Record: 46-38. Change on last season: +6. Pace: 89-73
Quote of the Day: "This should be when the young, fresh guys are ready to go. That's the idea. All of them have gone through periods where they've struggled and all of them have gone through periods where they've had success. Now it's time for them to turn into major leaguers and be consistent day in and day out. That's what every one of our guys should expect -- day in and day out consistency, which we really haven't had as a team. It's something we need, though." -- Eric Byrnes
Or perhaps to be closer to the truth, should today's headline be simply, "Time to panic"? Because I'm having serious concerns about this current stretch. It's not the first time we've lost six of eight, but the manner of the defeats is what bothers me. Compare and contrast, say, the spell from April 16-24, where we lost seven of eight. But take a closer look at the stats from then and now:
Then Now BA .224 .210 OBP .308 .280 SLG .331 .330 R/G 3.43 2.62 ----------------- ERA 4.69 5.20 R/G 5.12 6.74 OBA .259 .304 WHIP 1.42 1.83 ----------------- RDiff -17 -33
There's not an aspect of our game - pitching, hitting, defense - which is not significantly worse, and the results speak for themselves. All of the defeats in the earlier streak were by five runs or less: most were by one or two runs. In this streak, half the losses have been by seven runs or more. This has all the makings of a long, unpleasant July slump.
The speed with which things fell apart last night is disconcerting. This was level as late as the seventh inning stretch, but Webb allowed the first two hitters in the bottom half to reach, one reaching when Webb dropped a throw covering first, the other being drilled. That was the end of our ace's night. Tony Peña came in and promptly disposed of the tied game, allowing three hits before retiring a batter. And a Jackson error led to four unearned runs in the eighth. Boom. This one exploded faster and with more venom than a Michael Bay show-reel.
Meanwhile, the offense was basically non-existent: we only had two at-bats with runners in scoring position all night. Both came in the sixth, where we scored all three of our runs. Snyder led off with a homer, and Tracy drove in two with a two-out single to give us the lead, the most clutch hit we've seen in a while [I'd say since Reynolds' two-out triple on the 23rd May gave us a 5-4 lead over the Orioles] All we managed was one walk and four hits, with no-one reaching base more than once.
I note the pressure does seem to be on hitting coach Kevin Seitzer. He was the first person quoted in Nick Piecoro's report today, though perhaps the most interesting paragraph comes from further down the story:
Of course, that's easy for Byrnes to say, with an OPS+ 28 points better than last season. I'd have been much more impressed had Drew or Quentin come to Seitzer's defense. Though it's conceivable Quentin, batting .195 since Nay 28, may not be long for the roster anyway, with Melvin vowing to shake things up - and he may not just mean through a use of his lineup dice. Though Melvin denies it, one wonders whether Mark Reynolds' stint in the outfield on Sunday was some kind of audition.
Copious thanks to DbacksSkins and hotclaws, who were ploughing an almost lone furrow in the Gameday Thread. Though welcome to TheAZFan as well, who made his debut, albeit in a cameo role, and we also saw singaporedbacksfan, icecoldmo and andrewinnewyork in walk-on parts. They were playing the roles of the Arizona hitters. Except our hitters didn't even walk anywhere. More "slouch back to the dugout" roles, I guess...
Enjoy Hudson while he's here, folks - even though he's not a free-agent until the end of next season, it looks like he won't be around after that. He told KTAR 620, "I don't think I'll be here for the remainder of my career. Even for the next couple of years, I don't think I'll be here." At the risk of stating the obvious, it'll be difficult to replace a Gold Glove-winning All-Star.
But his next contract will be the golden one, long and profitable. And since it'll likely be overpaid and for declining returns - he'll be 31 by Opening Day 2009 - Arizona would be wise not to get involved. As a warning sign, at the moment, Hudson's second most comparable player on BR is Butch Henline: after his age 31 season, he batted just .234. Junior Spivey is also in the top ten...