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Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Friday!

Well everyone, we've made it. It's the end of the week. As such, it's time for the Happy Friday post!

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Enjoy your weekend everyone...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Have Failed At Life


There are a myriad of reasons why Alex Rodriguez could be the subject of this week's 'You Have Failed At Life', up to and including: His postseason 'performances', his record contract, his getting caught using steroids, his pathetic attempt at explaining getting caught using steroids, and on and on. But alas, it takes a special kind of stupid for him to actually end up here.

During A-Fraud's supposed explanation of how his steroid use went down, he fingered his 'cousin' Yuri Sucart as the man who bought and injected the steroids. You would think, then, that after such an explanation and the level of involvement of Sucart, that A-Fraud might want to steer clear of him for a while. You would think wrong.

A-Rod, fresh from hitting a home run in the Yankee's first Spring Training game, was seen getting picked up and leaving the field after the game with Yuri Sucart. Hey A-Roid? You might want to let Sucart lay low for a while, especially considering you have a meeting with MLB about your steroid use coming up.

Alex Rodriguez, You Have Failed At Life.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Diamondbacks Infield Situation

Part 1 of my Diamondbacks 2009 Season Preview is here, in which i took a look at their outfield. This is Part 2, where i will look at their infield.

Much like their outfield going into 2009, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Dback infield this spring. With as many as 7 different people figuring into the equation, it makes for a very confusing situation. Let's start with what we know for sure...

Short Stop:
Stephen Drew cemented himself as the Dbacks SS for the foreseeable future with a very solid 2008 season, including the second half of the season where he was nearly unstoppable. He posted career highs in nearly every statistical category, and was one of only two people in the lineup with any sort of consistency. Combine that with his solid play and good range at SS, and you've got yourself an every day player.

Second Base:
Acquired from St. Louis in the offseason, Lopez figures to be a a fairly constant fixture at 2B this season. He finished with a .283 batting average last season, including .385 in the last 43 games of the season. He's not a power hitter, with only 6 HR's and 46 RBI's, but he had a decent amount of doubles (28). He is also a switch hitter, and this lineup desperately needs left handed hitters. Unfortunately he doesn't appear to be a great defensive player, having lead the majors in errors by a shortstop in 2006, and in 2007 had the lowest fielding percentage of all NL shortstops. Yes, that was as a shortstop, and yes he is playing second base for the Dbacks this season. That versatility (or for the cynics questionable position) is a theme for the Dbacks infield in 2009.

Getting the majority of backup second base time will once again be super-sub Augie Ojeda. Ojeda is considered a utility infielder, and can play 2B, SS, or 3B, though most of his time is spent between 2B and SS. He has spent the ends of the last two seasons replacing an injured Orlando Hudson at 2B, and played and batted well in those stints. He will figure prominently in giving guys days off, and if there are any injuries in the infield.

First Base:
Your starter most likely is going to be Chad Tracy. Tracy is something of an question; A could-be batting title winner who struggles to find a true position on defense and can sometimes struggle from the plate. It's hard to take too much stock from the last two seasons as he has been injured, including microfracture surgery in his knee. His last full season, 2006, he batted .281 with 20 HR's and 80 RBI's. I should also mention he is a left handed hitter, which as noted above this team desperately needs. I think Tracy can be a very productive member of the team if he stays healthy and shows an ability to play a decent 1B.

Your backup is Big Tony Clark once again going into 2009. After trading him away between the 2007 and 2008 season, the Dbacks re-acquired Clark from the Padres towards the end of last year. He is used primarily as a pinch hitter and late inning defensive replacement, as he is good with the glove. Unfortunately, he struggled mightily from the plate after returning to the Dbacks. Going through Spring Training and spending the full season with the Dbacks should allow Clark to return to a solid hitter. Like Lopez, he is a switch hitter.

Conor Jackson needs to be mentioned in the debate about 1B as well. If for some reason his stint in LF does not work out, or if Byrnes warrants a return to the line-up in that position, it pushes Jackson back to 1B, where he spent most of his first few years. Jackson though, prefers LF and plays a better field there in my opinion. If he is kicked back to 1B, Tracy possibly gets moved to our next position...

Third Base:
Your starter, at least to begin the year, is Mark Reynolds. The man everybody loves to hate and hates to love. If Tracy is a question, Reynolds is a downright enigma. He managed to set a MLB record for most strikeouts in a season last year, yet also finished first or second on the Dbacks in HR's, RBI's, walks, and runs scored. And after a stellar second half of the season in 2007 at 3B after being called up from AA, he spent most of 2008 struggling in the field, leading MLB in errors by a SS by a lot.

His ability to hit 450ft HR's is hampered only by his inability to hit anything resembling a breaking ball. By the 2nd half of the season the scouting report on Reynolds was simple: Don't throw him anything fast or straight. He couldn't hit anything else, nor could he lay off anything else. I'm listening to Matt Williams on the radio as i type this, and he had a long conversation about the time he's been spending with Reynolds, both at the plate and in the field. Let's hope the work pays off, as Reynolds could be the power guy the Dbacks are lacking.

