Record: 50-48. Change on last season: 0. Pace: 83-79
Quote of the day: "That's baseball. That's the way this crazy game goes. Sometimes you wonder why you play it. It's a round ball and a round bat, and you have to hit it square. You are not going to do it every time. If you did, there would be a game from 1920 that was still in the first inning now." -- Orlando Hudson
There's a point at which the Diamondbacks need to say "Wait until next year!" It seems to me that we are teetering precariously close to that moment. Not so much because of our record, but because of the way we're playing, and specifically, our offense which is basically dead in the water right now. In the past six games, we've scored only ten runs - 30% of those coming on one swing from Mark Reynolds, and are batting just .177. Hell, crank it back to cover the 22 games we've played since June 25: barely three runs per game and .226. That's why we're 6-16 in that time. So, today's discussion (and associated poll): is the season over?
At the moment, it's certainly skating on thin ice - we played our ace in the hole yesterday, but even Brandon Webb went down to the surging Cubs. However, despite the loss, we're only 4.5 games back, when the majority of major-league teams are eight or more behind. If we were among them, I'd be prepared to concede defeat: yet the rest of the teams in the division are having their own issues. It's easy to focus on our own deficiencies, but the Dodgers have a team ERA of 5.19 over the last fourteen games (Arizona's is 4.36), while the Padres can't buy a hit, batting .229 in the past month, and scoring 3.2 runs/game (D-backs figures: .237 and 3.5 runs/game).
Okay, cherry-picked figures with regard to the span, admittedly, but they make the point, I trust. Time is, however, running out. Baseball Prospectus currently gives us only a 2.3% chance of making the playoffs, so while we're not out of the picture yet, things need to start happening. It doesn't look like there will be any moves made at the deadline, however, either buying or selling. We're looking for a young starting pitcher, but Byrnes isn't having much luck: "There have been a lot of discussions, but really not a lot of momentum. My sense is, that's the trademark in general. For whatever reason, teams aren't that motivated." Similarly for acquiring an impact player: "I just think we wouldn't pay a lot to get a rental player. There's only so much you can give up when you only have 40 percent of the season left."
So, we'll have to do whatever it is with the players we have. I do think part of the solution is to get a sense of continuity. Put Reynolds and third and send Tracy off to get his knee fixed: we need to see whether Reynolds is a major-leaguer, or just plays one on TV. Also, put Jackson at first. Every day. Tony Clark will not be with the team next year (or, if he is, I will really want to know why), and so does not need playing-time. Write a line-up in permanent marker. Stop promoting Eric Byrnes as the Face of the Franchise, since he'll be gone in six months. That means you, Fox Sports Arizona. And let the chips fall where they may from that.
Anyway, let's take a look at yesterday's game. Never more than one run between the teams, until the bottom of the eighth, when War suffered a major reversal, allowing three runs in a game for the first time in over a year. That was actually the first home-run he's allowed this year, ending a 45.1 inning homerless streak, dating back to September 26, 2006. That blow opened up the game, and ensured Webb got tagged with his eighth loss of the year, matching his 2006 total. Not that he pitched badly, at all: two earned runs over seven innings is fine. Five hits, all singles, and one walk: we'll take that any day.
No, the issues here were shoddy defense and poor hitting. Arizona made three errors, two of them by Drew [he's basically mid-pack in all fielding metrics: F%, ZR and RF]. But it was the third, by Jeff DaVanon in right, which came back to bite the Snakes, leading to an unearned run in the sixth which let the Cubs turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. DaVanon is batting 2-for-12 since he came back; add shoddy defense, and I'm forced to wonder why we bothered to drop Salazar, who seemed to offer much more, for less money, and with seven years more youth on his side.
Four, count 'em, four hits. The only one of note, Chris Young's 15th homer of the season, which gave us a tenuous lead. He's on pace for 25 homers, which would be the most by a rookie center-fielder since Preston Wilson for the Marlins in 1999 (and before that, you've got to go back to Jimmie Hall for the 1963 Twins). That'd also be more than Carlos Beltran (22 in 1999), Ken Griffey Jr. (20 in 1990) or Willie Mays (20 in 1951) hit during their rookie years. Young's power has been one of the few aspects of our young players that has been as advertised, and I look forward to seeing him occupy the position for many years to come.
The GameDay Thread was not exactly a barrel of laughs, but weekday day games are always tough for me to do anything about. Especially when I've just been listening to a customer whine incessantly for 45 minutes - and that's not an exaggeration - because we haven't answered his support ticket yet. And it wasn't even that his server was down or anything; it was just a request to see if we could enabl...Sorry, I'm ranting. Separation of leisure and employment: I learned that lesson courtesy of my previous employers, thankyouverymuch. Thus, thanks to leemellon, suitsmetoATnT, AZSEAfan, singaporedbacksfan, JMEnglish, icecoldmo, DbacksSkins, AZDarkKnight, kylerkenney and oklahomasooners for their contributions.