It's an off-day for the Diamondbacks: the schedule seems littered with these early on, but enjoy 'em while you can, because we'll eventually be yearning for them [at the end of August Arizona has a stretch of 16 games in 16 days, so get ready for that]. However, there are a number of things to talk about, one way or another. First of all, it appears the message has finally got through to Melvin, with the Republic reporting this morning that Rauch's role in th... No, hang on: let's treat the headline on this announcement with all the solemn gravity it deserves:
Dancing in the streets scheduled for 9pm. Nothing formal yet, but Nick Piecoro says, "Reliever Jon Rauch's days as the club's seventh-inning set-up man appear to be nearing an end. Manager Bob Melvin seemed to indicate as much on Wednesday when he said Tom Gordon will assume a prominent role in the pen upon his activation from the 15-day disabled list." Finally: though must admit, I thought he'd already been replaced by Juan Gutierrez? Still, anything is to be welcomed which pushes Rauch down the preference list to his rightful position as a pitcher - somewhere between Hannah Montana and that guy who does the ShamWow! adverts, I'd say. Gordon will likely have one more start in Reno, so I'd expect him to be up here after the weekend, or maybe sooner. Given the bullpen ERA is 6.50, Gordon should be an upgrade on the worst arm there.
And now, to our financial desk. Forbes published their annual survey of baseball franchise value: the Diamondbacks rank #19, up one spot from last year, with a value of $390 million, an increase of about 3%. They particularly approve of the $250m, eight-year TV contract with FSAZ, saying it is "among the most lucrative local television deals in baseball." Unsurprisingly, the Yankees and Mets are top of the charts, but all is far from rosy in the Big Apple. Both teams "face a public relations nightmare and possibly millions of dollars in lost revenue," after failing to sell thousands of the most-expensive seats in their new stadia after Opening Day. I note the crowd for the Giants' game on Wednesday was apparently the lowest the Giants have had since moving to their new park in 2000. However, attendance is basically down all over, with the total figure for the first two weeks down 7% on the same period last season.
The Diamondbacks listed on the All-Star ballot were announced, and it's pretty much our regular line-up: odds against any of them making it to the show based on popular demand, since no Arizona player has done so since 2001. It seems pretty ridiculous to start the voting after less than three weeks of the season. But what the heck: here are my NL picks for the 18-Day All Stars, based on the stats up until the start of play today (minimum of 25 plate-appearances)
- Scott Hairston, CF (SDP) - .438/.471/.750
- Brian Barden, SS (STL) - .391/.440/.826
- Raul Ibañez, LF (PHI) - .365/.421/.769
- Ryan Ludwick, RF (STL) - .370/.400/.761
- Chase Utley, 2B (PHI) - .362/.474/.638
- Adam Dunn, 1B (WAS) - .283/.476/ .609
- Ian Stewart, 3B (COL) - .333/.417/.667
- Yadier Molina, C (STL) - .340/.424/.500
- Johan Santana, P (NYM) - 19.2 IP, 1 ER, 27 K
This was based entirely on the best OPS+ at the position, but depressing to note no less than three ex-Diamondbacks appear on the list. For losing whom we received, as total compensation... Leo Rosales. Yeah, I know it's early in the season - still, with our offense not so much bumping along the bottom, as attempting to drill its way to the Earth's core, tell me we couldn't have used a couple of these 1.000+ OPS hitters the past couple of weeks.
I'll finish with a few links of interest. From the Tribune, Scott Bordow contrasts the strong words from the franchise after Grimsleygate to the tacit acceptance of both Scott Schoeneweis and Matt Williams. The Republic discusses Eric Byrnes' use of a custom $2,000 mouthguard, and how team-mates CoJack and Special K are not exactly inclined to follow suit. And on the team site, Josh Byrnes talks about the team's slow start to Steve Gilbert: "A lot has gone wrong, yet we've still managed to win some games and not dig too big of a hole. I think we can get healthier and play better and do little things better. I think to say we're capable of playing better than this is an understatement."
I'm off to pack boxes while watching something intellectually unchallenging. Ah, the joys of moving. Back tomorrow, with a preview of the Giants' series around lunchtime.