Tagged: Eric Byrnes 06.4

D’Backs Battery Prevents Giants Sweep

Just a few notes while I am at work on this computer that doesn’t function well.

Starter Brandon Webb and his battery mate and Bay Area native, Johnny Estrada, made sure that the D’Backs got away with one win in the last of their three game set at "Whatever They’re Calling This Year" Park in San Francisco.

Webb, the ace sinkerballer, pitched 8 complete, striking out 5 while walking 2. This game pushed his record to 4-0. Brandon Medders pitched a scoreless 9th.

Estrada was a perfect 4-4, with 4 RBIs and 2 runs scored as the D’Backs beat the Giants 8-2 in Bay Area weather as it should be: sunny and warm, but not oppressively hot. Estrada is now batting .300.

One of Estrada’s runs scored came when he was driven in by an Eric Byrnes triple in the 8th. Byrnesie had a devil of a time with right-handed starter Matt Cain, popping up three times. Since it’s a local game that was blacked out to me, I have not yet been able to see what was the matter. Pop-ups typically mean Byrnesie has too much early uppercut in his swing and is trying to loft the ball. (I’ll update this entry after I get a chance to study the archive). But he hit a line drive triple to center on the second pitch get got from lefty reliever Jeff Fassero. The Giants center fielder today was Randy Winn, who robbed Byrnesie of a solo homer yesterday, and who hit a triple that Byrnsie had to field today. (Plus he was driven in by a Barry Bonds double to center). Hitting an RBI triple today was great revenge, especially since the Diamondbacks won.

Randy Winn’s line was 3-4 with a run scored. The Diamondbacks are glad to see the last of him for a while.

I had better start playing the LOTTO more. This is not the first time that I have endured Eric Byrnes’ hard times on radio or TV only to have to miss the good stuff he did because I was en route to or at work when it happened. This working for a living stuff is getting in the way of living!

Then to make the Byrnes good stuff better, he scored when he was driven in by a Brandon Webb Sac Fly. The Giants announcers had earlier described Webb as a pitcher who doesn’t look at all comfortable at the plate. Apparently he knew what to do that time.

So Byrnesie went 1-4 with an RBI triple and a run scored. His batting average is now .237. He needs to add another 65-70 points to that. The triple helps the slugging percentage, which I don’t have the time to figure out or look up at the moment.

An RBI Triple and a Run Scored. Good! Good! Good!

Kellia "Getting Closer to True Elation" Ramares
Oakland, CA

A Pleasant Shock

Sun18_5Steve Gilbert, MLB.com’s Diamondbacks beat reporter and author of the blog The Tao of Steve, posts the D’Backs lineups when he gets them. So I found out a while ago that, indeed, Eric Byrnes will be in the lineup today against the Giants at "Whatever They’re Calling It This Year" Park in San Francisco.

This will be the first time the D’Backs’ alleged everyday CF will have gotten two consecutive starts since April 14th and 15th. Go Byrnesie!

Housefly_6Byrnes batted 7th yesterday, but he has been pushed down to 8th today. As I commented on Steve’s blog this morning: "ah, yes, let’s bat Byrnes 8th against the Giants, a team against which he does well, especially in their park. This way, if there are two out, he’ll get walked to get to the pitcher. IBB’s and semi-IBB’s are good for the OBP, right? And good for the ego. It kind of reminds one of Ortiz and Ramirez or Bonds and Alou, doesn’t it? :+/ "

Speaking of Bonds and Alou, those two will be in the lineup, along with infamous terror of the D’Backs, Randy Winn.

Byrnesie likes playing in "Whatever They’re Calling It This Year" Park, so I hope he does well. And I hope that this is just the beginning of a long string of starts for the D’Backs alleged everyday CF. I have to say I was not thrilled to hear the Giants announcers say that he was going to "share center field"  with DaVanon. That suggests something more than the accommodation of DaVanon’s early hitting hotness or the alleged fourth outfielder, who can play all three outfield positions, spelling the other three guys so that all of them stay fresh throughout the long season.

Byrnes has been criticized for the streakiness of his hitting, and the stats bear out the fact that consistency has been a problem for him. But consistency is a two-way street. He’s in a new league, where pitchers are throwing a bit differently, and he has a new set of umpires with which to work. Yet from the get-go, he hasn’t had the chance to develop a rhythm, even when he has done well. e.g. he went 3-5 Opening Day but did not get the Game Two start.

"Life is what happens while you were making other plans." –John Lennon.

