Friday, April 01, 2005

Go Ahead, Make A Fool Out of Me 

No sooner do I say that no decision has been made on the 5th starter than I discover that one has:

Brad Halsey it is.

The scary part is that Gosling is going to be a lefty long reliever, a decision which makes no sense to me. Send Gosling back to Tucson and get him some practice so when a starter gets hurt (or fails miserably) he can be called up. It also begs the question... is Villarreal in danger of losing his bullpen spot, or is somebody else? Because somebody's gotta go.

Random Notes: Clearing the Decks 

Just because I'm doing silly previews doesn't mean I don't appreciate good reviews. It just means I don't feel like I can put something together like Jim has, position by position. Or Ryan, with his preview. Let alone something like Rob's work.

Maybe I'd just rather talk about my iPod. Or other peoples' iPods.

Or maybe I'm just too dreamy. In response to a dream I had in which Tony Randall was revealed to be the Baseball Crank, Rob noted the oddness, given Randall's relative left-of-center proclivities and Crank's definite right-of-center ones. Miss Fantastick, via e-mail, suggested that "Having a dead person, be it an actor or your great aunt, can usually mean one is dead with some part of themselves, being as it's an actor I'd say that you've had wanted to be famous or known for at least something, and it didn't quite work out." Perhaps (I just want an audience with this blog). But my almost total unfamiliarity with the Crank's site threw her too.

I don't have time to write silly April Fool's stories, either, though this story from the New York Times was a nice look back at one of the major players in the Sidd Finch saga. (Thanks to El Lefty Malo for the tip.)

The fact, however, that Roses and Rattlers is back after a 350-day absence is no April Fools' joke -- welcome back, Chris, to the D-Backian fold.

Finally, I'm choosing to ignore the Russ Ortiz meltdown last night (getting booed at a Spring Training game is not a good sign -- who says D-Back fans are apathetic) and instead take a look at the #5 starter, a decision as yet unmade. After Michael Gosling's solid performance against the Cubs yesterday afternoon (clearly he should've been pitching at the BOB, as I thought he would be all week), the final lines are this

Pitcher ERA IP H BB K
B Halsey 4.50 22.0 27 8 10 (1.59 WHIP)
M Gosling 3.44 18.1 21 8 10 (1.58 WHIP)

Again, you decide. In either case, I'm comfortable with the choice.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

D-Back 2005 Preview: The Team In Limericks 

At some point in late February I had the crazy idea of writing previews of the 2005 Diamondbacks by combining actual analysis with poetry.

Turns out the crazy part was thinking I'd actually be able to finish these by Opening Day. With just 5 done, it became clear the project was sunk. But I was so taken with finishing the limericks that I plugged on.

And so here it is, the 25 members of the 2005 Arizona Diamondbacks (plus a few cameo appearances) in 18 limericks. Enjoy. (Links to the 5 fuller analyses are in the first lines of Tracy's, Gonzo's, Green's, Ortiz's, and Estes' limericks.)

P.S. -- I will attempt a slightly more rigorous analysis of the team before Opening Day. But don't hold your breath.


At first is left-handed Chad Tracy
Born 1980 in N-C
But we hope that cliches
From his playing days
Won’t be what he learns from our Gracie

Clayton to Counsell to Chad
Defensively might not be that bad
But what should we do
Craig and Royce bat one-two
A prospect which makes me so sad

Troy Glaus will take over at third
Mostly injured last year, so I've heard
Well, if worst comes to worst
He'll move over to first
Though asked about that, he's demurred

Cintron and Kata and Clark
Undergoing demotion, the difference is stark
Last year they were starters
Occasional play is a bit harder
Offensive bite worse than defensive bark


Luis Gonzalez, left field
We think his right arm is now healed
He draws walks quite well
Though his OPS fell
And against a collapse we're now steeled

Playing centerfield, Jose Cruz
Is trying to fill Finley's shoes
But he has one Gold Glove
So his offense I think of
As OK for the 6-spot to choose

Shawn Green was acquired by trade
From the Dodgers for whom he had played
Five pretty good years
But observers have fears
That his skills have greatly decayed

Luis Terrero and "Q"
As outfielder bench guys will do
Terrero is toolsy
And Quinton's not choosy
But we all just want Carlos Q


Chris Snyder and Koyie Hill
Our young D-Back catching twin bill
We jettisoned Stinnett
Melvin's heart wasn't in it
Aside from them, our catching's downhill


Our #1 pitcher's Vazquez
His '04 was half stellar, half mess
Traded for Johnson
We hope that he's awesome
At least that what Steinbrenner says

