Monday, June 15, 2009

Series Preview with Jim of AZ SnakePit

Thanks to Jim of AZ SnakePit for answering a few questions for us Royals fans.

What do we need to know about this D-Backs team ?

For a team expected to contend for the division title this year, it's been enormously frustrating. They're a young side, and perhaps it's to be expected, but they have alternated flashes of brilliance with games where everything that can go wrong, will. On their day, they can beat anyone; however, they're just as capable of getting swept.

How's A.J. Hinch as a manager ?

Still finding his feet a little. His lack of managerial experience, atany level, was one of the main things people were critical of, but he already had a relationship with most of our young players, when Hinch was managing the farm system. He seems less bunt-happy than Melvin was, so I'm all in favor of that!

What can we expect from the Arz starters, Davis, Scherzer, Haren

You're getting the front-end of the rotation. Doug Davis has been a pleasant surprise so far: his starts are still littered with base-runners, but he's been great with runners in scoring position so far,and the results have been good.
Max Scherzer is developing nicely; he still needs to be more economical, simply getting batters out rather than striking them out, but is now going deeper into games. Dan Haren has been the best starter in the National League so far, by just about any measure, and has been a real joy to watch.

How's Billy Buckner been for ya'll ?

Want him back? Actually, he's been very good outside of Chase, with a 0.68 ERA, and a couple of really-good starts. However, playing at home has been a totally different thing - seven home-runs in less than twenty innings and an ERA approaching twelve. If you've got any suggestions as to why this might be the case, AJ Hinch would love to hear from you!

Clay Zavada he's got an ERA of 0.00 after 11 and a third innings but is his mustache better then he is ?

His mustache is great - that's All-Star caliber facial hair, no question about it - but thus far, his pitching has been even better. Although, obviously, someone will score a run off him eventually, so far, he's perhaps looked the most likely of this year's Double-A call-ups to sticj with the the team. He's a great story, who gave up baseball to run the family farm after his father died, and a true character.

What has gone wrong for the D-Backs this year ?

Injuries. That robbed us of Brandon Webb, who had eleven victories by this point last year, compared to the two posted by the various replacements (such as Buckner). We also lost Conor Jackson, about the team's best pure hitter in 2008, to a fungal lung condition known as valley fever, and no-one know when or whether he'll be back. Those were two big blows to the team. The inconsistency of the bullpen has also been a real problem, but we'll get to that shortly...

Who's hot for the D-Backs ?

Mark Reynolds was just voted NL co-Player of the Week, and fully deserves it, with nine homers and 29 RBI in the past 28 days. Justin Upton's stats are monstrous for a 21-year old - only two players so young have posted a higher OPS than his current .953 over the past 50 years, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. Dan Haren was mentioned already, but is worth repeating - past four starts, his ERA is 1.45, with a K:BB ration of 27:4.

Who's not ?

The highest-paid position player for the Diamondbacks, Eric Byrnes, continues to struggle, batting only .216 with four homers. Chris Young in CF is even lower, hitting .189, but has shown some signs of turning it around lately. Closer Chad Qualls has been battling both mechanical and medical issues, with forearm stiffness causing problems - he needs to keep the pitches down in the zone to be successful, and has struggled to do so.

If the D-Backs have the lead after 7 innings will the bullpen put the game away ?

Yes. Though they may "put the game away" in favor of the opposition! It's been a minefield of inconsistency through which the team has had to tip-toe. Our relievers no-hit the Padres for nine innings in a game that went to 18 frames; but the only reason there were extra innings to begin with, is because the bullpen allowed five in the ninth to tie things up! On any given day, any given pitcher can be perfect or dreadful. Never a dull moment, that's for sure...

Thanks again to Jim, once again AZ Snake Pit for all thing D-Backs.

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