Joe Saunders Diamondbacks Debut

The Arizona Diamondbacks had long suggested there would be changes coming as a result of the poor performances over the past two plus seasons. We heard rumors of organizational evaluations being conducted by CEO/President Derrick Hall and General Partner Ken Kendrick.

The first changes to occur happened on July 2nd when General Manager Josh Byrnes and Manager A.J. Hinch were relieved of duty replace on an interim basis by former director of player development Jerry Dipoto and former bench coach Kirk Gibson. To think these were going to be the only changes was naïve at best.

Clearly the players on the current roster were unable to mesh to a point where they would be successful as a group. That is not to say these players were untalented, on the contrary they are very talented and coveted by several teams. It is just that this collection of players do not have the ability to work together successfully.

So change was inevitable especially leading up to the July 31st trade deadline. The first piece to fall was staff ace Dan Haren who was shipped to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for three pitchers and a player to be named later.

The most advanced of the players received in the Haren trade was left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders who had been quite successful in his Major League career before this season. In an all to familiar story for Diamondbacks fans, Saunders had struggled this season for no apparent reason making him a candidate for a trade.

The thinking was that perhaps Saunders just needed a change of scenery. Saunders met the Arizona Diamondbacks in Philadelphia and was inserted into the starting rotation for the final game of the series.

Wanting to make a good impression, Saunders took the mound against the National League defending champions with his team having lost six straight. He pitched very well in his Diamondbacks debut going seven strong innings allowing two runs on nine hits.

Unfortunately Saunders is learning very quickly that the Diamondbacks offense is very inconsistent. Saunders left after seven innings in line to lose the game despite pitching a quality start.

So while we are beginning to see the changes promised by Hall and Kendrick, they are far from finished if they want this team to be more competitive. If this first game is any indication, the Haren trade does not seem as one-sided as first reported.

Saunders gives the Diamondbacks a much needed left-handed starter who is capable of keeping his team in the game. The Diamondbacks did give up some offensive power with the Haren for Saunders trade. Haren’s batting average will never be confused with Saunders so Arizona may have given up perhaps one of their best pinch hitters off the bench when Haren left.

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