Monday, May 02, 2005

Three Weeks: Early Playoff Edition 

I'm not fool (or bold) enough to say this is indicative of anything, but if the playoffs started today, the D-Backs would have to face the Braves in a tiebreaker for the right to play the Cardinals. I don't know what's worse: the fact that somebody's writing that or the fact that I'm linking to it.

The Week That Was

Record: 4-2 (overall: 15-10, 1.5 GB Dodgers)
Runs Scored/Runs Allowed: 4.00 - 2.25 (high/low removed)
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Almost any way you want to look at it, last week was a good week for the Diamondbacks. Sweeping the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium for the first time in the D-Backs' history. A winning road trip. Against division opponents. The Diamondbacks briefly led the National League West, for goodness sake! Shouldn't that have been accompanied by a plague of locusts or some other apocalyptic sign? Leading the NL-freakin'-West!

We have the pitchers to thank.

Thank you, pitchers! We salute you! Not with one of those middle-finger salutes or with sarcasm in our voices and certainly not in any way commensurate with with how we thank "community helpers" (that's a preschool term, folks) such as firefighters or policemen or doctors, but in a measured all-things-in-their-place way. Thanks, guys!

In particular, thank you, Mr. Javier Vazquez, who pitched a total of 17 innings, giving up 11 hits, 2 walks, and throwing 17 strikeouts on his way to two of those four wins.

Bullpen? Hey, yeah, you guys done good, too.

Defense? 89 1/3 innings without an error, a club record. The D-Backs' defense probably isn't that good, but at least they're average, and that's a far sight better than 2004.

Offense? Er… well, Petco Park isn't really hitter-friendly and even the modified environs of Dodger Stadium probably is still a hitter's park. Even so, hello? Anybody there? You can come out of hiding now… we're coming back to BOB… (Home OPS: .894, trailing only the Rockies in the NL; Away OPS: .600, worst in the NL).

The Weeks That Will Be

10 at home (3 vs. San Francisco, 4 vs. Pirates, 3 vs. Nationals)
4 at Colorado

It seems like I've been writing this every week now, but it is crucial that the D-Backs take care of business right now. The Giants are without Bonds, without Benitez and, dang it all, are still only 1.5 games behind the Diamondbacks in the standings. Their hitting's been great (3rd in NL OPS), but their pitching overall has been worse than the D-Backs (12th NL in ERA, 13th in K/BB). They've got Jason Schmidt going tonight, but it's still important that the Diamondbacks win this series.

You know, the difference between this year and last year is that I can say the D-Backs have a shot at winning this series -- whatever series it is -- with a straight face. I'm not saying they will, but they sure as heck can.

Whereas it must take effort to have hope if you're a Pirates fan. At least last year D-Backs fans like myself had a recent history of strong performances to allow us to maintain our delusional (yes, I can see now it was delusional) hope into, say, June. No, the Pirates are bad on both sides of the ball. Last in the NL in OBP, AVG, and OPS. 13th in the NL in ERA and last in their groundball/flyball ratio (0.90). Even their defense, which appears to at least be average by most metrics, leads the NL in passed balls.

So I guess what I'm saying is, if the D-Backs don't take at least 3 of these 4 games against the Pirates and have a winning record for the week, I'll be disappointed.

That and make sure to start Troy Glaus in your fantasy leagues. Oh, wait, that'd be me. Done.

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