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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dbacks Problems Run Deep

In the middle of the 3rd game of the season, i got upset at what i was watching and what i had seen, and questioned the ability of this Diamondback team to make a run at a division title. Just 4 games later, after the 7th game of the season, i am no longer questioning this team. I'm declaring them dead. 

This team has WAY too many problems that need fixing for anyone to consider them anything more than a 'project'. The fact that we didn't see this going into the season is an indication not on the team's ability to cover those flaws up, but on our insistence to quickly gloss over the issues and assume they would get better. I got news for anyone out there reading this: Their issues have not gotten better. In fact, they may have gotten worse. 

It doesn't matter how well the starting pitchers pitch (Davis goes 8 innings with 2 earned runs and Haren went 6 innings with 1 earned run in the last two outings), if the Dbacks can't score they aren't going to win. In the Dbacks only two wins, they threw up 9 runs in each. In their other 5 games they've put up a combined 6 runs. Scoring one run a game will not get it done, no matter how good your starting pitchers are. Ok, so how is this different from last year? How is is possibly worse? 

Last year the problem was an issue of timely hitting. The Dbacks got hits, got men on base, but couldn't move the runners and couldn't get the hits when men were in scoring position. This year? They can't even get men on base! The Dbacks have one hit from their right field position the entire season. One hit. From the Eric Byrnes/Justin Upton combination. Which is only slightly worse than the three combined hits they have from the catcher spot. Conor Jackson, the team's best hitter last season, is batting .214. 

And what about the small ball? Through three games the Dbacks hadn't even attempted a stolen base. Through 7 games they have two stolen bases and one caught stealing. With the speed of Chris Young, Justin Upton, Felipe Lopez, Eric Byrnes, and Mark Reynolds (who's faster than you think), they should be running a lot. Instead, they actually might be running less than last year, attempting just three stolen bases in 7 games. 

And let's not forget the other glaring problem with last year's team, the bullpen. To date this season, the ERA's of our bullpen are 15.75 (Buckner), 9.82 (Rauch), 2.25 (Pena), 8.10 (Gutierrez), 3.86 (Schoeneweis, 5.40 (Sltaen), and 0.00 (Qualls).  To be fair, Qualls has the least amount of work (2.0 IP) than anyone on the staff other than the left handed specialist Doug Slaten (1.2 IP). Not exactly a stellar round-up of ERA's. Does anyone on this staff not scare you when they come into the game? Qualls maybe, MAYBE, but it's hard to say with only two innings of work. He wasn't exactly a rock last year. 

Again, it's only 7 games into the season, but something would have to dramatically change in three different parts of the game (hitting, small ball, bullpen) for the Dbacks to accomplish anything this season. That is too much to overcome in the span of one season, when nothing improved in the off-season. As a result, let it be known that i'm the first to call this season over. The Dbacks are heading for a 90-loss, last place finish in the West season. I take no joy in this, and wish it would be different. I had a lot of optimism going into the season. But the Dbacks have managed to break that optimism in a span of just 7 games. No easy feat...