Tag Archives: Arizona Diamondbacks

Charles Barkley Should Be Rolling Over In His Grave

As the legendry Phoenix sports figure Charles Barkley might say “First of all Ernie, let me tell you something. The Phoenix Suns are turrible. Charles Barkley should be rolling over in his grave.” Now that the near miraculous Arizona Cardinals season has ended in disappointment, the only teams we have currently playing are the Suns and the Coyotes.

The Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks have had pretty similar paths over the past several years. The Suns have finished at or near .500 in three of their past five seasons, with one decent season in 2013-14, and a terrible campaign the year before. The team has not even made the playoffs since 2009-10. The Diamondbacks have also finished exactly at or very close to .500 in three of their last seasons, with 2014 being a very forgettable year.

While this comparison does not seem very encouraging at first, what we have learned from the Diamondbacks is that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. This offseason the D-Backs shook up the baseball hot stove with their huge signing of right handed pitcher Zach Greinke, and also signed RHP Shelby Miller from Atlanta.

During the offseason the Phoenix Suns did everything they could to try and sign coveted free agent LaMarcus Aldridge, but they did not succeed. It seems as if they will need to do something similar this year to try to get a big free agent that can turn things around. At this point the team would be best off trying to tank and lose as many games as possible so they can get more ping pong balls in the draft lottery. If they can get a high draft pick and a big name free agent, the Phoenix Suns might get back to being respectable faster than Charles Barkley can yell for their hated rival “Ginobili!”

 

The Arizona Diamondbacks 2016 Projected Starting Pitching Rotation

The Arizona Diamondbacks finally decided to spend some money and now have one of the best pitchers in MLB in Zach Greinke and a solid #2 starter in Shelby Miller. The team spent more money on Greinke alone than they have on free agents over the past several seasons combined. The D-Backs gave Greinke $206.5 million over six years, which has now become the highest salary in MLB history.

This deal may remind Valley sports fans of when Randy Johnson came to town in 1999, and we all know what happened in 2001. Many are saying that Arizona gave up too much to acquire the services of Miller, who had a terrible record last year in Atlanta. Not only did the Diamondbacks give up local favorite OF Ender Inciarte, but they also gave up #1 pick Dansby Swanson and fellow pitching prospect Aaron Blair.

Wherever you stand on the trade, the Diamondbacks want to win now and plan to do so with their pitching. As of mid-December this is how their starting rotation looks:

GettyImages-492838076#1: Zach Greinke

2015 Record: 19-3

2015 ERA: 1.66

2015 WHIP: 0.84

 

 

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves#2: Shelby Miller

2015 Record: 6-17

2015 ERA: 3.02

2015 WHIP: 1.25

 

 

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks#3: Patrick Corbin

2015 Record: 6-5

2015 ERA: 3.60

2015 WHIP: 1.27

 

 

 

during the MLB game at Chase Field on April 7, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.#4: Rubby De La Rosa

2015 Record: 14-9

2015 ERA: 4.67

2015 WHIP: 1.35

 

 

 

 

 

Houston Astros v Arizona Diamondbacks#5: Robbie Ray

2015 Record: 5-12

2015 ERA: 3.52

2015 WHIP: 1.33

The Arizona Diamondbacks Need Either Johnny Cueto Or Shelby Miller

The Arizona Diamondbacks, much like the Phoenix Suns, seem to have become stuck in mediocracy. In both 2012 and 2013 the team had exactly a .500 record with 81 wins and 81 losses. In 2014 they dropped down to an MLB worst 64 wins, but in 2015 the D-Backs were able to rebound with 79 wins.

The Diamondbacks now have a nice core of young players including Archie Bradley, Patrick Corbin, Nick Ahmed, Jake Lamb, Chris Owings, and Socrates Brito. Of course they also have team MVP Paul Goldschmidt who is still relatively young at 28 years old. Last season the Diamondbacks’ team logo was “One-62 Plus” which meant they were hoping to once again reach the postseason.  So what exactly are the team’s plans to finally have a winning season and make a playoff push?

Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

The team has expressed interest in the veteran free agent pitcher Johnny Cueto as well as younger pitcher Shelby Miller. The D-Backs starting rotation has promise but certainly needs help. The problem is that the team does not want to give up enough to get someone that may be able to make a significant difference in the NL West standings. They don’t want to pay more than $18 million a year, get rid of any of their young prospects, or give up a high draft pick. With that being said, Arizona offered Cueto a six year deal for $120 million, but the veteran right hander reject the deal.

