Changes in the Landscape

The one constant in the universe is nothing stays the same. In the case of the Arizona Diamondbacks 2009 season, this is probably a good thing. Over the first 19 games of the season it has not been good. If this season were a television show the networks would have already cancelled it due to viewer apathy and poor ratings. It’s unfortunate because there have been some moments that show promise and want you to tune into the next episode. The problem has been that the next episode usually ends with the good guys getting destroyed and what little hope you had is blasted away like splinters from a maple bat (sorry I was channeling Diamondbacks broadcaster Mark Grace for a second).

Listening at Chase Field and on local sports talk radio you would get the impression that the sky was falling and that the Diamondbacks had just broken the franchise record for losses. Everyone seems to have an opinion of what is wrong and what is needed to be fixed. Some of the solutions seem interesting while others lead you to believe that Major League Baseball should institute some sort of drug testing of baseball fans. The one consistent message is that the Arizona Diamondbacks need to make some changes if they want to be competitive this season.

Over the course of the last day or so the fans wishes have been materialized. It should be noted that these changes had absolutely nothing to do with the fans outcries but instead were necessary due to the continuing injuries and performances of the players within the organization. Let’s start with the changes at the Major League level. Shortstop Stephen Drew was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list this week; a result of an injury he sustained in a game earlier this season. Rather than being short handed until Drew could build strength and recover; the Diamondbacks placed Stephen on the disabled list. This of course opened up a roster spot which was filled by Josh Wilson who was brought up from Triple-A Reno. Wilson is sort of a jack-of-all-trades type of player who can plan nearly every infield position and could be pressed into the outfield if necessary. Manager Bob Melvin compared Wilson to super utility man Augie Ojeda.

Another roster move saw the Diamondbacks bullpen receive a boost when reliever Tom “Flash” Gordon was activated from the disabled list. To make room RHP Bobby Korecky was sent to Triple-A Reno. The Diamondbacks are planning to use Gordon in the seventh inning to bridge from the starters to Tony Pena in the eighth and Chad Qualls in the ninth. Gordon could also see time at closer if Qualls should have difficulty or be unavailable. Besides his seventh inning duties; Tom Gordon will also be looked upon to provide leadership in the bullpen and help some of the young pitchers prepare for the game. This could be very beneficial since the bullpen has been a major concern so far this season. Perhaps a veteran presence will be the difference (not likely but a guy has to have a dream).

This pitching move comes a day after the Diamondbacks sent struggling LHP Doug Slaten to Reno and brought up promising rookie Esmerling Vasquez. Vasquez didn’t have to wait long seeing action the day he was brought up. And while the San Francisco Giants hit him hard he was able to pitch out of trouble and did not allow a run which this season is quite a compliment.

The final personnel move didn’t actually involve the parent club. Many may have missed it if they weren’t perusing the transaction wire. Minor league RHP Jarrod Parker who has been pitching for Class-A Visalia is being promoted to Double-A Mobile and will make his first appearance for the Bay Bears on Saturday. Parker was the Diamondbacks first round pick in 2007 and after spending last year in Class-A South Bend was sent to Visalia. In four starts Jarrod had a 1-0 record with a 0.95 ERA walking 4 and striking out 21. He was obviously overpowering California League hitters and will be moved up to give him more competition. Parker has been compared to Roy Oswalt of the Houston Astros. While it seems doubtful that Diamondbacks will see Parker in Phoenix this season it is not completely out of the realm of possibility. More likely would be for Parker to be brought along like Max Scherzer and stretched out to be in the starting rotation if or when Doug Davis moves on after his current contract is complete.

So you can see that there are lots of changes happening it is just left to determine whether these changes actually helped the Diamondbacks. If not there will be yet another wave as the D-Backs look to overcome their slow start and become contenders in the National League Western Division.


  1. AZ Hardball

    Great post. I especially liked the minor league analysis. It appears to me that the majority of the moves that the organization has made over the past several months involve long-term strategy. More important, for an organization, than what happens on the field is what happens off of it.

    Some of the moves are indicative of the fact that the D-backs realize that home grown talent will hold them in higher stead in the long-term. Clubs like the Dodgers and Yankees have been doing that for decades and I feel that it is time for D-backs fans to appreciate that.

    Very few remember how much better Reynolds is performing this year or that Scherzer worked his tail off in Fall then Spring to be in a starter role.

    Thanks for helping put the start of the season into perspective.

  2. The Diamondbacks haven’t had the greatest start to the season, but I believe that a bit of patience is in order. The pitching staff is incredibly talented, and when they get Webb back, it will be the best rotation in the AL West. Conor Jackson and Justin Upton have been heating up as of late as well.

    Look for them to turn it around quick!

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