Didn't get to the Arizona Fall League Friday night. I was working towards suggesting it to Mrs. SnakePit when she said how much she was looking forward to an evening of doing nothing and going nowhere. So the idea never got past the back of my throat: we went to the mall, then hung up Halloween decorations. In the end, perhaps not a bad thing, since the weather wasn't as nice as hoped, certainly up here in Scottsdale.
Sinkerballer Jackson had some control issues (nerves?) particularly in the first inning, allowing a two-run single, but posted a zero in the second frame. And he had a lot of help from the offense: he had a six-run start, after five of the first six Scottsdale hitters didn't just reach base, but came around to score, including a two-run shot by Mark Reynolds. Phoenix made it close, pulling to within one run (8-7) by the fifth, but three more runs in the eighth for Scottsdale proved decisive in their 11-8 final victory. Reynolds had two hits and four RBI, while Richar and D'Anton were both 1-for-4. After Jackson left, Elliott pitched a scoreless fourth, while Schultz gave up a run on two hits in the ninth.
This provided a measure of revenge for Scottsdale, having lost Thursday's game, also against Phoenix, 7-3. Richar had two hits batting leadoff, while Reynolds also had two, including his first homer of the year, and a pair of RBI. Chris Kinsey pitched a scoreless inning of relief. And while I'm here - horribly out of order though this all might be! - in Saturday's contest, Scottsdale were clubbed 15-7 by the Peoria Javelinas, despite taking an early lead again, scoring four in the first inning. Peoria scored six in the third, four in the sixth, and five in the eighth, though Kinsey escaped damage, posting a zero in the fifth frame. Richar had two more hits, keeping his average at .389; Reynolds was rested, but Jamie D'Antona hit a two-run homer as part of that first inning.
Reynolds is one of the players picked to write a player journal during the Fall League. His first entry is now up there, though to be honest, it doesn't say much more than stuff like, "I am looking forward to facing top notch competition and displaying my skills." While I've no doubt it's true, it sounds like someone being very careful to say the right thing, which I guess is kinda understandable! :-) Some interesting stuff about his role as a super-utility player though, and I did enjoy reading about his time in Havana for the Olympic qualifiers - that kind of colour commentary bodes well for the future.
As you might have seen in the comments on Thursday's entry, we swapped players with the Cincinnati Reds. Shortstop Jerry Gil will have to get his first major-league walk with another team, having been traded for reliever Abe Woody, who must really have had a fun time during his school years. This looks mostly like an attempt to free up a spot on the 40-man roster so we can protect another player before the Rule 5 draft. Woody has yet to pitch above High-A, and is perhaps a little old to be at that level - but as Stephen noted, he does seem to be a groundball pitcher, and we can never have enough of those. It's more than we would have had if we'd let Gil get Rule V'd away from us. Though it's pretty difficult to see Gil doing an Uggla, and playing his way onto the All-Star squad with any team.
I was going to make a crack about "unless the entire roster ahead of him took up flying as a hobby", but with A-Rod's jet having overshot the runway the other day, I have no inclination to tempt the baseball gods in the slightest. It's all pretty creepy, even if it is perhaps proof that God hates the New York Yankees. Well, since we are supposedly made in his image, that would kinda make sense. But I can just imagine the creators of the Final Destination series of movies scribbling feverishly on their pads, coming up with spectacular, baseball-related methods of exiting this world. Choking on sunflower seeds, impaled on broken bats...I'm sure you can come up with your own.
The survivors - if that's not an inopportune word - of the playoffs continue to go toe-to-toe, though Detroit have now booked their spot in the World Series, finishing off a four-game sweep with a 6-3 victory yesterday afternoon. That was a systematic demolition of the A's, who were outscored in the series 22-9. At least Oakland did get to lead for an entire inning this time: indeed, they had a three-run advantage as late as the bottom of the fifth, but the Tigers had a walk-off homer against Huston Street in the ninth, Ordonez's second homer of the game. So although the A's won their first playoff series since 1989, they still came up short when it counted.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are putting up a very decent showing against the Mets. They first tied the series up in New York, thanks largely to So Taguchi's homer off Billy Wagner. And, last night, they shut down the Mets much-vaunted offense, to take a 2-1 lead. Jeff Suppan pitched eight scoreless innings, and also hit the second homer in his 12 seasons - interestingly, both have come off Steve Trachsel. But Suppan is no rabbit: he's now a career .198 hitter, and since the end of the 2004 regular season is hitting .228 (28-for-123). That's a nice weapon to have: as a comparison, AZ's pitchers collectively batted .124 last year, with Batista, Vargas, Hernandez 2.0 and EdGon all at or below .100.