Ortiz’ signing led the whole nation
To blame the D-backs’ for free-agent inflation
What were they thinking?
His K rates are sinking --
Four years he’ll be in our rotation

Russ Ortiz pitched for Leo Mazzone
He and the Braves made his stats look quite tony
But his lack of ground balls
In Turner's deep walls
Made his win numbers look a bit phony

The D-Backs signed pitcher Shawn Estes
Though we're not really sure if his best is
Obscured by Coors Field
Or if he will yield
Home runs or doubles the fastest

Brandon Webb pitches a sinker
With which last year he did tinker
By his defense marooned
His ERA swooned
We're lucky it made him no drinker

Halsey or Gosling, Gosling or Halsey
Throughout this spring, they've both pitched quite ballsy
They both pitch left-handed
Their career paths expanded
But both have poor limerick-y names


Aquino and Koplove, Greg and Mike
Closer and setup man, both pitch a strike
They're the best that we've got
Though that's not saying a lot
But we don't think their WHIP rates will spike

Villarreal, Lyon, and Choate
Back of the bullpen, we hope
Choate is our LOOGY
Lyon's previously fluky
And Villarreal's just staying afloat

On March 1 many D-Back fans thought
"Papa Grande" would be in the bullpen slot
But Jose Valverde
Pitched, frankly, like merde,
So now Brian Bruney's whom we've got

Always A Bad Sign... 

... When an article on autograph signing leads the news on the D-Backs' website. (Of course, when your Opening Day ace gets roughed up for 9 hits, including 3 HRs, 5 walks, and 9 runs in 5 innings, I'd probably lead with that other story, too. Or a story on kittens. Everybody looooooves stories about kittens. Especially those stuck in trees and rescued by the kindly fire department. Oh, yes, I'm whistling past that graveyard.)

In other "news," Bob Melvin announced that Koyie Hill would start Opening Day at catcher, which was of no surprise considering how Hill had torn up Spring Training and Chris Snyder's still got a sore left thumb.

Oh, and Robbie Hammock's expected to be back with the organization (3rd item down). Considering the dramatic drop-off in catching quality from Hill/Snyder to the Tucson platoon, this isn't a bad signing. Of course, Hammock's still got to make his way onto the 40-man roster, and I don't know how that'll play out.

Finally, a couple sidebar notes. First, Ducksnorts joined the all-baseball brigade a week or so ago, and I'm only now getting around to changing my sidebar link. Geoff's always a good read on the Padres, and plus, he plays in a band, which I find really cool. Second, I've added a link to my blog-in-training, Zooglobble, which is a children's music review blog. It's very much in development, with reviews being added at a glacial pace, but it you have kids (or nieces and nephews), I think you'll find the music recommended there to be of high quality.

More cool stuff to be posted later today... I hope.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


You never get a second chance at a first impression. Unfortunately for Brad Halsey, you never get a second chance at a last impression, either.

With 8 hits in 4 innings against the Giants Tuesday, Halsey certainly did his bid for the #5 spot no favors. It doesn't sound like Melvin was too, too concerned -- "Certainly, that one inning didn't look great, but I don't count that big-time against him… I like how he responded afterward," Melvin said -- but, still. A solid outing by Michael Gosling in front of 35,000 fans Thursday night at BOB, and Gosling may squeak by.

One possible suggestion that has been floated is that of going to a 4-man rotation in April, given some off days early on. This may not be a bad idea, as it would allow Halsey and Gosling to make 3 more starts down in Tucson to permit further comparison. But it doesn't sound like Melvin's going to go that route.

Other notes...

Matt Williams' limited partnership stake in the D-Backs was approved by MLB. This is not really news, but it does say that Williams' $3 M stake will be worth 0.5%, making the team's estimated value $600 million. (Of course, if you want to talk about the deferred nature of the payments -- $300,000 per year for 10 years -- at 6% interest, that makes the team's estimated value $442 million.)

The Hardball Times has its D-Back preview up -- nothing terribly earth-shattering, though it's interesting to see a national perspective on D-Backs management that doesn't repeatedly skewer them. One point on the discussion of "Weren't these guys supposed to be bankrupt?" -- it misses the point that with all the signings the D-Backs made this offseason, their 2005 payroll is still maybe $15 million below 2004.

