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Category:MLB
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
Posted on: May 12, 2009 6:58 pm
 

Mixing it up part two, back to the minors

Time to send Chris Young to Reno and use Eric Byrnes as the full time center fielder. Chris Young is not doing himself or the team any favors by continuing to be in the lineup when he is performing like he is. Heís hitting .193 this season and has never hit over .250 in his career. He strikes out too much and heís essentially regressed every year. Something is not working. Give him some time in the minors and see if he can figure it out. Eric Byrnes has been absolutely terrible this season. To say that he has been an embarrassment might be an understatement. Over the past week it looks like he is starting to pick it up a bit and he may benefit by being in the lineup every day. Heís making mental mistakes that I donít think he would normally make if he didnít have the pressure of coming off the bench. The media in this city has absolutely destroyed Eric Byrnes this season and rightfully so. He can still play defense and he can still run well on the base path. If he can get back to hitting .260, his career average, he could be a great benefit to this team. The team needs a face of the franchise and a leader. Eric Byrnes was that face in 2007. Fans loved his spirit and his hustle. There is no one else right now that can fill that role. There needs to be a spark plug for this team, a catalyst in the dug out. A lot of times this season the players seem like they just donít care and they arenít having fun. I said this team needs to do big things to get back in it and they need to start thinking unconventionally. Sending down Chris Young to start a guy every day who has been under the Mendoza line the entire season is pretty unconventional. People may chastise it as a lateral move, but it is however what this team needs to do. Get Byrnes in the line up, get the energy back, fire up the younger players, and start having fun playing baseball again. If Byrnes is still not performing in three weeks call Chris Young back up and stick Byrnes on the bench again. Chances are Chris Young wouldnít have done any better anyway. Right now this team has nothing to lose, 20% of the season is done and they have only won two series. The current formula is not working, time to change it up, time to make a move.
Category: MLB
Posted on: May 11, 2009 6:05 pm
 

Time to mix it up

  Mark Reynolds is the future first baseman of the Arizona Diamondbacks; they just don’t know it yet.  Currently he has the worst fielding percentage in all of baseball at third base.  He makes throwing errors regularly.  He provides no benefit to the team by remaining at the position.  It is one of the toughest defensive positions to play and a position where a team cannot afford to have a liability.

 

There was another third baseman that was moved to first base on a full time basis a few years ago.  When Albert Pujols was able to focus on one position and get consistency when he took the field the result was a Gold Glove in 2006.  Although Albert Pujols is an elite player in this league it does prove that the switch can be done.  Mark Reynolds is an athletic player who is more than capable of making the switch. 

 

I would like to see Mark Reynolds focus on first base and watch what happens.  Give him an easier position to play and allow him to develop.  When he’s no longer worrying about making errors at third base he will be able to focus on hitting more.  He will be a better fielder at first base just by virtue of no longer having to make the farthest throw in the infield.  His errors automatically are reduced by half.  And the times he does bobble a grounder the team still has a better chance of getting the out because he will be able to get the ball to first base quicker.

 

Mark Reynolds could be the big bat at first base this team has been looking for.  Outside of Mark Grace they have never had a great first baseman, so what do they have to lose.  Reynolds could be at least as good defensively as Conor Jackson, and he is able to provide a lot more power offensively.  If they can minimize the errors and still have him hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 RBI every year it could work out very well.  Let Reynolds play first base for a month.  See if he has fewer errors; see if his batting average goes up because he’s not taking his glove to the plate.  This team is not going to win the division unless they take chances.  They’ve lost a lot of their chips early in the game so it’s time to start betting big to get back in it.

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