Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Three Weeks: Non-Autopilot Edition 

Last week I thanked the Diamondbacks for not doing much in the prior week or so while I was mostly out-of-pocket.

The Diamondbacks must have taken that as a challenge, because I dare say this was the most exciting week of the 2005 season, with implications for the next two weeks, two months, and beyond.

So let's begin.

The Week That Was

Record: 4-3 (tied for first with the Padres for 1st place in the National League West. Don't laugh. 1st place is 1st place. No snickering.)
Runs Scored / Runs Against: 3.4 - 3.2 (high/low scores dropped)
Transactions: IF/OF Conor Jackson called up from Tucson; OF Jose Cruz Jr. DFAed (7/27). Cruz traded to Boston for RHP Kyle Bono and IF Kenny Perez (7/31); received LHP Buddy Groom from the New York Yankees for PTBNL (7/31).

The change in attitude surrounding the team from the beginning of the week is amazing, thanks almost entirely to the Padres continued flailing. I expect it to end eventually, but the D-Backs haven't exhibited anything remotely resembling this skid this year. So it's not that the Diamondbacks are poised to win the division, but they did just thump the Cubs badly in Chicago. Forgive me if I'm expressing something I've not had much chance to do since starting this blog early last year.


We got something for Cruz. DFAing Cruz was sufficient for it to be a good move, generating opportunities for the young hotshots. The fact that we got two young players -- even if they turn out to be nothing more than organization filler -- is icing on that particular cake.

Groom is YARRPPOW! -- Yet Another Random Relief Pitcher Plucked Off Waiver. Well, technically speaking, the Diamondbacks had to trade somebody for him, but PTBNL are generally organization filler, not somebody we'll be watching on highlight reels in years to come. The D-Backs' record in plucking pitchers off the waiver wire this year has been mixed -- thumbs up to Vargas; thumbs down to, er, Kerry Ligtenberg -- but at least the D-Backs have not felt the need to trade for what are essentially interchangeable parts. The only potential downside is whomever the D-Backs will have to release/send down to Tucson to clear room for Broom on the roster. As of this writing, the Diamondbacks hadn't made that decision public.

The fact that so many teams were potential buyers this year made it much easier for the Diamondbacks to sit tight knowing that the price for anybody with the dubious possibility of aiding a dubious playoff run would be far too high. Not that there was any indication that Jackson and Quentin would be traded, but the sheer number of bidders drove their comparative value way below what they're worth.

As for the team on the field, the starting pitching continues to be an unexpected strength. The offense continues to struggle (Sunday's outburst notwithstanding). The bullpen continues to make betting on this team's games a losing proposition, maddeningly inconsistent.

The Weeks That Will Be

6 games at home (3 each against Houston and Colorado)
6 games on the road (3 each against Florida and Atlanta)

Clearly, this is the time for San Diego to once again make ground on the Diamondbacks as the D-Backs play 3 pretty good teams and 1 collection of random AAAA players + Todd Helton. And if the Diamondbacks go 5-7, the Padres could easily go 7-5 and pick up a couple games. But the D-Backs and the Padres play a very similar schedule in August, with only the fact that we play the Mets and Phillies at home while the Padres play them on the road, and they play the Pirates and Nationals instead of the D-Backs' playing the Cardinals and Reds separating the two. It is very possible that the Diamondbacks could stroll into Petco Park on August 29 in the same place they are now -- tied for first.

6 games below .500, but tied for first.

Let's see... rumors that Tony Clark is negotiating to sign an extension. I'd prefer that they not. Not that Clark doesn't deserve some extra money for this season. He leads the team in VORP. Not in VORP/PA -- flat VORP. He's fifth on the team in Win Shares. I'd gladly give him an extra $1 million. I'd just rather give it to him this year rather than next year when his luck will likely run out and he'll be taking up a roster spot best given to Quentin or Drew (see below). I can understand the need for having a veteran available to come off the bench, but as we saw with Carlos Baerga, these "out-of-nowhere" seasons usually go back to where they came from.

As for real news, Stephen Drew is now playing in AA Tennessee. Clearly Jerry Gil, if he wasn't already thinking of a career change (go for pitcher), should be, and if Sergio Santos is thinking of buying a home in Arizona, it should be purely for investment reasons. Drew will be at the major league camp next spring and I would guess has a 50/50 shot at making the major league squad. That is, assuming, he performs as well as he has thus far.

As for Joe Jr., well, give me a little while to think about that one. But in brief, while he clearly wasn't the best GM ever, I don't think he merits the utter contempt most internet denizens give him...

The good news is, Helton's on the DL, so looks like Arizona won't have to face even him when they play the Rockie. I am acutely aware of this, since Helton was my 1st-round fantasy baseball draft pick, and was already having his worst season since his 1997 debut. :-(
The worst part of the NL West? Helton's on the DL, Barmes is on the DL, they're the worst team in the majors... and they're still just 12.5 games out.
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