The Outfield Shuffle

The convoluted outfield of the Arizona Diamondbacks just got a little more difficult to decipher. Last season when the Diamondbacks traded Shawn Green to the New York Mets and declined to renew Luis Gonzalez’s contract I thought they finally had a plan for their outfield going forward. That has not necessarily been the case though. Through injury and lack of offensive production the outfield has been in a constant state of flux for most of the season. The trouble began in spring training when anticipated starter Carlos Quentin suffered an injury to his shoulder. This problem led to him being placed on the disabled list to begin the season. Once he finally returned Quentin has not been able to find his groove hitting a mere .210 for the season. The lack of success paid a heavy toll on Quentin’s confidence and finally on July 6 the Diamondbacks sent the beleaguered outfielder to Tucson to work out the kinks in his swing and regain his self-confidence. Since that time the landscape in the Arizona outfield has become even more clouded.

When Carlos Quentin went to Tucson he was replaced on the roster by Jeff Salazar. Salazar was picked up on waivers during the off-season and has made quite an impression on his new employer. In his six game stint on the Diamondbacks roster he hit a respectable .333 and made some amazing catches out in right field. The problem was that injured outfielder Jeff DaVanon had run out of time on his rehabilitation assignment and had to be activated. This required a roster move that sent Jeff Salazar back to Tucson. The current Diamondbacks outfield options consist of Eric Byrnes, Chris Young, Jeff DaVanon, and Scott Hairston.

Byrnes is by far the best option as he can play all three outfield positions and is leading the team in batting average, home runs, RBI, and stolen bases. He has played every game this season and if the team has any hopes of making the post season Byrnes needs to continue playing at his current level. With the other three options at outfield the offense takes a serious hit. Hairston is hitting only .217 in 72 games while Chris Young is batting .231 in 87 games. DaVanon in his brief stint since rejoining the team is only hitting .133 during his 6 games of action. Defensively Byrnes and Young are the best defenders of the group while Hairston and DaVanon have questionable range and sub-par arms. What was thought to be a deep outfield corps is looking more like an area of concern for the team. Something is going to need to happen before the trading deadline to bolster the offense or break the log jam that is currently in place on the Diamondbacks roster.

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