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The best Diamondback of all time: Ricky Bottalico

Yes, Ricky Bottalico. Well, by one measure, at least: he is the only player never to have tasted defeat as a Diamondback. That's one of the results of a cute little tool over at the Baseball Day by Day database, where you can now see the results of all games for a team in which a player appeared. And according to the results for the Diamondbacks, Bottalico is unique in having a 100% winning record for Arizona: played two, won two. We never lost a game when Ricky took the mound - and fair's fair, he actually did get the W for his inning of work on June 23rd, 2003.

Here's the top and bottom players in all-time winning percentage for the Diamondbacks. Note that a player only has to be listed in the box-score to receive "credit" for the final result: it doesn't matter how long they played in the game.

Name              W     L     Win %
=============== ===    ==     =====
Ricky Bottalico   2     0     1.000
Brady Raggio      7     3      .700
Gregg Olson      86    39      .688
Byung-Hyun Kim  163    80      .671
Curt Schilling   72    36      .667
Bryan Corey       0     3      .000
Dennys Reyes      0     3      .000
Ed Vosberg        0     4      .000
Neil Weber        0     4      .000
Chris Michalak    0     5      .000
Kerry Ligtenberg  0     7      .000

It's probably no surprise that closers are the top two with any significant number of games to go on: they are the only players generally saved for games when their team has a lead. That makes Curt Schilling's accomplishments all the more phenomenal: as a starter, every game he played with was initially tied, and yet Arizona still won 2/3 of them. Randy Johnson is currently #10, with a record of 124-69, a .642 percentage - and, don't forget, he was here during the nightmare which was 2004. If we win 64% of the games he starts in 2007, I think we'll all be very happy.

The top-ranked position player with a decent sample size is Reggie Sanders, who went 75-51 (.595). Erubiel Durazo and - surprise! - Tony Womack (both .571) follow not far behind. In contrast, Luis Gonzalez is barely above .500 (.515). As we slide down the list, we find Carlos Baerga (66-118, .359) and, the worst position player of all, Scott Hairston. He has only tasted victory in 34 of 125 games (.272); a warning for those hoping he'll play in LF this year, or just a reflection of his presence on a deeply-sucky D'backs team? I suspect the latter: that same year, we went 9-39 when Tim Olson stepped out of the dugout...

For the record, Russ Ortiz = 9-21, .300. I'm startled we won nine, and there are bigger pitching albatrosses. On the current roster, EnGon is 6-17 (.261), for example, and Doug Slaten 2-7 (.222). Previous Hall of Shame occupants would include Randy Choate (33-79, .295), plus mop-up men par excellence Scott Service (6-33) and Brandon Villafuerte (3-17). Then we get the relentless losers above, who never got to high-five their Arizona team-mates on the field. The Diamondbacks not only lost all Ligtenberg's games, they did so by an average of more than seven runs, being outscored in total 16-66. These include 18-3 and 16-2 defeats, in which he pitched 2.2 innings, allowing twelve earned runs. But at least he had success elsewhere; unlike, say, Weber, whose four losses in our inaugural year were the sum total of his major-league career.

However, those all pale into insignificance beside the work of Jack Warner, a relief pitcher for the Cubs from 1962-1965, who appeared in 33 games, and never won. The closest he came was the April 12th, 1965 game where Chicago opened the season against the Cardinals, which ended in a 10-10 tie; the other thirty-two games in which he played, all ended in Cubs losses. And, adding insult to injury, the tied game apparently didn't count in the final standings. Now, th-th-th-that's futility, folks.

Elsewhere, the commissioner's office says that Barry Bonds' contract with the Giants is not acceptable, and has send it back to the parties concerned for revision. It hasn't been confirmed what the problem is, but it doesn't take the cast of LA Law to work out the most likely reasons: the Giants' insistence on clauses allow them to void the contract if 'Roidman gets indicted. Well, duh: what part of "illegal" don't you understand? Hell, having once got fired for being friends with someone who, unknown to me, had broken the law - never mind breaking it myself - I have little sympathy for Bonds in this issue. There is a clause in the current Uniform Player's contract which already seems to cover these kinds of issues, albeit in somewhat vague terms:

Under 7(b)(1), a team may terminate a contract if the player shall "fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition or to obey the club's training rules." Section 7(b)(3) gives the team the right to end the deal if a player shall "fail, refuse or neglect to render his services hereunder or in any manner materially breach this contract."

