Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Desert Heat!
2005-08-05 20:11
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I talked about the D-Backs quite a bit a few days ago, so I won't get in too deep here. Luis Gonzalez, Chad Tracy, and Troy Glaus are professional hitters. Shawn Green is having a good year, though not his best. Tony Clark is having a goofy season (nearly 200 points of slugging above his career average) as a part-timer. Arizona just signed him to an extension, in fact. After those guys the offense drops off in quality quite a bit. Today the Diamondbacks have Craig Counsell (.758 OPS) and Royce Clayton (.664) hitting 1-2 and Alex Cintron (.695) and Koyie Hill (.590) hitting 7-8. If Clark is starting, they don't have a single scary bat off the bench. Kelly Stinnett has been good but is hurt. Rookie Conor Jackson is expected to play a role after his callup to replace the traded Jose Cruz, Jr.

Brandon Webb is the Friday starter. He's an interesting test case for Colorado fans, an extreme groundball pitcher plying his trade in a wacky hitters' ballpark. I believe that strikeout rate is vastly more important than G/FB, and Webb's stats the last few years have borne it out. As his strikeout rate has gone down the last three years -- 8.57 K/9 in 2003, 7.10 in '04, 6.33 this year so far -- his ERA (2.84, 3.59, 4.04) and opponents' OPS have risen (.601, .713, .745). For a guy who's supposed to keep the ball in the park, his home runs allowed total of 15 is the second-highest on the team. He is 3-0 in three starts vs. the Rockies, for what it's worth. He has 9 wins total. I suspect that as National League hitters have figured out when his sinker is going to be a strike and when it isn't, he has become a lot more hittable.

Saturday: Mike Gosling. This is his fifth start after being promoted out of the bullpen. His K rate (3.68) matches his ERA, which is kind of unusual. It won't last, his WHIP is 1.74. Neither the tools hounds nor the numbers hacks are particularly keen on him. Sunday: Claudio Vargas. They got him midyear from the Nationals off waivers. His career stats are not dissimilar to Shawn Estes', but he's quite a bit cheaper. He doesn't do anything particularly well, like Estes, he's just another guy.

The Rockies have Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, and Jamey Wright going. Francis has pitched his best baseball lately and was very good his first time out at Bank One. Jamey Wright is who he is. The BOB doesn't seem like the proper environment for one of his good performances. As for Aaron Cook, we haven't seen enough to know how he's going to be yet. You have to be rooting for him, though.

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