Today sees me attending my third baseball game of the year, which is kinda embarrassing for a blogger. I mean, two of them didn't actually involve the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team I allegedly support. I saw a spring training game between the A's and the Brewers (at the behest of a visiting Oakland-fan relative), and a "proper" game where Arizona faced Minnesota. Now, today - weather permitting, as it's currently chucking it down - I'll see the Peoria Desert Dogs take on...er, actually, I don't know. Let me check. Ah, the Grand Canyon River Rafters. Woo-hoo!
The match-up does at least promise some proto-D'backs, like Stephen Drew, though I believe I've missed Miguel Montero, whom rumour has heading back to Venezuela. But at the princely price of $6 for a ticket, it's still worth the trek down to Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Even if Drew is benched. And we end up catching pneumonia in the damp darkness of a fall night. Er...I think we'll see how the weather goes: the unwatched DVD pile is always an alternative.
And we have another credible candidate for the most idiotic comment of 2005 - an impressive feat, given the previous pronouncements we've had from Bob Melvin, Russ Ortiz, etc. This one comes from Dan Bickley in the Banana yesterday. Regarding Paul Konerko, he said - apparently with a straight face - "Because Konerko already lives in Scottsdale, we should all petition the Diamondbacks to get this guy in purple." What a stupid reason for an allegedly professional journalist even to suggest.
Konerko plays first-base, at which position we already have a huge log-jam - the very last thing we need is to add an overpaid slugger there. And that's what we'd be getting. Even Bickley says, in the same paragraph, "Konerko is this year's version of Carlos Beltran." As any Mets fan will tell you, that means Konerko is wildly overperforming; will parlay this into a massive contract (Beltran = $119m, 7 years); and then fail miserably to produce (Beltran = .266 BA, 16 HR). Bickley should go post on the MLB message-board, where that kind of mindless drivel belongs.
The D'backs do have a new pitching coach, and at least this time, we've gone for experience. As expected, it's Bryan Price, who has been the Mariners pitching coach for the past six years - two of those under Bob Melvin. Said Price of the bullpen, "What we have to figure out with the young guys is what was missing. Was it a command issue? Was it related to emotional distress? Or were there some things physically that they weren't doing that didn't allow them to be successful."
Emotional distress? That's an unusual phrase, more commonly heard in regard to the traumatised survivors of disas...oh, hang on, we're talking about our bullpen here, aren't we. Though I think any "emotional distress" was equally likely to be suffered by us fans, watching another bullpen blowout. If Price can cut back on those in 2006, I think his job security will be assured.
Actually, the bullpen did post a 22-20 record last year, which is much better than I'd have expected. But this does include, in the W column, nightmares like the 12-11 victory over Kansas, which only came after we surrendered an eight-run lead. And our save percentage, at 73% (17 blown in 62 chances), was good enough for fifth in the league. But the rest of the numbers tell a somewhat different story...
- ERA: 5.42 (16th)
- WHIP: 1.58 (16th)
- BAA: .281 (15th)
- OPS: .824 (16th)
Couple of interesting articles over at Minor League Ball. Firstly, there's the AZ edition of You're the GM!, which poses the question: "Lots of young talent here, but how do you get all these guys in the lineup? Do you put someone on the block to bring in some additional pitching? How rapidly can you be ready to compete in the weak NL Western Division?" A lot of interesting answers then follow; amusingly, the one I nodded my head most while reading, I then discovered came from our own William K... Hmmm, I may have to come up with my plans in this area.
Also, John Sickels stages a Shortstop Smackdown, pitting the two Fall League phenoms, Stephen Drew and Brandon Wood, against each other in a range of categories. Sickels comes out slightly in favour of Wood, and a poll gives Wood a 2-1 edge as to who'll have the better career. We'll see how this ones works out as they progress.
A few hours having passed since I started this, and the weather seems to be fractionally clearing up, so we're going to take the risk and head to the game - albeit being sure to bring something dry to sit on...