Friday, August 05, 2005

What A Difference A Year Makes 

Starting Lineup, Aug. 4, 2004 vs. Florida Marlins
McCracken, LF
Alomar, 2B
Bautista, RF
Hillenbrand, 1B
Tracy, 3B
Terrero, CF
Cintron, SS
Brito, C
Johnson, P

Starting Lineup, Aug. 4, 2005 vs. Houston Astros
Counsell, 2B
Clayton, SS
Gonzalez, LF
Clark, 1B
Glaus, 3B
Green, RF
Terrero, CF
Hill, C
Halsey, P

The end result in both games was the same -- an atypically easy victory for the Diamondbacks -- 11-6 against the Marlins and 7-3 last night against the Astros.

But look at the lineups. With the exception of Terrero in centerfield, not a single player is the same. They're all better. OK, Brad Halsey, as nice a surprise as he's been this year, is not as good as Randy Johnson was last year. But the position players? I'll take the 2005 lineup every time.

(Yes, that goes for shortstop. Cintron's VORP was 5.9 for the whole year, while Clayton's already at 6.3. Cintron was 8 Win Shares below baseline for the season as a whole; Clayton's right at baseline. I understand the argument for giving Cintron more playing time this year -- he's certainly playing better than last year -- but Clayton v.2005 is clearly contributing more to the team than Cintron v.2004.)

Even Terrero v.2005 is arguably better than Terrero v.2004 (2004 season: -3 WSAB, 2.5 VORP; 2005 YTD: 0 WSAB, 0.0 VORP).

This year's squad gives fans a reason to go to the ballpark. This year the bullpen regularly has a chance to blow a lead, as opposed to the rare opportunities afforded to it last year. This year the team's getting enough runners to make grounding into double plays a problem.

They still probably won't make the playoffs, but this year feels so much better than last year.


In the end, the safe choice was the actual choice: Bob Gebhard as interim GM. I don't have much of an opinion on the hiring -- there don't seem to be any big red flags in Gebhard's career, and I think the influence of the General Manager is overrated anyway. My one concern is that Gebhard views the next two months as an audition. While that's obviously a good thing, the potential problem is if the standards by which he's judged revolves around deal-making. I trust that Diamondbacks management is smart enough to not use such a blunt performance standard -- especially after the trade deadline has passed -- but we're fans. We're used to worrying over nothing.


I would normally wait until I had a collection of random posts to note this, but my friend/fellow UNC alumnus/accountant-turned-actor-writer Jack has started a sports humor blog. Jack and I (and many others) played hours of "office horse" with a Nerf hoop. We developed many arcane rules and rituals associated with a "sport" that allowed a fair amount of personal expression ("under the right leg while hopping and singing your favorite Led Zeppelin song in Ethel Merman's voice"). Blogs are the 21st-century equivalent of office horse with a Nerf hoop.

Jack's the funniest guy I know and has more sports trivia crammed into his head than is probably healthy, so I'm expecting lots from his blog. Early returns are good (I particularly enjoyed the line about "A Streetcar Named Desire"). Do check it out.


A weekend series against the Rockies. The Diamondbacks should win -- should sweep -- but they've been here before and failed miserably. (The Pirates, anyone?) Still, I have hope.

Enjoy the weekend, folks, and Go Diamondbacks!

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