Pegging the Weirdness Meter

Every time I think that there is no way for the Arizona Diamondbacks 2009 season to get any stranger, the team finds a way to top themselves. I have to admit, despite being 19 games out of first place the team seems to invent ways to remain interesting and at the forefront of the news cycle not just in Phoenix but throughout baseball.

Last night the Diamondbacks began a four-game series with the division leading Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodgers Stadium. The team had just completed a three-game series with the Houston Astros that ended badly for the snakes despite sweeping the series. Diamondbacks closer Chad Qualls went down during the final play of the game with a dislocated left knee cap.

Qualls remained in Phoenix for tests and evaluation by the medical staff. The results of these tests were not good news for Arizona. Team physician Michael Lee determined that Qualls had a torn patella femoral tendon which will require surgery. The surgery will be scheduled in the following few days once swelling subsides in the knee. The rehabilitation schedule for an injury such as this is three to four months meaning Qualls should be recovered by the time pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in mid-February.

Qualls was placed on the 60-day disabled list. In a corresponding move the Diamondbacks recalled starting pitcher Billy Buckner from the Triple-A Reno Aces. It seemed odd at the time that the Diamondbacks would bring up a starting pitcher to replace a closer but that decision would come into focus as the night went on.

With the rosters due to expand on September 1 there was really no reason to make a quick change to replace Qualls making the Buckner move seem a little out of character especially since Reno still has a week left in their season.

The biggest pre-game question was who would now take over the closers job for the Diamondbacks. Manager AJ Hinch was relatively non-committal stating that the job would be reliever by committee. Hinch along with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. would evaluate several candidates in that role including Juan Guttierez, Esmerling Vasquez, Clay Zavada, and Daniel Schlereth. Of this group Gutierrez has the most experience and will begin to get more ninth inning opportunities.

Fortunately for the Arizona Diamondbacks they are catching the Los Angeles Dodgers at a good time where they are somewhat depleted due to extra innings games played in recent days. Arizona sent out starter Doug Davis for game one. Davis has pitched well all season and tonight was no exception. He held the Dodgers to three runs over six innings of work. It was somewhat disconcerting that all three runs came on solo home runs considering how thick the air is at night at Dodger Stadium. Hopefully this is not indicative of what the Diamondbacks can expect from Davis down the stretch.

Arizona jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the game on a two-run double by Augie Ojeda. After the three home runs the Dodgers led 3-2. Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton kept up his torrid pace hitting a home run of his own to tie the game.

Thursday’s starter, Jon Garland cheered Upton from the Diamondbacks dugout. Shortly after that Garland was seen walking up and down the bench talking to players and coaches shaking hands. He then made his way back to the visitor’s clubhouse as the scoreboard at Dodger Stadium announced that the Los Angeles Dodgers had just completed two unrelated trades that would bring Jim Thome from the Chicago White Sox and Jon Garland from the Arizona Diamondbacks to Los Angeles for the proverbial “players to be named later”.

Garland would gather his personal belongings and move from the visitor’s clubhouse to the home team’s clubhouse in the midst of the game. As Garland watched on stadium televisions, the Diamondbacks would score two runs in the top of the tenth inning to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3.

As if that was not strange enough, it appears that Jon Garland will be named Thursday’s starter for game four of the series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. So it seems Garland will not miss his scheduled start this week, he will just be wearing a different uniform and will be facing the team that he arrived in Los Angeles with earlier in the week. I’m not exactly sure how this works from a preparation standpoint. Does this give Garland an edge since he knows what the scouting plan is from the Diamondbacks?

The roster move of Billy Buckner being brought up to replace Chad Qualls now makes more sense. He will most likely be the starting pitcher facing former teammate Jon Garland and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Over the course of the rest of the season it is unclear whether Buckner will slide into Garland’s spot in the rotation or if the Diamondbacks will audition others for that spot as well.

With today being September 1, the players can probably relax a little more knowing that any additional trades are unlikely since the players traded would not be eligible for post season rosters. The trade of Jon Garland does bring up an interesting question. With the money the Diamondbacks will save by not having to cover the mutual option for next season, will Arizona attempt to re-sign starting pitcher Doug Davis to a two-year deal with an option for a third year or will they be content with letting him become a free agent knowing they will have three slots in the rotation to fill?

I believe Doug Davis’ chances of remaining a Diamondback just increased with this trade. Of course I also thought the Diamondbacks were a play-off caliber team this season so it just goes to show how smart I am.


2 Comments

  1. The Dbacks agreed to cover Garland’s option, therefore not saving anything in terms of salary. I bet the Giants and Rockies are none too happy with that trade. What was Byrnes thinking?

  2. I hadn’t heard the Diamondbacks were covering Garland’s option. That being said it would clear some salary ($10 million minus the $2.5 million buyout) but still leaves a hole in the rotation. The rumored player to be named later is infielder Tony Abreu. Perhaps Josh Byrnes was thinking this would solve the hole at second base created by the Felipe Lopez trade. If so, what does that say to Ryan Roberts who has been making his case to become the everyday second baseman next season?

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  1. Diary of a Diehard » Blog Archive » Hanging the Garland - [...] Last Monday the Arizona Diamondbacks sent right-handed pitcher Jon Garland to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to…

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