Trying season for Diamondbacks continues

Updated: May 20, 2009

AP Photo/Paul Connors

Bob Melvin was fired, and Brandon Webb is on the DL. It's been a rough year in Arizona.

On Wednesday, the Diamondbacks learned of the death of pitcher Scott Schoeneweis' wife in Arizona. This news, far worse than anything that could ever happen on the field, added to what has already been a difficult season for the team. At this point, it's tough to gauge what the Diamondbacks can do to bounce back from all this.

The D-backs recently fired manager Bob Melvin, have ace pitcher Brandon Webb on the DL and are tied for the fewest wins in baseball. As long as the Dodgers are in the same division as the Diamondbacks, it seems as if there's no hope for Arizona. In April 2008, we were talking about the D-backs' being the best offensive team in baseball, and they were in April, but they've been the worst offensive team in baseball since then.

Everyone wants to save money, and I understand that Arizona has some financial problems. But the Diamondbacks get enamored with all these young players, such as Chris Young. He had a great start a couple of years ago, but he has struggled since. Justin Upton is starting to pick up the pace now, but last year they thought he was going to be a middle of the lineup, 30-homer, 100-RBI type of guy. It just hasn't worked out for him. Sure, he's playing well this year, but when you put a lot of stock in all these young players, you are really rolling the dice.

A perfect example is Eric Byrnes. The D-backs had to decide whether to keep him or Carlos Quentin, and they decided to sign Byrnes to a four-year deal and let Quentin go to the White Sox. That doesn't look like a real good move now. It's not that these guys don't have the ability to be good players, but you are asking them to carry your team. That's something they can't do. Conor Jackson is another example. They thought he was going to be a .300 hitter with the power to drive in runs, but it just hasn't worked out. You can't ask a group of young players to carry your team, then wonder why they are losing games. They are making mental mistakes and physical mistakes -- two things synonymous with youth.

Keep in mind that the manager has nothing to do with the D-backs' struggles right now. Managers get fired because their team is bad. I don't doubt that these guys have the ability to be better. However, when a manager is fired, the players have to take responsibility. Now, with manager A.J. Hinch in there to replace Melvin, there is more confusion than ever. The young players are looking at each other trying to figure out their direction. I don't know whether Hinch is the right guy; only time will tell.

One thing I've noticed is there's a twist to the way these new GMs are handling business. They think outside of the box. They are into more than just the X's and O's of the game. If the D-backs can turn this season around and be competitive you are going to see a lot more teams go out and get guys like Hinch, people who have never managed before but have good people skills.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: May 19 | May 18 | May 17 | May 14 | May 13


Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
C. Snyder, Ari3FlaVolstadTop 5: 0-1, 1 Outs. 1 on.
D. Uggla, Fla5AriRauchBot 5: 2-1, 1 Outs. 2 on.
C. Tracy, Ari3FlaMeyerTop 7: 3-2, 0 Outs. None on.
R. Raburn, Det3TexHarrisonBot 2: 1-0, 0 Outs. None on.
N. Swisher, NYY9BalGuthrieBot 2: 3-2, 0 Outs. None on.

The complete list of Wednesday's homers


Cubs at Cardinals

This will be the third start against the Cubs already this season for Adam Wainwright. Both starts were nearly identical: He gave up seven hits and three runs each time. The Cardinals won both games, although Wainwright got the victory in only one of those outings. Sean Marshall returns to the rotation after coming out of the bullpen.

Indians at Royals

Zack Greinke starts have become appointment viewing. He still has allowed only four runs all season and has struck out 44 against just eight walks. After posting a 9.50 ERA in April, Carl Pavano has lowered that number to 4.02 for May.

Blue Jays at Red Sox

Jon Lester has been roughed up in each of his past two outings, allowing 18 hits and 13 runs in 10 innings of losses against Tampa Bay and Seattle. Robert Ray was quite good in his most recent start, allowing three hits and one run over eight innings in a win against the White Sox.

For the rest of Thursday's schedule, click here.



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Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Tim Kurkjian, Fernando Vina, Buck Showalter



Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at David Ortiz, who connected -- finally -- on his first homer of the year in Boston's victory against Toronto. Good news for the Red Sox, right? Well, not if you consider what Big Papi did after hitting his first homer a year ago:

David Ortiz
Next 8 games after 1st HR in 2008
H-AB 1-28
HR 0
K 7



Aaron Harang• Hard to choose between Aaron Harang, Justin Verlander and Chris Jakubauskas, all of whom put up strong performances in wins. Harang struck out nine over seven innings in dropping the Phillies, and Verlander fanned eight in six innings in setting aside the Rangers. Jakubauskas whiffed only one, but he allowed just two hits over six shutout innings in beating the Angels.
Jorge De La Rosa• Rockies pitchers had a rough fourth inning against the Braves. Starting with Jorge De La Rosa and continuing with Matt Belisle, the pair gave up nine runs on six hits as Atlanta coasted to a 12-4 win. De La Rosa gave up the first six in the inning, Belisle the other three.


Rangers righty Kevin Millwood has posted a 2.93 ERA through his first eight starts, which would be his lowest ERA since he led the American League with Cleveland in 2005. How has a pitcher who is coming off two straight seasons with an ERA higher than 5.00 gotten it back on track? Well, some would say with plenty of luck.

Millwood's Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), which measures what a pitcher's ERA would be if you factored in only things in his control, is 4.56; 1.63 runs higher than his actual ERA. Only Mark Buehrle has posted a higher differential between his FIP and ERA. Millwood's batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is also significantly lower than it has been over the past two seasons.

Millwood has been generating fewer swings and misses this season than in the past two seasons. More balls have been put in play this season than in the past two seasons.

Millwood and the Rangers take on the Tigers on Thursday. Earlier this season, Millwood threw seven shutout innings in a game Texas lost 6-4.

Millwood (past three seasons)
2007-08 2009
BA against .306 .243
BABIP .351 .257
Miss pct. 16.0 15.3
Pct. of PA in play 75.8 79.8

-- ESPN Stats & Information


AJ Mass examines the 14 games on Thursday's slate.

Fantasy Mass ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Thursday. Daily Notes