Another Grab Bag

Random musings from a multitude of topics:

Lamont “Momo” Jones officially committed to the Arizona basketball team on Wednesday. This brings a recruiting class of Jones (SG/PG), Solomon Hill (SF), Kevin Parrom (SF/PF) and Kyryl Natyazhko (C) to the table before Sean Miller ever steps onto Lute and Bobbi Olson Court for an official practice. This also means that Arizona now has done the impossible and reloaded instead of rebuilding, as many thought would happen. The Pac-10 race is now three teams – UCLA, California, and Arizona.

Shaq traded to Cavs – straight salary dump, which is what I said should happen in this same blog last week, but only if it was for salary reasons. Now, with the 14th pick in the draft, and an extra $500k from the Cavs, the Suns should be looking for a couple of missing pieces to the puzzle. One, a veteran center who can play defense and rebound. Two, a backup SF. Ironically, the Suns might get the first in a trade for center Marcus Camby by sending Ben Wallace (whom they acquired in the Shaq trade) to the Clippers. Wallace makes $14.5m this year, and Camby makes only $10m, so a trade would also have to include a third player from the Clips, probably small forward Al Thornton ($1.78m). This gives the Suns the SF cushion they need in case Grant Hill does not return, and also gives them a center in Camby who will hustle, rebound, defend the pick-and-roll and finish at the rim.

I went to the Diamondbacks game last night and watched in horror as Eric Brynes absolutely killed Every Single Rally the D-backs had with two excuse-me swings back to the pitcher and two more groundouts to 2B. The Rangers aren’t a really talented or offensively-gifted team, but when you’ve got a rally-killer in Byrnes at the plate with 2 outs and men on board, all you need to do is score 2 runs against the D-backs and you can pencil yourself in a win. AJ Hinch should have started Ryan Roberts in left. Roberts hits .233 against right handers, unlike Byrnes (.215). Byrnes hits .185 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs, .218 with runners on and less than 2 outs. Roberts, even though he hits .167 with RISP and 2 outs – which is a function of not having that many bats in that situation (a grand total of 6) – has very good numbers with runners on base, hitting .314! And any manager will tell you that even if your AB gets you a hit, if you move the runner into scoring position, you’ve extended the inning just a bit more and put more pressure on that opposing pitcher.

The Mountain West conference had proposed an eight-team playoff to the BCS-people. It was rejected, of course, but really what that amounts to was a playoff that would be another dangling carrot to those non-BCS conferences – finishing in the top 8 would get a seed in the playoff, but would that REALLY happen every year in the next four years? Drawing on the past years, it’s possible, but really unlikely. One year, maybe two at best, but not all four. And what happens in the year it doesn’t happen – does the MWC complain again and threaten more antitrust stuff? Realistically, all the conferences signed on for this, and that’s the rules all teams play by. You want in, win on the field. Utah did last year, and it landed them a nice BCS bowl.

US defeats Spain 2-0 in soccer. I saw this headline in between innings at the D-backs game and did a complete double-take. Holy shmoly! One more victory away from the Confederations Cup? Now I have to find out when this final is playing on TV. You see, the US has NEVER done well in world play – well, the men haven’t at least. So, this is a big thing for the US Men’s team. It would be nice to walk away with a victory in the final and make it a stepping stone toward the next World Cup.

NBA Draft in less than 30 minutes – who will the Suns take at #14? My guess is probably be James Johnson from Wake Forest, though several sites have the Suns selecting Earl Clark from Louisville.

Finally, I’m almost done with the preseason AZ HS rankings. There will be some surprises, I’m sure.

Carlos Quentin again

The D-backs seemed to have made a major blunder by giving up on Quentin “too soon” in a trade to the Chicago White Sox two years ago. Last year, Quentin went on a tear and became one of the feared power hitters in the American League until an untimely (and stupid) injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

This year, Quentin has already missed time for planter fasciitis in his left foot, and Monday night he felt something pop in that same left foot as he headed for second base in the first inning of the Angels-White Sox game. Quentin looks to be headed for the disabled list and will probably miss 15-30 days because of it.

Two injuries in two years that have resulted in trips to the DL for Quentin. Add that Quentin has a penchant for getting hit by pitches in both leagues (NL and AL), and you have a very real possibility of a career that may be cut short by injuries.