Finally, as I listened to Bob Kemp's SportsZone on AM 1060 last night (avoiding my traditional favorite, "Gambo and Ash" on AM 910, who were talking about the Loren Wade case, which is way too depressing in way too many ways), Kemp mentioned that two local baseball writers have moved on to other pastures. Mark Gonzales, the national baseball writer for the Republic, is now the Chicago White Sox beat reporter for the Chicago Tribune (which must be akin to a CNN reporter asked to cover Rupert Murdoch). Ed Price of the East Valley Tribune, generally considered the best of the D-Back beat reporters, has moved on to cover the Yankees at the Newark Star-Ledger. (Guess the whole Randy Johnson affair was a long interview of sorts.) Their departure leaves the reporting on the D-Backs and baseball in local papers as pretty thin...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

In and Out 

Snyder in, Stinnett out. Bruney in, Cormier out. McCracken in, Hairston out.

The Stinnett move surprised most observers, though Bob Melvin had taken care not to rule out the possibility of keeping the two youngsters on the roster. It's a bit disappointing, perhaps, in that the drop-off between Hill and Snyder and the remaining catchers in Tucson is pretty big if (or, rather, when) the injury bug hits. Still, it's hard to argue that both Hill and Snyder didn't have good springs; Melvin's bigger challenge will be to get both of them enough work.

The Bruney move wasn't real surprising, and could only be a short-term maneuver anyway once Valverde gets off the disabled list. Given Valverde's struggles this spring, however, Bruney could be up here a while.

Sending Hairston down wasn't a surprise, either -- it'd been telegraphed for weeks, frankly, ever since Q signed his minor-league contract. Hairston certainly didn't go down without a fight and has cemented his spot as the 26th man (or, perhaps, as trade bait). The bigger question (one of only two remaining, really) is who gets released to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for McCracken.

So Halsey pitches today, and must wonder if he has to throw a perfect game to secure his role as 5th in the rotation. But imagine the pressure on Michael Gosling when he pitches in front of 30,000 fans at BOB Thursday night. If he can handle that, then perhaps he really will sneak into the rotation.

Less Than Priceless 

Parking in ASU's massive Lot 49 - Cost: $5

Seat in the lower bowl of Wells Fargo Arena behind UNC's bench - Cost: $20

Watching your alma mater play horribly and get thumped in their shot at the Final Four - Cost: uh....

First, all credit due to Baylor's women's basketball team. They played a great game -- their game -- and definitely earned their trip to Indy for the Women's Final Four.

But it makes it no less painful for a UNC alum such as myself to watch the Tar Heels play miserably. A talented team, the Tar Heels oddly played part of the game as if they were from the Stone Age ("What is this orange thing in my hand? Ah -- it is fire. I must let it glance off my hands to prevent burning!") Their star player, Ivory Latta, couldn't scoot up and down the court nearly as well as she normally could. And Latta, like every Tar Heel, could not only not make the tightly contested shots, she wasn't making shots she would normally make with her eyes closed.

Sitting behind the bench, you could read the frustration on the Tar Heels' faces. Why were things going so badly? Why today of all days? It happens, of course. But it was no fun.

Other random notes from the game:

-- With ASU's loss to the Tar Heels Saturday night, Wells Fargo Arena was mostly empty, with an attendance of less than 4,000. It was an odd atmosphere, with the Bear fans definitely louder (their team made it easier, that's for sure). Kinda like what I would imagine a neutral site bowl game would be. For Division I-AA schools.

-- Ugh. The officiating. Wildly inconsistent on both sides. There would be instances where the Tar Heels mugged Baylor's front line with no calls, then get tagged with the touchiest of touch fouls. Having done some intramural officiating (basketball and otherwise) in college, I certainly understand the difficulties, but that was particularly off to me.

-- In the decade-plus since graduating from college, apparently pep bands have found no new tunes to add to their repertoire. Well, the Bears' pep band played a Dave Mathews Band tune. And I guess I heard one band play "Stacy's Mom" at last year's Men's Regional Finals at AWA. But, still. Live in the now.

-- Most amusing moment in the entire evening for me, who's spent many a year in Texas. Realizing that Baylor had brought a dance squad in addition to their cheer squad. This, from a school famous for not looking favorably on dancing. Of course, their dance squad was much more demurely dressed than the Laker Girls and their female cheerleaders showed no midriff (as opposed to the Tar Heel cheerleaders), but I was amused nonetheless.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Cultural Diversion: iPod Shuffle 

Last weekend, Aaron Gleeman issued a challenge to fellow bloggers -- post the first 40 randomly-generated songs on their mp3/iPod players. Gleeman's list was an odd mix -- half of it seemed like it was material to be played as a baseball player walked to the plate and the other half of it seemed like it would have been played at a junior high dance about 30 years ago. But I'm a firm believer in the idea that nobody's taste in music is bad, so I'm not going to say that about Aaron's list, either. (I'm not an incredible fan of most of those songs, but I wouldn't mind listening to them on an occasional basis, either.)

