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. 

Posted on: May 29, 2009 11:54 am

Starting to gain momentum

With the Diamondbacks facing the very reliable ace of the Braves they got another great game from the offense.  They put up ten hits on Derek Lowe like it was no big deal.  The team is looking very consistent from an offensive standpoint, and with the exception of Augie Ojeda, all the players have hit better the last few weeks.


In all of baseball Justin Upton ranks 9<sup>th</sup> in batting average, 5<sup>th</sup> in slugging percentage, and 5<sup>th</sup> in OPS. Mark Reynolds is 10<sup>th</sup> in home runs with a very respectable .904 OPS and Felipe Lopez is tied for 11<sup>th</sup> in doubles.   The team is now sixth in stolen bases.  They are getting hits in bunches and when they get on the base path they are on the move.  It should be no surprise with this combination they are winning games.


Since May 15<sup>th</sup>, the start of the last road trip, the team has failed to get at least five runs in only four games.  They are 8-5 in that time frame, with a most of the games being on the road.  If it were not for the failures of an inept front end of the bullpen the team could add at least two more wins to that record. 


It appears as if this team is finally learning how to win.  They are putting the pressure on the pitchers by getting on base and being on the move.  The starting pitchers have done their part, and although some of the recent call ups for the fifth spot in the rotation have not faired quite as well they have not lost any games for the team.  The fourth man in the rotation, Max Scherzer, has been great, only Dan Haren has a better ERA among the starters. 


Granted, it has only been two weeks, but it is more consistency in the offense than we have seen in the past year.  They are in a big hole as far as the division goes, but there is still 70% of the season left to be played.  If they can get some help in the bullpen and Brandon Webb is able to return by the All Star break the team might have a chance.  Probably not, but they might.


Just when people were starting to count the days to Cardinals training camp here come the DBacks. 

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 26, 2009 2:29 pm

18 Innings, 17 runs, and Organizational Advocacy

Things were looking good for the Diamondbacks. They had just returned from a long road trip that took them from one side of the country to the other and gone 6-3. The bats were starting to heat up and they were making some noise on the base path. In addition they were up 7-1 going into the eighth inning in their first home game in over a week. They even got a bad call that went their way instead of to the Padres. Then in the eighth a ball went through Stephen Drewís legs, putting on the first base runner of the inning. Scott Hairston then doubled. Adrian Gonzalez then walked. Doug Davis was struggling after seven solid innings, but not to fear, A.J. Hinch made the call to the pen, and when the doors opened out stepped Jon Rauch. Rauch was sure to take care of business; after all, you donít get a 1.93 WHIP by letting guys get on base. Two batters and no outs later the recently called up mustachioed AA player Clay Zavada was called in. After the game A.J. Hinch stated ďwe just didnít find a way to finish the game.Ē That may be putting it lightly. The team gave up six runs with six outs left to completely blow a game that was well in hand. Giving up one run to lose a game would be not finishing it. Six runs are blowing it. A.J. Hinch needs to stand up and get angry. This type of disaster is not acceptable and I would have liked to see him show a little more emotion that sitting there with his tail between his legs like his boyfriend just stood him up for the prom. Calling in Rauch wasnít necessarily the wrong decision. The team is up 7-1. However the bases were loaded and the game was already in the eighth. But he is a complete failure and should be removed from the team immediately. He currently ranks 414 in MLB in WHIP. He has pitched 18.2 innings and given up 17 runs, 15 of those earned. He has a 7.23 ERA. He is currently the 11th highest paid player on the Diamondbacks. Something is very wrong here. Josh Byrnes was interviewed by KTAR 620 this morning on the Doug and Wolf show. When asked about Jon Rauch Byrnes fully defended him. Rauch is a Byrnes guy, which means that he will be in every game possible so that hopefully he can start getting guys out and Josh Byrnes can save face. Josh Byrnesí defense of Rauch and Rauchís continued appearances in games can be seen as evidence that Byrnes is indeed calling some shots. Eric Byrnes, Chris Young, and Jon Rauch were all traded for or signed by Josh Byrnes. Thatís why Chris Young was batting second when he had the worst average on the team. When asked about the firing of Bob Melvin, Byrnes again brought up organizational advocacy. In short, Melvin was not playing the guys that Josh Byrnes wanted him to.
Category: MLB
Tags: Diamondbacks
Posted on: May 21, 2009 12:48 pm

