NL West Report: It is Interleague Time (Uninspired Cheer)

Interleague was intended as an opportunity to boost ticket sales and provide an extra aspect of interest in the middle of summer.  Miguel Cabrera will be returning to Coors Field for the first time since he was a Marlin, and his manager is returning for the first time since posting the only sub-.500 record in Rockies history, twelve years ago.

That attempt is well-intentioned, but interleague time has devolved into a predictable course of complaints about the DH and a myriad of realignment ideas.  Making this interleague season even more operose in these parts is that - other than Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers - none of the teams visiting NL West parks this season are particularly ticket sellers.  No Yankees, no Red Sox, no Rays, no Jose Bautistas, no Rangers

The Tigers and Twins are the most common foes, each playing four NL West clubs this season.  The White Sox, Indians and Royals are next, taking on three of the five teams in the division.  I bet you are sensing a theme here.  Arizona has been pegged with playing six interleague series, and the Rockies are the only club not to partake in the AL festivities yet.  

Interleague_medium

As noted at the tail end of the above table, the collective win percentage of all interleague foes is below .500 for every team in the division...except the Rockies.  The lowest win percentage?  The Giants and Diamondbacks, who are ahead of the Rockies.  Perfect.  Of course.  

It should be noted that Arizona and San Francisco have directly contributed to that, as both swept their initial interleague series last month, but both would still seem to have an edge over the Rockies in the interleague schedule.  

This weekend, the Rockies host the Tigers and the Diamondbacks welcome the White Sox.  The Giants travel across the bay to play Oakland again, and San Diego gets their first taste of Target Field while matching up with the Twins.  Los Angeles will play the lone all-NL series, against the Astros.

NL West Report

Arizona (38-32, 2nd, W1, 1.5 GB)

Last Week: 4-2.  3-0 @ Marlins. 1-2 vs. Giants

You Should Know:  

Divisional Change: Lost one half game to first place San Francisco.

This Week: 3 game home series vs White Sox.  3 game road series @ Royals.

News:  Top ten overall and first round pick (oh wait I should specify) Seventh overall pick RHP Archie Bradley is due to visit Chase Field today.  3rd overall pick Trevor Bauer has already visited.  Though neither have signed, indications are very strong that both will.

With Juan Miranda and Xavier Nady providing an uninspiring platoon at first base, Tim Dierkes pegs Arizona as a contender in need of help at first base.  They could always try Brandon Allen, though he has been getting the Chris Nelson treatment in Arizona, never really getting a long look at the MLB level.  If the D-backs want to go off the map, they could call up Paul Goldschmidt, who has been mashing in AA Mobile:

Paul Goldschmidt

#63 / First Base / Arizona Diamondbacks (AA)

6-4

220

R

R

Sep 10, 1987

AA Mobile G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Paul Goldschmidt 67 240 54 81 14 1 21 59 53 49 6 2 .338 .458 .667

It remains to be seen whether Arizona can stick as a contender into July, but Kevin Towers is already operating as if they will.  The D-backs GM is targeting on 20 players, and has already been making calls in preparation for the trading deadline.  Towers comments that scouts will likely be sent out to "sit on guys" soon, and the previous link also provides a bit of input on the aforementioned Goldschmidt.

With all the talk of realignment, baseball fans in Arizona (there has to be a few) have a right to be worried.  Alongside Houston, the Diamondbacks are the most frequently pegged franchise for a move to the American League.  With no real long-term rival in the NL, Arizona could make a fairly seamless transition to the AL West.

Transactions:  Called up RHP Brian Shaw and optioned LHP Zach Kroenke (6/10).  Lost LHP Leyson Septimo on waivers to the White Sox (6/13).  

Injuries:  RHP Sam Demel threw his second bullpen session Wednesday in an attempt to return from shoulder tendinitis.  That same day, IF Geoff Blum took batting practice and fielded ground balls.  Demel is close to retruning, though Blum will likely be activated in July.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Geoff Blum knee 03/22/2011
Juan Gutierrez trapezius 05/25/2011
Sam Demel shoulder 05/22/2011
Star-divide

Los Angeles (31-39, 4th, L3, 8.5 GB)

Last Week: 2-4.  2-1 @ Rockies.  0-3 vs. Reds.

You Should Know:  The Dodgers are eight games under .500 for the first time since July 26, 2006.....Matt Kemp hit his 20th home run in the Dodgers' 67th game - the only Dodger to reach that mark faster was Gary Sheffield in 2000, in 66 games.   h/t Eric Stephen.

Divisional Change: Lost three games to first place San Francisco.