That saying is on my mind today. The D’Backs came into the area for 3 games and I could only go to the one of the three Byrnesie did not start, as my work schedule was shifted less than two weeks ago to put me on all weekends. Not that I currently could have afforded tickets to all three games. The D’Backs are next in the area at the end of June/early July for interleague play against the A’s. If Byrnesie is still with them by then, let’s see if I can afford to go, even though the A’s are no longer selling third deck seats. My income is about as predictable and smooth as a well-pitched knuckleball.

Note_5The Giants are starting Matt Cain, a righty. Byrnesie got to face him and right-handed relief pitcher Kevin Correia when the Giants were in Phoenix on the 19th. Each pitcher induced an out, but also gave up a walk to Byrnesie. So he was 0-2 with 2 BBs and a run scored. 

Albert Pujols has one more day in which to add to his MLB record 14 HRS in April.

Kéllia Ramares
Oakland, CA

Where’s Barry Bonds When You Really Need Him?

Last night, I froze at "Whatever They’re Calling It This Year" Park in San Francisco in the hopes of getting an opportunity to see Eric Byrnes, even just as a pinch hitter. As my regular readers know, I don’t like the idea of Byrnesie being a pinch-hitter, but I figured the likelihood of his getting the start against Jason Schmidt rested somewhere between slim chance and fat chance. So I brought my binder of Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Reports along, in the hopes of being able to fill in at least one PA when Schmidt was done for the night.

But it was not to be. I got to see Jeff DaVanon strike out looking, strike out swinging, ground out to short, hit into a 4-6-3 double play and let an Omar Vizquel flair to center drop in front of him for a single. I know the faster, more aggressive Byrnesie would have grabbed it off his shoe tops. BTW, in his last two dozen plate appearances, DaVanon’s now 3 for his last 23 AB’s, (one hit was a double) plus a walk, 2 K’s, 2 runs scored and no RBIs. If I’ve got the math right, that’s a .130 BA, .167 OBP and .174 SLG. Can we say this hot hitter is not so hot anymore?

I got to see right-handed pinch-hitter Andy Green strike out on behalf of Jason Grimsley in the 7th. And yes, I did catch a glimpse of Byrnesie; he was sent to the on-deck circle for Johnny Estrada while Shawn Green was batting with two out in the 9th and the game already 10-2 Giants. (Can you say "out of reach"? I know you can!) I figure "Mechanical Mel" might have been throwing a sop to Byrnesie’s local posse.  Green struck out and that was that. But if your eyes were pointed at the right place at the right time, you could see that Byrnesie looks good in the black uni. Too bad he doesn’t get to get it dirty more often these days.

Instead of Byrnesie, I got to see plenty of Barry Bonds. And one thing I saw was him not being able to run well. He hit a double that might have been a triple if hit by a faster runner.

Today Bonds didn’t play. It being the day game after a night game, and him being an injury-weakened veteran and all. But Byrnesie got the start and got an RBI single off a right-handed pitcher in the 4th. (Did you notice that, Mechanical Mel? An RBI Single off a righty?!)

In the 9th inning, the score was tied 2-2. And Randy Winn, who was playing LF instead of Barry, robbed Shawn Green of a double in left center with a great sliding catch that I listened to while walking the last way to work. Then up came Eric Byrnes, who entered this game batting .410 with 3 HRs and 9 RBI lifetime in "Whatever They’re Calling It This Year" Park, and he earlier had that RBI single. True Elation, which I define as a Byrnes multi-hit day with at least one RBI, was just a measly single away.

Eric sent the first pitch he saw from Giants closer Armando Benitez, another RIGHTY, screaming towards the left field bleachers. But Randy Winn, a former basketball player, made a great leaping catch, like he was crashing the boards. Winn later called it the best catch of his career. Hey Winn, didn’t someone tell you that the NBA playoffs are on another channel?

That was out number three. And right after the commercial break, Mo Alou hit the walk-off homer. I was still a block away from work when my hopes for an extra-innings Byrnes AB were dashed.

Winn robbed Byrnesie of a homer he really needed. His stats needed it; his ego needed it. Heck, I needed it. I’m still thawing out from last night.

If Barry had been playing left, chances are good he couldn’t have made the two great catches the fleeter-footed Winn did. A Byrnes 2-run homer would have made the score 4-2 and Alou’s solo shot would not have been the gamer.

Even without Green aboard, I’m thinking that Byrnesie needed that homer. Mechanical Mel is under some delusion that Byrnesie can’t hit righties.

Where’s Barry Bonds when you really need him?

Kellia " Winn, you stole a homer from Byrnes and True Elation from me." Ramares
Oakland, CA

I can scarcely believe it!

Sun18_4 Eric Byrnes is starting today! And against a right-handed pitcher at that! Can it be that Jeff DaVanon has officially been declared cooled-off since he’s gone 3-23? (And didn’t make a catch last night I know Byrnesie would have?)

