Potpourri of Subjects

There are times throughout the season when I have tidbits of information or small subjects that do not warrant an entire blog post be devoted to them. In most cases these ideas get jotted down on a piece of paper that litters my desk until I finally clean them off at the end of the season and throw them away.

With the Diamondbacks in the middle of a four city road trip that begins on the east coast; I have had a lot of time on my hands. In an effort to avoid my wife’s “honey do” list I have focused my attention on my desk and the computer. The result was that I came across my stack of short subjects. I thought that instead of letting them go, I would consolidate some of these into some sort of potpourri of blog subjects.

The fact that I know the word potpourri is scaring me to death. I start using words like that and I am going to be forced to turn in my “man card” and start accompanying my wife to the fabric store and craft bazaars (you have no idea how hard it was not to use the word “bizarre” instead). So let’s get started. I should warn you, this post will probably have more movement than a Jon Garland breaking ball.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have shut down Conor Jackson. After three games in his rehab assignment at Visalia Jackson was so fatigued that he could hardly move. He will return to Phoenix and be evaluated. Additional tests and visits with medical personnel are planned. Having had Valley Fever myself I completely understand what Conor is going through.

It is doubtful that Jackson will play the remainder of 2009 making this a very short season for him. Hopefully he will be able to regain some strength and stamina during the off-season to be ready to go for Spring Training 2010. The unknown nature of Jackson’s return means there will be yet another battle for one of the outfield spots next season.

The Chris Young saga continues in Reno. Diamondbacks General Manager Josh Byrnes in comments during a Diamondbacks telecast stated the team is closely monitoring Young’s progress at Triple-A. Game film is sent to hitting coach Jack Howell who is reviewing it and talking with Reno Aces manager Brett Butler and hitting coach Rick Burleson daily. The Diamondbacks have also assigned their roving hitting instructor to Reno to assist Young.

I am sure Young appreciates all the attention but I am not sure having all this scrutiny is completely a good thing. I anticipate that he may feel even more pressure than before with all of these eyes on him all offering advice. Hopefully the Diamondbacks will manage this correctly and Young will get back into a groove and regain some of his confidence. So far he is hitting .320 with 25 at-bats. The results still look very inconsistent which probably was expected for a while.

Joining Young in Reno is Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes who has now started an injury rehab assignment. Byrnes is hitting .333 in 12 at-bats in three games. Reports say that Byrnes is not feeling too badly after the hand surgery he had.

Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton is now starting hitting drills after being placed on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle. If things progress as planned he should start a rehab assignment with Reno in a week. At that point it could be possible that the Reno Aces would have a starting outfield of Eric Byrnes in left, Chris Young in center, and Justin Upton in right.

If Conor Jackson had progressed the Aces could have had the Diamondbacks Opening Day outfield in Triple-A. Any time that happens it is indicative that you’re team is not having a good year.

During Young’s absence Gerardo Parra has been taking over center field. After watching him for several games at Chase Field I have gained new appreciation for the job Chris Young does out there. There have been several balls Young would have tracked down but Parra cannot get to. I appreciate that Parra has an above average arm but Young is much more consistent with both the glove and his arm. I like Parra in left but center field is just too much for him.

While everyone has been talking about Trent Oeltjen’s bat, I have been more impressed with his defense and his speed. From my observation I think Oeltjen has one of the best home-to-first times on the Diamondbacks. I’ve also seen him get to balls in the outfield that others have not. If he could become more consistent I could see him catching on as a fourth outfielder but probably not with the Diamondbacks who seem to have a glut of players at that position. I expect Oeltjen to probably be traded this off-season to a team willing to give him a shot.

Listening to the Diamondbacks front office and coaching staff it seems that everyone is counting down to September 1 when rosters expand to 40. Unlike past years when extended rosters helped rest players for a push to the playoffs, this season the extra players will be brought up as an audition for next year.

Names being rumored to be called up include first base prospect Brandon Allen whom the Diamondbacks received in the trade for Tony Pena to the Chicago White Sox. Manager AJ Hinch also mentioned second baseman Cole Gillespie as someone the Diamondbacks are anxious to see at the major league level.

I am expecting the final month of the season will be more about assessing talent than winning games. The result of course is that there are going to be a lot of energy and probably a lot of errors as players press to make an impression. It may showcase some of the young talent for trades this off-season or answer some of the questions this team has on what needs they will address before Spring Training.

One area that will definitely need to be assessed is starting pitching. The Diamondbacks have five days after the World Series to decide whether to pick up Brandon Webb’s $8.5 million bonus. I am under the firm belief that the Diamondbacks will pick up the option then offer Webb an extension basically negating the $8.5 million and back loading the contact a little bit.

I have heard several people suggest the Diamondbacks will offer a incentive based contract to Webb. The Diamondbacks have made it a policy to not offer those types of deals and I don’t see that changing. It is a dangerous precedent and one they may regret. This management group has long wanted financial certainty around player salaries. Incentive based contracts do not allow for that. I believe both sides will come together and a deal will be struck to keep Webb pitching for the Diamondbacks.

While I may not be objective in my opinion I believe that the Arizona Diamondbacks have the finest customer service in all of sports not just baseball. I made a call to Chase Field yesterday with a rather strange request asking what the measurements of the seats were at Chase Field. I received an immediate reply and within a few minutes someone had gone down with a measuring tape and sent me the measurements. I challenge anyone to find better service than that!

The Diamondbacks have just 18 home games left this year. In some ways it has been a very long season but I still get depressed thinking that baseball at Chase Field will soon be done. I plan on making the most of the final month of the season. Hopefully the fans will come out and encourage this team so that they can end on an upswing.

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