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 11, 2009 5:10 pm

The Cost of Success

Adam Dunn has found a new team, the Washington Nationals.  Congratulations to Dunn on his new 2 year $20,000,000 contract.  He’ll be joining a team that won 59 games last year, a mere 22 games under .500.  The Washington Nationals most likely will not do any better this year, having a starting rotation consisting of Scott Olsen, Daniel Cabrera, and John Lannan as their top three pitchers.  Not to mention that they are in a division with the Mets, Phillies, and Braves. 


After spending his entire career with the Reds and never playing in a post season game, Dunn had said he was excited to be playing in a game that mattered in September after he was traded to the Diamondbacks last season.  Unfortunately the Diamondbacks did not make the playoffs and his post season absence streak continued.  Due to limited payroll space the Diamondbacks declined to offer him arbitration and he hit the free agent market.


Dunn made $13 million last season, and due to economic conditions he will be taking a $3 million dollar pay cut this season playing with the Nationals. There may have not been much interest in Dunn as all teams are limiting their spending right now, but it begs the question, when is the money not worth the losing, as I’m sure that he could have signed for less money on a better team.


Dunn has made $36.6 million since 2002.  Even if he put that money in a checking account with no interest that would allow him to spend $611,000 every year for the next 60 years.  With that in the bank, how much of a pay cut would he be willing to take to play on a winning team? How much is success worth?  I understand that $5 million is a great deal of money, but after you are set for life wouldn’t you rather play for $5 million on a team that will be a contender than for $10 million on a team that has absolutely no chance?


I’m not sad the Diamondbacks didn’t sign him; he wasn’t the best fit on a team with a third of the line up in the top ten in the league in strikeouts.  It seemed to me that after saying what he said last season he may have decided to sign with a contender for less.  I guess that success isn’t worth that much after all.

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 10, 2009 12:02 pm

A Roid, please just go away.


Alex Rodriguez was busted for steroids, is anyone really that surprised.  I had never heard that he was suspected of using them prior to this, and I was glad that he was on pace to break Barry Bond’s home run record.  When I heard the news I felt almost nothing.  No surprise, no anger.  It seems that no one is immune to steroids.


I really don’t even care that much.  His reputation is now tarnished, and no matter how many press conference’s he does, or how many home runs he hits from this point forward he will now be another asterisk in a very forgettable era in baseball history.  I don’t want to hear anything else about it unless he’s suspended or some other actual action is taken.  But the fact is he will suffer no repercussions outside of his damaged reputation, so what is the point of hearing anything more about it.


His “apology” was worthless.  He played it as if he was the victim that was prohibited from using his own free will and thought.  Everyone was doing it.  I felt pressure from my big contract.  Who cares, you put it into your body, and you made the choice.  Even if you didn’t know what it was it was still your choice to do something that you didn’t know anything about.   You signed the contract, you wanted to be the highest paid player, and you still want to be the highest paid player.  The pressure stems from your own greed, and now you will forever be known as A Fraud, A Roid, or whatever else the fans and the media chose.  A Roid chose the substance, now the fans chose his legacy.

Category: MLB
Tags: A rod, yankees
Posted on: February 4, 2009 5:30 pm

Arizona Diamondbacks Experience

Arizona Diamondbacks


Fans at the Diamondbacks games are usually pretty well mannered.  Certain teams, i.e. Dodgers, bring out fans that really behave poorly.  There are a few intoxicated people, and you may sit next to someone swearing, but in my experience that is rare.  It is a great place to take a family.  The fans generally respond to exciting situations, but many times there will be two strikes and two outs on an opposing batter and the crowd will be silent. 


The Diamondbacks also have very good prices.  Upper level seats can be had for under $20; most lower level seats are under $40. 


The Diamondbacks have the best food and the greatest variety of food of any team.  Burritos, subs, burgers, foot long chili dogs, pizza can all be found at Chase Field.  This is really the only stadium that I feel the food is decent.  There is also the greatest variety of beer.  There are specialty beer stands everywhere, selling 24 oz. bombers of Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, Corona, etc.  The large bombers go for $10, a regular domestic draft is $7.50.


The traffic is also ok at Chase Field.  The real benefit is that there are a large number of smaller lots scattered around the field so it spaces out the cars.  Depending on where you park you can get out very easily.  If you park in the Washington St. garage you have to wait a little longer to exit, but it flows pretty steadily.  Parking within a half mile of the stadium goes between $10-20, with the majority of lots being the former. 

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 4, 2009 5:27 pm

Best Value in Phoenix Sports

The Phoenix area has all four major sports teams, all vying for the fans money.  Where is the best value, which venue provides the best experience for the money?  I’ll take a look at the ticket prices, fan atmosphere, parking, and stadium amenities to determine where you are most likely to have a good time.  This does not take into account the actual sport being played, just the atmosphere at the game.

I'll post this in four parts, one for each team. 

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 20, 2008 9:59 am

The NBA has the worst possible senario

The Pistons, Celtics, Lakers, and Spurs are left.  Some of the least likable teams for everone outside of their own fans.  What's not to like?  Everything.

The Spurs, Bruce Bowen, the gerbil Manu, and a boring, flopping, free throw intensive style. 

The Lakers, Kobe Bryant, a bs trade getting a top center for some spare change and a ball of lint they had in their pocket, and some of the worst fans around.

The Pistons, boring style, and the Red Wings are in the Stanley Cup.  Two teams in the respective championships, well at least the Tigers are bad.

The Celtics.  Another Boston championship??? The Boston fans are deflated a bit after blowing the superbowl and now here are the Celtics to pick them back up.  What would the world do with out Boston fans blowing hard and talking crap.

The NBA finals will be one of the lowest viewed championships since, well, last year.

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