Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Hillenbrand's Power Stroke

After Shea Hillenbrand's 3 home run in 3 consecutive innings performance last night, he endeared himself to the home crowd for a long time to come. With Colorado pounding John Patterson for 5 runs in the first 4 innings things it looked like a long night for the home team. Leading off the 4th inning, Hillenbrand hit a fly ball to left. Jay Payton had a good read on the flight of the ball, and made a leap at the wall to rob Shea of the home run. Suddenly, a fan reaches straight out over the fence and knocks Payton's glove forward causing the ball to hit the fan in the upper fore arm. Clearly it was leaving the park, but I think Payton would have made the catch. Fortunate for the D'backs the umpire didn't call fan interference and the HR was allowed. This harkens back to one of my original posts about fan ignorance in Phoenix. The Fox broadcast team actually went out and interviewed this guy. Complete moron.

In stark contrast to Hillenbrand's night, the man he was traded for (Byung Yhun Kim) was his polar opposite. His bad performance garnered the loss against the Yankees and nullified the series for the Red Sox.

Craig Counsell was activated from the disabled list and immediately replaced Alex Cintron in the lineup. I'm curious to see tonight's lineup and find out if Brenly was giving Cintron a days rest or this is a permanent change. Cintron has a 91 point advantage in OPS and almost double the AB's. I still think Counsell is an outstanding utility player who can spot start and play a pivital role in later inning through double switches and pinch hitting.

John Patterson was horrendous last night. With both Schilling and Johnson on their way back soon, Patterson solidified himself as trade bait. He's definitely the first pitcher to be sent to Tucson.

Rumors have surfaced concerning the D'backs pursuit of Juan Gonzales from Texas. Gonzales has already rejected one trade to Montreal, but could be more inclined to accept a trade to the D'backs. I do not believe any team has more tradeable prospects in all of baseball than the D'backs. I can foresee Andrew Good or Jose Valverde packaged with a few other minor leaguers to bring Gonzales here. His presence would be enourmous and I think he can play RF.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Comparison: Dontrelle Willis vs Brandon Webb

This comparison comes about because of the ridiculous attention being placed on Willis by the national media. I endured the All Star Selection show where each of the professional commentators expressed their "displeasure" of his omission from the team. All the media has gone ga-ga over this guy. Deservedly so. He's been outstanding since his callup, dominating his opposition with a 1.16 WHIP. Additionally he's electric on the mound. Best desribed as awkward, his delivery resembles a bad impression of Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura Pet Detective when he falls into the shark tank. He brings excitement to the crowd every time he takes the mound. The problem lies in the fact that another rookie pitcher who is arguably having an even better season is almost completely ignored.

Brandon Webb has been dazzling. His "stuff" is compared to Derek Lowe's and often times considered better. He has a fall off the table sinker that is countered by a sharp breaking ball. Amazingly he is racing toward a rookie record, that has stood for almost 20 years, for consecutive quality starts (12 for 12). He has been nothing short of spectacular. So much so, that he's overshadowed the outstanding season Miguel Batista has had to date.

Here are the numbers for each pitcher:

Willis 11 11 2 71.2 62 17 17 3 21 68 8 1 0 1.16 .239 2.13
Webb 13 12 0 84.0 62 20 19 5 23 64 5 2 0 1.01 .207 2.04

I was first surprised to see that Webb has more starts and innings than Willis. I expected to give Willis that nod, along with the advantage of strikeouts. Webb is a sinker ball pitcher. Sinkerballers generally excel by having teams hit the ball, albeit on the ground. For all the hype that's surrounded Willis (and Jayson Stark lists him as an omission for the All Start team but not Webb) I expected to make an argument that for the time being Willis is better but Webb will be better longer. That just wouldn't be an accurate statement. The only advantage Willis has over Webb is Wins and Losses, which is a stat largely predicated on overall team performance. After all Webb has recorded a quality start in each of his 12 starts. He could conceivably have won all of his starts this year. Due to bullpen blowing leads or poor run support he's been limited to 5 wins versus 8 for Willis. In no other area does Willis have a clear advantage, most glaringly in BAA.

Does Willis deserve the hype? Yes, but not at the detraction from Webb. Brandon Webb should be as big a story as Willis, if not more because the D'backs are back into contention. The few times someone has forced Webb's name into Willis' ESPN glorification, he's only mentioned in passing. In fact on Saturday's Baseball Tonight Rob Dibble actually said "Let's see how they do the second time they go through some teams." If Rob had done any research he'd know that (as was mentioned here) Webb has in fact done just that. Not only once but twice and against two very good offensive teams (Houston and Philadelphia). Not to mention these were back to back starts. Meaning that each team had a real good look at him, but Webb was actually better in his second start BOTH times. This is a prime example of why not to take too much of what these guys say as gospel. They speak and react on emotion. Very seldomly do they actually research information to formulate opinions.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Let's call a Spade a Spade

