You can tell its a slow week for D'backs news. John Gambadaro, on azcentral.com, writes a piece headlined, "No truth to Manny Ramirez-Troy Glaus trade talks - yet". However, if you can find any actual facts of significance in the following paragraph, you're a more perceptive reader than I am:
"The Arizona Diamondbacks, contrary to published reports, have not engaged in any discussions with the Los Angeles Angels or the Boston Red Sox regarding any trade, let alone one involving Manny Ramirez and Troy Glaus. Now that's not to say that talks between the clubs won't happen next week when the general managers meetings begin, but as of this weekend the D-Backs have had zero contact with those clubs. New D-Backs GM Josh Byrnes plans on speaking to many clubs starting next week to gauge what interest there may be for players on the Arizona roster. It would be interesting to see - and worth a shot - for Arizona to discuss reliever Scott Shields' availability with the Angels."
A vague shudder runs through my veins, at this suggestion, by a supposed professional, of trading for a reliever - even if Gambo can't spell the name of the player concerned. [It's Scot, with one T] Sure, Shields is a decent reliever (an ERA+ of 138 or more every year of his career), but the 100-odd innings you get from him a year doesn't merit giving up anything in return. Otherwise, this story ranks at the level of the headline, and so we shall move rapidly on.
Of slightly more interest - and probably more relevance - a piece in the Banana about Josh Byrnes' to-do list. The important nuggets to come out of that one:
Assistant GM Bob Miller won't be back, but interim GM Bob Gebhard and amateur scouting director Mike Rizzo to their old jobs: Gebhard as vice president and special assistant to the GM; Rizzo gets "added responsibilities", particularly in player-development.
"Byrnes plans to bolster the team's pitching staff, looking to perhaps add at least another established starter and firming up the bullpen with a stronger veteran presence." That agrees with 85% of our poll respondees to date.
The D'backs don't believe Vazquez will ask for a trade.
Royce Clayton has shown little interest in the one-year deal offered. But the alternative names mentioned in the article - Neifi Perez and Pokey Reese - are almost bad enough to make me wish Clayton signs again.
At catcher, management "would love to bring in a veteran with better offensive production." Molina, Hernandez and Ausmus are mentioned here, but I'll have more to say about the prospects there in a couple of days. Article in progress for that position...
The trade rumours surrounding Glaus? "Most of which have been sheer speculation." Emphasis added - but still, meaning some of the rumours have been real, I guess?
Congratulations to Bill Murphy, who has been picked to join Team USA in the Olympic qualifiers, for a regional tournament to be played here later this month. That runs Nov. 15-19 with the USA facing Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Canada - four go through to final qualifying in Havana next August. Might try and get to one of those games. Murphy has been pretty impressive in the AFL, striking out 33 in 24 1/3 innings, with only four walks.
Speaking of which, a quick whip around our other prospects there. Jared Ball is hitting .338, with 12 RBIs, and has passed Stephen Drew, who has cooled off after his hot start, and is now batting .333. Dan Uggla, over in Peoria, is at .298, but leads the D'backs prospects with 7 homers and 20 RBIs. Alex Frazier has played in only seven games, and is 3-for-21.
On the pitching side, Murphy has an ERA of 4.07 in five starts, but as noted above, has been whiffing the opposition at an impressive rate - he's clearly looking to challenge hitters. Casey Daigle has four saves in 12 appearances and 12 innings, with an ERA of 3.75. Doug Slaten been more wobbly, posting an ERA of 6.00 in ten outings, covering 12 innings.
Mlb.com are having a poll for the Diamondbacks' Play of the Year. Let's review the selections, shall we?
- Glaus' walk-off homer - 6/10 vs. KC. A thrilling victory; made that way mostly by us coughing up an 11-3 lead. Just another Ortiz start... Though at the risk of blowing my own trumpet, play of the year might be me predicting the 12-11 score beforehand.
- Luis Gonzalez's catch - 7/2 at LAD. Memorable more for us clubbing four homers off sinkerballer Derek Lowe inside three innings. Gonzo's dive into the stands did save our 7-5 lead though, and I liked his line afterwards: "I was lucky the L.A. fans leave early."
- Cintron's walk-off homer - 7/22 vs. ATL. Again, shouldn't have been: Bruney blew a 5-1 lead in the ninth, "As long as we won, I don't really care what happened tonight," Bruney said. Melvin felt otherwise: one week later, Bruney saw his last save opp.
- Cintron's walk-off single - 9/14 vs. MIL. This deserves consideration, simply because it was a hit with runners in scoring position, and so was a rare gem in 2005. Once more, we had the lead in the eighth, and coughed it up - this time on, of all things, a Webb balk.
- Cintron's walk-off homer - 9/22 vs. LAD. What, does Alex have friends at mlb.com or something? Another extra-innings gamewinner for him, but it also saw Clark's 30th homerun of the year and, inevitably, another late lead blown by us.
Of those options, Gonzo's catch is probably my pick, since it saved the game rather than acting as a life-raft, to bail out our feeble pitching after another lost lead. Of course, my choice for Play of the Year didn't make the list - it is, naturally, Luis 'Hidden Ball' Terrero wandering off third-base and being tagged out. Certainly, that's the one which'll be remembered (and re-run), when all the others listed have been lost in the mists of time. Voting ends at 3 p.m AZ time on Wednesday, should you care.