Byrnesie’s batting 7th today. That’s better than 8th because he’ll get a little bit of protection with someone other than the pitcher batting behind him. But shall we have a vote as to where he should bat? Has any manager known where to put him?

He just hit an RBI single. A low line drive with runners at the corners. I keep saying that he’s a line drive hitter. After he did that, the Giants announcers said that Byrnes lifetime in the Giants’ park is .410 with 3 hrs and 9 RBI. How he doesn’t start every game in that park, regardless of who is pitching, is beyond me.

Housefly_5Figures he’s starting on a day I can’t go to the park, but at least he’s starting, contributing to the team,  and I know that at least one big Byrnes fan copped a ticket to today’s game.

Byrnesie was stranded at second as the Snakes loaded the bases but the pitcher hit into a double play. No apologies from me, purists, over the fact that I like the DH.

Note_4 Congrats to Albert Pujols who has hit his 14th homer of April. A new MLB record.

R.I.P. Steve Howe, the pitcher brought low by drug addiction. He was killed in an auto accident at 48.

Kéllia Ramares
Oakland, CA

Sometimes a Rain Delay is a Good Thing

…even though you may not realize it at the time.

Early this month I had planned to go to "Whatever they’re calling it this year" Park in San Francisco to buy tickets to this weekend’s series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants. I didn’t want to pay the service fees for ordering online, and I figured that I should practice how to get to the stadium anyway; I’ve never been there. But it was rainy, windy and cold, and so I put it off. It turned out to be just as well that I didn’t buy the tickets.

A couple of weeks later, a change in my work schedule made me the weekend news tech at KPFA. I might have been able to find a sub for the weekend, but it’s better than I didn’t. I need the money. Weekend work still would have left Friday available, but, the uncertainties surrounding whether or not Byrnes will play that game have taken all the potential fun out of the day for me.

At the beginning of this month, and thus, this baseball season, I had looked forward to Friday, April 28th. It was supposed to mark the return of Eric Byrnes to the Bay Area, this time as the regular center fielder of the Diamondbacks. I had my Diamondbacks road cap and my Byrnes-22 T-shirt and I was even considering taking a "Welcome Home, Byrnesie" sign. (He grew up just south of San Francisco, and rooted for the Giants as a kid).

But now, the D’Backs 4th outfielder, Jeff DaVanon, has started more games than Byrnesie and I have no idea if Byrnes will start Friday.  The switch-hitting DaVanon was supposed to give Byrnesie some days off against "tough righties," and probable Giants starter Jason Schmidt is one tough righty, especially against the D’Backs. (He’s 9-0 against them). On the other hand, Jake Peavy is one tough righty who had a very good record against the D’Backs, but they started Byrnes instead of DaVanon. Against Peavy, a pitcher with whom he was unfamiliar, Byrnes hit like a guy who had had one AB in three days, which was exactly the case. DaVanon hasn’t just spelled Byrnesie against "tough righties," he’s has been playing against any right-hander. It looks as if Byrnes’ reputation of having difficulty hitting right-handers for average has followed him to the National League, which is ridiculous. The pitching is different in the NL and Byrnes’ first 5 hits this year came against righties.

The fact that Eric Byrnes emerged from Spring Training the everyday centerfielder in name only has made me glad that I decided not to take a trip to San Francisco in foul weather to buy tickets. I grew up a Mets fan, and I have lived in Oakland for a quarter century, so I never really warmed up to the Giants. I am not into the Bonds homer hoopla, and rooting for the D’Backs has become hard because I think they’ve shafted Eric Byrnes.  So I might as well stay home and listen to the game, while doing other things I need to to.

If Eric plays, I hope he does well. I’ll have The Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report on hand to fill out (in pencil). Whether he does well, poorly, something in between, or rides the pine, I’m still rooting for him to get the chance to show what he really can do, if only he can be with a team that really believes in him and knows what to do with him. I had hoped the D’Backs would be that team. I doubt that now, because I think there is more going on here than Jeff DaVanon getting off to a very hot start. More on that later.

Kéllia Ramares
Oakland, CA

The Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report or Why Let a Computer Do It All for You?

(Be warned that this is long. I wanted something to do while acting as substitute tech for the remote broadcast of the Berkeley School Board Meeting).

When was the last time you used a pen or pencil?

That was a question posed by Mark Newman, MLB.com’s Enterprise Editor (and Blogger-in-Chief) in his article New Software Makes Scoring Fun Again, which touts new software for fans who like to keep score on their computers or PDA’s.

"My Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Reports are always done in pencil," I replied at MLBlogosphere, "So I’ve been using a pencil every day since the season started, even if it’s just to note that he’s not in the lineup again. GRRR!"

