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: August 29, 2008 11:08 pm
Bitten by multiple injuries and still shuddering at the memory of losing a handful of key players last October, the Los Angeles Angels continue casting about for a proven, veteran shortstop before Sunday's midnight EDT trade deadline.
The urgency has arrived because players acquired after Sunday evening's deadline are not eligible for postseason rosters.
"I don't know if I'd term it 'urgent'," general manager Tony Reagins said Friday, declining to address specific names. "I'd term it 'actively pursuing.'
"With Aybar and Kendrick, we don't think it will be any longer than two weeks."
The Angels placed Kendrick on the 15-day disabled list Thursday, though he says that his hurting left hamstring isn't as severe as when he injured it in mid-April in Seattle. Then, he missed 42 games.
The Angels, who led the AL West by 16 games entering Friday's contest with Texas, are hopeful that Kendrick, batting .308 with a .334 on-base percentage, will return by mid-to-late September and be a threat during the playoffs. They also believe that Aybar will be ready to play sooner rather than later.
But they also believe adding depth is important at this point based in part on how easily Boston bounced them out of the playoffs last October.
Then, outfielder Gary Matthews missed all three games of the Red Sox's sweep with a bad knee, outfielder Garret Anderson struggled miserably while battling conjunctivitis, first baseman Casey Kotchman missed Game 3 when he had to be hospitalized with severe flu-like symptoms and pitcher Bartolo Colon's shoulder injury precluded the Angels from including him on their playoff roster.
"Right now, middle infield depth for our organization, there certainly is room to establish more depth," manager Mike Scioscia said.
Maybe both men will begin to swing the bat better if they consistently stay in the lineup for the next two or three weeks while Aybar and Kendrick are sidelined.
But there's no way of predicting that, and it seems awfully long odds to play for a team that made a bold statement by acquiring slugger Mark Teixeira from Atlanta at the July 31 trade deadline.
It's clear that the Angels think they have a team that can win a World Series this year. And no matter how much they like, say, Wood -- he was rated as the organization's top prospect for 2008 by Baseball America -- they're not in position, this late in the season, to send guys out for a test drive.
The attraction to Vizquel, 41, is that he can still field very well (though his range has diminished with age) and he has significant playoff experience.
McDonald might be as good a shortstop as there is defensively, though he isn't a threat with the bat (.218). Scutaro was a valuable utilityman in Oakland before being traded to Toronto and can play all four infield positions. Two scouts this week said Eckstein is showing signs of age.
Castro also is a versatile middle infielder with a weak bat (.194 for Baltimore so far this season).
"Different things have been thrown about," Reagins said. "But for me, it has to make sense to us."