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
Posted on: May 11, 2009 1:01 pm

Weekend success? Kind of, sort of.

Seemingly it was the perfect time to drop the ax.  The Manny Ramirez suspension was dominating the news and the Washington Nationals, owners of baseballs worst record, were coming to town.  An organization could look for a decade and not find a better circumstance to fire their current manager and bring in the new one for a winning series. 


The first part of the plan worked perfectly. Outside of Arizona there was hardly a mention of the firing, on MLB Network or ESPN not a peep other than a one sentence scroll at the bottom of the screen.  The second part of the plan, get new manager A.J. Hinch a few wins over a patsy team, did not go off as planned.  The Washington Nationals, 7<sup>th</sup> in MLB in batting average, proved that it was the Diamondbacks who where the patsies in this scenario. 


The Washington Nationals have baseball’s worst record but they are currently a far better hitting team than the Diamondbacks who rank dead last in batting average.  Never mind that the Nationals pitching is sub par, the Dbacks have struggled against pitchers that have ERAs in the fives against the rest of the league.  Truth be told it really wouldn’t have mattered who the Diamondbacks faced fresh off Bob Melvin’s departure, they probably would have lost two out of the three regardless.


Despite a series loss, and almost a sweep, the A.J. Hinch era started out reasonably well.  The Diamondbacks actually had hit the ball fairly well when you consider some of the outings they’ve had this season.  They had 11 hits Friday, 8 hits Saturday, and knocked the cover off the ball in back and forth game on Sunday. I realize eight hits is nothing to be proud of but for a team that I have seen get four hits or less in quite a few games it is. Timely hitting and leaving runners on base continued to be a problem and ultimately cost them two losses. 


I do like the fact that Hinch got on Justin Upton and Felipe Lopez after both failed to put in a full effort running to first base on separate locations.  I also like that he continued to stick with some new guys in the lineup giving Josh Whitesell, Ryan Roberts, and Josh Wilson all starts in the weekend.  And Mark Reynolds, the defensively criticized third baseman, got a start at first base where he seemed to hold his own.


In an overall disappointing weekend there were a few bright spots, and for this team to get back on track those bright spots are crucial.  Once they begin to get a series of successes to build off then they can focus on other things.  Baby steps are the name of the game for this team.  Baby steps hustling to first base, baby steps working a two strike count, baby steps getting hits with runners in scoring positions, and ultimately baby steps to win some games.

Posted on: May 8, 2009 4:37 pm

50 games and an open door

I hate the Dodgers.  I hate L.A. as a city.  I love that Manny Ramirez failed a drug test and was suspended for 50 games, especially after seeing the smug Dodger fans during Tuesday’s Diamondbacks/Dodgers game proclaim “this is Manny baseball all day long.”  To say that Manny has owned the Diamondbacks since last August may be a bit of an understatement.  He’s hit over .500 against the Dbacks, and the Dodgers would most likely have not won the NL West last season without him.  This suspension provides some minor therapy for those Dodger inflicted wounds.


I feel the need to tell my fellow Diamondbacks fans be happy, but not too happy.  The Dodgers will still most likely win the division unless there is a dramatic turnaround from the Diamondbacks.  The suspension of Manny does not suddenly make the Diamondbacks MLB worst .222 team average go up.  It does not make their MLB worst .296 OBP go up.  It does not make the front end of bullpen able to get batters out.  But it does put a chink in the Dodgers armor.


The Dodger’s whole lineup will suffer from the loss of Manny.  Their run production will drop for the 50 games he’s gone, and despite what everyone thinks their pitching is not that great.  They will not continue to win the amount of games they have been without the run support that Manny provided.  Chad Billingsley is a solid starter with a 2.21 ERA, their next best starter is Randy Wolf with a .295 ERA.  He has a career ERA of 4.22 over 252 games.  He’s not that good, sorry Dodger fans.  Clayton Kershaw has a 4.91 ERA, Eric Stults has a 4.94 ERA, and Jeff Weaver will have a blown up ERA when he faces another team besides the Diamondbacks.


Pitching is the more consistent facet of the game.  It’s safer to assume that a team will continue to pitch like they have been rather than hit like they have been.  The Dodgers hitting will drop off.  It was always going to, Manny or no Manny.  It’s going to come down to their pitching, which is not great, and that is why the Diamondbacks still have a chance.


A lot of Diamondback hitters are below what their career averages are.  They are going through a terrible and very prolonged hitting slump.  This slump will not last, it cannot last.  The Diamondbacks have a 9-2 record when they score more than three runs.  The hitting will come around and they will consistently score more than three runs.  They just need to do it soon, very soon, if they hope to win the NL West in 2009.

Category: MLB
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