Thursday, April 29, 2004

20-Game Stat Look 

I said before that I thought you needed to wait at least 20 games before using (cumulative) stats responsibly. So, 21 games in, and where are the Diamondbacks?


The Diamondbacks currently rank 5th in the NL in OPS (non-park adjusted) at .809. They trail only the Rockies in the NL West in this category. Even better, they rank 2nd in the NL in OPS w/ 2 outs at .849, again trailing the Rockies. So as a team, they're doing OK. As for individuals, clearly Danny Bautista has far outstripped any reasonable expectation for him as his 1.067 OPS exceeds his lifetime high by .200 (in an injury-shortened 2002). It won't last, of course, but it's been a nice rebound from a disappointing 2003. Luis Gonzalez is having another quietly good season, while Richie Sexson makes up for his .241 batting average by drawing his fair share of walks and hitting the living tar out of the ball. Chad Tracy has taken advantage of his opportunity, while Matt Kata and Alex Cintron have done fine, too. Finley may be getting on track. The catcher position, well, it's not a glaring weakness. Again, overall, hitting is fine.


It's harder to judge pitchers (Casey's had just 3 appearances, for example), but I'll try.

Johnson? Check (save a couple bad innings). Webb? Check (save the first inning). Everybody else? Duck and cover, folks. Elmer can't get out of the 6th inning to save his life. Daigle's game-by-game ERA has been 27.0, 13.5, 3.9. Three games is an awfully small sample size, but what say we give him at least 3 more games to settle into the major leagues. Sparks, after getting shelled in the first 2 games, has had the following ERAs (includes 2 relief stints): 3.2, 0.0, 0.0, 1.3. This shouldn't be a settling-in issue, so I'm not sure I should be excluding those first 2 games, but I'm willing to believe those will be the exception, not the rule (which isn't to say we should expect a 1.7 ERA from here on out, either). The problems of the bullpen are legendary, so I won't go into further detail, so I'll just leave one suggestion. Stephen Randolph's ERA: 2.45; Randy Choate's ERA: 9.39. Who do you think should be given more opportunities as the left-handed setup man?

I'll be out-of-town this weekend and unable to update. Back next week. Thanks for reading.

Next Moves 

Assuming Sexson's shoulder strain puts him on the DL, the Diamondbacks need to make their next moves with both the short- and long-term in mind.

Short-term: The injury obviously returns Hillenbrand to the starting lineup. (That sound you hear is sabermetricians shuddering.) The Republic assumed Hillenbrand would go to 3rd while moving Tracy to 1st. I'd argue that Hillenbrand should be the one to move -- Tracy is the future at 3rd, and I want him to continue to get his experience there.

Long-term: All those who think Mantei will be coming into a home game that's not safely out of reach for the next month, raise your hand. (I didn't think so.) Mantei is now the only Diamondbacks pitcher with a double-digit ERA, and he's doing everything a closer shouldn't. Whoever the Diamondbacks call up from AAA should be called up with an eye toward a trade for a closer. I'm not suggesting that who we call up would be the trade bait. But perhaps it's time to see if Luis Terrero (OF) can continue his hot hitting up here, just as Tracy has. If he can, that would give the Diamondbacks options to trade him, Finley, or Bautista at some point later on in the season. Or perhaps Scott Hairston (3B) could draw some interest. I like the starting lineup we have (prior to the Sexson injury), but it's increasingly clear we need a better closer (if it wasn't crystal clear before), and the D-Backs need to plan now for a possible trade in June or July.

By the way, the Baby Backs blog is an excellent update of the D-Backs minor league games. I recommend it highly.

Hope to have one more update on the season so far later on.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The Pendulum Swings 

A week ago, sports editors were probably assigning "how long before Gracie takes over?" stories. Now the D-Backs are back at the top of the page in the Republic (both on the front page and in the Sports section). Clubbing possibly the best team in the National League 19-1 over two games will do that, I suppose. But these games are not necessarily any more significant than getting clubbed by the Brewers (the Brewers!), so everybody should take a deep breath.

Having said that, we better hope that the good play continues, because after the tonight's game, 13 of our next 16 games are against the NL (L)east -- Philadelphia, New York, and Montreal, who are a combined 21-37. The last 10 games are at home. If we don't win at least 10 of those games (thereby climbing above .500), we could be in trouble, because after that the D-Backs go on the road for 12 games -- 3 each against Atlanta, Florida, the Giants, and the Dodgers. That stretch will be much tougher (and a much better indicator of whether this recent stretch is an aberration or a sign of better things to come).

Tomorrow: a first statistical look at the season-to-date.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

A Good Golf Game: D-Backs 9, Cubs 0 

Now that's the way to play baseball!

Definitely the strongest all-around outing all year from the D-Backs. Great pitching from Johnson, some excellent fielding from Kata and Finley, good baserunning, nice hitting, and the massive blast (what a tee shot!) from Sexson. It was like golf, where every now and then you hit a perfect shot and wonder why every shot can't be like that. Here's hoping that the Diamondbacks play great baseball more often than I hit great golf shots.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Weekend Wrap-Up 

1. So do you think Elmer has this Susan Lucci thing going on now where not getting into the 7th inning will become this ever-growing elephant? What did it take Lucci -- 21 times before winning? Would Elmer even be in Phoenix in August if it takes him 21 games before making it to the 7th? Watching the middle innings of Sunday's game was just painful.
2. You get this sense that if the bullpen could ever just settle down we'd be A-OK. The rest of the division is not setting the league on fire -- it's probably the worst division in baseball so far.
3. Whatever heat there was on Brenly mid-week seems to have evaporated as the offense heated up. Brenly could try not pitching Choate for awhile, though. That would help.