This Week:  3 game home series vs. Astros.  3 game home series vs. Tigers.

News:  The McCourts have reached a divorce settlement!  It is contingent on the FOX television deal being approved by MLB; leave it to the McCourts to find a new creative example of "messy divorce."

Chad Billingsley is struggling.  He is the first Dodger pitch to allow 8+ hits in four consecutive starts since Derek Lowe, four years ago. That was a fantasy choice that burned me.

Chad Billingsley

#58 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers

6-1

240

R

R

Jul 29, 1984

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Chad Billingsley 5-6 15 15 0 0 0 0 89.0 97 48 46 6 38 80 4.65 1.52

Molly Knight tells us that the Dodgers owe $8.33million to Manny Ramirez by June 30.  The trade that created Mannywood sure seemed like a steal at the time, but it might literally and directly bankrupt the owner of the franchise.  In light of the financial troubles, Tom Krasovic suggests the Dodgers look at the Marlins or Rays for how to frugally operate. 

Ken Rosenthal thinks Jamey Carroll deserves to be an All-Star.

MLBTR's Dan Mannella points out that Hiroki Kuroda will be one of the more underrated free agents this off-season,again.

If you thought it was strange last weekend when Rafael Betancourt was awarded the win despite entering the game with the final score intact, there was another obscure rule enacted in a Dodgers game that will spin you even more.  Matt Guerrier was charged with two earned runs in an inning, but the runs were "unearned" to the Dodgers' staff, per MLB rule 10.16(i).  The rule states:

When pitchers are changed during an inning, the relief pitcher shall not have the benefit of previous chances for outs not accepted in determining earned runs.

So essentially, a pitcher cannot enter the game with two outs in an inning in which an error has been committed (thereby meaning the inning should be over), give up 12 runs and get off scott-free.  It actually makes sense.  Sure enough, Guerrier gave up a 3 run home run (one runner inherited) with two outs in an inning that started with an error by Dee Gordon.

Eric Stephen is peeved that Don Mattingly continues to use his catchers as pinch-hitters, not for fear of injury to either back-stop, but because both are terrible hitters.

Transactions: Outrighted C Hector Gimenez to AA Chattanooga (6/10).  

Injuries:  3B Casey Blake received a cortizone injection for a stiff neck, while RHP Vicente Padilla had surgery on his neck yesterday and could be out for the season.  RHP Kenley Jansen is eligible to come off the DL today but may make another rehab appearance.  LHP Hong-Chih Kuo has looked less "anxious" in his rehab outings.   RHP Jonathan Broxton made a rehab appearance Wednesday and is due to return sometime in July.  RHP Rubby de la Rosa is day-to-day with a forearm strain he suffered Sunday at Coors Field.

Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries

Probable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Casey Blake neck 06/17/2011
Rubby De La Rosa forearm 06/13/2011

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Vicente Padilla neck 05/14/2011
Jon Garland shoulder 06/02/2011
Rafael Furcal oblique 06/04/2011
Jonathan Broxton elbow 05/04/2011
Hong-Chih Kuo other-excused 05/10/2011
Kenley Jansen shoulder 05/29/2011

Star-divide

San Diego (30-40, 5th, L2, 9.5 GB)

Last Week: 1-5.  0-3 vs. Nationals.  1-2 @ Rockies.

You Should Know:  San Diego is 16-14 on the road.  That matches the Phillies' mark, and only the Braves and Pirates in the National League are more than two games above .500 away from their home parks.

Divisional Change: Lost three games in the division.

This Week:  3 game series @ Twins.  3 game series @ Red Sox.  

News:  Jon Paul Morosi posted a Father's Day feature on Heath Bell.  While the piece is predictably sappy/corny (corn syrupy?) - especially the last line - it does provide insight to how difficult raising a family can be while being stuck to the MLB schedule.

Jorge Cantu was designated for assignment yesterday.  The 29-year-old had started 21 games for the Padres hitting third or fourth, but he just couldn't hit, especially at PetCo Park, where he hit .172/.196/.264 in 92 PA.

Jorge Cantu

#3 / First Base / San Diego Padres

6-3

205

R

R

Jan 30, 1982

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Jorge Cantu 57 144 8 28 4 0 3 16 7 28 0 0 .194 .232 .285
The Padres have already signed two of their first-day draft choices.  10th overall pick Cory Spangenberg signed for roughly slot last Friday, and supplemental draft choice Jace Peterson signed for slot last Saturday.  Peterson is an infielder chosen 58th overall, their 5th selection of the draft, and was awarded to them as compensation for RHP Kevin Correia departing in free agency.
The Padres are retiring the number 51, a number that was arbitrarily assigned to a young reliever in 1993.