Rob Neyer started his latest ESPN article as if he was going to eat some crow. He asks the question "How are the D'backs in contention" after detailing the woes they've faced. He goes on to explain who the key factors are (Webb, Cintron, etc...) but with each explanation gets a dig in. Ultimately he answers his original question with this simple one word sentence - Luck. I fell out of my seat. Luck? You don't have the best record in baseball for one month (20-6) on luck. I'm not going to explain why he's wrong in this post. Rather, I'm going to point out what Neyer has confirmed and confirmed with conviction. Rob Neyer is Billy Beane's lap dog. Let's go to the evidence:

1. Last season the Oakland A's were 9 games back at this point in the season. Neyer didn't point out how hopeless the situation was, as he did for the D'backs on April 16th. No, Neyer cautioned that Beane would pull off some moves that will get his club back into contention. He documented the strategy behind Beane's though process. Was he right? Yes, but the point is that he isn't giving the benefit of the doubt to anyone else except Beane, and there was no track record concerning Beane to suggest that beforehand.

2. Quote "if the Diamondbacks really thought he (Webb and Valverde) was so good, then why did he start the season with Triple-A Tucson?". Is he serious? This argument is quite a reach. Almost smacks of bitterness.

3. Neyer is quick to give you Cintron's previous season statistics, but neglects to inform the reader that Cintron didn't just come to life when called up. He was leading the PCL in OPS at the time. Sometimes players figure out what they need to do, and when they do they take their game to another notch. I've noticed Cintron has a different swing this season. Why didn't Neyer? Probably because he hasn't watched a single game these guys have played. Yet, he can devalue their performances based on personal opinion.

4. "You invest a lot of money in a couple of old pitchers, and they don't produce (because they're hurt)". The investment in "old pitchers" has paid off exponentially. When's the last time Billy Beane's A's have won a World Series with their statisically glorified squad?

5. "while five games is not an insurmountable lead, neither is it inconsiderable. Most teams that open July looking at a five-game deficit do not finish in first place". Having a 5 run deficit after the horrendous start this team had is astounding. This isn't a regular 5 game lead. It's a 5 game lead for a team (Giants) that 1) isn't playing nearly as well as they did starting the season and 2) is over two teams with outstanding pitching rotations and 3) over two teams who are playing very good baseball lately. Neyer isn't saying this about the Phillies, who are almost having an exact parallel season as the D'backs.

In summary, Rob Neyer is a columnist I've enjoyed reading for quite some time now. However, I'm keeping a closer eye on the things he writes from now on. I thought he was just a fan of the system Beane designed after Bill Jame's statisical analysis. I'm a fan myself. I have reason to think Neyer is more than just a fan now. I'm watching for more "lap dog" statements in the future.

Monday, June 30, 2003

11 Straight Wins!!!

Today will be short and sweet. I know I haven't posted in a few days either, but it's a busy time for me right now.

11 straight wins after the sweep of the Tigers. My impression of the Tigers is that they aren't just lacking talent but are poorly coached. The errors they committed weren't physical mistakes. For instance, the 100mph heater Ledezma threw to 1st. That's poor coaching.

The "professionals" have finally started to chime in on who stays and who goes when some of the veterans start to heal. On Channel 12's sports show on Sunday night the main argument for demoting the "baby backs" was that they are starting to cool off. Example: Robby Hammock's average is down to the low .300's. How can you not concur? I mean, he'll be replaced by someone who's hitting in the low .200's but isn't "cooling down". They were also quick to use the old adage "down the stretch you'll need veteran experience." That's hooey. Using that advice the Angels would have demoted the guy who almost single handedly won the World Series last year, Francisco Rodriguez. I've said it before, but I just know that guys who have made the largest contributions to the win streak (Cintron, Kada, Hammock, Good and Webb) are going to be sent back down in favor of the injured vets. This team will revert to their losing ways and fall back out of the race if that happens. I'll be booing guys like Grace, Womack (I want to see him go, but not through a serious injury), McCracken and Bautista everytime they come up instead of the others mentioned above.

Womack injures his knee. Preliminary reports are that he "sprained" his knee, but an MRI will be performed today to find the true extent. I've been, along with many others, calling for his release. However, I do still have a heart and I don't want to see him go down with an injury. I've had 4 reconstructive knee surgeries in my life. Each individual injury happened they way Tony's did. I feel pretty sure he at least tore his ACL and probably damaged his Medial and Lateral Meniscus. Both injuries are season ending and could be enough to force Womack to call it a career. I do hope it's not that bad, but I'm not holding out hope.

Brandon Webb was spectacular again. His success was somewhat predictable considering the free swinging nature of the Tigers. Nevertheless, Webb didn't give them a chance. He now has the lowest ERA among rookie pitchers, and this is something to watch because all the media attention is going to Florida's Dontrelle Willis. I promise to post a detailed comparison between the two and hopefully demonstrate why Webb is better not only now but for the long run.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Can't be stopped!!!

What an offensive display last night. Even Tony Womack had a good day (he's had a few lately, I just hope Brenly doesn't consider it "turning around"). I told you all earlier in a previous post that Cintron was the guy to watch out for. He's displaying power way above and beyond anyone's comprehension. It hit me last night that he looks a little like Deker Jeter in his stance, but Cintron stays taller through the swing. That homerun he hit last night was a bomb.

