06 April 2011


After dropping three of four on the road, with Armando Galarraga on deck, I find myself not as concerned with how the Dbacks have played as I am with the actual outcomes versus the Cubs. 

Mistake prone Chicago's very beatable and Arizona's schedule doesnt let up until the last week in May. With the Reds, Cards and Giants coming to town, standing could head south in a hurry, prompting understandable catcalls of "Here we go again".

Which would be a shame, because although this team is projected by just about everyone to repeat in last place, it really isnt anything like last year's model.  It's unclear whether it's better or worse, but the whole feel is different. This team isnt winning, but it's not falling apart, either. In tough situations, it's not letting disaster snowball.  Players are regaining composure and doing their jobs.  The biggest early difference is that this squad competes late in games. It's breathing down the opposite's neck every day. Nobody's beating them up or grinding them down.  From the fifth inning on, we've outscored the home team 11-7. That didnt happen last year.

How bad were we after the fifth inning last year? Let's put it this way. At that juncture we were ahead 70 times, behind seventy times and tied 22 times. It was a better midgame 'record' than the world champion San Francisco Giants (65-69-28).  Ours was a team of unprecedented, entrenched late inning ineptitude.

Yesterday, the pen yielded a few dinky seeing eye hits and fans are up in arms with the usual overreactions. It may or may not be a strong pen, or even average, but they've whiffed 13 in eleven innings and to my eye look like a significant improvement.

I doubt it's a concidence either. Towers has made a point of building his staff from the closer back, and filling the rotation with cheap arms. He also received criticism for spending on a variety of aging bench players, but what you have to remember is..they're bench players. You cant compare their performance or value to regulars.  You have to compare them to the bench we had, and it's clear to me that with Russell Branyan, alone, this is a more dynamic bench.  Who would you rather have up with the game on the line, Branyan or Rusty Ryal? Look at what Willie Bloomquist has done. He's played decent if unspectacular shortstop and leads the majors in steals (5).

Towers' philosophy seems to be, just keep me in the ballgame early, then I'll come back and beat you late. It hasnt paid dividends yet, but you can feel this coming together. At least I can.  For all it's obvious flaws and shortcomings, like Montero's defense, the big guys not hitting yet and some questionable running, this team finally feels like a team again, fighting, clawing to win games - instead of a collection of passive individuals simply playing through them.

It's early, and the upcoming schedule may beat that fight out of them. But so far, for $50 million, I like what I see.


Russell said...

I will make no more comments on this site in protest at your limerick getting more recs than mine!

Since when did witty satire beat a crude reference to ejaculation?

Consider me appalled.

Diamondhacks said...

I'm glad you, uh, came by to explain that, cuz I didnt pick up the ejack reference initially. It is, I can see clearly now, an epic limerick.

what do you make of the ten recs for skins' 'brilliant' haiku?

Russell said...

"what do you make of the ten recs for skins' 'brilliant' haiku?"

Seemed perfectly reasonable to me!