Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Three Weeks: We Love Luck Edition 

Without any further ado (not that there was much ado to begin with)...

The Week That Was
Record: 5-2 (overall: 23-16, 1st place in the NL West, baby! 0.5 game ahead of the Padres before their win Monday night)
Runs Scored/Runs Allowed: 4.0 - 3.6 (high/low removed, thankfully, once more)
Transactions: Jose Cruz, Jr. off the DL, Matt Kata to Tucson (5/9); Kelly Stinnett signed to minor-league contract (5/10); Randy Choate cleared waivers, assigned to Tuscon (5/11).

More wailing and gnashing, Pythagorean-style. That 18-3 loss to the Rockies Friday night sticks out like a sore thumb, if not a thumb that has been repeatedly and without malice smashed with a boomstick to within an inch of its thumb-y life.

It would be nice if the Diamondbacks would respond with a couple thrashings of their own -- that would even out the Pythagorean record, if not the Pythagenport record. It would certainly be better than the alternative of having the Diamondbacks lose a whole bunch of close games to get their actual record in line.

The Diamondbacks are hitting so-so, pitching decently overall, and are in the odd position of being best in the NL in fielding percentage and next-to-worst in defensive efficiency. The pitching staff's WHIP of 1.46 is a little worrisome, but the other stats are generally average, which I will take in the hitter-friendly fields of the BOB. Of course, those hitter-friendly fields make the average stats of the offense look more anemic. Since I don't want to be too pessimistic, I'll note that the D-Backs have drawn 159 walks thus far, 2nd in the NL. The 4.1 walks per game is a 50% increase from 2004, when the D-Backs drew 2.7 walks per game and ranked 2nd-to-last in the NL.

Cruz's return to the lineup gave the offense a little pop (and removed the negative pop of McCracken). Stinnett's signing is the writing on the wall that one of the young catchers (Hill, presumably) will be heading down to Tucson soon to get some regular catching time.

The Weeks That Will Be

6 on the road (3 at Houston, 3 at Detroit)
6 at home (3 vs. San Diego, 3 vs. the Dodgers)

It's been quite some time since the Diamondbacks have had any reason to look ahead in the schedule. Well, maybe last year some of the team had October 3rd circled on their calendar as their last day in the mess that was the 2004 season, but you know what I mean.

But overlooking the Astros and the Tigers because of the potential playoff-like atmosphere of series against the Padres and Dodgers would be a mistake, of course. Not just from a hubris-wrath-of-the-gods-type perspective, but because the Astros and Tigers are good teams.

Well, that might be overstating it a bit. The Astros are the 2004 Diamondbacks, but with more pitching to accompany their Cy Young winner. Their offense has been awful thus far -- worst OPS, AVG, and second-worst RS/G in the NL. This in a hitters' park. Their pitching, luckily for Astros' fans, has been stellar, decent in ERA, and 2nd in the NL for WHIP. Again, this in a hitters' park. What's worse for the Diamondbacks, they're facing Oswalt, Pettite, and Clemens. Even with Vazquez going against Oswalt tonight, the D-Backs could easily get swept this series.

As for Detroit, they've got a good pitching staff (4th in like just about every AL pitching category -- ERA, WHIP, Runs Against) and a decent offense (5th in OPS and AVG, though they don't score runs quite as well). Makes you wonder why they're just 17-19. (Indeed, their Pythagenport record -- again with the Pythagencrap! -- puts them at 5.4 games above .500.)

So, a road trip against two teams who are probably better than their record suggests. I would be very happy with a 3-3 split and a bunch of rested pitchers heading into the key games next week.

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