Diamondbacks #1 overall selection debuted last night. Conor Jackson was slotted in the DH spot for the Yakima Bears. Here's his line:
ARZ C.Jackson DH 6 1 3 4 .320 - 3 2B, 2 K
Great opening performance. I look forward to watching him climb through the ranks.

3B Chad Tracy is named to the Futures Game, played during the MLB All Star break. I always try to catch this game. It's on ESPN and you get to see some guys, who'll be household names very soon, show their stuff.

Seems just like a week ago we were all talking about the D'backs getting to .500 (wait, it was just a week ago). Now their comfortably 4 games over and a measly 6 games back of the Giants. We're officially in the playoff race, and I can't wait to see Bobby Valentine get what's coming to him.

The D'backs will go for their second consecutive series sweep tonight, sending Elmer Dessens to the mound. Let's see if he can put two quality starts together and solidify his place in the rotation.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Diamondbacks win 4th straight

What do you know? The D'backs have climbed over .500 for the season, their on a 4 game win streak - doing it against teams that are suppose to be better than average - and still don't have Schilling or Johnson back. Is it a miracle? An abberation? A statisical anamoly? Or is this team better now that some veteran dead weight has been forced to the side. Whether by injury or ineptitude many veterans who were not successfully contributing to the betterment of the team have been replaced by some hungry and talented rookies who are. A recent artlcle at azcentral.com by beat writer Mark Gonazales, titled "D-Backs veterans reach out to rookies" documents how some Diamondback veterans have been trying to help stabilize the future of the franchise. The example given is Gonzo buying Webb and Good a couple shirts from Tommy Bahama's. Give me a break. Many of the D'back veterans should be giving them their paychecks.

Worst of all the interviewed Diamondbacks is Mark Grace. Here are some quotes:
"I think what has happened the last couple weeks makes you realize that nobody here is conceding anything," Grace said. "But you also have to be patient because of all the injuries. We've gone from one of the oldest teams in baseball to one of the youngest, and with that comes young mistakes.

"The learning curves and whatnot, you have to understand we may blow some leads or games because of the mistakes. But you also understand because we're playing kids with almost no major league experience."

Look, I like Grace. He's a great sound bite and he makes me laugh. But he's hitting .208 (Jim McLelland also noted) Quinten McCracken, Danny Bautista and Tony Womack join Grace with their disGraceful performances this season. The problem with these guys is that they're going to continue taking roster spots from the young guys. Once some injuries are healed you'll see Matt Kada back in Tucson first. He's not ready for the show just yet, but he's still putting up better numbers than those listed above. After that you'll probably see Robby Hammock go back down. That's just a shame. They guy plays so hard every second of the game, and he's putting up good numbers. Following Hammock will unfortunately probably be Alex Cintron. You're probably wondering why his name is here after I've touted him so highly earlier, but the sad fact of the matter is that the D'backs are not going to cut any other veteran players this year. They also can't option them to AAA, so we're stuck with them and their poor performances.

I've only covered the position players to this point. I haven't even touched on the pitchers yet, and this bunch will be the most controversial. Primarily because two spots in the rotation will have to be opened within the next few weeks. So who doesn't stick around? Well it's easier to first document who should stay in the rotation. First, Randy and Curt take spots 1 and 2. Even if they've struggled a little. When they are even 80% of their normal performance they're top of the line starters. That leaves Miguel Batista, John Patterson, Andrew Good, Brandon Webb and Elmer Dessens to fill the lasnbsp;

Friday, June 20, 2003

From: "Doug Hutchinson" Subject: Matt Williams

After reading the snippet from Doug Hutchinson at Westwood Blues, I couldn't stop laughing. First, Doug must be another bitter SF Giants fan that can't stand the fact that the D'backs have won the West the last two years, not to mention their first World Series title. Hell, the Giants can still be proud of their last World Series title they won in 1954. It was almost like yesterday. Seriously, why is he so bitter about Matt Williams' release? Obviously, he in fact stated, that he's a big fan of Matt's. That's great, but there is no reason to have delusions of grandeur about his performance. Let's examine just what Matt's done for us lately...

Since 1999, when Matty had one of his best seasons, he just hasn't been that good. He hasn't had one season with a SLG over .500 and his highest HR total is 16. This guy is making $8 million dollars a year. During his career, his best season wasn't really even a season because the strike cut it short. Matt always seems to shine when it doesn't matter that much, and he has an uncanny knack for being bad in the most crucial situations. I'm not going to knock him for his injury problems. Most of them have been freak accidents that just happen. I'm also going to concede the fact that, along with Robin Ventura, he's been one of the best defensive 3rd basemen in this generation. However, he is a 3rd baseman and a 3rd baseman's job is to hit with power. Matty's lost that power stroke since 1999 and it isn't coming back.

His release, once again, was a smart move for the D'backs to make. It certainly isn't a slap in the face to Matt Williams. His time is over, and he's handling it with real class. In fact, I feel he's leaving the game most players should - fighting to stick around just a little longer. Those guys show their love of the game. For all the crap Rickey Henderson stands for, he's demonstrating his love of the game by playing in the Independent leagues at age 94.

