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Diamondbacks 3, Pirates 8 - D-backs Suck, Upton Doesn't.

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Record: 63-51. Change on last season: +5. Pace: 90-72
Playoff odds: 33.1%. Magic number: 47

Quote of the day: "It really, truly doesn't have a whole lot to do with the money. We can talk about $30million, we can talk about $3million, we can talk about $3. I am just thrilled to be able to stay here and play here for the next three years." -- Eric Byrnes

Of course, whenever anyone claims "It's not about the money", it inevitably is. That's true, whether they are frivolous litigators, outsourcing employers or the owner of Bonds' 756th home-run ball - that, incidentally, will be the only mention he'll get here today. It's particular questionable, when professional sportsmen come out with the line, as they wheel dumpsters full of cash to the bank, and gets me really peeved. They absolutely have the option to play for minimum salary, or any amount less than the bloated contract they currently sign. Claiming otherwise is...let's say "unwise", and leave it at that.

However, in this case, there is an alternative to Byrnes being a hypocritical windbag [which is fortunate, because I really like the guy], connected to the way the offer went down. There's an advert for Gila River Casinos, where a company mail guy gets called into a palatial office, told he's being promoted, and ordered to take a six-week paid vacation to think it over. I've a feeling something similar happened here. According to the story above, "Moorad told Byrnes how much the Diamondbacks wanted to get a deal done and made an offer that Byrnes felt good enough about to take back to his agent."

I've a horrible feeling that this was Jeff Moorad riding roughshod over the, probably more sensible, wishes and desires of his GM. It feels like an owner playing with his toy, if you like. It may or may not turn out to be a bad move, but it's a dangerous precedent to set, and really not the best way to run the team. We've already seen our owners make moves that have ranged from dumb (Green's contract extension) to disastrous (the Huge Manatee). With the club on the verge of breaking out - we could be contenders for the next six years - I'd hate to see the franchise driven off a cliff because someone is wanting to play at being the "big man". I hope this wasn't the case here.

We've already been monitoring Byrnes' second-half statistics in the sidebar, but I'm adjusting the starting point as a result, to when his new contract was agreed on July 29. And, so far, the seven games since that point, Byrnes has been very disappointing, going just 6-for-29 in that time. Let's hope this is not the sign of things to come: I seem to remember Chad Tracy slumped after signing a long-term extension too. And he has never really recovered... :-(

Yesterday, however, Byrnes was just one of many who had a bad night. Just about everyone had one - or, perhaps I should say, Just-in about everyone, because there was one exception. That would be the one who had the majority of our hits, scored the majority of our runs, and came within about three feet of becoming the youngest player ever to hit for the cycle. Justin Upton made his home debute, and the results wee spectacular. Here's a report from someone who was at the game last night:

Got to the game kind of early, expecting a decent buzz in the park, etc. Nada. 10 minutes before first pitch, they do a big video thing about the Byrnes extension, big booming PA, etc., trying to build it up. The few that were actually there were kinda ho-hum. I don't think that's what Kendrick and Moorad had in mind. They thought that the place would be more attended than usual after this recent road-trip, that there'd be a great moment at the park when they announce the extension, and they got nothin. Not even close to the moment that the owners were envisioning.

Byrnes will be a real expensive "clubhouse presence", but he ain't the face of the franchise anymore. It all hinges on this kid. Attendance will spike for the rest of the season solely because of JU10's performance last night. He's special, and the fans show up for special. That's the rub of the EB deal. He's a great role player, but he's not special. And that deal we gave him could have been put together with other funds to sign another special player, putting us over the top.

Of course, this has to be tempered with caution - we saw how Mark Reynolds tore up the league when he first arrived, including a five-hit night. But the league adjusted to him, and he's batting exactly at the Uecker Line over the past month. I can't guarantee the same thing won't happen to Upton, but without him, last night would arguably have been the worst D-backs performance of the year. The rest of the team went 2-for-26 and committed four errors, with as many mis-plays - such as Chris Young breaking in, for a ball that went over his head. Even Conor Jackson saw only ten pitches in four at-bats.

Owings wasn't awful, but saw his ERA rise to 4.96, on six hits and three walks over 6.1 innings. Joe Kennedy made his debut, allowing an unearned run in one inning, and even War had a poor outing, allowing three hits in an inning, as the Pirates scored three times in the ninth - though, again due to an error, only one was charged to Lyon as earned. Orlando Hudson did get two hits, including his tenth homer of the year, and Chris Young has both the walks. Otherwise...yuck. Let's hope for better things tonight. Especially since we are going to be there.

It was the soco and DbackSkins Show in the Gameday Thread last night, the two gentlemen helping pound out a franchise record 240 comments. Many thanks to them, and to everyone else who contributed to the deluge: AZDarkKnight, singaporedbacksfan, TheMainMan, seton hall snake pit, cavscout, VIII, Muu, suitsmetoATnT (who has my sympathy) and Ridster. Heaven knows how many comments we might get if we actually played well...

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Justin Upton, +28.3%
God-emperor of suck: Conor Jackson, -17.1%
Honorary quite-goodness: Chris Snyder, for almost tying the game at four.