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Diamondbacks Recap: IF YOU DARE!

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My plans to run the box scores for each game died a swift and painful death with this contest, because the ones from this afternoon were firmly rated NC-17 - as in Arizona had No Chance, and would have needed to score 17 runs to win. Yep, we went down like a ton of bricks, by a margin of 16-3. To the Padres. That's probably even more of an embarrassment than the Dominicans going down to the Dutch  - though since Puerto Rico were trailing in the bottom of the eighth to the Netherlands squad, it seems the country is not only good for tulips, cheese, Rutger Hauer and liberal social values. Mind you, the Dominican Republic is now secretly training to go over there and kick Dutch butt in fierljeppen.

Had a good evening though; got together with three of the other Phoenix SB Nation bloggers, the ones representing the Coyotes, Suns and ASU, and also Tyler from Athletics Nation, for an evening of beer and wings (the latter which I can thoroughly recommend, and I speak as someone who is not normally a fan of them) at Native New Yorker in Tempe. We all got on very well, though I was somewhat disturbed to realize our ASU blogger is a couple of years younger than SnakePit Jr... Topics covered were wide-ranging, from 'Why the Coyotes suck' to 'Twitter: essential tool for 21st-century bloggers, or finger-paints for the ADD-affected?' Good times, and a pleasure to meet everyone; thanks especially to Seth (Bright Side of the Sun) for the lift there.

If you get the feeling I'm trying to put off talking about the game, that would be for the very good reason that this is exactly what I am trying to do. I keep looking at the box-score, trying to find a silver lining, but feel like one of Barack Obama's economic advisors scanning the latest data ("Well, at least most people still have jobs..."). I'll put the rest of this after the jump, to save any easily-influenced young people, maiden aunts and those of a nervous disposition or with a weak heart from accidentally stumbling across the gory details.

The best I can say is that Jon Garland is clearly still working on his cutter. "I was just throwing a lot of fastballs and a lot of cutters, doing a lot that I wouldn’t be doing during the season, certain counts on certain pitches," he said afterwards. I certainly hope that allowing six hits, four of them for extra bases, and six earned runs in 2.1 innings is another thing he won't be doing during the season. Somewhat in his defense, it was his first start since February 27, but I must confess, the recent ongoing series of really poor outings from our pitchers is giving me some cause for concern. Our projected starters (Garland, Davis, Haren, Scherzer and Webb) now have a collective Cactus League ERA of 11.19, though Max and Brandon haven't appeared in a game yet. I know it's spring, but...

Here's another disturbing trend. One of the ideas floated about spring training, was that only the first few innings - when the starters play - have any meaning. If so, things don't look good for the Diamondbacks. Because, through 5 innings of play in each game (including the two against Mexico), Arizona's record stands at a feeble 3-7, with two games tied. In those front five innings, we've scored only 38 runs and allowed 52, though that number is skewed a fair bit by the 11-1 tally on the scoreboard from this afternoon's non-contest.

To finish off poking the box-score from this afternoon, from a safe distance, with a stick borrowed from someone else. Peguero and Marte pitched scoreless innings. Nobody else did, the worst offenders being Septimo's two hits, three walks and four earned runs, and Newby's four hits and a walk while retiring exactly one batter. On the offensive side, Miguel Montero did have a rare home-run for the Diamondbacks this spring, while Mark Reynolds had a pair of hits. Can I stop now? Please?

Good news, bad news on the health front for the rest of our pitchers. Doug Davis is feeling better, after a throwing session today initially started badly, with pain in his left arm, but that eventually shook itself out. "I didn't expect it to be that good," said Davis, though he's still some way from getting back to the mound. More sessions of catch will be first, then possibly a bullpen session later in the week. Bob Melvin seems optimistic about Davis still being ready for Opening Day, if he can get four or so starts between now and then. Not so good news for Doug Slaten, who was pulled from his expected outing, to try and straighten out his command issues. But Eric Byrnes is almost ready to play, and may see action this weekend. Be still, my beating heart...

Some interesting Diamondbacks-related tidbits in this review from the Hardball Times of a sports analytics conference held by MIT's Business School - or, as the site described it, Dorkapalooza 2009. Our director of baseball operations, Shiraz Rehman, was there, giving insight into the tools we use, including a database with video of every pitch. Rehman said the team were aggressive with using a defensive shift against pull-happy LHB; they "occasionally took a hit with the local media" for its frequent use, but that it was worth it. There are some other good nuggets, such as his belief "a greater understanding of replacement level and the talent available in the minor leagues helped drive the decrease in the value for contracts to veterans."

Also worth a look is a fairly detailed season preview for the Diamondbacks over at The Blue Workhorse. I made a teeny contribution, as they asked me to choose one of the following statements and finish it with a short response (2-3 sentences). "The Diamondbacks WILL win the World Series because..." or "The Diamondbacks WILL NOT win the World Series because..." That was something of a challenge, to try and distill everything down into such a short space. Feel free to chip in with your own choices and answers to the question posted.