The team clearly needs an ace on their staff and Cueto could be just that. He has an eight year career ERA of 3.30 and in his last five seasons that is down to 2.70. The Diamondbacks have made a lot of moves in recent years, but none of them have really seemed to pay off, and they seem to shy away from big name free agents.

Butch Dill/Getty Images
Butch Dill/Getty Images

Perhaps they would be better off working out a deal for Shelby Miller of the Atlanta Braves. Negotiations between the two clubs have been taking place, with Arizona turning down a deal that included A.J. Pollock. If they are serious about getting their hands on Miller, they better work something out fast. It has been reported that as many as 20 other MLB teams have checked on the pitcher’s availability.

If the Diamondbacks stay put with their current core of young talent, they may be able to scrap out a decent 85 win season, but with the Giants and Dodgers still in their division, they are not going to get anywhere. They need to make a big move and a starting pitcher is exactly what they need. Whether it is Cueto or Miller, someone in the organization needs to get a deal done fast.

Questioning Fanhood

Sometimes, I wonder if I am, indeed, more than a fan. After all, I moved away from the city where all most of my teams reside.

The more I do this stuff, the pods, the writing, the live radio show, I wonder if it actually makes me less than a fan. After all, I’m taking on a stance of less subjectivity. In fact, if all the dysfunction and failure to see my teams reach the pinnacle doesn’t take away from my fanhood1You know, of the Cleveland teams., I’m not sure what will. I’ve come the conclusion that only an obligation, by way of occupation, the whole “no cheering in the press box” will deter me from the tears of joy. Who am I kidding? Cleveland only offers tears of agony.

My father once watched a childish demonstration2I’m not proud to admit he’s witnessed many of these immature displays, mostly when I was an actual child., and in the interest of full disclosure, it wasn’t that long ago that I pouted over a Phil Taylor offsides penalty that reduced the Browns chances of victory from slim to none against the Ravens, that begged the question, “I don’t know why he still cares so much”. I do care, and sometimes it brings me shame to show that, but it always defines my character. We see it so much, why do we settle for this shit show that is the Browns? My answer is simple…I ain’t got no place else to go. Could I shut down shop, and just root for the local Cardinals? Of course, I could, but it’s my decision not to. I don’t want to show my middle finger to my friends and family back home; I’d rather poke my own eye out3In the interest of full disclosure, I should reveal I like the Cardinals.  Living vicariously through my local friends, I’m thrilled with their current success.

I could take the cop out, you know, that the “real” Browns left in 1995 and they aren’t coming back. Had I left before this ridiculous knock-off stepped onto the scene, maybe I’d have grounds to do that, not for the approval of others, but for inner-peace, but I don’t go that route.

Putting the Browns on the back-burner for a moment, they’re only a fraction of the agony of my fanhood. I have more history with the Indians, and I marry myself to them more than I probably should. I remember taking on the unfathomable plan of what exactly it was that I would do when they finished the job in 2007. It wasn’t even a matter of “if”, and that was before they’d put away the Yankees in a best-of-5, even before they took a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead over Boston in the best-of-7 in the American League Championship Series, where actuality revealed a much crueler fate for the Sons of Geronimo. I’d gotten married that summer4Ironically, it was on a weekend that saw the Tribe swept by the very Yankees they took down in the playoffs, but I spent more time thinking about renting the tuxedos and limousines to celebrate the Indians’ first World Series win since 1948 than for any of the particulars of my own wedding. There was going to be champagne, and there wasn’t going to be any concern for sustaining employment. I don’t know if it’s accurate to say a state of depression followed, but I promise a very un-Christian period of hatred for all-things-Boston culminated from that point. I have a very dear friend from Cape Cod, and quite frankly, I’m surprised he didn’t kick my ass to the curb in the aftermath of that ALCS and subsequent Red Sox sweep of the Rockies in that World Series, but he’s a fan too, so I’m pretty sure got it/gets it.

If you think it’s just Cleveland, you’d be wrong. I’ve grown an affinity for a few of my new home’s local teams, specifically the Phoenix-turned-Arizona Coyotes. After Game 7 of the NHL’s 2010 Western Conference Quarterfinals, things got weird with me and Detroit. I was a little more numb when the Winged CCCP swept my Desert Dogs out of the 2011 Stanley Cup Tournament, but when my hockey team actually started advancing in the playoffs, my hate, and I don’t use that word lightly, shifted to the Kings of Los Angeles. Phoenix had grown on me.

