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It stinks in the desert, and it is only getting worse

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What happened to the Arizona Diamondbacks?  They were consistently in the preseason discussion to challenge for the NL West title.  They had the arguably the best rotation in the division headed by clearly the best 1-2 punch.  They had the most assuredly the deepest rotation.  They could field a dynamic lineup that was young with upside, capable of marked improvement - only Felipe Lopez is over 28, and he's just 29.

But here we are about to turn the page into July and Arizona has the second worst record in the majors while they are thirteen games under .500...just AT HOME.  A week ago, Nick Piecoro at suggested in his blog that Arizona should start aiming for Bryce Harper, a 16-year-old Las Vegas catcher who could go 1st overall in 2010's MLB Draft.  Harper is regarded as the best prep position player to be available in a draft since Justin Upton and is more advanced than Upton was at 16.  The dude is so skilled, he's leaving high school after just two years and enrolling in junior college so that he'll be eligible for the 2010 draft.  I'm sure Josh Byrnes would love to have the kid in Diamondback duds.

Wait what...? 76 games into the season and they're already waiving the white towel?  Well yes.  Or at least they're close.  That Piecoro article was posted before the Diamondbacks lost five straight last week.  They are inventing new ways of "epic failure."  They're 18 games out of first in the West but just 6.5 games out of first place in the Bryce Harper race and none of the three teams behind them are convincing cases of falling completely apart.  AZSnakePit's game wraps are actually comparing the club's record with the 2004 club that lost 111 games.  Even the fans are turning on their team, and vice versa.

So what went wrong?  For starters, losing ace Brandon Webb for the season and potentially his career was the yodel that started the avalanche.  It is looking more and more likely that he'll never pitch another game in sedona red again, and AJ Hinch hasn't even found a replacement level player to take over Webb's slot, much less someone to replace Webb's level of production.

Perhaps more importantly, though, the young hitters haven't shown up.  Conor Jackson has been out since May 11 with Valley Fever and just got moved to the 60 day DL; even then, he only had 1 HR and an atrocious .251 wOBA in his 99 AB's.  Stephen Drew is hitting .256 and hasn't taken the step Josh Byrnes thought he would have after his strong second half in 2008 - his wOBA is well below average at .312.   Eric Byrnes is atrocious.  Justin Upton is having a magnificent season and Mark Reynolds has been strong, but the lineup has been terrible overall.

I haven't yet mentioned Chris Young, who was one of the worst hitters in MLB until his .927 OPS June thus far.  Still Fangraphs has him at the 13th worst hitter in the bigs.

2009 - Chris Young 70 226 28 45 17 2 6 18 22 62 11 2 .199 .272 .372

Arizona's team batting average is worse than every team in the majors sans Oakland and San Diego.  Their wOBA is a disappointing .317, worse than fantasy team saboteurs Jhonny Peralta and Geovany Soto

The bullpen has been a mess, posting a 4.90 ERA - just edging out the Rockies, although FIP suggests that their ERA lies a great deal.  They've had horrible innings.  They've committed 67 errors, just one behind the Nats for first in the majors.

Still, the peripheral stats don't point to this amount of futility - the biggest problem is inventing ways to lose.  I'll get into Arizona more Friday when we open a series at Coors Field against them.

A full NL West Report after the jump.

NL West Report

Arizona (30-46, 5th, L5, 18 GB)

Last Week: 1-2 @ Rangers, 0-3 @ Angels.  The sweep vs the Angels marked the second consecutive time Arizona got swept over the weekend.  The D-Backs have been getting pounded to the point where nothing is going well; they committed four errors and gave up 12 runs yesterday.  Despite a five game losing streak, Arizona lost only one game behind division leader Los Angeles.

This Week: 3 game road series @ Reds, 3 game home series @ Rockies.  Both opponents are home hungry - no two teams have played fewer home games than Cincy and Colorado.

News:  Arizona might be ready to start selling.  GM Josh Byrnes admitted as much before the five game losing streak.  They have had converstaions with Milwaukee, though no names were specified.  However, their demands figure to be high with Felipe Lopez, and Jon Garland, Chad Tracy.

Eric Byrnes broke his hand and will be out 4-8 weeks.

Jon Rauch is starting to pitch well finally.

After his horrible start Friday, Billy Buckner was sent to AAA in favor of reliever Leo Rosales.

Catcher Chris Snyder and OF Eric Byrnes are new additions to the disabled list, while Tom Gordon and Conor Jackson have been moved to the 60 day DL.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Yusmeiro Petit shoulder 05/09/2009
Eric Byrnes hand 06/26/2009
Chris Snyder lower-back 06/21/2009
Chad Tracy oblique 05/30/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Tom Gordon hamstring 05/04/2009
Conor Jackson pneumonia 05/12/2009
Brandon Webb shoulder 04/07/2009

Los Angeles (48-28, 1st, L2)

Last Week: 1-2 @ White Sox, 1-2 vs Mariners. Los Angeles lost both series last week after winning the first game, allowing the Rockies to pull two games closer in the division.

