Posted on: August 23, 2011 11:22 pm
It's not necessarily the path to the NL West title. But it was not surprising to see aggressive, first-year Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers strike a deal Monday as Arizona's tenuous hold on first place shrinks.
The Diamondbacks were absolutely pasted on their current trip by NL pennant contenders Philadelphia and Atlanta, dropping two of three to the Phillies and losing all three to the Braves.
Will Tuesday's acquisitions of shortstop John McDonald and second baseman Aaron Hill from Toronto reverse that trend? Let's just say a shift in the schedule, away from the two best teams in the NL, will be the biggest help.
But it's all hands on deck now as the Diamondbacks work to keep baseball's biggest surprise story going, and both Hill and McDonald should help.
In McDonald's case, Arizona is still trying to plug the hole at shortstop left when Stephen Drew fractured his ankle a month ago. And in Hill, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson now has another hand to play at second base in place of Kelly Johnson, whose fuel tank appears on "E". Johnson, since the All-Star break, is hitting .181/.246/.324.
Hill isn't exactly tearing it up (.225/.270/.313), and his OPS is second-worst in the American League (his .584 ranks 150th of 152 players with at least 400 plate appearances). But he's a better contact hitter than Johnson and hit a combined 62 homers for Toronto in 2009 and 2010. In Arizona's thin air and homer-friendly park, maybe Hill can run into a few.
The Diamondbacks need something, and quickly. Their 2-0 win in Washington on Tuesday snapped a six-game losing streak. The ugly corollary to that: When Sean Burroughs cracked his first homer since April 30, 2005 -- a two-run blast -- they were the Diamondbacks' first runs scored in 32 innings.
During their six-game losing streak, Arizona batted a combined .153 with only seven runs scored, three doubles, a triple, three homers, 17 walks and 55 strikeouts. Ugly.
This just after new acquisition Jason Marquis, acquired to help eat innings and serve as a veteran anchor in the rotation, blew out for the season with a fractured leg.
Things could have gone from bad to worse Tuesday when slugger Justin Upton, having a career year, left in the fifth inning after being hit by a pitch in the left elbow. Early reports -- a bad bruise, no break -- are encouraging, but if Upton is slowed, that will make things even more difficult.
As things now stand, once the Diamondbacks leave Washington following Thursday's game, 29 of Arizona's final 32 games are against NL West clubs (with a three-game set at home against Pittsburgh mixed in).
Will that help? Hard to say: Arizona is 23-21 against NL West opponents this season. What might help most is this: Arizona plays 19 of its final 32 at home, and the Diamondbacks are 36-26 in Bank One Ballpark so far this season.
Likes: Two bumper stickers I've seen recently. The first: "My Child Was Student of the Month at Pedro's Tacos." The second: "Whassup haters?" Love the first one. ... Cool summer in Southern California, but it's warmed up this week and I got out for a bike ride along the ocean Tuesday. And it was beautiful.
Dislikes: An earthquake in Washington, D.C.? What's next, a damn blizzard in Los Angeles?
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"She wrote a long letter
"On a short piece of paper"
-- Traveling Wilburys, Margarita
Posted on: December 9, 2008 9:48 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2008 2:17 am
But after more talks Tuesday between the Padres and Chicago Cubs, Peavy's long, strange trip out of San Diego appears to be moving along to a place where Peavy will be able to memorize those lyrics for good.
The Padres and Cubs were scheduled to hold another session of talks later Tuesday evening, according to San Diego general manager Kevin Towers, who said he "feels probably better today at this time than yesterday at this time" regarding the progress of the trade talks.
"We've made some progress," Towers said. "We're just not there yet."
He described the Cubs as having some work to do. Though he wasn't specific, sources with knowledge of the talks say the Cubs must move payroll to take on the $63 million Peavy is owed over the next four years.
Specifically, they're attempting to move pitcher Jason Marquis and his $9.875 million salary owed for 2009.
Though Towers said the Padres and Cubs haven't completely settled on the pieces Chicago would send to San Diego, there is general agreement. Third base prospect Josh Vitters certainly would be in the package, which also is expected to include right-handed pitcher Kevin Hart and possibly pitcher Angel Guzman. Shortstop Ronny Cedeno is also a possibility.
A third team almost certainly would need to be involved, and possibly, according to Towers, a fourth club.
Baltimore, which would sent pitcher Garret Olson to the Cubs for outfielder Felix Pie -- and then the Cubs would pass Olson along to the Padres -- remains another possibility.
The Cubs were said to have been approached by another club -- or more -- Tuesday involving players that could be in the Peavy deal. That could mean either Marquis or DeRosa, or both.
Another twist, that likely will mean more delays if this deal is to be completed: The Padres are looking to pick one player -- and perhaps more -- in Thursday morning's Rule 5 draft and, as a result, they may need to clear some space on their 40-man roster to make room for some of the players in a potential Peavy trade.
That presents a scenario in which the Cubs and Padres could agree to a deal in a day or two but delay announcing it until Friday, Saturday or later.
Towers said he believes Hendry has the power to move now in personnel decisions despite the Cubs' impending sale.
"My impression is he has the ability to move if he is comfortable with what he's giving up," Towers said.
Hendry said on Monday that he is operating with no restrictions while the impending sale progresses.
Posted on: December 8, 2008 8:23 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2008 8:47 pm
LAS VEGAS -- The continued effort between San Diego and the Cubs to figure out a way to send ace Jake Peavy to Chicago has resulted in their engaging the Philadelphia Phillies as a potential third team to help facilitate a deal, CBSSports.com has learned.
The potential trade remains complicated, and multiple sources cautioned that it might not get done with the Phillies. But those sources agreed Monday that the Padres and Cubs continue attempting to figure out a way to get it done, and the Padres' preference, as stated by general manager Kevin Towers earlier Monday, is to deal sooner rather than later.
Any Phillies' involvement could wind up sending left-hander J.A. Happ, 26, the Phillies' third-round pick in the 2004 draft, to San Diego. The Padres and Phillies also have discussed catcher Chris Coste, according to sources.
The Padres currently are thin behind the plate and, as of now, would open the season with Nick Hundley catching.
The Padres are not exactly enamored at the prospect of obtaining Marquis but, then again, it appears, neither is anybody else. Sources say one of the hurdles the Padres and Cubs are attempting to clear is that in order to add Peavy's contract -- he's due $63 million over the next four years -- Chicago would have to clear some salary.
Marquis is due $9.875 million in 2009, the final year of his contract. Chicago is shopping Marquis and hopes to trade him, sources said, to clear room for Peavy. If the Cubs cannot, the Padres likely would take him and pay between $4 and $5 million of his salary, with the Cubs taking care of the rest.
What the Cubs would like to do is find a club that would relieve them of all of Marquis' salary, but right now that appears to be the impossible dream.
It is not clear who would be going back to the Phillies -- and one source cautioned late Monday afternoon that Philadelphia's involvement in the talks well could be fleeting -- but they are known to have interest in Cubs infielder Mark De Rosa. The Phillies also are hoping to add an established veteran starting pitcher as protection in case negotiations with Jamie Moyer break down beyond repair.
The Padres and Cubs also have engaged Baltimore in the talks. In that scenario, sources say, the Cubs would send outfielder Felix Pie to the Orioles for pitcher Garrett Olson, then send Olson, VItters and a package of others that could include Hart and Cedeno to the Padres.