Diamondbacks Split Doubleheader

The Diamondbacks were finally able to get a couple of games in without a rain delay for the first time in about a week.  All things considered they faired very well for the double header.  The offense showed up for both games and they showed that they can actually comeback in a game.  Up until about two weeks ago it seemed if the opposing team got a three run lead in the first few innings the game was as good as over.  I don’t think that there is one Diamondback fan out there that is not satisfied with a double header split.


Both games featured a lot of good signs.  The Dbacks put up runs in three consecutive innings in the first game.  This is something that they have had trouble doing this season, so to see consistency at the plate was very comforting.  Some leaders are starting to emerge for this team, which is exactly what they need and what they have lacked the past year.


Mark Reynolds not only had success at the dish going 2 for 3 and a walk, but also on the base path.  He tied a Diamondbacks record by swiping four bases in the game, including third at one point.  He tried to make things happen by getting in scoring position, tried to give his team the edge.  Justin Upton had a triple, and Gerardo Parra continued to surge by going 2 for 5.


It was also good to see reliever Doug Slaten back on the mound.  The “left handed specialist” recorded no outs, faced his one batter, and allowed a hit.  But at least he has a 6.75 era on the season



In game two the Dbacks didn’t take their foot off the gas.  Felipe Lopez went 4 for 6, Reynolds 2 for 6 with a walk and two home runs, and Justin Upton went 4 for 7 with 2 home runs as well.

Parra slowed down some with no hits in six at bats but did manage a walk in his final plate appearance. 


The team came from behind and finally finished off the Marlins in the thirteenth.  That’s what everyone has been looking for, they just want to see the team fight for wins and not just give up once the opposition gets a few runs on the board.  The team has now won 3 of their last four.  Maybe they are not content battling the Nationals for the worst record after all.


Again Chris Young showed that he needs to go to the minors immediately.  He goes to the plate with a blank expression on his face, slowly adjusts his batting gloves, and timidly steps in the box and looks at the pitcher.  He will then either watch a few good strikes go by or swing weakly at them.  Either way he returns to the bench defeated.  He needs to go to the minors and at least get his confidence back if nothing else.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 20, 2009 4:00 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2009 4:01 pm

Randy Johnsons and Russ Ortizes

It has definitely been a season where the negatives have been far outweighing the positives. Itís easy after a game like yesterday against the Marlins to jump for joy over a win and a late inning rally. However, it was not an impressive win for the most part and there were a lot of negatives. Iíve put together some of the good things named after the best pitcher in Diamondbacks history, Randy Johnson, and some of the bad things named after the worst pitcher in Diamondbacks history, Russ Ortiz. A weak attempt at being a bit more creative than just saying ups and downs. The Russ Ortiz factors The team scraped together only 6 hits despite scoring five runs. They were shutout for 8 innings and for the most part dominated by Josh Johnson, who is a good pitcher. The once reliable fielder Eric Byrnes committed two errors in a row, continuing his struggles in the outfield. The lineup featured 3 hitters who are hitting below .220, Jon Garland not included. The Randy Johnson factors Gerardo Parra continues to excel. He put up 2 hits and a walk and is hitting over .400. They need to find a way to keep this guy in the lineup. Someone print out directions to the bus station for Chris Young, the bus to Reno leaves at 5:00 The team did rally in an inning and produced timely hitting, something that they have very rarely done this season. 4 of the 6 hits came from the one inning, which is the sole reason they were able to win. Eric Byrnes continued to show signs of life at the plate. Not a great game but he singled, stole second, and walked. Qualls looked good and the bullpen was solid. It would be interesting to see how Chad Qualls would be doing if he were given consistent save opportunities. The Diamondbacks now have four batters in the lineup hitting over .300. They are making progress, and need to have Augie Ojeda in the lineup full time. All heís done is produce whenever heís in a game. In addition to batting over .300 heís good defensively which the Diamondbacks desperately need. Keep Ojeda at third and use Mark Reynolds as the full time first baseman. Heís not going to be any worse at first than he is at third.
Category: MLB
Posted on: May 18, 2009 2:28 pm