By 2013, I was a partial-season ticket holder with the Arizona Diamondbacks and a full-fledged Arizona State Sun Devil Football season ticket holder. That was the summer that Ian Kennedy put a pitch in Yasiel Puig’s earhole, which included a subsequent brawl that was the flashpoint for the Dodger ascent and Arizona’s fall to the bottom of the pack, a fall they’ve yet to fully recover from.

By the time the Dodgers clinched the National League West at Chase Field that September, I had such a low opinion of that organization, and all of Los Angeles, that the news/rumor of a few Dodgers players draining the main vein in the center field pool had me feeling like Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

I guess the point is, I don’t know how to do casual. I’ve adopted my wife’s Northern Illinois Huskies, and I sometimes feel guilty about not being all-in, not hating Toledo and Western Michigan head coach PJ Fleck5Fleck was a great receiver at NIU when they first stepped on to the national scene, behind the great running Michael “The Burner” Turner, earlier this millennium.. I guess I’m getting there, but I’m pretty far in for a guy that spent the early part of his adulthood just paces away from Kent State, with friends at MAC schools in every part of Ohio.

I think leaving Ohio is as much to blame for my passion as being from there is. I feel like I have some sort of obligation to serve as an ambassador, while 2500 miles from the place I called home for so long. I don’t know how to be anything other than passionate and loyal; while it destroys any hope for normalcy in my life, I feel it can be quite the virtue. If I’m a genuine sports fan, but fake at the other things I do in life, I’m exposed as a fraud.

With Yours Truly, there isn’t anything fraudulent to be revealed. I’m the genuine article, even if it means admitting that I’m not proud. Browns fan? Duh. Tribe fan? You know it. Cavs fan? With or without LeBron, you know I am, and I’m unapologetic for being so against him and the possibility of a return for four years, until it happened. If I want to leave a legacy of any sort, it’s that I root for the home team, just like my father in my love life. He says, if you like her, I like her.

It’s a front of the jersey thing. It says Cleveland, Phoenix, Arizona, or whatever’s important to me, I’m on board. Being a fan is cool; never be ashamed.

I never claimed to be brilliant, but I think that’s a principle that gets you through life, whether that concept is subject to scrutiny or not.

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1. You know, of the Cleveland teams.
2. I’m not proud to admit he’s witnessed many of these immature displays, mostly when I was an actual child.
3. In the interest of full disclosure, I should reveal I like the Cardinals.  Living vicariously through my local friends, I’m thrilled with their current success
4. Ironically, it was on a weekend that saw the Tribe swept by the very Yankees they took down in the playoffs
5. Fleck was a great receiver at NIU when they first stepped on to the national scene, behind the great running Michael “The Burner” Turner, earlier this millennium.

MLB Replay Review: Despite Early Challenges and Fan Unrest, It’s Working

We’re now officially a full week into the 2014 Major League Baseball season and one thing is already very clear: The new replay review and challenge system instituted by MLB has become a lighting rod for fans and media alike.

In just one week I’ve heard so many complaints, I don’t know where to start, so I’m just going to address the most popular complaints.

#1. The challenge and review process takes too long. The stats from opening day showed the review process took an average of 1 minute 39 seconds or the amount of time Rafael Betancourt takes between pitches (actually that seemed much longer, but I digress). In reality, there have been challenges that have taken three to five minutes to complete (see: Cle VS. Oak), which is indeed too long, but the point is, after all, to get the call right.

#2. Instant replay takes the human element out of the game. Instant replay does not remove the human element. Umpires will continue to call the game, and they will still make mistakes. The “challenge” system offers managers the opportunity to right some of those wrongs, though not necessarily all of the mistakes that could be made. The managers will have one or two chances to “challenge” a call, depending on the result of the first challenge. The San Francisco Giants found this out the hard way against the Arizona Diamondbacks when manager Bruce Bochy challenged a pick-off attempt at first base only to have the challenge go against him. Two plays later, the home plate umpire blatantly missed a safe/out call at home plate and, despite numerous protests, Bochy was unable to have the call reviewed since he lost his initial challenge. Hence the “human element” is still very much in play.

#3. The “flow” of the game is interrupted. One of the biggest complaints by many observers of baseball is that the game takes too long. MLB has taken steps to improve the “flow” and speed of the game by adjusting rules for pitchers and hitters alike. One thing that has always interrupted the “flow” is a blown call or perceived blown call. In the past, every time there was a controversial call or play that a manager didn’t agree with, you’d immediately see said manager storm out of the dugout and rush straight for that umpire. People seem to forget that those tirades would take three, four, five, heck, even ten minutes long when Lou Pinella was tossing bases or caps, or kicking up a Pigpen-esque cloud of dirt. They don’t think of the amount of time wasted because of the entertainment value of those tantrums, which is something you don’t get during a replay review, but hey, at least now people will get to view the controversial play on the Jumbotron, which didn’t happen previously.