"My Friend, The Yankees Fan" has kept score on a Palm Pilot at the House that Ruth Built. In 1923, when Yankee Stadium opened, pilot was a title for guys who flew overgrown kites to deliver mail, dust crops, kill each other in wartime dogfights–why do they call them that? Dogs don’t fight in the sky–or kill themselves in stunts designed to show the people on the ground how much fun flying was. I’m not saying this because I’m afraid of flying. Airline ticket prices, now those are scary. And the guys in fatigues wielding M-16’s at the airport last time I was there, well, they didn’t exactly make me feel secure. I figured that if they opened fire, ordinary Jane’s and Joe’s in the area would be "collateral damage." But hurtling through the air in a metal tube doesn’t especially scare me. After all, the technology’s come a long way since 1923.

And the technology for recording information has come a long way since the graphite pencil became common. Still, I like keeping score at the park on paper. I like writing The Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report in pencil. I’m not a Luddite and I am not a geek. I’m somewhere in between. I’m considered a power user at work and I’m a web head at home, spending much more time in front of the computer than the TV. I blog here and watch the baseball games on computer.

I have to side with Michael of Some Ballyard, at least partially, on the problems of watching baseball on the Internet. He’s right. The screen freezes. Mark Newman disagrees. He loves baseball via computer: "Always enjoy Some Ballyard, but have to beg to differ on the experience of watching live baseball over the Internet. Quality is constantly improving and it’s a way of life for millions — including this blogger right here. There’s a Nats-Phils game on MLB.TV on the computer right next to me as I type this, in fact."

I guess how good baseball on the computer really is depends on the kind of equipment you have. I suspect that Mark, who works at MLB.com in New York City, watches his baseball on state-of-the-art computers. I don’t know what Michael’s set up is, but I have a PII with a 333-clock. It’s the fastest computer I’ve ever owned and it’s a dinosaur by today’s standards. An early dinosaur, at that. And my dinosaur often can’t keep up with a good slider or even a hard hit ground ball.

Baseball on the computer is a great use of technology; I just have to get a faster computer. But I think bringing a Palm Pilot to the ballpark is a symptom of what is wrong with baseball today. Going to the ballpark is an occasion for me to get away from the computer, which between email and baseball games is an actual, not virtual, addiction for me. It’s not an addiction I am looking to break. Thanks to the computer, I can follow Eric Byrnes’ exploits, or lack thereof, anywhere in the country, without the excess baggage and expense of cable TV. But, as Red Sox Chick implied in her Spheroid, there are other things we can be doing with our lives besides sitting in front of a computer screen. Some ballparks, including "Whatever they’re calling it this year" Park in San Francisco, are installing Internet access, so that fans can bring their laptops to the game. I have a feeling it’s not so that fans can keep score by computer. With a variety of other non-baseball activities such as walking courses, swimming pools, B-B-Q pits, shops, etc being added to the ballpark experience, along with sausage, taco, dot, Bart-car and other races on the scoreboard and on the field, the experience of the game itself is being diminished. It’s as if we all have ADD and have to have a large variety of activities to keep us at the park without…what? Falling Asleep? Leaving early? Rioting? I go to the ballpark to watch a ballgame. Evidently, that’s as quaint as, well…keeping score with a pencil.

Doing a scorecard, or The Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report, by pencil keeps me engaged in the game. I don’t have to worry about saving the file, or whether or not the system will crash or the battery will fail while I am recording the information. If I drop the scorecard or the Report, I haven’t broken anything. While at the Coliseum last season, I spilled a little mustard on one of my Reports. No big deal. As we know from Red Sox Chick’s experience, foodstuffs and electronics are not always a good combination.

This is not to say that there is no room for modern technology in keeping track of baseball events. (Overdue thanks to Carl at Inside Pitch and Matt at DiamondHacks for pointing me to a web site where I could find the batter-vs-pitcher histories that are becoming part of my research into why the Diamondbacks are not employing Byrnes as the everyday center fielder he thought he would be when he signed with them). The Gameday screen at MLB.com has been a huge help to me, when it is complete, because sometimes I can’t watch the whole game, usually due to work or the time it takes me to go to and from my job. This happened the other day when I missed Eric Byrnes’ first time up because of how long it takes me to get home from work by public transportation. (If I could afford a car, I would have made it home in time). The Pitch-by-Pitch feature of the Gameday screen allowed me to record what happened on each pitch Eric faced when I was not looking.

