New Month, New Expectations

It’s time to stop living in the past. Being the 2007 National League Western Division champions no longer holds any bearing on what this team is capable of doing. Starting off the season 20-8 doesn’t mean that the Diamondbacks are the team to beat or destined to make the play-offs or World Series. Likewise going 22-33 in May and June doesn’t matter. As of right now Arizona is one game above .500 and in first place. It basically means that from this point forward the Diamondbacks have been given a gift of one more win than loss. It’s only one game so it’s not like we have to make a big deal about it. It’s time to reset our expectations and look forward to what we have ahead of us for the next 79 games.

During the first few games of the season we were told that this was a long season and you could not look too far ahead. To be successful you had to look at the season in smaller chunks and try and build upon those. Of course when you start off as hot as the Diamondbacks did that was hard advice to follow. But the team needs to force themselves back into that frame of mind. Looking forward Arizona has three games remaining with the Milwaukee Brewers in this series. They need to focus on winning at least two of these games. Their best chances are Thursday and tonight. Randy Johnson is on the mound looking for his 289th win and more importantly his 5th win of this season. Randy needs to focus on tonight’s game as though it were his last. Like real estate the most important thing is location, location, location. His fastball needs to be painting the black and down in the zone. He needs to utilize his change-up more and rely on the slider less; its movement is a little erratic lately and until he gets a better feel for it he should use it less. The defense needs to be more focused putting themselves in the right position to make the play then actually executing when given the opportunity. Make sure of you have the ball before throwing and then ensure that your throws are accurate. The outfielders need to pay closer attention to the scouting reports and position themselves better to be able to get to the balls that are hit. When they do field a hit; get the ball back into the infield quickly and hit the cut-off man. I appreciate that each of you have what you think are great arms but hitting the cut-off man is imperative to keep base runners in check.

The offense needs to understand that they are not built to be bombers. Sure everyone loves the home run but those that live by the long ball also die by the long ball. Instead use the whole field rather than becoming pull hitters. If the pitcher throws something on the outside of the plate go with it to the opposite field. Once you get on base, be aggressive. You’re young and you have speed, use it as the weapon that it is. Watch the pitcher and read his move. If given an opportunity steal a base. Runners in motion cause havoc to the defense. It also means take an extra base where possible. Not everyone has a canon of an arm and even fewer of them will make a perfect throw every time. Don’t be stupid and just run for the sake of running but take advantage of what is given to you. Challenge your teammates. If one gets a hit make it contagious. See how many hits you can string together. Station-to-station baseball works but you have to sustain it over time. Cut down your strikeouts. Long swings may produce home runs but they miss more than they connect. Shorten them up and let physics work for you; you’ll still have the power you need to get the ball out of the ballpark if necessary. Don’t be afraid to hit with 2 strikes. A deep count pays dividends. The opposing pitcher’s pitch count gets elevated, there are more opportunities that he will make a mistake, and you give yourself and everyone behind you an opportunity to see the pitcher’s whole repertoire so the next time you come up you know what to expect from each of his pitches.

The Diamondbacks need to get back to the little things like winning a series then winning the next one. Putting themselves into situations where they are prepared to take advantage of what is given to them. If they can play good fundamental baseball the wins will follow. Slowly those wins will add up and they will find themselves at the top of the standings and battling for a play-off spot or hopefully home field advantage. That’s all we as fans are asking for; play like we know you can.

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