BTW, George Steinbrenner sucks for letting Don Mattingly go just one year before winning the World Series. (See, I have my biased favorites too).

D'backs win Rubber Game and take Series from Astros

I contemplated blowing Miguel Batista's horn yesterday but relented after getting the feeling he was going to have an off night. I couldn't have been more wrong. Great performance by him last night, and the offense did just enough to close this series out. The D'backs are now only one game under .500. A series victory over Cincinnati will get them there for the first time all season.

Thursday, June 19, 2003


The jinx is alive. I came to believe that silly superstition was nothing more than (pause) a silly superstition. Luis Gonzalez changed that with one swing of the bat. His homerun off Billy Wager - yes the guy I wrote was automatic just yesterday - in the 9th was just short of a miracle. That one swing sparked a rally that gave the D'backs the win.

There is something about the D'backs taking down big time closers. Add Billy Wagner to this list of names: Eric Gagne, John Smoltz, Rob Nen, Armando Benitez and Trevor Hoffman. I'm not sure but the D'backs may be the only team to have beaten all of these guys at some point.

Brandon Webb was magnificent. There is no doubt in my mind, right now, that he's a legitimate #2 starter in any rotation. This was his 9th start and he's been spectacular in all. If he had just a few more starts this year he'd by my pick to go to the All-Star game for the D'backs this year. There is no way they will have more than one selection, and I'm sure it will be Gonzo as a coaches choice (even if he doesn't really deserve it). At this time my pick would probably be Gonzalez ( I know it looks like I just contradicted myself), but his selection is going to knock a deserving outfielder from the game. Going on a limb I'd say Koplove or Villareal deserve it, but relievers rarely get the selection.

Minor League Watch
D'backs #1 pick Carlos Quentin had a 2 homer game for Stanford against Cal-State Fullerton in the College World Series. 3rd Round pick Jamie D'Antona debuted last night and got 1 hit in 5 at bats. Conor Jackson, having already signed his 1.5 million dollar signing bonus, should debut soon. Chris Snyder is on fire, batting .439 this month, and Chad Tracy continues to produce big number in Tucson.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003


You here coaches and commentators harping on getting that leadoff man out and last night was the prime example why. Biggio lead off the bottom of the 8th and took a HBP to reach first. A few batters, and pitching changes later, the Astros had taken the lead. When you have Billy Wagner coming in the 9th you can start packing the bags. It's over. But, should the Astros have scored that run in the 8th? Let's examine some of the things that were done.

1. Why was Oscar Villareal in the game so long. When he started the 8th it was his 3rd inning of the game. Yes, he's been quite a work horse so far this season but (without looking for sure) he's very close to the top of the league in appearances. With Koplove and Myers (any other reliever for that matter) available, due to the day off, Villareal should never have been in the game in the 8th. I would have started the 8th with Koplove and if somehow Berkman came to bat (like he did) then gone with Myers. The only thing Brenly did differently was start the 8th with Villareal and it was disastrous.

2. Craig Biggio's HBP is the poster child for why batters should not be allowed to wear all that damn padding. That pitch wouldn't have hit him except that Biggio stuck his "padded" elbow out and took the pitch off it. What a sham. Joe Morgan has voice his displeasure with this practice before, and I agree 100%

3. This point didn't have an outcome on the game, but could have really come back to haunt the D'backs. After Biggio is sacrificed to 2nd - stupid play by the Astros in my opinion - Bagwell comes to the plate with Jeff Kent on deck. Villareal pitches around Bagwell and eventually Brenly calls for the IBB when the count goes to 3-0. This is a bad move. If Villareal was pitching around Bagwell because 1st base was now open he made a terrible mistake. If he was told to by Brenly then shame on him. Jeff Kent is a flyball hitter. The only reason, and I think it's rather shakey, to IBB a guy is to set up the double play. But Kent isn't likely to hit into a double play. Thanks to Koplove and Myers, Bagwell didn't end up scoring, but if the Astros hadn't wasted an out with their sac bunt this inning could have been much worse.

Jim Traber Watch

I don't get to watch as many games on the TV as I'd like, but when I do Jim Traber makes me cringe with his comments. If anyone was thinking he'd make the switch like Brenly did, forget it. This guy has no idea was good strategy in a baseball game is. I'm gonna start trying to record all the ludicrous things he suggests. If you happen to hear any I don't mention send me an email. I'll post it, and give you credit. Steve

Monday, June 16, 2003


I was reading each of the blogs listed, by Jim McLennan at But It's a Dry Head blog, as top quality and ran across a link to ESPN's Baseball Blender. I was instantly intrigued and began comparing how the D'backs stand up against some of the better and worse teams in baseball. There was only one constant in the results. Alex Cintron has been producing numbers that compare him to the better players at SS in all of baseball.