When the 2005 "Bloggies" were awarded, Mark stated that he hoped that we computer jocks got away from our screens long enough to get to some actual ballgames. Some of us do. Unfortunately, ticket prices are getting so high that, as the commercials suggest, a family trip to the ballpark is now an occasion of debt. We miss the fresh-air, out-with-the-crowd experience of the live game when we watch at home. At the ballpark, a good pitch freezes the batter, not our view of the play. But we can get a better view for a lower price by watching from our screens. And when something happens like the Oakland A’s shrinking the capacity of the Coliseum by refusing to sell tickets to the third deck seats that made the live game watchable AND affordable for me, I feel that baseball wants lower-income people like me to stay home.

What I miss, good and bad, of the live experience, I gain in the form of camera angles and replays that help me observe Byrnesie’s batting mechanics. So the technology is an indispensable aid to my greater understanding of how Eric Byrnes performs and how he can improve. (We may be past the point of dealing with Global Warming, but Byrnes’ consistency problems are solvable!)

Still, the pencil plays a major role in my observations (or obsession, if you would believe Diane of Diamonds are for Humor, and Bobby of Deep Fried Fish). When "My Friend, the Yankees Fan" found out that I was keeping detailed notes on Eric Byrnes’ plate appearances, her first reaction was to wonder why I was fussing over a mediocre player who wasn’t even good looking. She then told me that I could find all those stats online, and she even provided a URL. But, by doing the Report by hand, I have gone beyond the mere aggregation of stats to thinking about the many facets of the game, and how I can arrange those facets on one page, for one player, in a way that is meaningful to me. A web site can’t do that. It can provide the raw information, but it can’t assemble it in the way that best suits my purposes.

The very first Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report, which I did on July 3, 2005 while I was at the Coliseum, was merely a series of tick marks in Byrnes’ boxes on a standard scorecard. The Report is now much more sophisticated than the title implies. Having records on the Internet allowed me to go back to June 1, 2005. Actually, I could have gone back farther–the archives are there–but it is not as much fun to copy stats from a computer screen as it is to keep track of what’s happening in real time. The former is academic research, the latter is baseball. And dammit, Jim, I’m a journalist, not a paleontologist.

Here’s how The Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report now works. On a single entry along the long side of an 8.5 x 11 inch page—I’d show you if I had a digital camera and legible handwriting–I record an inning, the outs, where the baserunners, if any, are, whether Byrnesie takes, misses, fouls or hits a pitch, and whether the taken pitches are balls or strikes. I also record the result of a plate appearance, often using the same shorthand one would find on a scorecard, whether or not he has advanced any baserunners without RBI’s (and to where), how many, if any, RBI’s there were, and whether or not Byrnes scored after he reached base. I’ve also added a "Notes" section, recording things such as whether or not he has taken a level swing, has swung at what looked like a ball (something I can more easily discern on the computer than at the park) or whether he was robbed by a great play. There is always something either to be added to the Report or gleaned from it. Keeping true to the original intent of the Report, I calculate and record Byrnes’ P/PA for the game. But nowadays, I’m also counting how many PA’s he has with empty bases and how many he has with runners in scoring position. This way, if anyone criticizes Byrnesie’s RBI total to me, I can point out how relatively few RBI opportunities he has.

A "Miscellaneous" section at the bottom of the Report records his great grabs, stolen bases and other information about the game. Since I am keeping this season’s Reports in a looseleaf binder, I have taken to using the previous blank page, i.e. the reverse page of the previous Report, to record other things, e.g. remarks by broadcasters, achievements by other players, or literary quotes I might want to use in a future blog entry. There’s more, but that’s the "guts" of the Report. The Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Report is the place from which I glean the information for the EB Statshot-2006 that is now on a sidebar of my blog.

All of this comes from my doing the Report in pencil, in real time whenever possible, rather than periodically grabbing stats from a web site. BTW, Byrnesie didn’t play yesterday. GRRR!

Technology can be a great tool. But you’ll miss out on something if you let the computer do it all for you.

Kéllia "Eric Byrnes’ No. 1 Blogger" Ramares
Oakland, CA

Vargas, Jackson Lead D’Backs Over Peavy, Pads,  7-0

Sun18_3 Claudio Vargas, the Diamondbacks’ No. 5 pitcher, threw 7 shutout innings as the D’Backs finally solved the riddle of Jake Peavy, who had been their nemesis for the past year and a half. Vargas did not do well his last two times out, but he’s been working on some things with Arizona pitching coach Brian Price, and tonight he looked like an ace. He walked no one while striking out four. Brandon Medders pitched a scoreless eighth and Greg Aquino blanked the Padres in the ninth. Diamondbacks 7 – Padres 0.

The offense was led by first baseman Conor Jackson, who had 4 RBI in a 3-5 night. Luis Gonzalez went 2-4 and batted in two runs. The other RBI went to Johnny Estrada, who hit a sac fly.

