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Series Preview #39 : Diamondbacks @ Padres

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Arizona Diamondbacks (50-70)

@ San Diego Padres (50-70)

Thursday’s game at San Diego is superhero themed. Superheroes can be strong, fast, and agile. Superheroes “gotta” be fresh from the fight and larger than life. Blah, blah, blah… Is it mega hype? Is it too one-sided? I, for one, think we should give equal time to villainy, especially supervillains.

I enjoyed a book, The Rules of Supervillainy by C.T. Phipps. The central character, Gary, had a choice and he decided to be a supervillain.

Let’s imagine for a second that Superpowers Primes mistakenly delivers a power-ring to you. Your power-ring gives you power to play baseball like an All-Star, but only if you do a dastardly or underhanded deed each week. For example, think of tripping your mother as she rounds third base. News traveled fast. Dave Stewart has just offered you a league-minimum contract to play third base. What would you do?

A great start to your villainous effort would be stealing a series win from the Padres. I say let’s get an early start on next season’s super villainy!

Moving on, is it villainy when a Diamondbacks’ third base coach quits to manage another team? You may want to read this week’s player in the spotlight.

Catwoman - Supervillain
Catwoman - Supervillain
Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Pitching Matchups

Thursday. Paul Clemmens (4.03 ERA, 5.78 FIP, 4.7 IP/GS) vs Archie Bradley (4.91 ERA, 4.69 FIP, 5.6 IP/GS).

Battle of the league-average pitchers, part 1. Paul Clemmens and Archie Bradley have an ERA+ of 101 and 89. Nevertheless, I am confident that the D’Backs will be in the game after 4 innings. Why do I say that? Paul Clemmens is twice as likely to allow hits when his team is ahead. In 2016, his team has been ahead for 39% of his batters, when he has given up 75% of his hits. Archie Bradley allowed hits equally.

Friday. Jarred Cosart (3.77 ERA, 4.53 FIP, 4.8 IP/GS) vs Zack Greinke (4.31 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 6.2 IP/GS).

Battle of the strikeouts. In 2016, Jarred Cosart has less strikeouts per inning pitched than Zack Greinke (0.70 vs 0.85 strikeouts per inning). Strikeouts are how I will compare two pitchers who likely have something to prove. The reason Jarred Cosart has something to prove is that in the last three years his ERA+ has dropped from 208 to 81. And Zack Greinke’s last start was the worst of his career. Because he is an All-Star, I expect nothing less than a full bounce back. I predict Diamondbacks will win this game.

Saturday. Clayton Richard (4.26 ERA, 7.72 FIP, 5.0 IP/GS) vs Robbie Ray (4.47 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 5.5 IP/GS).

Battle of the league-average pitchers, part 2. Clayton Richard (who recently discovered how pine tar can ruin his uniform) and Robbie Ray (possible #2 in 2017 rotation) have an ERA+ of 99 and 98. Clayton Richard was a relief pitcher for the Cubs. On 3 August they released him. He signed as a free agent with the Padres. On 14 August he started for the first time this season. He pitched 5 innings with 2 earned runs. This game, he will face Robbie Ray. In Ray’s last start he pitched against Bartolo Colon, who wanted a win so he could say he had beaten all 30 teams in the Majors. Robbie Ray shut the door by earning the win. Super!

Sunday. Luis Perdomo (6.68 ERA, 4.92 FIP, 5.3 IP/GS) vs Braden Shipley(4.30 ERA, 5.97 FIP, 5.8 IP/GS).

Battle of the rookies. As a rookie, Luis Perdomo started the season in the bullpen and since June has been a starter. He has struggled mightily. Over his 28 games, his ERA started at 54.00 and it slowly dropped to 6.68. This is similar to Braden Shipley, whose ERA started at 10.12 and dropped to 4.3. Shipley has done very well, with the exceptions of his first and last start. I am confident that Braden Shipley will bounce back and the Diamondbacks will win this game.

Manager of Padres
Andy Green on Opening Day
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Player in the Spotlight

“The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”— Bobby Knight

In 2015, Andy Green was third base coach for the Diamondbacks. After 22.5 hours of conversations/interviews, he was hired as Padres manager. He said he learned a lot from Chip Hale. And both have something in common – they are changing their team’s culture.

What is the Padres’ new culture? I found answers in Andy Green interviews and articles. In brief summary, the new culture has four aspects: attitude, focus, expectations, and open-mindedness.

Attitude: The Padres coach adversity. They welcome the difficulty of being a Major League player. They encourage a positive attitude that adversity is an opportunity to separate yourself and your team from others. They discourage a negative attitude of feeling pressure that you have to succeed because eventually a negative attitude erodes confidence.

Focus: The focus is on the fine details of playing the game the Padres way. Ideally the Padres will a) play intelligently, b) take advantage of whatever the opponent gives them each day, and c) play aggressively.

Expectations: The Padres expectation is that this day, a) we get the most out of what we can do, b) we get better today, and c) we commit ourselves to a process. Their way is we have a plan, embrace that process, put guys in a position to succeed, and get the team moving forward.

Open-Minded to Coaches and Players: Andy Green said Chip Hale empowers his coaches to make real decisions that impact games. I’m certain Andy Green shares that open-mindedness to his coaches making real decisions. Andy Green’s relationships with his coaches and players are open-minded in two ways. First, he thinks it is important to know their skill sets before he asks them to play a certain way. Second, he accepts questions and encourages suggestions related to things he wants to try. Andy Green’s open-mindedness is effective because he has “great power of recollection.”

As third base coach, Andy Green said he focused entirely on that job. He did not play politics to improve his chances of obtaining a manager position. He said that his credo is to leave every place better than before he started. That is what he does.

Although “everything” hinges on the quality of the players, he said that a manager position is about forming relationships and building trust. Success is measured by the team buying into a plan that moves the team forward.

Both the Diamondbacks and the Padres teams, despite having a plan and moving forward, have more losses than wins this season. Paradoxically, in the context of losing seasons, they are preparing to win. That paradox is amazing!

Before becoming a coach, Andy Green played in the Majors. From 2004-2006, he played in 136 games for the Diamondbacks. In 2007, he played in 7 games for the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan. In 2009 he played in 4 games for the Mets. He used his time, mostly bench time, to prepare to win. Although he would have preferred to play instead of sit on the bench, that time was extremely valuable in his current position!

Because he devoted his whole life to preparing to win as a player and as a coach, Andy Green is our player in the spotlight!