Did the D-backs make the right move in trading Quentin before the 2008 season? Based on the 2008 season, the answer is no – they should have kept him. Based on the way this season is playing out, the answer is still no – they should have kept him. In both 2008 and this year, the D-backs do not have a feared slugger that would keep pitchers honest. Quentin would have been that slugger.

Do I think, long-term, that the D-backs made the right decision? Yes, because I believe that Quentin’s career will probably be over in another 4-5 years due to freak injuries.

Former Diamondbacks (and one Wildcat) Reaching Retirement

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick posted an article on May 28 about the Top 9 players that have not yet officially called it quits (i.e. “retired”) but still haven’t gotten that elusive last one-year contract either.

Noticably, the list is ripe with former D-backs (and one former Arizona standout) – the numbers are the rank that Mr. Crasnick placed them in his Top 9.

#9 – Damien Miller – former catcher and 2001 World Series winner. Member of the 10th Anniversary Team.
#6 – Steve Finley – former CF and 2001 World Series winner. One of the fan favorites and member of the 10th Anniversary Team.
#5 – Royce Clayton – former SS in 2005. Not really noteworthy other than he had long dreadlocks during his one year stint here.
#4 – Jeff Cirillo – former IF picked up in last year’s trade deadline during the run for the National League pennant. Noteworthy for finally making it to the playoffs with Arizona after a 13-year career.
#3 – Reggie Sanders – former RF and 2001 World Series winner. Was on a one-year contract to begin with and was not a clubhouse fit – argued his way out of town after the 2001 Series, but now is ironically doing studio post-game broadcasts with the D-backs.
#2 – Kenny Lofton – CF. Was a member of the University of Arizona men’s BASKETBALL team (1988 Final Four, 1989 Sweet 16). Also ironically, he was traded in 1991 from the Houston Astros to the Cleveland Indians because Steve Finley was already firmly set as the starting CF in Houston.

Wow. So, among Mr. Crasnick’s Top 9, four D-backs had playoff impacts, and three were World Series winners. Not a bad way to go.

soooo busy

I’ve been really busy lately, enough to warrant a couple of days away from the blog. Ah, but being the gentle soul that I am, I remembered to keep handy all the topics I wanted to talk about in my little notebook… which I seem to have left elsewhere.

Well, let’s just take a shotgun approach and see where that gets us.

The Phoenix Suns: Coach D’Antoni is on his way out – it was a given considering that D’Antoni refuses to teach/preach defense and for the past three years his teams won because they simply spread the floor and out-shot the opponent. However, with the dynamics of the Western Conference changing this year, the loss of big-man coach Marc Iavaroni to the Grizzlies, and the fact that the Suns really couldn’t spread the floor like in years past (Raja Bell being the only real three-point threat), the Suns could’ve used a more defensive presence. They also could’ve taken the time to develop their young draft picks and players more, and gosh darn it maybe played their bench more. All of this becomes the downfall of D’Antoni. He’s looking at “opportunities” in Chicago and New York (neither of which is very palatable – the Knicks have virtually no roster outside of Nate Robinson, and Chicago is a mess no matter what happens), but he could literally end up back at the helm of the Suns as a lame-duck coach because there’s no way that Robert Sarver eats $9m for two years for a guy to do nothing.

The Arizona Diamondbacks: Ouch, Max Scherzer gets hit hard in his first majors’ start. In his defense though, he only gave up two earned runs in four innings, and three Phillies runs in the 2nd inning were the direct result of an error by shortstop Stephen Drew. HOWEVER, Edgar Gonzalez yet again allows another four earned runs in three innings, meaning that the last two games pitched by this clod have allowed D-backs opponents to score _10_ runs in a total of 5 and 2/3 innings!!! The D-backs need to designate him for assignment and recall Yusmeiro Petit already.

