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AZ 2, Pirates 6 - Jolly (Well) Rogered

Record: 17-12. Change on last season: +5

Well, that was pretty dreadful, in just about every way. Thanks to Ryan, frienetic, IndyDBack, Stefan, Otacon and William K for taking time out from celebrating Cinco de Mayo; and after that performance, drinking heavily seems like a very good idea. Estes finally produced down at the level predicted by the prophets of doom; we made two errors in a game for the first time; and our hitters mustered just six hits against the team with the second worst record in the NL.

Truth is, at least the last of those should have been expected: as Ryan pointed out, we can't hit left-handed pitching. Against them, we rank dead last in the NL for average (.211), are 15th in OBP (.309), and dead last again - by 42 points! - in slugging percentage (.289). In 246 at-bats, we have mustered exactly two home runs - by Green and McCracken.

The only players performing credibly against lefties, are Gonzalez (.357) and Clark (.267) - everyone else is hitting .250 or less. And a lot less in some cases:

      BA  OBP  SLG
Green    .121 .143 .212 
Clayton   .190 .370 .238 
Tracy    .143 .174 .238 
Terrero   .133 .133 .200
Yes, that figure for Clayton is not a misprint - in 27 plate appearances, he has six walks and three K's. In 76 against right-handed pitching, he has two walks and 21 K's...but is hitting 67 points better. Go figure.

Quinton McCracken looked horribly lost last night, both at the plate and in the field. He's now at .203, with just two hits in his last 24 at-bats - and hit into another double-play last night. We've seen with Choate that the management apparently doesn't have any problems letting veterans go; I wonder whether McCracken will suffer the same fate when Jose Cruz returns? Admittedly, Luis Terrero is worse still, hitting .200. But he's been in the majors only ten months. McCracken is 33, and will not get any better. Given the choice between a poor veteran and a poor rookie, I know which one I'd play.

Last night, of course, we got both. Terrero played right field last night, in place of Shawn Green - see above for the likely reason Green was benched. But the main problem was Estes failing to be a groundball pitcher: the tone for that was set early, when Jason Bay launched a 455-foot bomb off the scoreboard. Said Estes, with staggering philosophical insight, "Some days you go out there and you don't have your best stuff and you battle through it. I battled as much as I could, but I made some bad pitches. Sometimes they get themselves out and sometimes they don't. Tonight they didn't."

As mentioned, before the game, Randy Choate was designated for assigment, despite having signed a two-year, $1.3m deal in the off-season. We now have 10 days to decide what to do with him - the options are:
* trade him - yeah, like that'll happen. Be nice though.
* release him - unlikely, as we'd still have to pay his contract
* option him to the minors - the most plausible scenario. He'd have to clear waivers, but any team claiming him would have to pick up his contract. Technically, Choate could refuse assignment, but that'd void his nice contract, and make him a free agent.

To replace him, we called up Kerry Ligtenberg, who will likely be used alongside Cormier in long relief - though Cormier, like Brian Bruney, must now be nervously awaiting the return of Jose Cruz, to see if he gets sent back down to Tucson. [Oh, and veteran pitcher Darren Oliver retired, clearing another roster spot down there] However, Ligtenberg's first outing wasn't quite what he'd hope for, allowing a long bomb to Castillo. That was the only hit in 1 2/3 innings though. Bruney then performed better than seen of late, going two perfect innings with three K's.

On offense, Counsell had two hits while Glaus reached base three times, on a hit and two walks. I think it's best if we draw a veil over the rest of proceedings, except to say that the "wind" which allegedly helped drive balls out of BOB last night, didn't exactly seem to help Arizona much: one extra-base hit, a Counsell double.

So, instead, here's today's random speculation. Apparently, Craig Counsell is one of the Arizona players that can steal on their own, unless Melvin says otherwise. The manager said that there were "probably four" others. Who might they be?

My guesses: Clayton, Gonzalez, Glaus and McCracken, the only other Arizona players to have successful steals this year - and all "proven veterans" (TM). Snyder, Cintron, Green and Tracy are 0-for-4, while the first-base coach is apparently using a staple gun to keep Luis Terrero in check - he has yet to attempt a steal this season, after going 10-2 last year. Mind you, he's hardly been on first base all that often to begin with...