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AZ 1, Rockies 6 - Infield Fits

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Record: 71-78. Change on last season: +4
Rookies in starting lineup: 3

It seems a little harsh to credit a player with two errors on the same play, especially if they are inter-connected. If Conor Jackson hadn't bobbled the ground-ball hit at him in the second inning, he wouldn't have needed to hurry the throw, and probably wouldn't have botched that too. But errors are a subjective stat anyway (I never really got that whole, "if you don't touch the ball, it's not an error" thing either), and whatever helps nail the myth that Arizona is a great defensive club is fine by me.

In that spirit, a season-high four errors by Arizona yesterday, giving us 97 on the season: that's tenth-best in the league, and our fielding percentage is now =8th. Add a defensive efficiency rating of 69.6% - ahead only of the Pirates - and there's no metric by which we are fielding significantly above average. That seems about what my eyes tell me: overall, we were okay to okay-plus up the middle, but below what I'd want everywhere else. We'll be better next year, especially in the outfield where Byrnes, Young and Quentin should be better than Gonzalez, Byrnes and Green. Mind you FDR, Jabba the Hutt and the Dalai Lama would probably be an improvement over what we've seen out there at times this season.

It would be wrong to blame yesterday's defeat entirely on Jackson, or even the defense in general. Let's face it, if you're going to make four errors and give up two unearned runs, you might as well do it on a day when you're being three-hit. And when your bullpen gives up three runs in three innings of work. All told, Batista is about the only person to come out with much credit, allowing one earned run in six innings of work, on three hits and three walks, while striking out three.

That helped keep us in the game, as our offense struggled mightily against Francis. He faced two batters over the minimum through eight innings, with no walks, and probably would have come out for the ninth, save for the Rockies wanting to get their closer some work. We didn't fare any better against him: Callaspo drew a walk, which allowed Luis Gonzalez to receive another standing ovation, but that was it. Hudson scored our only run, tripling and then being driven in by Snyder in the fifth: Gonzo and Byrnes had the other hits.

After Batista left, we had a variable range of performances from the relief corps. Slaten pitched the seventh, walking one but otherwise looking impressive; Aquino also walked the first hitter he faced, but then allowed a two-run homer. That effectively put the game out of Arizona's reach - we had been just a bloop and a blast away from tying it up. I'm wondering whether we'll see Aquino on the roster come next Opening Day: his outings this year have been not so great, and seems on the bubble. He allows too many walks, and a homer every 6.5 innings. EnGon came in for the ninth: he allowed a run, but it was unearned, but it was his own error, so he doesn't escape criticism.

Tracy got the day off at third, as did Counsell at short. Andy Green and Callaspo replaced them, and so are included in the rookie tally, even if they're not really the rookies which we wanted to see. Drew and Young were absent entirely, while Quentin got a pinch-hit appearance. On the subject of Callaspo, article by Bob McManaman in the Republic today, in which he says:

Callaspo, who has flourished at second base and shortstop, may have no choice but to try to win a job as a utility player coming off the bench in 2007. He could be viable trade bait, however. There is some speculation that a team such as the Cincinnati Reds may take a long, hard look at him this off-season and perhaps pitch a deal to Arizona, which has other pieces ready to move.

I wonder why the Reds were brought into the discussion? The most obvious area would seem to be starting pitching, but I am not sure if there was a specific player of interest. Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang would certainly be nice to have: would need to look into stuff like their GB/FB ratio a bit more to see if they'd be a good fit in Chase. And, frankly, I'd need better evidence than McManaman apparently pulling names out of a hat in order to make that effort. [Though I checked for Arroyo, and over his career, he's got more fly balls than ground-outs, definitely a warning sign]

But interesting to view Callaspo, who is not apparently on the "untradeable" list, as potential bait. Or maybe even Hudson? For after all, how many everyday second basemen in the majors (min. 400 plate appearances) have an OPS better than his .827? Five: Durham, Utley, Cano, Uggla and Kent. Yeah, I know park effects have to be taken into account, but we're selling, not buying. :-) Those apparently having career years - not just Hudson, but also Byrnes and Estrada - should definitely be examined, to see whether we should be trading them while their value is at its highest.

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Today: Defence? We don't need no steenkin' defence!

Thanks to unnamedDBacksfan, flyingdutchman, VIII, jeremy, npineda and icecoldmo, who will henceforth be known as Mr. Grumpy, for yelling at the neighbourhood kids to take their football game off his damn lawn. :-) Hey, it's the end of the season, a meaningless game between two out of contention clubs: I must confess my attention drifted to the NFL game too. Let the Cardinals enjoy their moment in the sun: it won't be long before they're their usual 2-5, and no-one cares about them again. For the moment, the odd comment about them is understandable. Do agree with him about the wave though; flogging's too good for participants.

More to follow later, but since it's an off-day, there's no particular hurry. Almost got the Fantasy Baseball report written, so that'll follow fairly shortly: Heroes and Zeroes for this series will go up later, together with some random chat, as and when I get the time.