Guitar Hero III: I completed this game this past weekend. I especially liked the end boss duel, which was an updated rendition of the Charlie Daniels’ Band’s The Devil Went Down to Georgia. One of the songs in there was Eric Johnson’s Cliffs of Dover, which I absolutely love. I re-played that song at least 10 times. Of course, then I went on a hugely insane tangent and looked up Eric Johnson on Wikipedia, which led me to Joe Satriani (another fav of mine), which led me to go find the latest Satriani album. Nice… one thing though, the Wikipedia trivia section neglects to mention that Satriani’s song Always With Me, Always With You was a staple on the series Parker Lewis Can’t Lose (which is what drew me to Satriani in the first place, hearing that song on PLCL). So now, I have begun The Quest for the Parker Lewis Can’t Lose DVDs. 🙂

Anime: Finished True Tears (4 stars), Candy Boy (3 stars), and classic FLCL (4.5 stars). I watched also a couple of episodes of Elfen Lied (2 stars – couldn’t really finish it, couldn’t really stand it, follow it, want to watch it, etc. Not recommended). I have started series Amatsuki, Mnemosyne, and am about halfway through classic series Nadia Secret of Blue Water.

Manga: I picked up Akira vol. 2 this weekend as well. Yes, it’s classic, but it’s goooooooood. 🙂 Plus there’s talk of turning it into TWO live action movies (to be released in 2010 and 2011). On the same topic, the Robotech franchise will also see itself in a live-action movie in 2009 or 2010. All this talk leads me to…

Movies: Iron Man debuted this weekend – I wanna see!! And the announcement that The Hobbit will be released in 2009 and another ORIGINAL story to bridge the gap between the events in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is slated for 2010. And I’m probably going to have to see Kung-Fu Panda and Wall-E as well. 🙂

Tech: Ok, so I’ve got an old Compaq Presario with an 800 MHz Athlon CPU (Slot A – yes, that IS how old it is… go check Wikipedia for “AMD Slot A” and you’ll see), and it WAS running Windows 2000 (ooooh, another moldy oldie), but I’ve decided that this tower PC will get an upgrade. No, not to Windows XP, nor will Vista ever touch it. Rather, I’m going to just drop Fedora 9 on it. Wait, hear me out – I wanted to put Fedora 6 on it because I had nothing but praise for that version, and Fedora 8 was such a piece of crap that I wiped it from my server and reinstalled CentOS instead. But Fedora 9 includes the latest KDE desktop (KDE 4! drool…) and most of the latest packages out there that I really needed a place to play. ADD that this tower PC is destined for my son’s use, and I needed something that wouldn’t be such a pain in the ass to boot and run things like a word processor. Now, granted, I also wanted to move to Slackware 12.1, but in the end, Slack 12.1 is running KDE 3.5.9 and doesn’t include OpenOffice 2.0 (rather, it includes KOffice, which is servicable, but I’d rather go with OpenOffice), so that’s the deal-breaker. I’ll probably reinstall my second server with Slack 12.1 though because it’s a headless server and not a desktop PC.

Politics: Oh, geez, would someone win the Democratic nomination already so we can have an actual presidential race? Otherwise it’s going to be John McCain vs. a very broken and fractured Democratic Party nominee. And unfortunately, I really hate to admit this, but Barack Obama might end up winning the Dem ticket, which means that McCain will probably end up as President. Now, the LAST time this happened in the Democratic Party, the winner was some Republican ACTOR named Reagan. And even though I’m a registered Dem, I would vote for McCain over Obama. However, if Clinton won, I would vote Clinton over McCain. Obama just doesn’t have ANY experience, period. No way, no how. He’s just a bunch of rhetoric set to a popular background theme. McCain – well, he’s a good Commander-in-Chief, but I question how well he’d do on domestic issues. Clinton – the exact opposite of McCain, excellent on domestic policies, I worry about overseas. But then again, the crisis RIGHT NOW is here on our own soil, not across the water, so … my vote would go to her, if it got that far. And, it still might, if the Florida and Michigan votes are counted – for once, let’s hear it for the LAWYERS!!!

Rookies in the Bullpen

I’m sitting here watching the D-backs / Astros game right now, and sure the D-backs are down 6-3 in the middle of the 7th, but holy cow! Why did the D-backs start Edgar Gonzalez when Max Scherzer was available??? 7 strikeouts SO FAR in his major league debut – he’s faced and sat down 13 straight batters!!!!!

I think Edgar Gonzalez’ time as a starter in the rotation is just about over. We have a new 5th starter, and Bob Melvin would be remiss to NOT have Scherzer starting in 5 days.

The kid is throwing GAS – at times he’s hitting 98 mph!