Since I've only recently picked up an iPod shuffle, I thought I'd play along. Here's my list.

1) Born To Run -- Bruce Springsteen
2) Nobody Knows Me -- Lyle Lovett
3) Angel Of Harlem -- U2
4) The Modern Age -- The Strokes
5) Oli Komo-Chant -- Gabby Pahinui
6) You Call It Madness -- Diana Krall
l7) The Laws Have Changed -- The New Pornographers
8) War Of Man -- Neil Young
9) All Because Of You -- U2
10) Wait It Out -- Tift Merritt
11) Breed -- Nirvana
12) Company In My Back -- Wilco
13) About Me -- They Might Be Giants
14) Oddfellows Local 151 -- R.E.M.
15) Easy (As Falling Apart) -- Kelly Willis
16) Disturbance At The Heron House -- R.E.M.
17) Silver And Gold -- U2
18) Zoo Station -- U2
19) Hell Is Chrome -- Wilco
20) Penguins -- Lyle Lovett
21) 7 chineSe bros. -- R.E.M.
22) Sidewalk -- Built To Spill
23) They Got Lost -- They Might Be Giants
24) Give It Up Or Let Me Go -- Dixie Chicks
25) In Spite Of Me -- Morphine
26) Another Souvenir -- The Connells
27) camerA -- R.E.M.28) Walk On -- U2
29) Swamp -- Talking Heads
30) Something In The Way She Moves -- James Taylor
31) I've Got The Blues -- Lyle Lovett
32) Hold Me My Daddy -- XTC
33) Bad Sneakers -- Steely Dan
34) If I Fall You're Going Down With Me -- Dixie Chicks
35) Carefree -- The Refreshments
36) Fear Of Falling -- Golden Smog
37) Exit -- U2
38) One Simple Word -- The Connells
39) I Palindrome I -- They Might Be Giants
40) Waiting For The Sun -- The Jayhawks

This is a not too unrepresentative list of my overall collection. U2 is over-sampled because a friend gave me waaaaay too many albums in preparation for their upcoming concert in April, but otherwise I understand that randomness plays a role in these selections. I like to think that my taste is somewhat broader than what's displayed here, and has changed over time (I rarely listen to R.E.M. and the 10 or so albums of theirs that I own).

Looking at shuffle playlists is like looking at spring training stats. Representative of something, perhaps, but probably not what you think.

Anybody else want to post their lists?

Groundhog Day 

It's Monday again and have we…

-- settled on our fifth starter? Nope.
-- settled on our two catchers? Nope.
-- settled on our fifth bench spot? Nope.

I feel like I've been writing about these things for, oh, a month now, and still nothing has been resolved.

Still, with Jose Valverde probably heading for the disabled list and Chris Snyder's thumb undergoing intense scrutiny, perhaps we can begin to make some educated guesses:


Pitcher ERA IP H BB SO
M Gosling 3.44 18.1 21 8 10
B Halsey 2.50 18.0 19 7 9

Go ahead. Pick. I can't.

Assuming the rest of the bullpen is Aquino, Koplove, Choate, Lyon, and Villarreal (those last two seem to be accepted at this point), who gets the nod while Jose Valverde recovers from an injury that has Bad News written all over it?

Pitcher ERA IP H BB SO
L Cormier 5.73 11.0 15 2 7
B Bruney 3.38 8.0 9 5 11

They're both righties, and it seems Bruney's had the better of the spring trainings. Cormier's about 18 months older, so maybe there are some options issues with him, but barring that, Bruney seems like the better fit for the club in Valverde's absence (and, possibly, even in his presence.)

Hopefully by tomorrow we'll have our catcher situation resolved, though one of the interesting questions should Stinnett stick around is who gets dropped off the 40-man.

Couple other items:

BP does its Triple Play look at the D-Backs, this time focusing on Brandon Webb. The point about the D-Backs' defense being important to Webb's success is not news, but BP isn't too optimistic about the infield defense (or, at least, no more optimistic than 2004). They also think Webb's career so far points to a good, but brief career.

All-Baseball has its NL West preview up -- Jim does the honors for the D-Backs. His projected win total -- 75 -- is the same as what I've been tentatively saying, though I'm still working on putting actual numerical and entrail defenses behind that number.