Over the past 2 years Cintron has come up to fill in for hurting starters. During his short stints he didn't impress upon me that he belonged in the big leagues. I thought he was a solid defender with no offensive skills. Definitely not a productive player on a major league team. I may have been wrong. Cintron may have just not been ready for the majors, but was forced into the position due to injury. He's certainly proving he not only belongs this year, but should be a mainstay at SS. He currently has a .362 OBP and a .509 SLG. Certainly, after 106 at bat these number aren't a fluke, but I don't expect him to stay at that level for a whole season. That being said he's a far cry better than Womack and even Counsell at the SS position.

With Brenly's propensity to play the "hot hand" I'm sure Cintron won't be in the lineup as often as I'd like to see him, but I'd sure like to see his numbers after 300 at bats of playing every day.

Things to watch for in the coming days

Brandon Webb came off the disabled list and pitched a gem in Minnesota (D'backs still lost). I'm curious to see how he reacts after the type of injury that just never seems to go away without a long -- offseason type -- layoff.

The D'backs offense exploded in Minnesota. The Twins have a very good staff, not only with their starters but probably the best bullpen in all of baseball. Let's see if it continues in the offensive friendly Minute Maid park in Houston.

Rumors have started that Curt Schilling is willing to go to Toronto, and Toronto may be willing to trade for him. The Blue Jays weren't expected to compete this year, but due to their offensive breakout they are only 2 games out of 1st in the AL East. In order to compete they'll have to get more pitching and their ownership may be willing to pay for it.

Watch for Brenly to stick with Womack for another month after his good, 4 for 5, performance on Sunday. It's a shame too, that game was an aberration. Womack was swinging at too many bad pitches. He was just lucky.

Personal Note

I'd like to give thanks to Jim at "But It's a Dry Heat" for mentioning this blog not once but twice recently. He accurately points out that I haven't posted frequently enough, but inaccurately blames it on having a life. I assure you that I do not have a life. The cause for the infrequent posts are due to my job. I've joined with 2 other gentlemen in trying to start a company, and those duties have been daunting. Nevertheless, I'm going to put a concerted effort in trying to post more often. Plus with the recent plugs I'm hoping for some readers which will undoubtedly encourage me to post more.

If you do read this I'd like to hear from you. Email me.

Friday, June 13, 2003


We'll do this by picks. You can go here to see them all .

1.(19th Overall) Conor Jackson 1B University of California 6-3 / 205 Born 05/07/1982
388 48-48 160 53 62 14 1 10 44 108 .675 49 9 22 5 .538 5 0 2-5 157 57 12 .947
Diamondbacks were looking for corner power and found it with Jackson. Highlighting his stats are .538 OB%, and his walk/so ratio is 49/22. Amazing numbers. Played 3rd base early at Cal, but with Team USA was designated hitter. He'll be left playing first base only. His numbers and success on the international stage suggest he'll probably start next year in AA. Unless either Lyle Overbay completely fails in the majors, or Jackson becomes a major stud he'll probably best be used at trade bait in the future.

2.(29th Overall) Carolos Quentin OF Stanford University
393 61-61 239 66 94 23 1 10 56 149 .623 35 14 24 3 .490 4 0 10-13 136 4 4 .972
Another corner guy, this time in the OF. Several sources say he'll need shoulder surgery after the CWS World Series. Don't expect the D'backs to sign him until that situation is clear, but it would be wise to ensure they have signed him to allow their doctors to supervise and monitor the surgery. With the lack of power throughout the D'backs minor leagues he needs to recover quickly. Look for him to start next season in A ball, and finish the year at AA.

3. Jamie D'Antona 3b Wake Forest University. Yet another corner guy. Another guy who has a lot of power - 21 homers this year. With 3B Chad Tracy at AAA and playing well D'Antonia will find himself in a similar position as Jackson. He could end up as trade bait in the future as well. Had quite a prolific college career.

A few college pitchers came next, then the D'backs went to Puerto Rico to take a C named Orlando Mercado. I cannot find any detailed information about this guy. I played with a few Puerto Ricans in JC and I've watched some of the best from that country in the Connie Mack World Series for years. All the catchers I've ever known or seen from Puerto Rico have been well coached and manage a game brilliantly. I'm looking forward to finding more information on him.

For the first time I'm actually excited about the D'backs draft. I think Garagiola read Moneyball just before the selections were made. I wouldn't have been surprised if Billy Beane was ripping the names off his board as soon as the D'backs selections were announced. I happen to see some very good points in the philosophy of the Bill James inspired GM's. I think Joe Jr. did his homework. Additionally, with the "rebuilding" process coming on us so quickly it was a very good move to go after so many college players. I don't think we'll see any superstars from this crop, but 2 or 3 productive major league players are likely and that's a great success.

My hats off to the D'backs on this years draft.

Thursday, June 12, 2003


With the recent purge of Matt Williams, and I don't care what some pundits say he wasn't good for the clubhouse, I began to look deeper at who else the D'backs could send packing.

First I'll say that the designation of Matt Williams was the right move. Even with the financial hit they'll take, he wasn't producing anything. He is currently 17th in the NL in slugging percentage. Absolutely unacceptable. Shea Hillenbrand comes into the NL ranked #3. Vast improvement, but anyone would have been an improvement.

