Friday, July 15, 2005


Going to the gym in the heat and -- gasp! -- humidity of a pre-6 AM Phoenix July morning, grasshoppers scrambled to get out of my way as I walked in from the parking lot. You wouldn't even see them in front of you until they just flew away. They're in our house, too, though I think that's because we had part of our roof replaced recently and they probably snuck in that way.

In any case, they're slightly annoying, though harmless.

Unless they come in huge bunches.

Then it's some sort of plague thing and you probably should start reading religious texts of your personal preference.

So what does this have to do with Thursday night's 6-0 Diamondbacks domination of the San Diego Padres?

Well, perhaps this is nitpicking (OK, it is nitpicking), but I'd still like to see more run-clumping. The Diamondbacks were like grasshoppers on the basepaths last night -- every time you turned around, it seems like there were another couple D-Backs out there. 11 hits, 7 walks, 3 HBP. Sure there wasn't a passed ball on a third strike or something in there, too? All of a sudden, 6 runs doesn't sound quite so impressive. Green grounding out weakly to the right side in the, uh, fifth inning. Gonzo grounding out weakly to the right side in the, uh, seventh inning.

I'm really glad we won 6-0. But we could've easily won 10-0.

And until the Diamondbacks start clumping those runs, the team won't be much scarier to the rest of baseball than those grasshoppers in the parking lot.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Three Weeks: Can't Lose For Winning Edition 

It's, uh, been a while since I've done one of these. Life happens, no? But with the freedom granted by the All-Star Break, I feel like I can move forward with this last 44.4444444% of the season (excluding the playoffs - 'cuz we're gonna make the playoffs, RIGHT?) with new bloggy energy.

Or is that groggy energy?

Or froggy energy? ("Hi ho, dere, Kermit THE Frog here to talk to you about O! B! P!")

Or smoggy energy? (Hello, monsoon, time for you roll on in.)

Maybe it's not bloggy energy, maybe it's DELUSIONAL ENERGY.

The Week That Was
Heading all the way back to last week...
Record: 2-5 (2nd place in NL West, 5 1/2 games behind San Diego)
Runs Scored - Runs Against: 2.0 - 4.0
Transactions: DFA'ed LHP Javier Lopez, bought LHP Armando Almanza from Tucson (7/5); placed LHP Shawn Estes on 15-day DL retro to 7/6, recalled RHP Brandon Medders from Tucson (7/7).

Yeah, so that offense imploded, didn't it? Luis Gonzalez celebrated being named to the All-Star Team on the afternoon of July 3rd by going 3-for-30, with just a walk and HBP to add to those totals. Admittedly the Cardinals' pitching staff is pretty good, but the Diamondbacks shouldn't have looked so bad, especially against the anemic pitching of the Reds. The good news, of course, is that the pitching looked decent, with the whoulda-thunk-it combo of Claudio Vargas and Michael Gosling filling in nicely for Ortiz and Estes.

The Weeks That Will Be
4 on the road at San Diego
6 at home (3 versus Florida, 3 versus Atlanta)

Well, this is it, right? After these ten games the Diamondbacks will either be right at .500 within spitting distance of the Padres (not that I'm advocating that sort of thing, I'm a pretty peaceful fellow), or 8 games behind and 8 games below.

So here it is, do you hope for the Diamondbacks to do poorly this series because you don't want the Diamondbacks to trade away the talent they have for an unlikely run at a playoff spot? Sort of a sad question, frankly.

Look, if Conor Jackson gets traded for a bag of beans while the Diamondbacks are 8 games out, yeah, then I'll be ticked off. But the question isn't, "should Conor Jackson be traded," it's, "should Conor Jackson be traded for X person." I'm sure most people would be happy with an Albert Pujols-for-Conor Jackson trade (well, maybe not Cardinals fans). And even if a trade happens with the Diamondbacks out of likely playoff contention, any trade could potentially be made with an eye toward 2006. Santos for a CF? Depending on how good the CF is, I could live with it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Brief Look Back 

Well, there goes the Diamondbacks' home-field advantage in the 2005 World Series.

What? They're not going to be there anyway? Oh, phooey!

In lieu of anything substantial to say, here's a review of the team's first 55.5555555555% of the season.

First Base: Tony Clark and Chad Tracy have combined for a VORP of 38.6, 3rd in baseball for first-basemen (7th overall in NL) behind Derrek Lee and Albert Pujols. I would have to say they've exceeded expectations, no? I suspect that we've found the Tony Clark sweet spot -- too much, and he might break down. 19 Win Shares, or 11 above baseline.