I've been amazed how the Cardinals have bounced back from their traumas which saw them, as the cliche goes, back into the playoffs, and return to the form which saw them lead the NL Central from early on. The team which went 12-17 in September has clearly exorcised whatever it was that ailed them: whether it'll be enough to go on and beat the Mets, remains to be seen. But winning two games in the NLCS is already more than most had St. Louis pegged for before the playoffs began. Today, they face Oliver Perez, who went 3-13 with a 6.55 ERA for the Mets and Pirates, but Cardinals' starter Anthony Reyes was 5-8 with a 5.08 ERA for the Cardinals, so this doesn't look likely to be a pitching gem.
Enough of other teams: this is a Diamondbacks blog, dammit, even if there's not really an enormous amount to talk about as far as Arizona is concerned. That's why it's been a couple of days since my last post; a kinda weird feeling for me, it's as if I've been ignoring my child or something. Mike Koplove's long association with the Diamondbacks appears to have ended, as he has elected to become a free agent. He was one of the longest-serving players in the organization, going all the way back to the 1998 draft, when he was a 29th-round pick. Only three men have been with the franchise longer: Robby Hammock, chosen six rounds earlier in the same draft; Jose Valverde, signed as a minor-league free agent in January 1997; and the grand-daddy of them all, Greg Aquino, who also signed as a minor-league free agent, on November 8th, 1995.
Reliever Jeff Bajenaru cleared waivers too, and will become a minor-league free agent. However, it's hoped he will remain within the Diamondbacks system - otherwise, we handed Alex Cintron away for one major-league inning of pitching and a 36.00 ERA. As noted at the time, unless he makes it back to the bigs with Arizona, Bajenaru is #3 in the (newly-updated!) 10 Least Significant All-Time Diamondbacks. Bajenaru also joins the select list of players with a .000 winning percentage in a D'backs uniform. Most of these are 0-1, but a special shout-out to Brandon Villafuerte and Joel Adamson, who are both 0-3. Adamson only pitched five games, in 1998, and is also the first player, alphabetically, in franchise history.
More news on the broadcaster front. Thom Brennaman's partner in the "Blind Fan Incident", Steve Lyons, got himself fired from Fox after another on-air gaffe - supposedly "racially insensitive" remarks regarding Lou Piniella. Reading the transcript, it's hard to be quite sure what the issue was; any insult seemed directed more at Piniella than the Hispanic race in general. Still, it's not the first time Lyons has got into trouble with his mouth, and he was probably skating on thin ice after describing the visually-impaired spectator as having "a digital camera stuck to his face."
A bunch of changes administratively for the team which I might as well bulk up and address in one lump. The one that's likely to have most impact is probably the appointment of Mel Stottlemyre Jr. - yep, Todd's brother - as pitching coordinator. He now gets to oversee all our minor league pitching coaches, with a license to roam and provide additional instruction as needed. Given our arm-heavy drafts over the past couple of years, this will be a crucial position in helping convert some of those early-round picks into major-league ready pitchers.
Less importantly - at least, on the playing field! - we have a couple of new Executive Vice Presidents. Tom Harris is EVP and Chief Financial Officer, while Tom Garfinkel will becom EVP, Business Operations. According to the press release, Harris's duties will be to "oversee all general accounting, finance, administrative activities, and ensure operations are in accordance with ownership goals and objectives. He will also oversee risk management for the team and serve on MLB's insurance committee." Garfinkel comes to us from NASCAR, and will "oversee all ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, marketing and branding, communications, community relations, human resources and information technology." Quite a platter there: ticket sales seems like the poison apple in that particular bushel...
Pleased to report the Tucson Sidewinders have renewed their Triple-A contract with the Diamondbacks for another two years. This was "a no-brainer" as far as Jeff Moorad was concerned, and I tend to agree. Everyone in Tucson, from their president, Jay Zucker, through manager Chip Hale, down to the lowliest bat-boy, did a great job this year, culminating with the Sidewinders' win in the Bricktown Showdown. Hopefully, they'll be just as successful next year, even without the likes of Drew, Quentin, Young and Montero - because, for a relatively-small budget team like AZ, as our farm system goes, so largely the major-league club will go in a couple of years.
Collectors might want to check out the Tucson Sidewinders memorabilia from the Bricktown Showdown up for auction on milb.com: given the number of AZ prospects in that game, that would seem a good way to get a nice piece of history. From there, I also found some D'backs items being auctioned for charity: perhaps the saddest was the Russ Ortiz autographed jersey. Current price: $25, which would be cheap for any jersey, even unautographed...
Okay, onwards I go, with a Sunday afternoon of leisur(ish) content beckoning, and perhaps game four of the NLCS later on. Hope your weekends are proving pleasant too!