This Week: 3 game home series vs Rockies, 3 game road series @ Padres.

News:  Jason Schmidt threw 7.2 scoreless innings in Albuqerque, perhaps lessening the urgency to add an arm, like Mark Kiszla's favorite Jarrod Washburn.

Reliever Ronald Belisario was arrested Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence.  His discipline by the team has yet to be announced, but Jim Torre met with Belisario to discuss the matter.  The young right hander has been very valuable for Los Angeles.

Ronald Belisario

#54 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers





Dec 31, 1982

2009 - Ronald Belisario 1-2 39 0 0 0 0 4 44.2 33 12 10 2 17 41 2.01 1.12

Yawn move:  Signed Ramon Nivar, a 29yo IF who hasn't played in the majors since 2005 with Baltimore.  He was assigned to AA.

Signed Brett Wallach, their third round pick and son of former Dodger Tim Wallach.

LHP Eric Milton (back) was activated from the 15-day DL in the only injury news of the week.

Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Will Ohman shoulder 05/28/2009
Eric Stults thumb 05/31/2009
Hong-Chih Kuo elbow 04/30/2009
Jason Schmidt shoulder 03/30/2009
Xavier Paul knee 05/21/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Doug Mientkiewicz shoulder 04/17/2009
Claudio Vargas elbow 04/05/2009


San Diego (33-41, 4th, W1, 14 GB)

Last Week: 1-2 @ Mariners.  2-1 @ Rangers.   San Diego refuses to go away.

This Week: 4 game home series vs Astros, 3 game home series vs Dodgers.

News: Chad Gaudin threw eight innings of one-hit shutout ball vs Texas last night - on the road(!) - striking out 11.  Kevin Correia is tied with Jason Hammel and Jorge de la Rosa for the NL lead in June wins with 4.  The solid pitching performances from jouryman are helping the Padres avoid the collapse we've all been sure they'd feel eventually.

Super prospect Kyle Blanks has been bocked at first base by whathisname so Blanks has been playing in the outfield.  Apparently, he's doing fine.  He's doing okay with the bat too, but should get better.

Kyle Blanks

#22 / Left Field / San Diego Padres





Sep 11, 1986

2009 - Kyle Blanks 8 24 3 6 3 0 0 3 3 8 0 0 .250 .357 .375

Signed Val Pascucci, who was released by the Dodgers earlier in the week.

Luis Perdomo was reinstated from the 15-day DL since last week, sending struggling lefty Wade LeBlanc back to AAA.

San Diego Padres Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Will Venable wrist 06/28/2009


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brian Giles knee 06/19/2009
Jake Peavy ankle 06/09/2009
Chris Young shoulder 06/15/2009
Nick Hundley wrist 06/18/2009
Luke Gregerson shoulder 06/08/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Shawn Hill elbow 04/26/2009
Cliff Floyd shoulder 06/18/2009
Cha Seung Baek forearm 03/30/2009
Mark Worrell elbow 03/27/2009

San Francisco (40-34, 2nd, W1, 7 GB)

Last Week: 2-1 @ Athletics, 1-2 @ Brewers.  It took a shutout by rookie Ryan Sadowski in his major league debut (plus the bullpen) Sunday to stave off a sweep at Miller Park.

This Week: 4 game series @ Cardinals, 3 game home series vs Astros.

News:  Brian Sabean is feeling pressure from his superiors to make a move for a bat.  His last trade that makes his top ten list involves Yorvit Torrealba, so he hasn't been terribly active in recent years  .  Now that St. Louis has Mark DeRosa, hoepfully that doesn't mean Matt Holliday lands in San Francisco.

Matt Holliday

#5 / Left Field / San Francisco Giants?????





Jan 15, 1980

2009 - Matt Holliday 73 270 36 74 16 1 8 39 36 46 8 2 .274 .372 .43O

He is looking for a middle of an order impact bat.  Other possibilities include Aubrey Huff, Nick Johnson, Mark DeRosa, Troy Glaus, Luke Scott, Adam Dunn, Felipe Lopez and Adam KennedyWait...Adam Kennedy?  Middle of the order?  He's not even middle of the order for Oakland!  Oh yeah...this is the Giants....Maybe if they wait, Jeff Baker could be their new cleanup hitter...

McCovey Chronicles debates trade possibilities and whether to rebuild, reload, or stand pat.

Signed 3rd round pick and former Rockie draftee Chris Dominguez.

Pablo Sandoval is good.  He's also large.

San Francisco Giants Injuries

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Noah Lowry ribs 03/27/2009
Joe Martinez concussion 04/10/2009