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Quick - pinch yourself...

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Oh, look: we're still top of the NL West. :-) Part of me expected to wake up this morning, and discover it was all a dream, that we're really 20 games below .500, have just traded Carlos Quentin for Karim Garcia, and the San Andreas fault has joined most of California, in relocating to Phoenix. However, this turns out not to be the case, and I look forward to us kicking Roger Clemens' ass again tonight. Or whatever...

Random stuff, before I get into the Heroes and Zeroes for July. Stephen Drew's stay in Class-A Lancaster has ended, with his promotion to Double-AA Tennessee. Can't say this comes as much of a shock, since he was batting .389 there, with 10 home runs and 39 RBI in only 38 games - he'll leave behind a ten-game hitting streak. I expect he'll be in AA for the rest of this year, then Triple-A next season, and at this rate, expect a September 2006 call-up.

It's been confirmed that Joe Garagiola will be leaving the D'backs to take up a position with Major League Baseball. As yet, no announcement on who's going to replace him as GM - for the moment it seems to be a case of management by committee. It seems likely there will be an interim appointment until the end of the season, when a permanent candidate will be chosen. See the diaries on the right for more information and thoughts on that.

So, Palmeiro and Franklin get busted for taking steroids. The latter is a surprise, the former is a shock, especially after his testimony before Congress where he said, "Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids. Period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never." Now, he's adjusting his position faster than an crack-crazed politician - "knowingly taken" is now the preferred term. And if you believe that, I've a ticket to his Hall of Fame induction I'd like to sell you.

But it doesn't matter: if you aren't willing to take responsibility for what goes into your own body, what can you be responsible for? He cheated; he got caught; end of story. And I'm not taking this position simply because he plays on another team - inevitably, some day, a major-league D'back will test positive too, and my condemnation will be not one iota less severe. The whole ethos of baseball is based on it being a "fair" contest, not rigged like a WWE pay-per-view. Anything which interferes with that must be fought with unrelenting vigour.

[As an aside, the issue of whether they actually improve performance is irrelevant. They're taken with that intent, not because professional sportsmen like mood swings and acne. To draw a parallel: if a politician accepts a bribe, but makes the same decision he was going to anyway, would that be okay?]

So, on the whole, this is a good thing. The bigger the name, the greater the humiliation, the more likely it will make other players think twice before taking steroids. The cynic in me feels there may be some connection between all this, and Barry Bonds deciding to sit out the 2005 season, but there's absolutely no proof, of course. Now, let's start testing for amphetamines as well, while we're at it, and get the game truly back to being "natural".

Heroes and Zeroes for July

  • First Base Tracy and Clark continued to impress, though this month, Clark hit for average, leading the team at .349, Tracy for power (an AZ best six homers). Tracy's average did drop, but he seems to have rediscovered plate discipline with ten walks. HEROES

  • Second Base Craig Counsell's collapse accelerated, hitting a mere .198 this month. I don't know whether he's beginning to wear down, but the bad news is, Alex Cintron hardly hit any better (.212) in July, and walked much less. ZERO

  • Short Stop Royce Clayton had a good month, batting over .300, though only had three walks the entire month, and hit into almost the same number (2) of double plays. I'm still unconvinced he's a defensive wizard, but he was no liability in July. HERO

  • Third Base Another month of almost exactly what you'd expect from Troy: not a brilliant average, but he led the team in RBIs with 16, as well as K's (21). Only seven extra-base hits for the month though. NEUTRAL

  • Left Field Luis Gonzalez scuffled horribly at the start of the month, and while he rebounded over the last three series, .235 is not what we want, expect or need. I'm optimistic of an August revival, but as far as July goes: ZERO

  • Center Field Jose Cruz Jr. limped off into the sunset, largely unlamented, after four RBIs for the month, and a BA of only .213. McCracken (.343!) was surprisingly effective as a replacement, but combined with Cruz and Terrero, the position still batted only .274. NEUTRAL

  • Right Field Shawn Green. Led the team in hits (34) and runs (15) for the month, and generally behaved like the player we wanted to sign to a long-term contract. Those who told us to wait until the second half, appear to be right. HERO

  • Catchers Overall, the position batted a respectable .245, though it would have been worse, save for Stinnett, and Snyder's 5-RBI finale on Sunday. At least it doesn't appear to be a black hole for our line-up at the moment. NEUTRAL

  • Starters 3/5 of our rotation had an ERA of 2.20 or better in July, led by Gosling, who continued to defy all predictions, allowing just five runs in 22.1 innings, and Vargas, who gets better with each start. Halsey was also excellent, while Vazquez, though a bit unreliable, still had a credible ERA of 3.71. The only black spot was Webb, who had a poor month, but definitely showed much better form in his last outing. HEROES

  • Bullpen Valverde + Medders: 19.1 IP combined, one earned run. Excellent stuff. Outside of them and the limited appearances of Tim Worrell, however, things got flaky pretty damn fast. Bruney, Cormier and Aquino all had ERA's north of seven, while Koplove was either great or awful, with very little middle ground. Aquino shows cause for optimism in his last appearance, and reinforcements are on the way - not a moment too soon. NEUTRAL