Transactions:  Called up RHP Anthony Bass, optioned C Kyle Phillips, and designated LHP Aaron Poreda for assignment (6/13).  Optioned RHP Anthony Bass to AA San Antonio and called up LHP Wade LeBlanc.  Designated IF Jorge Cantu for assignment (6/16).  LHP Aaron Poreda and UT Eric Patterson cleared waivers and were outrighted to AAA Tucson.

Injuries:  Placed RHP Aaron Harang on the 15-day DL and activated CF Cameron Maybin from the 15-day DL (6/13).  2B Orlando Hudson began a rehab assignment Tuesday, and 1B/RF Brad Hawpe is nursing a sore elbow.  RHP Dustin Moseley is on schedule to make his next start Sunday after missing his previous start.

San Diego Padres Injuries

Probable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Dustin Moseley shoulder 06/15/2011

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brad Hawpe elbow 06/17/2011

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Aaron Harang foot 06/10/2011
Orlando Hudson groin 05/26/2011
Luke Gregerson oblique 06/07/2011

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Joe Thatcher shoulder 03/22/2011
Mike Baxter thumb 03/22/2011

Star-divide

San Francisco (39-30, 1st, L1)

Last Week: 4-2.  2-1 vs. Reds.  2-1 @ Diamondbacks.

You Should Know:  The Diamondbacks walked off on the Giants last night with an extra inning one run win.  Sounds strange.  Dating back to last season's playoffs, the Giants have won 24 of 34 one-run contests.

Divisional Change: Lost one half game off their lead in the division.

This Week:   3 game road series @ Athletics.  3 game home series vs. Twins.

News:  You asked (if not out loud), and Mike Fast has delivered.  How the hell is Ryan Vogelsong doing it?  The good news is that his success isn't completely sustainable (no surprise), but the bad news is his success is legitimate.  His transformation has come from trusting his stuff and utilizing it with elite control.  Scatter plots of every pitch he has thrown shows he has stayed consistently out of the middle of the plate, and his low curveball has generated a lot of weak contact.

Ryan Vogelsong

#32 / Pitcher / San Francisco Giants

6-4

215

R

R

Jul 22, 1977

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Ryan Vogelsong 4-1 12 10 1 1 0 0 65.2 56 15 14 4 18 54 1.92 1.13
Vogelsong has pitched at least five innings with 2 ER or less in seven consecutive starts.  If he does it two more, he'll be second only to Juan Marichal in franchise history for that streak.
Despite only playing in 27 games to this point, Pablo Sandoval could be an All-Star this year.  Quite the jump from the bench last September.  Two things are working for him - his manager gets to make Junior Spivey selections, and he's actually still 3rd in the NL in fWAR.
With the Giants facing the Diamondbacks, Grant Brisbee revisited the Matt Williams trade.  The Diamondbacks' third base coach was dealt for Julian Taveraz, Jose Vizcaino and...Jeff Kent.
Beat writer Andrew Baggarly insists there isn't a rush to acquire a catcher, despite Eli Whiteside's downward spiral from bad to terrible.  Still, the Giants are eyeing Rangers catchers, specifically Taylor Teagarden, and perusing AAA rosters for help.
Buster Olney suggests that the Giants could be suitors for Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis.  With Ellis losing his starting role to Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore, Ellis is a great fit should Freddy Sanchez prove to be out for the year.
Tim Dierkes did a feature on contenders in need of first base help, and the Giants are on the list.  Amusing, considering they signed an MVP candidate last year to a multi-year 8-figure deal in the off-season, and their top prospect is a first baseman.  But Huff is having a terrible year and Belt is injured, so if those issues persist, the Giants might actually have to look at that position.  Hey...Jorge Cantu is now available (snicker).

Transactions:   Signed UT Bill Hall (6/11).  

Injuries:   Activated 3B Pablo Sandoval from the 15-day DL (6/14).  Freddy Sanchez has opted for rehab over surgery for now, deciding it gives him the best shot at returning this season.  Barry Zito has looked very effective in two rehab starts.

San Francisco Giants Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Barry Zito foot 04/17/2011
Freddy Sanchez shoulder 06/11/2011
Mike Fontenot groin 05/26/2011
Mark DeRosa wrist 05/19/2011
Darren Ford ankle 05/23/2011
Brandon Belt wrist 06/01/2011

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Buster Posey ankle 05/26/2011
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