I imagine the Giants would prefer something considerably more watertight than that, but you can expect the union to fight them all the way. Players being held accountable for their actions? When you pry Bonds' over-stuffed wallet from his cold, dead fingers, dammit. That clause getting invoked around June would probably be the best outcome for the D-backs; you saw what effect Grimsleygate had on our season, and he was a journeyman reliever who'd been with the team only a few months, not the franchise face. Makes you wonder why we didn't invoke 7(b)(1) on Grimsley; seems a fairly clear example of "neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship."

Hang on: it's been confirmed today that Yankee Stadium gets the 2008 All-Star game? How the hell did that happen? Wasn't there a more deserving urinal capable of seating 60,000? To borrow a quote: "I've been there: it's awful." Okay, it's the first time they've had it since 1977, and I know it'll be the final season before they move out, but does anyone think they'll be happy to wait until 2038 before hosting it again? Hell, no - the Yankees will probably get it for their new stadium in 2010. [I note, at time of writing, Pinstripe Alley hasn't even mentioned the news, which paranoia says is a result of Yankee tedium at all these honors: "Yeah, stick that All-Star game over there, along with the 26 World Championships". :-)]

Meanwhile, Arizona won't be getting it before 2011 at the earliest, and has been jilted for several stadiums built since Chase: Miller Park, Comerica Park, PNC Park, this year's host, AT&T Park and the 2009 one, Busch Stadium III. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe it's Bud punishing the franchise for the profligate ways of Jerry Colangelo, but I'm inclined, grudgingly, to admit that there are roughly 28 better places to hold the All-Star game than Phoenix in July. The Bronx is, however, not one of them, unless your idea of hanging out after the game by the park involves automatic weaponry.

Finally, a couple of linkies elsewhere. First, a nod over to my colleague at Purple Row, who has been going through the teams in the NL, picking the player fans most want to be rid of. Her choice for the D-backs is Hernandez 2.0, saying "the reason D-backs fans like him is one of the most common reasons to overestimate a player's value: performing well in a small sample the year prior (see me with Kaz Matsui)". Maybe, though almost 70 innings is certainly not statistically insignificant (little more got Gagne the Cy Young - a fact which infuriated LA fans when I mentioned it over at True Blue LA!), and it's actually very encouraging. If last year's Opening Day starter on another team is the worst player on your roster, I think we'll be okay.

As William K pointed out in the comments last time, we will have four pitchers in our rotation who were the Opening Day starters for their teams in 2006: Webb (AZD), Johnson (NYY), Hernandez 2.0 (WAS) and Davis (MIL). Has any team ever managed that before? I was hoping that we could make it 5-for-5, by including the Opening Day starter for the Tucson Sidewinders, but seeing as that was Kevin Jarvis (who allowed eleven hits and three walks in six innings, taking the loss against Salt Lake), I'm not going to mount a campaign for it.

Over at Phillies Nation, Mark Cunningham asks, Who is Karim Garcia? The answer here is, of course, the guy traded by Arizona for Luis Gonzalez and cash. The Phillies are more optimistic: "If Garcia makes the 2007 team he brings a flash of power in late innings for a seemingly powerless bench. But, in a stadium that made Jimmy Rollins have the offensive stats parallel his idol Ricky Henderson, Karim Garcia could look like Jack Parkman from the Major League films." Seems optimistic to me.

And Sporting News ranks the NL infields. Arizona came in 8th, which was the highest position of an team in the NL West, with the comment, "This is a promising young group. Hudson and Drew are strong up the middle. Tracy and Jackson must provide more pop." Can't really argue with that. To no-one's surprise, I'm sure, the Cardinals are first, and the Giants 16th. Right, I'm getting on: outfield community projections should go up Saturday, though I'm fighting another cold here, so if they don't appear, you'll kno why!