On to Tony Womack. His current numbers are: OBP .253 SLG .319 AVG .223 . Paltry under any circumstance. While defense should only be considered a plus to a players performance, Tony doesn't even possess this quality. He's only committed 6 errors this season, but he's so far off the pace of creating runs he, statisically, couldn't afford to commit even one. Secondly, Womack is not a good leadoff hitter. The D'backs hitting instructors have been pounding the theory of taking a pitch into Tony since the day he arrived. He just doesn't get it, and never will. On top of that he seems almost to refuse to bunt for a hit. It's far to infrequent for a players who's one true asset is speed. For all you superstitious types, do not bring up "clutch hitting". It doesn't exist. Yes, he got some hits in crucial situations. It isn't indicative of his overall performance.

Saturday, May 31, 2003

TRADE!!! Diamondbacks send Byung-Hyun Kim to Red Sox for Shea Hillenbrand.

I haven't seen many people laud the D'backs for this trade. Rob Neyer calls it a steal for the Sox. Jayson Stark says it's good for all. As of this posting ESPN poll respondents are in support of the D'backs aquisition.Arizona Republic's Paula Boivin doesn't seem happy with any of it. There usually isn't this much difference of opinion among the professional baseball pundits. Generally they seem to parrot one another. I thought my opinion on this would be somewhat unique. Although all the bases seem to have been covered, I'm gonna throw my two cents anyway.

First, trading Kim was a good move. I thought the switch to starter may have been a showcase when I first heard of it. Starting the season the D'backs thought John Patterson was going to fill the #5 spot in the rotation. His struggles forced the D'backs to bring Miguel Batista back into the rotation, where I feel he's better equipped to pitch. He's usually fine the first two times through the order which is good for 5 innings a game. I think any team will take that from their #4 or 5 guy. Additionally, it allowed the D'backs to find out if Andrew Good and Brandon Webb could compete at this level. Secondly, I agree with Neyer that Kim isn't good for multiple trips through the lineup. He has control problems that force him to make obvious pitches. I'm also a big believer that a pitcher that has good downward movement on his pitches will always fair better.

Proper mechanics of a baseball swing dictate a slight downward path of the bat through the hitting zone. Manny Ramirez is the best example of perfect mechanics. That's why great players like Ted Williams have always thought of the home run as a "mistake". Meaning the player didn't hit the ball precisely where he wanted to. A perfect swing will result in a line drive, and the baseball will have a backspin rotation causing it to carry into the outfield. Preferably into the between outfielders. Making contact with the ball slightly lower of it's center will cause it to travel on a higher trajectory. When this occurs and solid contact was made with the pitch it will generally carry into the bleacher. Yes, homeruns are the best result of an individual at bat. However, they cannot be the primary result of all at bats and therefore trying to hit the homerun is usually an effective way to hit .200. Therefore a pitch with downward movement is travelling at an opposite angle to the swing of the bat, creating a minutely small intersection of paths for contact. (I don't think I explained that well. A good physisist would do this much greater justice. I do believe this is one of the items that makes baseball such a great sport of skill rather than athleticism)

Kim's pitches do not generally have a downward movement. They've been described as frisbees. I've often thought they compared to the movement of a fast pitch softball. Recently there was a story at ESPN where Jennie Finch pitched against some major league hitters and had tremendous success. I however cannot find that story anymore. Jennie Finch's demonstration vs a few MLB hitters shows how the difference in pitch trajectory can cause a hitter to be thrown off balance temporarily. Given enough "looks" at those pitches will allow MLB hitters to adjust and find success. With the level or even slightly upward trajectory of his pitches MLB hitters have a longer intersection of the two paths.

Shea Hillenbrand is the type of hitter with good mechanics. He's described by Jayson Stark as a line drive hitter who's been hurt by the green monster at Fenway. Statistics show that he's been a more productive hitter on the road. He's also known as an impatient hitter that does not work counts causing his at bats to be less valuable to the overall team concept. The new OPS breed of GM's hate this, and Boston's Theo Epstein is a Bill James disciple. Most people knew he'd want to unload Hillenbrand for the first player of value thrown his way. I'm not as firmly a believer of working the count as these guys are, but it has great value in certain situations. I've always felt that you hit your pitch, no matter the count. The problem with "impatience" comes about when a hitter hacks at a pitch he should take in order to work towards a better pitch. No one exemplifies this poor judgement better than Matt Williams. Hillenbrand's numbers don't necessarily tell the tale of an impatient hitter. I think he lies more on the agressive side.

The last thing I'd like to mention concerning this trade is a tendency Joe Garagiola has developed. I feel it's become more than coincidence that he loves to bring back the local boys. Hillenbrand is a local high school and community college product. When the opportunity arises Joe G. is inclined to make a deal for a local player. Their 1st round pick a few years ago was the controversial choice of C Casey Myers. Another local product. Throw Curt Schilling and Erubiel Durazo in there too. It's not enough to cause concern and it may still be coincidence, but I'm gonna keep watching for more evidence.

