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.
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
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
Chad 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.
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.
Todd 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.
For whatever a man soweth, that also shall he reap. Galatians 6:7
Diamondbacks manager Bob "Mechanical Mel" Melvin, whose two most used and overused tactics are the double switch and the lefty-righty matchup, today completed his betrayal of Eric Byrnes, and I find it no mere co-incidence that the D’Backs 9th inning rally started falling apart and came up short as soon as he did it. I think Powers way higher than me are trying to tell Melvin something, and he’s not listening.
Some of you might recall that on December 30, 2005, Eric Byrnes signed on with the D’Backs to be their everyday center fielder this year. Well, little by little ol’ matchup Melvin has shown his true colors, and Byrnesie has played less and less. The platooning, which had been subtle at first, at least to those who don’t follow Byrnesie as closely as others of us do, became truly and disgustingly obvious this week. Byrnes did not play on Sunday or Tuesday, and on Thursday he was relegated to pinch-hitting against the very starting pitcher for whom he was benched. (And a guy Byrnes had never before faced. Isn’t it preferable for a hitter to see as many pitches as possible from an unfamiliar pitcher?)
Game 17, on April 21, made the reality of the platoon completely official. With the Dodgers starting a lefty, Byrnes got the start and with Craig Counsell still injured, Byrnesie was batting leadoff. He went 1-4, the one being a 2-out RBI single against a lefty reliever. In the 9th, the Dodgers brought in a righty reliever, Lance Carter, and Melvin sent up the switch-hitting Jeff DaVanon to bat for Chris Snyder and he walked. Melvin then sent the lefty Johnny Estrada to bat for pitcher Juan Cruz and Estrada doubled, sending DaVanon to third. He then sent the switch-hitter Tony Clark to bat for Byrnes and when that happened, the Dodgers brought in their closer, Danys Baez. Clark drove in DaVanon with a ground out to first, Damion Easley struck out, and Chad Tracy flied to right. Ballgame over. Dodgers 6 – D’Backs 3.
Yup. Mechanical Melvin had Clark bat for Byrnes even though:
1) Byrnes has gotten 5 hits vs. right handers.
2) Byrnes had just hit a 2-out RBI single to right, i.e. opposite field, his previous time up. And this was an immediate answer to his previous "bad luck" at-bat, in which his very hard-hit line drive went straight to the shortstop, leaving Orlando Hernandez at third.
3) With runners on second and third, a double play would not have been likely.
4) Clark, a power hitter who hit 30 HRs last year, would not have been able to tie the game with one swing of the bat because the Dodgers had a four-run lead. Clark wasn’t even the tying run at the plate.
Yes, Byrnes has not been setting stadiums afire with his hitting lately. But might that be because, with "Melvin’s Matchup Mania", he hasn’t been allowed to maintain his rhythm after he has done well? Examples: He went 3-5 on Opening Day but did not get the Game 2 start. He got a double and a walk on April 15, when the D’Backs were shut out on what has now been deemed a three hitter. (That night it was called a two-hitter and an error). On April 16th he did not play. On April 17th, he hit his first homer of the season, getting his first two RBI; on the 18th, he did not play. And mind you that despite interleague play, he still has to learn the pitchers in the National League. They do throw a bit differently than in the American League, where Byrnes has played all his career before this year, except for those 15 games with the Rockies in July, 2005. But he’s not being given the chance to adjust that Orlando Hudson has.
It isn’t even about keeping the hot-hitting Jeff DaVanon in the lineup; he didn’t start this game. This is about "Mechanical Mel" in effect telling his alleged everyday center fielder, "Byrnes, you’re not going to play against right-handed pitchers." And last I looked, right-handers are the overwhelming majority in baseball, as they are in the rest of the world. The season is not yet 20 games old and already Byrnesie has all the proof he needs that even if DaVanon has a major crash–and no one is expecting Jeff DaVanon to be the Second Coming of Ted Williams–and even if he himself does well when he does start, he’s not going to play every day. This week, the platoon in Arizona’s center field has been openly and notoriously established. And a sense of Justice that is bigger than lefty-righty percentages has been breached.
The right thing for both Byrnes and the team would be for the D’Backs to trade Byrnes very soon to a team that really will use him as their everyday center fielder, and that would commit him for 3 or 4 years, instead of signing him on as a one-year placeholder while their AAA phenom gets a bit more experience.
More on that in the big Byrnes article on which I am working.
Eric Byrnes is beginning to appear to be the odd man out in the AZ outfield in more ways than one. Lately, the D’Backs’ alleged everyday center fielder has been starting only on odd-numbered days. He did not play on Easter Sunday (4/16), or on Tuesday (4/18) and he did not start Thursday (4/20). Shawn Green played right field Thursday; he went 0-3 with a walk and a run scored in his final plate appearance. That put him at .208 at the end of the night. When Green is in right, that means Jeff DaVanon gets in by playing center and Byrnes is on the bench. As I have said before, with DaVanon as hot as he’s been, (.421 after this game) and Green as cold has he’s been (.208 after this game), it needs to be Byrnes in center and DaVanon in right. Byrnes is at .238 after this game, and that’s not good. But it’s still significantly better than Green.
Byrnes was sent in to pinch-hit for pitcher Jason Grimsley in the seventh inning. He flied out to center on the fourth pitch. Byrnes is now 0-4 this season as a pinch-hitter. How many more o’fers is it going to take for Melvin to realize that pinch-hitting is not a Byrnes specialty? (Probably a bunch more that would make him stand out against the background of other woeful D’Backs pinch-hitters). At least this out was productive in the sense that it advanced Orlando Hudson from second to third. Hudson, who had stolen second while Byrnes was batting, later scored from third on a wild pitch.
Byrnes loves hitting high pitches, so Melvin has been either benching him completely, or relegating him to late inning pinch-hitting duty when the opposition starts a sinkerball pitcher. Melvin also likes the lefty-righty matchups, so he prefers to install a switch-hitting and left-handed lineup against a right-hander. Byrnes is a right-handed hitter and Wright is a right-handed pitcher. So I was not surprised that Byrnes did not start against Wright. It was infuriating, but not surprising. But when Byrnes was sent up to pinch-hit for Grimsley, whom did he face? Jamey Wright. If it was OK for Byrnes to face Wright as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, why wasn’t it OK for him to start?
I don’t think Melvin really knows what to do with Byrnes. I know what I would like to do with Melvin.
Kellia "The forecasters were right. Four Days without rain." Ramares
P.S. The Giants blew a 6-run lead, but came back to win 9-7.