So there you have it. While the outfield has 4 players splitting time for three positions, the infield has 7 splitting time for 4 positions. If things go well you've got a solid lineup and a decent field. If things go bad you've got neither. These 7 players may very well decide the fate of the Dbacks in 2009.

Next up this week is a look at the Dbacks starting pitchers, a group that figures to be much more stable than either the infield or the outfield. Stay tuned, and thanks for the support.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Diamondbacks Outfield Situation. Also, My Return.

...And we're back. With the return of the Dbacks set to begin tomorrow in their first Spring Training game, this blog returns to regular posting. More than anything the timing is coincidental at best. To be honest i was a bit burnt out from a variety of reasons, and as such my writing suffered. And i hate when what i write is total crap. So i stepped away for a while.

But recent events got me thinking it was time to return. First off was the transformation of the old AZ Sports Hub site into Fanster.com. The guys over there, including Greg, Matt, and Vince, have been awesome to me and have supported me throughout the adventure that has been this blog. Their new site is fantastic, and is definitely worth spending some time whether you live here in the Valley or elsewhere.

Second, i've increased my web presence even more by starting my own personal blog (which you can find to the right) and signing up on Twitter. Find me on twitter here, it's a combination of both this blog and my personal life.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

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The Diamondbacks head into 2009 as a team with a lot of questions, in a lot of different positions. After a disappointing end to a 2008 season that started with such promise, the team is looking to bounce back with a solid, and hopefully more consistent, 2009 season. Over the course of the next week, i'll be taking a look at some of the positions the Diamondbacks face uncertainties at. The first i'll look at is the outfield situation.

Center Field:
I'll start with the only sure-fire, guaranteed position in the outfield. Chris Young isn't going anywhere, and we should all be very happy about this. At 25 years old, CY is already one of the best defensive CF's in all of baseball. His range and speed are his biggest assets, allowing him to cover up deficiencies from both the LF and RF in that area. He also has the ability to become a decent power hitter, and is capable of becoming a doubles machine.

That said, he's coming off of a bit of a disappointing 2008. Despite playing in more games and getting more at-bats, his numbers were down from 2007 in many offensive categories, including stolen bases, home runs, doubles, slugging, and OPS. Not to mention the fact that he struck out 165 times last year.

If CY can continue to develop while refining other aspects of his game, he could be set for a monster year. He could become a 40-steal, 40-double guy, with the ability to knock in 30 HR's and 100 RBI's. Ambitious yes, but not out of the question. The biggest thing he needs to do is cut down his strike-outs and get back to running. Do that and everything else will fall in line.

Right Field:
No, i'm not gonna say he's a lock in the outfield. Not yet. Not after he spent time last year injured and in the minors. Yes, the kid is immensely, immensely talented, and has all the tools to become a superstar in this league. All he's gotta do is put it all together.

Just 21 years old, Justin Upton could very well be the real deal. We've seen flashes, him gunning down a runner at home plate, him absolutely destroying baseballs into the upper deck, him flying around the bases with unparalleled speed. We've also seen the inexperience, him dropping fly balls, him missing the cut-off man, him getting picked off on the base paths.

This should be shaping up to be his break-out year. He got a pretty decent run at it last year, getting the experience and know-how of what it takes to be a full-time MLB player. Now it's time for him to put it all together and show what he is capable of. He has no real competition at right field, but Bob Melvin also won't let Upton hang himself out there if he's not getting it done.

Count me among the ones who is hoping he will get it done and have a breakout season.

Left Field:
The situation in left field has been mishandled for going on three years now. Luis Gonzalez, while getting old, could have been serviceable out there for another year when the Dbacks decided to dump him. When they did, they turned it over to Eric Byrnes. Byrnes is a nice player who does a great job hustling, but he's no star. That didn't stop the Dbacks from giving him star money, to the tune of $10 Million a year for three years. After receiving the contract, he promptly finished the 2007 season batting under .250, and spent most of 2008 hurt.

Which brings us to Conor Jackson, who replaced Byrnes in LF last year. Jackson actually became a bit of a revelation in LF, seeming much more comfortable there than he had been at First Base. That comfort in the field led to comfort at the plate, and it showed in 2008. Jackson posted career highs in batting average (.300), walks (59), hits (162), runs (87), doubles, triples, and total bases. All of which led to many people calling for Eric Byrnes' head, or at least for him to be shipped out of town.

Neither of which happened. Which creates one of the more interesting position battles in camp. What to do with Eric Byrnes. Can you pay $10 Million a year for a fourth outfielder? Do you let Byrnes and Jackson fight out it in an open competition for LF? Where do you stick Jackson if Byrnes were to beat him out? You can't leave Jackson out of the lineup, he's arguably the team's best hitter.

All indications are that Jackson is set in LF, and Byrnes will be the fourth outfielder. If Byrnes comes back healthy though, and is able to hit and run, can you keep him out of the lineup? What if Upton is struggling both in the field and at the plate?

Interesting questions, to be sure. Though if you think that's a messy situation, you obviously don't know about the infield situation, which involves as many as seven different people, including LF Conor Jackson. I'll be looking at that in the coming days.

As always, thanks for your support.