Friday, September 23, 2005

"C" Is For Clutch 

If Javier Vazquez wins the award for Most Frustrating Diamondback in 2005, Alex Cintron definitely placed 2nd in the balloting. Playing behind the least-preferred starting D-Back position player, Royce Clayton, Cintron responded to this challenge and opportunity by... doing not much.

VORP? Clayton: 10.2; Cintron: 8.7 (though on a per-PA basis, Cintron is higher)
Win Shares? Clayton: 10, Cintron: 5
Win Shares Above Baseline? Clayton: 0, Cintron: -1

I'm not this huge Royce Clayton fan, but there's very little reason for Diamondbacks management not to seriously consider an extension for Clayton, given the weak free-agent class and the relative inflexibility the Diamondbacks will have financially (because, look, Gonzo, Ortiz, and Vazquez aren't going anywhere). If you are a risk-averse management, why wouldn't you invest the extra million per year for Clayton, who probably will be much more willing to shepherd Stephen Drew into the starting slot for 2007?

This meditation is prompted by Alex Cintron's 12th-inning 3-run moon shot Thursday night to give the Diamondbacks a 7-4 win over the Dodgers. If Cintron had done that more often this year, we might not be looking at Clayton next year.

Now, if you're looking for the epitome of clutch this year, look no further than yet another "C" player (up to this year, in more ways than one), Tony Clark (who, er, hit his 30th homerun last night). In an intriguing BP article yesterday (subscription required), James Click estimates that, based on Win Expectancy (a context-sensitive metric evaluating performance), Tony Clark has added 5 wins to the D-Backs, 4th best in the entire league. And, even more relevant to the concept of clutch, the difference between his overall performance (as measured by VORP) and his Win Expectancy is 3rd-best in the league.

What makes this all slightly bittersweet is the knowledge that "clutch-ness" doesn't continue from year to year. Which means that in 2006, we'll probably be seeing a lot more outs from Clark, and fewer clutch homeruns.

Oh, and did I mention the DIAMONDBACKS SWEPT THE DODGERS?!


So here are my team goals for the last 9 games of the season, ranked in probability order, greatest to least:

1. The renaming of Bank One Ballpark doesn't lead to something incredibly stupid.
2. No champagne in the visitor's lockerroom -- all it will take is one win by the Giants or the Diamondbacks this weekend, and the Padres won't clinch the NL West here in Arizona.
3. The Diamondbacks reach 75 wins -- 'cause it's what I predicted at the start of the season.
4. The Diamondbacks don't get eliminated by the Padres this weekend -- would require a Diamondbacks series win. Definitely possible.
5. - 9. Assorted random individual goals -- Chad Tracy hits .300, gets his 25th homerun; Counsell hits his 10th HR, Glaus gets 40 HRs and 100 RBIs.
10. The Diamondbacks go to the playoffs. (Yeah, it ain't gonna happen, but still, if you said the Diamondbacks would -- even technically -- be in the playoff hunt with less than 10 games to go at the beginning of the season, you'd've taken it.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

In Which I Take Unwarranted Cheap Shots 

Why not?

I mean, San Diego lost 20-1 to the Rockies Tuesday night. Sure, the Diamondbacks have lost 3 games by 10 runs. And 1 by 12. Oh, and 1 by 13. Oh, and yeah, who could forget the 3 games lost by 14 runs. And -- my personal favorite -- 1 loss by 15 runs.

But, hey, at least not 19 runs.

And for all the naysayers regarding Diamondbacks attendance this year, the Diamondbacks managed to draw nearly 24,000 fans to a game between two-sub .500 teams who can barely sniff the playoffs. The White Sox -- located in a much larger metropolitan area and featuring a game between the probably-playoff-bound White Sox and the hottest team in the league -- could draw just 26,000. Glad to see Chicago's got your back, Sox.

OK, now that I have that out of my system...

It's not like it was an overwhelmingly D-Backian crowd at last night's 4-1 victory over the Dodgers. Every time the camera panned to the crowd for, say, a foul ball, the Dodger fans were plentiful and colorful.

Shame they had to go home disappointed, thanks to Javier Vazquez, who definitely wins the award for Most Frustrating Diamondback. Because for every outing like Tuesday night's, where he appears to be worth most of his eight-figure salary, he has another outing in which the league minimum would appear to be a reasonable salary. It makes the Diamondbacks' offseason more difficult (although "more difficult" also means "more interesting," from a blogger's perspective).

Not that the Diamondbacks appear to be looking yet at the offseason, as Alex Cintron was the only non-typical-starter to start last night's game. I gotta tell, while 100 AB isn't the best base for player evaluation, it's a lot better than 20 AB. Free Andy Green!