Second Base: Craig Counsell (and Matt Kata) have combined for a VORP of 16.8 and 15 Win Shares (Counsell leads the team in WS), 7 above baseline. Counsell's cooled down a bit from his hot start, but he's still been effective in the leadoff spot and plays good defense.

Shortstop: Royce Clayton and Alex Cintron have combined for a stunning VORP of 4.2, with Royce's offensive contributions below zero. The 7 Win Shares, 2 below baseline, confirms that neither is stellar with the glove, either. I think defensively Clayton's presence has helped Webb (even if he just thinks it helps him), but I'm all for Cintron getting increased time in the second half to advertise him in trade or to season him for one more half-season before Santos and/or Drew join in mid-2006.

Third Base: A VORP of 22.7 (highest on the team) and 12 Win Shares, 5 above baseline, for Mr. Glaus. Good numbers, about what we expected, though not what we hoped. He's been relatively healthy thus far, but we'll see how he responds to the accumulation of aches and pains throughout the second half. There are lots of opportunities to mix up the infield occasionally to get Cintron and Clark more at-bats.

Left Field: Gonzo has a VORP of 20.2 and 13 Win Shares, 6 above baseline. He seems perfectly recovered from his 2004 surgery. Which makes him an adequate defensive player, barely. Gonzo responded to being named the D-Backs' sole All-Star by having an 8-game offensive tailspin, but should be back.

Right Field: Shawn Green has a VORP of 18.5 and 11 Win Shares, 4 above baseline. OK numbers, better than we feared, but not better than we (or Diamondbacks management) hoped. If Green displays his traditional strong second half, we'll be pleased; if he shows signs of continued aging, calls for Quentin and Jackson to be called up will become louder.

Center Field: Centerfielders, centerfielders everywhere, and not a single one meriting much confidence. Cruz, Terrero, McCracken, and Hairston (yes, he's more of a LF, but this is the catch-all category) have been middling at best. A combined VORP of -2.7 and 5 Win Shares, 4 below baseline make this the "lost position." The sad part is that Cruz started out well (and is the only CF with positive numbers here), but injuries have obviously taken their toll. Time to give Terrero more starts -- with three older starting OFs, he's a great candidate to get at least a couple starts a week in various positions. (Even if it's just to display him for trading purposes.)

Catcher: Snyder, Hill, and Stinnett have combined for a VORP of 3.4 and 4 Win Shares, 2 below baseline. Somehow I don't feel as bad about this, basically because Snyder's already a decent defensive catcher and will develop offensively. Definitely not a strength, but nowhere near as worrying as CF and SS.

Rotation: The six pitchers in the rotation -- Webb, Vazquez, Estes, Halsey, Vargas, and Ortiz -- have combined for a pitching VORP of 46.2 and 33 Win Shares, 16 above baseline. The lion's share of that comes from shoulda-been All-Star Brandon Webb and Javier Vazquez. Vazquez isn't pitching as well as he was in May, but it's OK. Estes has been a pleasant surprise; Halsey and Vargas haven't disappointed our low expectations, and Ortiz... well, let's not go there. But, overall, this is a better rotation than last year.

Bullpen: Oh boy. Lance Cormier has a pitching VORP of 15.7 and 7 Win Shares, 6 above baseline. The rest of the bullpen has a pitching VORP of -24.8 and 10 Win Shares, 7 below baseline. Clearly, some of the worst offenders of the bullpen are no longer there, as the D-Backs continue their low-risk, low-reward strategy of plucking castoffs from the waiver wire. But as long as the rotation is tiniest bit shaky and the offense sputters, we'll be forced to endure a bullpen of little consistency.

There you have it. Nothing you didn't know already, but consolidated in a tiny format. Print and enjoy.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Swept at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds? Thankfully, that didn't happen.

Tony Clark, who ranks second in the team's VORP, even though he's had just half the at-bats of everybody else, hit his 13th homerun of the year off of Eric Milton, who had looked absolutely lights out for 6 2/3 innings. Michael Gosling (MLB ERA as a starter: 3.54; MLB ERA as a reliever: 7.36) pitched 5 2/3 innings of scoreless ball.

2005 National League Rookie of the Year Lance Cormier got the win. Yes, I'm going to beat that horse into the ground, but seriously, look at the VORP -- the only two NL people ahead of him (Clint Barmes and Ryan Church) are injured.

Oh, and today's free article on BP's Predictratron? That was my idea, thankyouverymuch.

On to the All-Star Break.