Quote of the Day: "I know I can do better, but we want to hear all the negative stuff you can hear. Then you can stick that middle finger up at everyone that said you couldn't do it. But we still have a lot to prove, all of us young guys." -- Conor Jackson
Back after a nice break from baseball - much needed after the relentless beatings of the past two weeks. Not that things were entirely quiet on the Diamondbacks front, with several interesting developments on the AZ front during the time off.
Top of the list is, of course, the firing of Kevin Satan...sorry, Seitzer as "hitting coach". Quotes used advisedly, since his role seemed to involve intensive training in swinging at pitches out of the zone [Quentin], popping up with one out and a man on third [Drew] and grounding into double-plays [Hudson], as well as a group session on How to Make Crap Pitchers Look Great 1.0.1. It may or may not resolve things, but they certainly can't be muc worse. In 34 games since the start of June we've been hitting .234 and scoring less than four runs per game.
Replacing him is Rick Schu. Alarm bells may be ringing with the realization that his previous stint as hitting coach was in...ulp, 2004. That year, we scored 615 runs, 3.8/game, and the worst total in the National League West by 146 runs, and a K:BB ratio worse than 2.3:1. And we would want him back, why, exactly? Ah, but after that year, he went back to being the organization's hitting coordinator, working with the minor-league affiliates. That's been working pretty well, and Josh Byrnes said, "I think Rick Schu has a lot of history with these guys and can get them back to the things that made them successful in the first place."
We'll see. Doesn't get much tougher than this upcoming series against the Padres: we start off facing a 340-game winner in Maddux, then Jake Peavy (ERA 2.19), and finally Chris Young (ERA 2.00), though their pitching stats are helped by Petco. It's a big series: we really can't afford to lose any more ground, and I want to see us take two out of three. Really looking forward to attending Sunday's game, where Webb goes up against Young: could prove the defining moment of the season.
Eric Byrnes wants to stay with the D-backs, saying "I want to stay here, but I'm not going to be stupid... Just the fact that we have talked about the possibility of me being here next year is a huge step in the right direction," though also adds, "The reality of the situation is that three months from now, there are 29 other teams I can negotiate with." It's a good article, discussing the constraints, and hinting that Byrnes might weight the contract towards the back-end, after we've got the Huge Manatee's contract off the books.
There'll be no D-backs games on Channel 3 next year, with Fox Sports AZ signing an eight-year agreement for exclusive rights to the the team's contests. This is a bit of a mixed blessing: it means those without cable or satellite will only get to see the team when they play on the Fox Game of the Week. That's an interesting contrast to the team's desire to reach out to the Hispanic market, since they are a lower-income bracket, probably less likely to be cable subscribers. It also may mean fewer games in HD, since FSAZ has limited access to that with many providers.
On the other hand, fans in Tucson will be rejoicing. There have long been issues over the local channel's frequent refusal to show D-backs games, but this should allow fans in the southern part of the state to see the team on a regular basis. The move to cable is entirely in line with the trend in baseball, and other sports as well - why give away a product people are willing to buy? I've been through this already, with football in the UK during the 1990's. Can't blame FSAZ: D-backs broadcasts are responsible for every one of the top twenty-seven telecasts in the station's history.
If you want another version of my D-backs report card, Sports Projections have now published my Reader's Digest condensed version here. If you've read the last couple of pieces here - and if not, I'll pop round for a cup of tea and a kidney later - you'll probably not find that much new, but it's a nice summary. Nick Piecoro also recaps the first half too. He even uses OPS+, and explains what it means - I must write a stern letter to the editor, about his employees confusing readers with this new fangled edumacashional nonsense. I don't read the newspaper to learn stuff, dammitalltohell.
Finally, congratulations to Chad Tracy, whose wife produced their first child, Ella Claire, on Tuesday afternoon. Scheduling the birth for the middle of the All-Star break shows an impressive degree of advance planning. :-)