to go along with great pitching.  Now the team needs to be patient and let these guys develop in the minors before bringing them up.


Then, after a solid first day of drafting, the Diamondbacks took the field to play the Giants and proceeded to make all their draft picks stare in bewilderment, and wonder what the hell they’ve just gotten themselves into as they gave up 17 hits, committed 3 errors, and looked like they just picked up a bunch of people from Romania who had never seen a baseball and threw them on the field for the first time.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 9, 2009 2:22 pm

Let the Tribute Begin

There will be a tribute to Randy Johnson and his 300 wins tonight at Chase Field, and fans should be excited to honor Johnson even if he is not necessarily excited to be honored.  Whether or not RJ purposely moved up his start to avoid pitching at Chase is questionable.  Even though he was on three days rest, the Giants had played a double header last Thursday, and yesterday it was Johnson’s turn in the order.  On the other hand when I first heard that he would not be pitching here I was not surprised, as RJ is currently not on the best of terms with the organization. 


When Randy Johnson pitched at Chase Field April 25<sup>th</sup>, the homecoming was less than heartfelt.  He took the mound amidst a blend of boos and cheers and generally fans were not as welcoming as they should have been for the greatest player to ever wear a Dbacks uniform.  However when he returned to Seattle May 25<sup>th</sup> the fans overwhelmed him with a standing ovation.  They showed their appreciation for all that RJ had accomplished while he played for the team, and Johnson returned the sentiment with a tip of his cap.


Fans tonight should give Randy a very warm reception.  It is time to move on and focus on what he meant to this team rather than recent contract squabbles.  Yes he left on bad terms, twice.  Unfortunately the business side of sports usually does not play well with the sentimental or nostalgic side.  The Diamondbacks were on a youth movement and trying to get by with as low of a payroll as possible.  The team was expecting to compete for the NL West and possible the pennant.  In the front office’s eyes there just wasn’t room for a 45 year old pitcher to fill the fourth spot in the rotation at one of the higher salaries on the team.


Letting Randy Johnson go was the right move front office-wise.  Johnson’s replacement, Jon Garland, has almost identical season stats and is making $1.75 million less than Johnson’s $8 million.  But that was not the right move baseball-wise.  Was it worth saving $1.75 million to get a comparable pitcher to come in for one year and fill a spot in the rotation rather than have one of the best pitchers in the history of the game get his 300<sup>th</sup> win in a Dbacks hat and use this season as his farewell tour?


The Giants return to Chase Field in late September.  By that point the Diamondbacks will most likely be officially eliminated from the post season so the games will not matter much.  Hopefully during those games Randy Johnson will be able to take the mound at Chase Field one last time and the Diamondbacks fans who have watched him for the better part of the last decade will be able to give him the proper farewell that the best player the team has ever had deserves.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 8, 2009 12:38 pm

Chad Qualls BS...blown save and bull @#$%

Dan Haren came to pitch.  Seven innings, four hits, one run.  This type of outstanding performance should surprise no one, he has done this all season though you wouldn’t know it from the four wins he has to his name.  The offense came to hit.  Six runs through nine innings, and again getting timely hitting.  And the bullpen came to do what they do.  Give up five runs in one inning and give up a game tying home run to a pinch hitter who has a career 33 home runs in 4286 at bats. 


I will say this for the Diamondbacks relievers; they certainly learned how to take turns when they were younger.  This time the honor of blowing a lead was given to Juan Gutierrez who had only surrendered 3 hits in his last 4.2 innings of work, and closer Chad Qualls, who has been fairly reliable for the most part this season. To add insult to Dan Haren’s injury, the incorrigible bullpen that was incapable of getting three outs without giving up five runs, then proceeded to get an additional 27 outs without giving up one run.


This game was without a doubt the hollowest victory of the season.  Josh Byrnes needs to fix the bullpen right now.  They need to either get a different bullpen coach, get new players, or move Max Scherzer to the bullpen once Brandon Webb comes back.  There is absolutely no sense in playing the remainder of the season with the current group of relievers.  As evidenced yesterday, you can have a starter who is completely dominant and an offense that provides you with enough runs to win any game but it all means nothing when you have a facet of the team that can undo eight innings of solid, quality baseball in the course of fifteen minutes.   


The bullpen has proved themselves game after game that they cannot be counted on in any situation.  Management has to make a move immediately, as these are the players that hold the fate of the game in their hand.  Any slim hopes the team has of possibly getting the wild card are completely void if the bullpen is not corrected.

Posted on: June 5, 2009 1:31 pm


He warmed up , set to make start number 597 of his 21 year career. Underneath a sky that was taunting them with its grayness, threatening to unleash the rain it was holding back and delay the inevitable once again, an unspecified number of people settled into their seats. The stadium was largely vacant, and vast amounts of unfilled seats would be the majority of witnesses to what could be a historical feat. Many of the few who did make the pilgramage to the stadium were not there to see the inept Nationals, but rather to see the lanky, surly, 45 year old starter of the opposing Giants.