It was "Welcome Back" night for leadoff hitter Craig Counsell, who has been nursing a sore hamstring of late. He went 3-5 with three runs scored.

Housefly_3 Two guys in the lineup contributed nothing to the thirteen hit and 1 sac fly attack: Chad Tracy and Eric Byrnes. Yup, much to my surprise, Eric started tonight, despite the fact that we’d been hearing that Jeff DaVanon would spell him against "tough righties." Peavy is one of the toughest righties in the league. And Byrnesie hit like the start might have surprised him, too. He went 0-4 with a strikeout (caught looking his first time up) and an intentional walk.

The worst of it came in the 6th inning, when Estrada was IBB’d to load the bases for Byrnesie. He popped to shallow right on the third pitch, which I thought was a ball. It’s a situation I have seen before. When Byrnesie comes back from getting benched–and he started only 4 of the 10 games prior to this one, did not play yesterday, pinch-ran the day before, and pinch-hit the day before that–he presses, trying to prove himself. And when he does that, ugly things happen.

The first ugly thing that happens is that he loses his patience. Peavy was not exceptionally sharp tonight. Byrnesie needed to wait him out a little, especially with the bases loaded. His overall P/PA tonight was 3.20 (And that’s that one of the PA’s was the IBB in the 7th). The popouts to the first baseman down the right field line, and the second baseman in shallow right came on the third pitch each time, and off the end of the bat. I thought the pitch on which he popped up with the bases loaded was a ball.

The second ugly thing that happens is that he forgets his level swing. That was especially evident to me in the 9th inning, when he flied out to right. An early uppercut, with what looks to me like a flick of the wrists, does not send the ball far enough. The same pitch, thrown by the right-handed reliever Cassidy, would have gone for a double with a level swing.

The only thing I can say for the IBB in the seventh is that it offset the K in the second. I really don’t like Byrnesie batting eighth. With one out in the sixth, the Padres walked Estrada to get to Byrnes to set up the righty-righty matchup. In the seventh, the righty reliever Brazelton IBB’d Byrnes. Eric has a homer off Brazelton, there were two out and the pitcher was next. This is now the second time I have seen it recently. The first time, Byrnesie was not officially IBB’d, but he walked. Whenever there are two out, Byrnes batting eighth and the pitcher due up, you are going to see Byrnesie get a free pass unless the bases are already loaded. Why risk pitching to a guy with pop in his bat when the pitcher can make the third out? Such walks would help Eric’s K/BB ratio and his OBP, but they won’t help his batting average, his RBI totals or his runs scored totals.

Byrnes is now 1-10 with runners in scoring position. Shawn Green is now 1-15 in that situation, leaving four men on base today, as Byrnes also did. But Green went 2-5 and now has a higher batting average than Byrnes: .239 to .235. It’s taking a lot of multi-hit days for Green to get his batting average up but he’s doing it. Byrnes now must do likewise.

If Byrnesie is not to be forgotten, he needs to relax, be patient at the plate, and take level swings.

Note_3 Todd Helton has been diagnosed with an inflammation at the end of his small intestines. He has to rest and no date has been picked for his return to the Rockies. But at least he doesn’t have to have surgery.

Juan Encarnacion of the St.Louis Cardinals has had a bad early season, but tonight was a special night: He went 3-4 with 4 RBI. All three hits were XBH: a double, a homer, and a triple. Plus, he made a great diving catch in the outfield. Our Cardinals-fan bloggers are thrilled no doubt. You’ll have to peel me off the ceiling when Eric Byrnes has a day like that. Felicitationes, Juan!

The Cleveland Indians walked David Ortiz to pitch to Manny Ramirez and the former Tribe member made them pay with a homer. As Red Sox Chick said when she posted on the subject: Do NOT disrespect the Ramirez!

I think they are the most devastating duo in the majors, though I know some Cardinals fans would reasonably vote for Pujols-Rolen.  Re: having to pitch to Ortiz or Ramirez, I have heard several broadcasters say "Pick your poison." So, Manny, now that David has signed his extension, don’t talk about leaving Boston any more! Being Big Papi’s protection is one of the best gigs in the game!

And speaking of the Cardinals, being Albert Pujols is another great gig. He has hit his 12th homer and April still has almost a week to go! I was watching ESPN at the gym yesterday afternoon and the big baseball question was: "Why are teams still pitching to Albert Pujols?" Good question. Cards fans, would you care to answer that one?

Kéllia Ramares
Oakland, CA

Webb is Aces as Byrnes-less D’Backs Beat Pads 4-1; And a question for you

Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb was lights out as the D’Backs beat the Padres 4-1. Jose Valverde got the last three outs. Matt of DiamondHacks did live blogging. You can check it out here.  And no, catcherJohnny Estrada is NOT related to the Estrada who played on CHiPs.