Finally my overall thoughts on the trade. Was it good for the Diamondbacks. Yes. They've successfully avoided a large salary increase through arbitration for Kim. I feel they've let a guy who just doesn't seem to always want to be there go. With the emergence of Brandon Webb they were in a situation to deal a pitcher. Was the acquiring of Hillenbrand also as beneficial. I don't think so. I think Hillenbrand is a little above average 3rd baseman. The D'backs need offense in the worse way, so his presence will be welcome. Especially if it means Matt Williams gets less playing time. I would have rather seen them get another player. The Red Sox have some guys who would be better suited, but I think the finances played a much larger role in the trade than is being reported. In summation, I hope Hillenbrand continues to produce the statistics he's displayed on the road with the Red Sox, and I hope the Red Sox move Kim into the bullpen (not as a closer, but a guy who can pitch the 7, 8, 9 innings) and get their full value as well.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

May 19, 2003 / Diamondbacks 4 Giants 3

It sure wasn't pretty, but the D'backs pulled one out last night. This win is the kind that really makes a difference when all is said and done. Rob Neyer listed a number of stats that "proved" pennant winning teams win with blowouts. Not the 1 run games that so many pundits always claim wins championships. His point was in defense of his position that closers aren't worth the money they are paid. I don't completely disagree, but this one run game was different. The game wasn't a 1 run win where the D'backs were relying on their bullpen to hold a lead.

Instead, it was a game where they had to come back from an early but not insurmountable lead. This is why pennant winning teams win more blowout games. They are able to not only get the lead but put the game out of reach. Trailing 3-1 going into the bottom of the 7th inning the D'backs managed to score once in each of the subsequent innings to pull out a win. The amazing thing about his was that they didn't even get a hit in the 8th or 9th innings. Using walks and situational hitting (moving and scoring runners with out). The D'backs didn't play well enough to win this game, but did. That is why this win is so big.

Notes: I was really glad to see Womack lead the bottom of the 1st off with a bunt. It worked for a hit, and propelled Tony to go 3 for 5 in the game. Schilling didn't have his best stuff. When guys hit his splitter you know he doesn't have his best stuff, but he pitched his way out of a couple jams and kept his team in the game. Matt Williams went 2 for 4 in the game, but failed miserably when it mattered most. Strking out with runners in scoring position and popping up to the first baseman while trying to sacrifice bunt in the 9th. The bullpen was terrific again. The D'backs are not 6.5 behind the Giants and 2 more games to go in this series. I'd rather have Johnson and Kim going the next two. Hopefully Dessens and Batista get some run support.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

May 13, 2003 / Diamondbacks 6 Phillies 1

This game didn't look any different from the season pattern for the Diamondbacks for 8 innings. They got good pitching from Brandon Webb, who looks like he's gonna stick with the club. I think he looks like Mike Mussina at times. His breaking pitch has the same movement as Mussina's knuckle curve. As good as Webb was the offense sputtered along for only 1 run in the first 8 innings. How many times this season have the D'backs wasted a quality start this year? I thought this was going to be another notch in that post, but the 9th inning gave us something new and exciting. Clutch hitting.

Quinten McCracken, who was inserted into the game when Brenly made a double switch in the 8th, got a big hit in the 9th to put the D'backs ahead. It opened the flood gates. After that everyone was getting clutch hits. It didn't matter who Larry Bowa sacrificially offered. After Mesa just stunk up the joint, Rheal Cormier came in riding a 16 inning scoreless streak. He promptly gave up a 2 run double to Luis Gonzales. Cormier's streak continues however, as the runs were charged to Mesa. When the smoke cleared the D'backs came out of the 9th with a 5 run inning. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

Tidbits: Brandon Webb proved he's here to stay. He dominated the Phillies for the second time in 1 1/2 weeks. Many times a young pitcher can come up from the Minors and pitch a good game because he's facing the hitters for the first time and the scouting report isn't fully developed. Rod Barajas was highlighted by Peter Gammons in an article on most improved players and had a clutch hit in the 9th. Tonight's game matches Schilling against Brett Myers. Because of Schilling's comments during the offseason concering his desire to finish his career in Philly, he's been bombarded with trade questions from beat writers. I doubt a trade could be worked out, but if something was discussed I'd like to see Garagiola try to get Myers and Burrell.

Thursday, May 08, 2003


In the fourth inning, McCracken went back to the wall in an attempt to snag a long drive by Bobby Abreu. But as the ball came in contact with McCracken's glove, his glove came in contact with a fan's hands. The ball bounced over the fence for a two-run homer.

Man, this happens way to often in the BOB. I've sat in those seats before, and didn't particularly find the others there to be obnoxious. So why does this happen so often?

I cannot comment on other ballparks or cities, but I will make a point on this in terms of my experiences at BOB. Most Phoenix sports fans are generally ignorant. I know this isn't a popular point of view, especially when you want people to read your blog because they are also fans of the Diamondbacks. But I honestly feel this way. It's not just baseball either. Suns and Cardinals paid attendance display their ignorance routinely as well. (I will make an exception for Coyote's fans). I'm not just going to throw this out there and walk away. I'll give you some solid reasons why I think this way.