The Dramabacks

Congratulations to Max Scherzer who finally earned his first major league victory on Saturday.  A very prolonged attempt at reaching the mark finally came to an end with an explosion of offense.  Not only were the Diamondbacks hitting, but they were collecting multi-base hits almost every inning.  It was disappointing to see Sunday’s game rained out because I would have liked to see if they could have kept it going, or if the bats would again go into the refractory period of three games like they have all season.


Overshadowing Max’s win and the offense was the drama and organizational infighting that occurred on Friday. With two outs and nobody on in the seventh, rookie manager AJ Hinch decided to recall Doug Davis from the on deck circle and put in a pinch hitter.  This did not go over well with Davis, who took umbrage with the move and had words with Hinch in the dug out.  Later on, Davis then spoke out against announcer Matt Williams who had criticized Davis for not giving Hinch the proper respect a manager should receive.  On top of the issues within the organization, former pitching coach Brian Price publicly criticized the AJ Hinch hiring.


Sooner or later it was bound to happen folks.  A losing team, contending for the basement of the NL, a new inexperienced manager replacing a popular more seasoned manager, and some questionable decisions on the field will certainly lead to people who are dissatisfied with the direction of the team and let it be known publicly.  At least with the in fighting the attention from the team’s struggles is temporarily diverted.


AJ Hinch certainly showed his inexperience as a manager.  He removes a pitcher who is having a good outing to replace him with a batter from a team where nobody is hitting and put in a reliever from a team that has a dreadful front end of the bullpen.  Honestly, Davis probably has just as good of a chance at getting a hit as a pinch hitter.  And I would certainly rather have him in the game than someone like Jon Rauch.  Even though the bullpen did not give up a run until the ninth it was still the wrong decision.  Until this team shows consistency both in the batters box and on the mound it will never pay off to take chances.        

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 14, 2009 1:39 pm

That Familiar Sound

The night started out well for the Diamondbacks.  Bryan Augenstein threw 5 out of his first six pitches for strikes and sent the Reds down in order.  In the bottom of the first, fellow AA call up Gerardo Parra hit a home run in his first major league at bat.  Then the game took the all too familiar turn and followed the same pattern as nearly all of the Diamondbacks games have this season.  Augenstein pitched well over all, had one inning where he gave up three runs, then didn’t allow another run until the seventh.  The bullpen came in to relieve him and gave up four more runs in the inning, using three different relievers to get the needed outs.


Meanwhile the Diamondbacks offense was busy not holding up their end of the bargain as usual. After the Parra home run in the first, the Diamondbacks batters were sent down in order in the next three innings, then finally got another base runner in the 5<sup>th</sup> with a Chad Tracy one out walk.  The next two batters struck out looking, although one was the pitcher.



Then after the seventh inning collapse Chase Field heard that old familiar sound that has been at about every game for the past three weeks, boos from the 20,000 faithful that bothered to show up.  I can’t imagine why they started to boo.  Maybe it was because the team was about to be swept and go 1-5 on their home stand, maybe it was because the team has become worse since AJ Hinch started, maybe it was because the night before  Reds pitcher Micah Owings punked them and veteran reliever Scott Shoeneweis didn’t bother to retaliate, or maybe it was just because they were tired of caring more about winning than the players on the field.


Bob Melvin, you are in a better place now, probably sitting in your recliner with a cold beer laughing at this embarrassment. 

Category: MLB
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