Shawn Green had another multi-hit day, going 2-3 with a walk and two runs scored, bringing his average up to .226. Jeff DaVanon went 1-5 with a run scored, and while he is showing signs of cooling off, he’s still batting .365. The Padres started a righty, Chan Ho Park, who wasn’t exactly chopped liver himself in the first half of the game. The start of a righty meant that Eric Byrnes, alleged everyday CF, did not start again, in fact, he did not enter the game in any capacity.

Here’s what has happened to Byrnesie of late:

4/15 Started. Double and a walk in a game where D’Backs were shut out by the Astros.
4/16 Did not play. (‘Stros).
4/17 Started. 2-run homer and walk against the Giants, a team he does well against. Was pulled in a double switch and did not bat in the 9th. The more I see these double switches, the more I like the DH.
4/18 Did not play. (Giants).
4/19 Started. No hits, but two walks, no K’s and one run scored. (Giants).
4/20 Did not start as Giants were starting a right-handed sinkerballer and Melvin doesn’t want to start Byrnes against sinkerballers. (Byrnes likes the high pitches). Was called on to pinch-hit in the 7th against self-same righthanded sinkerballer. Flied out to center.
4/21 Started. (Dodgers). RBI single in 7th that followed a hard luck, hard-hit line-drive straight to short that did not drive in the runner from third in the fifth. Was pinch hit for in the 9th when the Dodgers put in right handed relievers.
4/22 Did not start. (Dodgers). Hit a pinch-hit single in the 7th but was forced out at second.
4/23 Did not start. (Dodgers). Was inserted as a pinch runner in the 8th but was not put into the outfield for the 9th and did not bat.
4/24 Did not play (Padres).

Eric Byrnes has become the fourth outfielder. Right fielder Shawn Green is going to be given every chance to get going. And he has had several multi-hit days in the past week or so, though with all that, his batting average and RBI total are still anemic. Alleged fourth outfielder Jeff DaVanon is going to have to drop another 100 points off his batting average before there is any serious consideration of returning him to the bench. Even then, the fact that he is a switch hitter means that he’ll get plenty of playing time. I wouldn’t mind that but for the fact that most of his chances are going to come at the expense of Byrnes, even though DaVanon can play all three outfield positions.

I really want to see Byrnes traded A.S.A.P. to a team that really will use him as the everyday center fielder he thought he would be when he signed with the D’Backs. The truth is that if the switch-hitting DaVanon bats anywhere near his career average of .286, Melvin won’t want Byrnes as an everyday player, and Byrnes doesn’t need another platoon situation. If the D’Backs trade Byrnes, then find out they need another backup outfielder, there is always Carlos Quentin, who was sent back to AAA at the end of the spring even though it was admitted that he has nothing more to prove at that level.

Byrnes is 30. A baby by the standards of the Giants’ outfield, but a mature veteran to the rest of MLB. He doesn’t have that many more years to latch on as the everyday player he needs to be if he is to be his best. He had hoped it would happen in Phoenix, but it sure doesn’t look like that now.

The best laid plans of mice and men
Gang aft agley
And leave us naught but grief and pain
For promised joy.
–Robert Burns.

Steve Gilbert, the MLB.com Diamondbacks beat reporter and author of The Tao of Steve, doesn’t agree with me. You can read our discussion in the comment section of his post "Where’s Green?"

Bear in mind we have differing perspectives. Steve looks at the issue in terms of what is best for the team. He likes the depth the team has by having both Byrnes and DaVanon. I look at it in terms of what is best for Byrnesie. He’s gone from being the everyday center fielder, to being "spelled against tough righties" (to use a Steve Gilbert phrase) to not being started against any righties, and the first month of the season isn’t even over yet. I want to see Byrnesie play every day. There’s another commentator who also added his opinion.

Maybe the D’Backs can get a pitcher for Byrnes. Steve’s reporting that Russ Ortiz has been taken out of the starting rotation.

Join in the discussion over there or over here. The question is: Should the D’Backs trade Eric Byrnes, and if so, what should they try to get in such a trade?

Kéllia "It’s deja vu all over again" Ramares
Oakland, CA

Just Fine With Me: Dodgers 6 D’Backs 4

The L.A. Dodgers beat the AZ Diamondbacks 6-4 In Game 19 of the season. The Boys in Blue scored 4 runs in the first inning off Russ Ortiz, who lasted only 1.2 innings and is now 0-3. The Dodgers never lost the lead.