1. Generally the fans at the BOB are rather subdued. The only time you will find them standing and cheering is when the scoreboard tells them to. Especially when that wierd graphic that looks like monkeys reaching above their head for bananas. Obviously when it's an important game (rivals) , bottom of the ninth, two outs and the D'backs need a hit to win the game paid attendants are cheering without prompting. But that is the most obvious of situations. I've been to several games where I note that it would be a good time to get up and get loud people around me are oblivious to the situation.

2. This is still a new baseball town so fans don't generally know how to cheer at games. During the World Series the fans were raucous and made their present felt. But that's the World Series. Even the most ignorant know to cheer often and loud there. Hopefully over time they'll learn, but after 5 full years there hasn't been much progress. I know Spring Training has been played here for a long time, but that's a completely different atmosphere. Not condusive to cheering for a particular team.

3. Local coverage of sports in this town sucks. Television news only has 2 guys who generally seem to understand sports news. I've actually sat through one particular sports anchor's newscast and was literally shocked at her ignorance. She mispronounces any name that isn't Joe Smith. Her editorial comments are so off base it's astounding. But in general they show highlights that aren't pertinent to the game. Many fans just don't know certain situations make or break games because no one ever tells them. The radio personalities are even worse though. First, most local radio broadcasts have been eliminated. I think the count is down to 3 daily local shows, and that is spread across 6 all talk radio stations. One news station has a show dedicated to local sports that airs in the evening. That show is hosted primarily by Brad Cessmat. It's often times quality programming. However, the local all sports shows just don't cut it. One host in particular is such a homer, not for Phoenix teams, but for New York teams I often wonder if it's a syndicated show from the Big Apple. Besides the fact that I think he just says things to try to evoke controversy, he doesn't have any baseball knowledge. I assume he's garnered some good hockey knowledge but I'd have no clue since I don't know anything about hockey. In town there is a quality football guy, a quality hockey guy, and a quality basketball guy. But no one knows crap about baseball. So the general public has no place to go to gain knowledge in the game.

4. Doing the wave at every single baseball game displays the very essence of an ignorant baseball fan. Please people. Do the wave at Cardinals games.

Wrapping up the topic of discussion. The fans just don't know, when the Diamonback fielder is trying to make a play, they shouldn't interfere. The people that interfere don't even get booed. Maybe one day this will become a quality baseball town, but I seriously doubt it.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Jayson Stark recently submitted an aritcle on April performances (read it here). I wanted to make a few comments because it dealt heavily with the Diamonbacks.

The Diamondbacks and Twins don't want to believe they've already dug a hole they can't climb out of. But history tells us that hole is deeper than they think.

I don't think any team that has started the season as poorly as the Diamondbacks are secure in their standing. I've personally felt like there is a sense of urgency with this team still. However, a frustration has begun to surface that is troubling me. The recent brawls and almost brawls aren't inline with how this team has reacted to the same situations in the past. So, unlike Jayson Stark I think they Diamondbacks are feeling like the whole they've dug may be too big to climb out of.


Of the 112 playoff teams since 1982, only four (or 3.6 percent) finished April more than three games under .500 -- the '87 Tigers (8-12), '89 Blue Jays (9-16), '95 Reds (0-5) and 2001 A's (8-17).

This stat is used to only serve his purpose. It's just too general to be applied in this situation. Besides, how many of those 112 playoff teams had winning Aprils, but losing May, June, July or August's? Baseball is a game that outlasts streaks and anomolies. That is why it's a stat junkies game. Generally stats hold up, but not within a small window of opportunity like an April month record.


We have a motto in life that goes: Make the stats work for you. And that one always applies. But we have another motto, too: April matters. It always matters. And we bet, come September, we'll find that this one was no different.

Well, he does somewhat admit that he's made the numbers work for his argument. I will disagree with his final assessment though for the following reasons:

1. The Giants took advantage of a weak schedule in April. Not until 9 games into the season did they play a team that has a shot at .500 ball for the season. That was the struggling Dodgers and at Pac Bell. Since that time they are 13-8. A more reasonable number.

2. The Giants have a home and away series with Oakland to fufill their "rival" series. The Diamondbacks get a much softer series with Cleveland instead.

3. With Johnson and Schilling on the DL early in the season they'll be saving some innings for later in the year. Last year Schilling ran out of gas in September. I don't think it has a real effect on The Unit, but it won't hurt.

4. I think the opportunity to trade for some offense is greater this year. Recently, because of the injuries, there has been an opportunity for some young talent to show their wares. There are a few good prospects in their minor league system that will draw interest from teams with talent for sale. Look for the Diamondbacks to pick up some right handed power in July if they are within 7 games of the division lead.

So, hopefully Jayson Stark is way off base here. The D'backs have a steep hill to climb, but their in a better shape to get it done than many will give them credit. On the other hand, if I was Los Angeles I'd be panicking.

I noticed there are a number of team devoted blogs that can be easily found. However, I could not find one on the Diamondbacks. Come on...2001 World Champions, and the greatest start for a franchise in the history of baseball and yet no devoted blog. Well, I've decided to take the task on. Plenty of items to catch up on. Hope to get some readers.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?