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
Posted on: May 8, 2009 3:58 pm

Finally, a scape goat!

The Diamondbacks season continues to wallow in chaos as manager Bob Melvin was been fired late Thursday after the team returned home form losing an extra innings game against the Padres.  Thursday’s game was like so many other Diamondback games this season, featuring solid pitching, non existent offense, and a very mediocre opposing pitcher asserting dominance against hapless Diamondback hitters.  Chris Young’s 86 mph fast ball proved too much and unfortunately Dan Haren gave up three whole runs, far too many for this team to overcome.


Bob Melvin was truly a victim of circumstance.  He was given a team with no proven hitters and no front relievers and expected to compete with a team that has a payroll $26.5 million dollars higher.  Never mind that the team’s Cy Young pitcher has been on the DL since his first start, or that one of the more consistent offensive players, Stephen Drew, has also been out for over half the season.


The trigger on Melvin was pulled too quickly, but team president Derrick Hall and GM Josh Byrnes had to make a move because this team was sliding fast.  The only other option would be for them to admit that the players they have staked themselves to just don’t cut it, and that the “potential” they have talked about for the past three years isn’t there.  Chris Young, Chris Snyder, Eric Byrnes, and Conor Jackson may not be enough to beat the Dodgers.  They may not even be enough to beat the Padres or Rockies. 


There are plenty of black marks on the front office’s record already over the past three years.  Take for example Eric Byrnes, the highest paid player on the team by about three million dollars.  Eric “pop fly” Byrnes needs some help hitting the ball.  Perhaps he should seek hitting advice from Dan Haren, Doug Davis, and Max Scherzer, because they all have better batting averages than him.  If GM Josh Byrnes had actually said out loud, 60% of my starting rotation has a better batting average than my highest paid player maybe Bob Melvin would still have a job.


The criticism on Melvin was that he was too soft, too much of a players coach.  The team needed someone like third base coach Chip Hale, or Dodger’s third base coach Larry Bowa to come in as a hard nosed enforcer and motivate these players.  The new manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks will now be A.J. Hinch.  Who?  Oh, you mean the vice president of player development with a professional coaching record of 0-0.  Get ready, get set Dbacks fans, it’s going to be a long, hot summer. 

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 26, 2009 5:10 pm

Suns are bad and it's good.


Suns fans finally have a reason to pay attention to the regular season, namely that there could be no post season.  The past four regular seasons have been irrelevant for many Suns fans.  The team was one of the top three or four in the NBA, and they were a lock to make the playoffs from the first day in training camp.


Each season would end in disappointment as the Suns would eventually lose in the playoffs, making it to the conference finals in 2005 and 2006.  Suns fans would start the next season wishing that it was over already so that they could have another shot at the playoffs and a NBA championship.  They would have to bide their time for the next six months as the team went through the motions of the regular season.  The Spurs were the only team that seemed to be able to beat them.


This year is different.  This year’s team has been very inconsistent and had some very high highs, and some very low lows.  It has made fans sick to their stomach at times, and now we sit on the verge of a brutal nine game stretch questioning if the team will even make the playoffs.  Amar’e Stoudemire is done for the season, Shaq is disappointed he wasn’t traded, and it is questionable if Steve Nash will be able to play the next few games.  Adversity has been abundantly present this season.


That is what sports is about, going through the ups and downs of the season to ultimately get your team to stick their foot in the door of the playoffs and hope they go all the way.  Every fan wants their team to be good, but when they are too good you begin to take things for granted and forget to enjoy the regular season.  You aren’t able to sit on the edge of your seat and watch each game with baited breath, knowing that each game could get you one step closer to the playoffs or put you that much more out of it.  Each game matters and it’s anyone’s guess if the Suns will win.


So thank you Suns, for a dramatic season, even if it does only last until April.


Category: NBA
Tags: Phoenix, Suns
Posted on: February 18, 2009 2:31 pm

140 points, millions of smiles

Congratulations to Alvin Gentry and the newly inspired Phoenix Suns.  This team was playing very lethargically prior to the all star break, but came out last night firing on all cylinders.  They crushed the Clippers by forty points, and dominated so much that Shaq felt at ease enough to eat popcorn from a fan.  That is something you never would have seen with Porter.


Granted they were the Clippers, and they were down a few key players, but a win like that will lift a team no matter what the circumstances.  In addition, under Porter, no team was to be taken for granted.  They Suns were owned by the Bobcats earlier in the season and regularly underperformed against inferior competition.


It is nice that the team is playing the Clippers again, and then the Thunder prior to meeting the Celtics on Sunday.  This gives the Suns three games to allow the team to gel under the new coaching style before having a true test against one of the leagues best teams.  It is just nice to see that the players are actually willing to play for this coach, and I hope that the Suns darkest days are now behind them.

Category: NBA
Tags: Phoenix, Suns
Posted on: February 17, 2009 10:24 am

Wayne please save the Coyotes

Another season filled with hope, another post all star collapse, and another post season that will not include the Coyotes.  The losses to the Flames and the Oilers have all but sealed the Coyotes fate for this year, and it is very unfortunate.  They entered the all star break sitting comfortably in the fifth spot in the west, now they are in last place in the Pacific Division, and a very outside shot to even make the playoffs.  There will be no white out in Phoenix, for the seventh year in a row.


They have had injuries to important players over the past month, but every team has to deal with injuries.  Kevin Porter and Kyle Turris, two rookies with high expectations, have both struggled and both been sent down to the minors at times this year.  The team is not growing, they are not showing any fortitude during the final part of the season, and they have lost their confidence, winning only one of their last 11 games.


Terry Porter was just fired as the Suns coach, it is time for the Coyotes to follow suite.  Wayne Gretzky needs to step down.  If he truly wants this team to succeed he needs to realize that he is not the right person to get them to the playoffs.  He makes $7 million per year in a league where the average coach earns only $1 million.  For this inflated salary Gretzky has brought the Coyotes a 132-148-22 record and zero playoff appearances in four seasons.  The Coyotes are in financial ruin, have the lowest player payroll in the league, and can no longer afford to throw seven million dollars away to be in the bottom five in the Western Conference. 


Wayne, for the sake of the franchise please step down.  Your salary could translate into two very good additional players for the team.  If you care about the franchise, the fans, and this city do what is right. 

Category: NHL
Tags: Coyotes, Phoenix
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