Jul 7, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (44) high fives teammates after a win against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY Sports
I am not a Major League Executive. I believe running baseball operations is harder than what we as fans and media folks make it out to be. They say hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports. That being said, there are some things about the Arizona Diamondbacks that could be tweeked. I know we have already discussed many things that should or could be improved on a performance basis. We second guess (or applaud) decisions made by General Manager Kevin Towers and Skipper Kirk Gibson. Being a 1 1/2 games out of first place 100 games into the season isn’t too shabby even if the record is only three games over .500. Still, there are some requests that I (or you) have that we feel can be done to help all of us, meaning every member who works for, plays for and is a fan of the D-Backs. Some are simple and one item absolutely drives me crazy. You will see what I mean shortly.
It would be nice to win a few games without sweating. I understand winning close games tests the mettle of any good team. Doesn’t it seem as though this D-Back team makes winning such a chore? Yes, they had a relatively easy 10-4 win over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night. Also, the series against the Colorado Rockies was a rare treat as the Snakes swept the series with the lowest run differential being 5. However, the stretch of games starting from June 6th through July 4th saw only one Arizona victory (when they beat the Cincinnati Reds 11-5 on June 21) that was decided by more than two runs. You can see for yourself here at how many 3-2, 4- 3 and 5-4 games the team has won. It is a reflection of their toughness. But I would also imagine that it could be a grind on a team to play so many games that closely and right now, the record may reflect that notion.
I would love for the lineup to remain the same more than two games in a row. Versatility is great. Playing guys in multiple positions without a drop off in performance is something to be appreciated. But I wonder sometimes if the offense of the D-Backs is impacted by the fact that the batting order changes almost on a daily basis. You know Paul Goldschmidt will bat third and now that he is healthy, Adam Eaton will be hitting in the leadoff spot. It seems as though for everyone else, their spot in that day’s order is drawn from a hat. Gerardo Parra was in the first spot for a while but has since bounced around from two to six to seven. Didi Gregorius now flip-flops between seven and eight. Martin Prado and Aaron Hilljoust between second, fifth and sixth. Ballplayers, from what I am told, want consistency. Since the team is sputtering and the offense on most nights is Goldy and not much else, I want Gibson to keep his guys in the same order for two weeks and see the results. It can’t get much worse than what it is now.
Wil Nieves has been great as a pinch-hitter. That role has to stop. Image: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
CAN WE PLEASE STOP USING WIL NIEVES AS A PINCH HITTER? The numbers seem to counteract my arguement regarding using Nieves off the bench. He is hitting about .350 in a pinch-hitting role with four clutch RBI’s. However, it is extremely risky to use your backup catcher in this role if a game goes particuarly deep into extra innings. Once you use him in that role, he is done for the rest of the game. Then, what happens if Miguel Montero gets hurt? Now you will be asking someone to play out of position, easily leading to confusion or a poor job of handling pitchers in a big spot. That makes the loss of a game much more likely. Also, playing catcher is not like going from left field to right field. A player unfamilair with the position, even one who has had some experience in college or on the minor league level is at greater risk of injury. To me, the risk greatly outweighs the reward.
Keep Tyler Skaggs up……for good. I have heaped much praise on the young lefty, so much so that I have become his unpaid public relations guy. This has nothing to do with how I feel about him. There is only so much a young pitcher can take riding the minor league shuttle from the farm to the big club. By my count, Skaggs has been recalled three different times this season. It makes no sense to send him back down even when Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy eventually make their returns. He has shown enough to warrant a permanent home in Arizona. The 22 year-old has showed an ability to get Major League hitters out, there is nothing left for him to prove at any Minor League level.
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