As Randy Johnson sat on the bench while the Giants batted in the top of the first I wonder if his career was flashing before his eyes before the crescendo that was about to take place. Did he think of his first start in Montreal 21 years earlier, when he struggled with his command, or his years on the Mariners playing with young Ken Griffey Jr and Alex Rodriguez. Did he think of his five Cy Young awards, or the World Series, or his perfect game, or the time he struck out 20 batters in a game. Or was he just wanting to get it over with.

I'm sure that this was not how he envisioned getting win number 300; Against a last place team under a dreary sky, playing for a team that he had only been with for three months which was once his rival, and with the stadium largely empty. It almost didn't happen. His team only provided two runs, and in the eighth inning, with the bases loaded the Nationals' best hitter had worked a full count on Giants closer Brian Johnson. Adam Dunn strikes out a lot, but rarely looking, so when a pitch that appeared low sailed into the catcher's mitt he began to turn his large frame toward first, thinking that the tying run had just been walked in.  It was just then that the umpire bellowed strike three. He looked back with a questionning gaze on his face before heading to the dugout.

I would have liked to have seen that been called ball four. Not because I don't want Randy Johnson to get 300, but because I would have like to see him do it at Chase Field where he belongs. I would have liked to see him do it in front of what would most likely have been a sell out crown, in front of the fans that have shared so many of his great accomplishments. I would have liked to have seen 50,000 people give him the standing ovation that he deserves, and thank him for his many years of service to the Diamondbacks. Without Randy Johnson the Diamondbacks would have had an entirely different past.

When the Giants play the Diamondbacks on Tuesday I hope that the fans at Chase Field show him the respect that he deserves, I hope they put the ill feelings they might have behind and remember just what he has meant to this team and this city.

Posted on: June 2, 2009 4:02 pm

Justin Upton, All Star Casualty

The Diamondbacks could have a starter in the All Star game for the first time since 2001. Justin Upton deserves to be voted in by the fans, whether or not that happens remains to be seen. Currently among National League outfielders only Carlos Beltran, Brad Hawpe, and Raul Ibanez rank above him in both batting average and OPS. Of those three players only Beltran has more stolen bases, and currently Upton has 29 more at bats and a better fielding percentage than Brad Hawpe.

When looking at the total player Justin Upton clearly ranks among the top three. He is an exciting player to watch and he’s just getting started. Unfortunately for Justin Upton the fans get to decide the starters and the Diamondbacks are not on most casual baseball fans’ radar outside of Arizona and possibly the other cities of the NL West.

Most likely Justin Upton will not be voted in by the fans, as there is generally an astounding ignorance that goes along with the fan voting. As of today Justin Upton does not even rank in the top 15 of votes for outfielders. One potential starter, Alfonso Soriano who is currently third in votes, has a .246 average and a .790 OPS. One of the players for the All Star hosting Cardinals, Rick Ankiel, is currently tenth in votes and has a .221 average with 2 home runs.

If MLB wants to let the fans vote in the starters that’s fine, the game is after all for the fans. But to have a game decide home field advantage for the World Series that has starters voted in by people who either have no idea how a player is actually performing or don’t care how the players are performing is ridiculous. The fact that deserving players who play outside of the three or four largest markets get left out is merely a side effect.

Justin Upton stats and rank among National League outfielders
Batting Average .322, sixth
OBP .396, seventh
SLG .592, third
OPS .988, third
HR 9, tied for sixth
2B 12, tied for seventh
3B 4, tied for first
RC27 8.49, fourth
Posted on: June 1, 2009 4:01 pm

May wrapped up, here comes June

Bad weekend.  Two blowout games that were basically over before the fans were settled in their seats.  Jon Garland was making excuses about the roof and the mound instead of just admitting that he sucked, but one does have to ponder why he’s so bad at Chase Field.  At least Max Scherzer came out and said he just didn’t have it.


If you can take away one positive it’s that the bullpen performed at an acceptable level.  Yesterday they shut down the Braves from the sixth inning on.  Hopefully that will give them confidence that can carry over to successful outings when the game is actually still competitive. 


As May comes to a close things are starting to look up, even if only a little.  The team hit a dreadful and MLB worst .231 in the month of April, in May they have a .251 average.  I didn’t really support the Melvin firing and still maintain that it wasn’t necessarily his fault that the team wasn’t producing, but there has been a marked improvement in the offense since A.J. Hinch and batting coach Jack Howell took over.


We will have to see how June turns out, but at least games are now fun to watch (most days).  If the team can continue to make strides at the plate, continues to get consistent production form Felipe Lopez, Justin Upton, and Mark Reynolds, and guys like Eric Byrnes and Chris Snyder play like they did in May the team could still have a shot at the wild card.  Don’t forget, Brandon Webb is expected to return before the All Star break, which essentially turns that loss they get every fifth time into a win. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or