#4. The spirit and history of the game will be tainted. I’ve heard some people say that instant replay ruins the spirit or history of the game and that they wont watch it anymore. In my opinion, if people are going to stop watching baseball because of instant replay, then they really weren’t fans in the first place. As far as the spirit and history comments go, the only history I can think of is blown calls deciding games rather than players and skill. I believe one of the truest statements of all time is that you never know the names of the best umpires in the game because, when an umpire does his job, he doesn’t become part of the game or history.

My best example of this occurred during a Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers game in 2010 when umpire Jim Joyce blew an out call at first base on the 27th batter of the game that cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. Instead of going down as one of only 24 pitchers in MLB history to throw a perfect game, Galarraga is just another guy who came close, while Joyce has a asterisk next to his name that’ll never go away.

MLB’s enactment of instant replay and the challenge system isn’t perfect. There will be flaws that reveal themselves in the forms of time delays and missed calls because of managers not having challenges available. MLB has already stated the process is in the beginning stages of a three-year evaluation period. This first season will reveal the flaws and MLB will make the necessary adjustments moving forward. While this implementation of an imperfect system will undoubtedly upset some fans and media, the ultimate goal is to get it right and in the end, what’s wrong with that?

As Head Injuries Mount, MLB Searches for Suitable Solution

On the eve of the 2014 Major League Baseball season officially beginning down under in Australia, an all-too-familiar and scary moment occurred thousands of miles away in Surprise, Arizona.

Wednesday night, Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was struck in the face above his left eye by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Chapman suffered a concussion and fractures to the bones above his left eye and nose, requiring cranial surgery to attach a metal plate to the bone.

Skipping ahead to today, Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore was also struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of Xander Bogaerts. Luckily for Moore, the ball slightly deflected off his hand before hitting him in the mouth. Despite the hit, Moore followed the ball and made the play at first. Moore required four stitches to repair the cut to his mouth and suffered a fat lip, but otherwise came away unscathed.

While two pitchers being hit in the face by line drives in just a matter of days is extremely rare, the overall frequency of pitchers being struck in the head by batted balls seems to be occurring much more frequently every season. During the 2013 season, Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb and Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ were both struck in the head by line drives and missed significant time. Cobb missed two months while suffering from vertigo and concussion symptoms, while Happ missed three months after suffering a fractured skull from the line drive that hit him behind his ear.

In the most recent data provided by MLB’s Medical Director Gary Green, during the past 8 seasons, there has been an average of two pitchers per season struck in the head by line drives. While this number may seem insignificant in comparison to the quantity of batted balls, keep in mind it only takes one line drive to the head to cause severe injury, or even death, to a player.

Despite the fact that no pitcher has ever been killed by a batted ball, the risks are still frightening. Former Cleveland Indians pitcher and longtime broadcaster Herb Score suffered probably the worst injury ever from being struck in the head. Score was pitching in a game on May 7, 1957 when he was struck in his right eye by a line drive off of the bat of New York Yankee Gil McDougald. Score would suffer vision loss, miss the rest of the season due to the injury and, despite his protests to the contrary, the injury effectively ended his career.

Another pitcher whose life was in peril after being hit in the head by a line drive was former Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy, who is now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, was hit by a line drive off the bat of Anaheim Angels infielder Erick Aybar in August of 2012. McCarthy suffered a brain contusion, skull fracture, and had to have surgery to relieve pressure from his brain. McCarthy went on to recover and pitched last season for the Diamondbacks, but midway through the season suffered a seizure that doctors said was a result of the original brain injury suffered from the line drive.

Major League Baseball has tried to address the concerns of pitchers being hit by working with hat manufacturers to make a “padded” hat to help protect pitchers from line drives. In fact, a hat by Isoblox and 4 Licensing Corporation was recently approved by MLB for pitchers. Unfortunately, no pitcher is willing to wear one of the new hats. There have been complaints about its weight, breathability, and aesthetics. The manufacturer has responded to the complaints and hopes to have a new model in the very near future for players to try, but it may already be to late for this season.

The dangers of pitchers being hit by batted balls isn’t going to magically go away. Hopefully, manufacturers can come up with a hat that is comfortable enough that players will willingly wear it on the field. If they won’t, then MLB needs to step in and make it a requirement before it’s too late. There have been too many close calls on the field for pitchers recently and, hopefully, it won’t take a death to fix this impending tragedy once and for all.