L.A. started right hander and former S.F. Giant Brett Tomko. So platoon sergeant Bob “Mechanical Mel” Melvin benched Eric Byrnes again, starting Jeff DaVanon in center. DaVanon can also play right, but “Mechanical Mel” is determined to continue letting Shawn Green stink up April. Green went 0-3 in this game, walking and scoring his last time up, when Tony Clark hit a pinch-hit double on behalf of reliever Juan Cruz. Green is now batting .203.

Byrnes only got in as a pinch-runner for Clark, but he was stranded on second when Andy Green grounded to short. Byrnes was not put into the outfield afterward. With no AB’s, Byrnesie’s batting average stays at .255.

I went to work today wearing a 20+ year old corduroy baseball cap that says “Boreal Ski-Sports.” I am now only going to wear the D’Backs cap on the days Byrnesie starts.

May losing betide the Diamondbacks as long as they shaft Eric Byrnes.

Kellia “Looking for caps in the closet” Ramares
Oakland, CA

Tracy Perfect as D’Backs Edge Dodgers 5-4

Sun18_2Chad Tracy was perfect, with 3 doubles, a single and a walk, an RBI and a run scored, as the D’Backs beat the Dodgers 5-4. The Snakes were leading 5-0 after four,  but the Dodgers clawed their way back to within one  with a run in the 4th, two in the 5th and one in the 6th.

After the Dodgers scored their last run in the bottom of the 6th, Bob Melvin made a pitching change, replacing Medders with Vizcaino. This two-out pitching change was made as part of a double switch, in which right fielder Shawn Green, the last D’Back to bat in the top of the 6th, was pulled so that Vizcaino could take his spot in the batting order. Green, BTW, went 0-4 with 3 K’s tonight. (He’s now batting only .214 despite several multi-hit days this week).  Jeff DaVanon moved from center to right and ERIC BYRNES, the everyday centerfielder who lately starts every day the opposition doesn’t start a right handed pitcher, was put in center so that he could bat 9th and thus come up third in the top of the 7th instead of the pitcher.

Come up he did, hitting a two-out single to center that raised his batting average to .255. Byrnesie’s definitely learning that he doesn’t have to pull everything, that going with the pitch and using more of the field can yield positive results. Unfortunately, he was not driven in, as DaVanon, who is showing signs of cooling down–he went 1-5 this game–made the third out.

But, as Vin Scully put it at the end, "The Dodgers were completely shut down from the 7th inning on."  Nomar Garciaparra got a single in the 7th, but that was all the offense the Dodgers generated in their last three innings. One Dodger struck out in the 7th, two in the 8th, and the D’Backs’ closer Valverde struck out the side in the 9th. The other three of the Dodgers’ last 9 outs were all flyouts to Eric Byrnes. Good Karma. As I have said before, I think Powers way higher than me are trying to tell Melvin something about Byrnesie.

Housefly_2The D’Backs left 13 runners on base. Shawn Green was responsible for 7 of those LOBs.

When pinch hitter Andy Green singled in the 9th, it looked like Eric Byrnes would make another plate appearance; he was scheduled to be the 4th batter in the inning, if it got that far. But Johnny Estrada hit into a double play.

Late in the game, Luis Gonzalez was unintentionally hit in the ear flap by an errant pitch. He would have missed completely had he hit the deck, but instead he turned away with a leaping motion and the pitch caught him. He was shaken up, but apparently is OK.

Note_2Todd Helton of the Rockies has been placed on the DL. He has a stomach ailment that is different from the stomach flu that has been going around the Rockies clubhouse. Doctors are testing. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Todd.

And this from Red Sox Chick, whose team apparently angered the Higher Powers when they traded Bronson Arroyo, after he made it very clear by word and deed that he wanted to stay in Boston. (Literally by deed, as he closed on a townhouse near Fenway about a month after inking a three-year, "below market" contract with the Red Sox): …the pitcher who Theo had to trade away rung up his third win tonight (3-0 with one no-decision and a 3.04 era) while the POS pitcher who wanted to be traded is heading toward possible retirement.

Which forced the team to put their only lefty in the bullpen into the rotation…which weakened the bullpen and didn’t do all that much for the rotation.  Whereas, had Theo, oh, NOT traded Arroyo, we’d have someone who could be effective in the rotation and out of the bullpen.  But why have that?  Why have ‘too much pitching’?  Instead we have Wily Mo Pena.  A fourth outfielder we didn’t need to begin with.  And we have a weaker bullpen and a weaker rotation.  Good work, Theo.  Great planning ahead when you know you had Wells who is 1) old and 2) unhealthy and 3) Unhappy.  All three things you knew BEFORE you traded Bronson."

From three thousand miles away, I could see that trade would create Bad Karma, Theo.

Kéllia Ramares
Oakland, CA