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AZ 8, Padres 2 - Happy to help ourselves...

Record: 72-79. Change on last season: +4
Rookies in starting lineup: 3

Better. Much better. Better in just about every conceivable way, in fact. Not quite, perhaps, "smack four home runs in a row during the bottom of the ninth and go on to win" good, like the last time the Padres lost, but much better than I expected, to say the least. What idiot said, "This does not look like a lineup capable of scoring more than about three runs"? Oh, that was me, in the first comment on yesterday's GameDay thread, when I saw who we were putting out on the field. One season-tying high number of hits later, and my career as a pundit looks about as healthy as David Wells' cholesterol levels.

There is something doubly satisfactory about tagging Wells with the "loser" tag - since that's how I've seen him, ever since he reneged on a handshake deal with Jerry Colangelo to come play for the Diamondbacks at the end of 2001. As soon as Steinbrenner waved his big, thick, bank account at Boomer, Wells ran off to wrap his fat lips around it, faster than you can say, "over-rated lump of blubber". But karma's a bitch, Davey Boy: if the Padres make it, then since reneging, this'll be your fourth playoff trip with your third team. And the number of World Series rings, post-doublecross, as you whore yourself around, desperately chasing glory? Zero, and highly likely to remain that way.

[As an aside, I wonder if the 2003 Yankees were the most repellent team of recent tims? In addition to Wells, a man whose word means absolutely nothing, they also had Jason 'Steroid Abuser' Giambi, Karim 'Violent Thug' Garcia, and Alfonso 'Whiny Prima Donna' Soriano on the roster. Oh, plus Derek Jeter. Makes you wonder George didn't trade for Kenny Rogers and Barry Bonds, to complete his set of loathsome characters...]

Anyway, vitriolic ranting aside: old 'n' busted, meet new hotness. On the basis of his recent couple of starts, Edgar Gonzalez now looks like he may be a very solid member of the rotation: last night, it was six hits and no walks over seven innings, fanning three with the only damage a solo home-run. Watching last night's game, he doesn't appear to have overpowering raw stuff, but he uses it very well. There were a couple of times he was potentially in trouble, with runners on third and one out, but he wasn't fazed at all, and pitched his way out of the issue, inducing pop-ups, K's or ground-outs.

Of course, two starts is a bit of a small sample, and I'd probably also like to see him develop a better breaking pitch - there didn't seem to be much movement on those, or he wasn't throwing them at all. But don't forget, even though this is his fourth season in the majors, he is still only 23: Bob Melvin admitted the other day that EdGon was probably brought up too early. So, it seems plausible that he will improve again next season. I'd be inclined to keep him in the rotation and get rid (hopefully through trade) of Vargas, who has just been too spotty to be a reliable starter.

However, the Republic is less optimistic: "With a rotation expected to be led by Brandon Webb and Livan Hernandez, and the possibility of Miguel Batista re-signing sometime soon, Gonzalez might not find a spot if Arizona is going to add new pitchers. It doesn't help him that he is out of minor-league options and therefore could be on his last leg in Arizona if management does, indeed, bring in some experienced arms with a history of winning 15-plus games a season. But he likely will get two more starts to try to make a defining statement that could help his cause, and he probably will have to match Wednesday's performance to get a serious, hard look."

Meanwhile, our offense tied the season mark for hits, with eighteen - even if fifteen of them were singles. The best day was probably had by Alberto Callaspo, who went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, blowing the game open in the seventh, when he cleared the bases with a double. As William K noted, it was a nice way to mark Callaspo being named as the Minor League Position Player of the Year. And no argument he deserves it, having hit an insane .337 for the Sidewinders. Even in a hitter's league and park like the PCL and Tucson, that's scarily impressive. Micah Owings picked up the award for Pitcher of the Year, going 18-2 between Tennessee and Tucson, including his win over Toledo in the season finale. Yep, the future's so bright, I gotta wear shades...

Also joining the hit-parade last night, were Gonzalez, Jackson and Estrada, who all had three knocks, while Byrnes had a couple, and stole his 22nd base of the year. We could even afford to leave thirteen men on base, and still walk away with a comfortable win [though, admittedly, it was a great deal more comfortable after we scored five runs in the seventh]. The only slight blackspot was a wobbly performance from Choate and Medders out of the bullpen: together, the former allowed a run on two hits, while Medders walked two Padres, throwing only 11 strikes in 25 pitches. But on the whole, a very good performance from the Diamondbacks.

Thanks to Devin, William K, VIII, icecoldmo and suitsmetoATnT for their comments, even if the last-named's sole contribution was a snark as to whether we'd given up early. Not likely when our team is winning. :-)

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Today: Wells not well

Stay tuned for something special later this afternoon. As Brandon Webb and Chris Carpenter go toe-to-toe, both starting tonight in their quest for the Cy Young, we've got Larry, from the Cardinals SportsBlog, Viva El Birdos, to tell us why Carpenter should win it, while I'll be putting the case for Webb. That should get posted at 3pm, Arizona time, so check back then, and vote in the poll on the topic. Let's show those Cardinals who is the best pitcher in the NL! :-)