Ranking MLB's Divisions And Winners

Another Major League Baseball regular season is approaching its end, and while this year has seen controversy and scandal unlike any other the league has ever experienced, it’s also provided us with great moments: teams out-performing expectations, players having breakout campaigns, and spirited award debates.  Below is how strong I see each division in MLB and I predict who will win each division.

6. NL East

Heading into the 2013 season, the National League East was going to be a battle between the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals, with the Nationals viewed as a trendy pick to win the division and eventually the World Series.  But here we sit on August 21st studying the standings, and we see that Atlanta has been the better team in almost every way, and not just in the division.  The Braves have led the East for nearly the entire season and now have a 15-game lead over Washington, as well as the best record in baseball at 76-49.  They have feasted on an extremely weak division; they’re 35-19 against the Nationals, Phillies, Mets, and Marlins, who collectively have averaged 55 wins in 2013.  Atlanta may win this division by 20 games, arguably the biggest surprise in the majors this season. WINNER: Braves

5.  NL West

A couple months ago, this division was intriguing, with the Diamondbacks leading the way, followed by the surprising Padres and Rockies, with the reigning World Series champion Giants on the outside looking in.  Then the Dodgers called up Yasiel Puig, woke up, won 42 of 50, and opened up a commanding division lead which now sits at seven games.  The Diamondbacks are only a handful of games out of a wild card spot, but even then will have to top at least one of the three more-talented NL Central teams jockeying for playoff position.  The other three teams in the division have all struggled mightily in the last two months and are out of contention for anything than top ten draft picks.  WINNER: Dodgers

4.  AL West

After the big-money signing of Josh Hamilton this offseason, the Angels were expected to be in the thick of a great race out West with reigning division champs Oakland and former back-to-back pennant winners in Texas.  But the “baseball gods” had other ideas. While the A’s have for the most part maintained their solid play of last summer and the Rangers have overcome an assortment of free agent departures and injuries, the Angels (despite another excellent campaign from Mike Trout) have underachieved horribly, with Hamilton and his .228 average the poster boy for these struggles.  The bottom two teams (the Mariners and Astros) were expected to be…not good, but their farm systems are churning out quality prospects as we speak.  For this season though, I predict the West will be won by the Rangers, who have an easy schedule the rest of the way and have been buoyed by the acquisitions of Matt Garza and Alex Rios.  WINNER: Rangers

3.  AL Central

The Tigers were expected to run away with this division after adding to their already considerable amount of talent in the winter, and they are in the process of doing so.  With a six-game loss column lead over a predictably improved but still extended-slump-prone Indians squad, an eight-game lead over the improved but unproven Royals, and even bigger leads over the bad Twins and the really bad White Sox, the Central (while stronger than in the recent past) is still Detroit’s to lose.  Perhaps the World Series is as well.  WINNER: Tigers

2.  NL Central

The best division race in baseball.  The top three teams (Pittsburgh!, St. Louis, Cincinnati) all have legitimate shots at winning the division, and all three should make the playoffs.  The Pirates currently lead by a single game over the Cardinals and lead the Reds by three (four in the loss column).  The Brewers and Cubs are bad, yes, but the strength of the top three teams makes this a division to watch in the final weeks.  Will the Pirates cap their stunning return to MLB’s elite with a division title? I’m going to say no, but it’s awesome that we’re even thinking about it.  The Cardinals have a healthy Yadier Molina and that’s good enough for me.  WINNER: Cardinals

1.  AL East

The Toronto Blue Jays hadn’t made the playoffs since 1993, so to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the drought, they went out and raided the Miami Marlins for Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, Josh Johnson, and Jose Reyes this past winter.  They also acquired NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey from the Mets.  As a result of this shopping spree, the Jays instantly shot up the AL East totem pole.  How did that work out?  Well, I’d say 57-69 and in dead last is not what they had in mind.  Meanwhile in Boston, the Red Sox have surprised everybody and continue to keep the Tampa Bay Rays at bay (get it?) atop the division.  The Orioles haven’t gone away after their shocking 2012 but will need a surge to qualify for the postseason and, as expected, the Yankees have faltered and will need a lot of help to sneak in.  So who wins this crazy division that features four teams over .500 and could field three playoff teams?  I’ve got Boston over another good Tampa team.  WINNER: Red Sox

Thanks for reading.  You can follow me on Twitter @puncakes_.