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Friday, July 21, 2006

Surprise trip to D-back game

My wife surprised me this afternoon by announcing that her work had an extra ticket to the Diamondbacks game. So instead of sitting at home watching the baby tonight while she went to the game (it was a work function), the three of us trekked out to the game. Our daughter's first baseball game was a great one, featuring:
  • A gem from Brandon Webb. 8 innings pitched, 2 earned runs (technically), 2 bb, 4 k, 4 double-plays induced, and only 104 pitches thrown. I quite literally get teary-eyed when I think about the idea of him pitching for the Reds someday. I know it's a pipe dream. But the idea of a guy pitching for the Reds who, every year, induces 66% of balls in play to be ground balls, has excellent control, and strikes out batters at an above average clip, not to mention has no history of injuries and is only's beyond intoxicating. He is from Ashland, Kentucky, and went to the University of Kentucky...maybe he's always longed to play close to home? Here's an example of why Webb is so awesome:
    • In the 8th inning, Russell Martin led off with a double down the line in left field. It was a line drive, and Brandon Webb thought it was a homer when it left the bat because he just hung his head--I thought he was hurt for a moment he was so upset. Everybody makes mistakes, ya know?
    • After a ground out by Olmedo Saenz, Rafael Furcal tapped a terribly hit little ground ball to Webb, who fielded it close to the line and was unable to make a play. Would have been an amazing play to get speedy Furcal, and Martin made it to third behind the play.
    • On the next play, J.D. Drew hit a ground ball to his brother, Stephen Drew, the Diamondbacks young shortstop prospect (more on him later). Tailor-made double-play ball, except that Stephen Drew couldn't get it out of his glove, and by the time he recovered, he wasn't even able to throw out J.D. Drew at first base (J.D. is still pretty freaking fast by the way, despite all his leg injuries). Martin scored on the error, and since you can't assume a double-play, it was ruled an earned run.
    • So what does Brandon Webb do next? First pitch to Nomar Garciaparra was another ground ball to Stephen Drew, who promptly fed Orlando Hudson the ball to start a beautiful double play (this time). It was amazing. Brandon Webb strolled off the field to a standing ovation.
  • In the second inning, Stephen Drew hit a line drive down the right field line to score Chad Tracy, who had led off the inning with a double. It was Stephen Drew's first major league RBI. I was impressed with Drew tonight. Aside from the error, he made a number of excellent plays, including a very impressive charge, field, and throw on a broken bat grounder from Willy Aybar. He looked good at the plate too.
  • Carlos Quentin, another of the Diamondbacks' fantastic looking prospects, celebrated his major league debut tonight by hitting a line-drive 2-run home run to left field. He also hit a line drive right at the left fielder in the 8th. Also darn near made an amazing catch in left field that turned into the Russell Martin double I mentioned above. Not a bad first night. If Quentin goes on to become the star that a lot of people think he will over the next decade, it will be pretty cool to be able to tell my daughter that her first baseball game was also the day of Quentin's major league debut, and his first home run.


  1. Your local 9 are almost good enough to win the NL West now, and should be a world-beater in a year or two. Their stream of top-tier position player prospects is becoming something to behold.

    When does Webb become eligible for free agency, and do you think the Reds would actually make a serious run for a guy who is probably the best pitcher in the league (and would command a commensurately high price)?

  2. Yeah, the d-backs have a tremendous batch of young prospects right now, with most of them at either triple-A or the majors. Their pitching prospects aren't quite as good, though they have some decent options there who should be ready in the next few years. So I agree, they have an excellent chance to be the annual AL-West champ for the next few years.

    And no, I don't think the Reds will have a decent chance at Webb as a free agent, which I think is likely to be after the '08 season(?). First, if memory serves, the D-backs have allowed only one high profile free agent walk since I've been here: Richie Sexson, who had been hurt (and, by the way, the subject of the worst trade in D-backs franchise history).

    They love Webb here. So I have no doubt that they will aggressively pursue an extension of him, and they have deep enough pockets that they should be able to make whatever deal they need to--especially with half of their position players being in the very early (cheap) years of their careers.

    Second, as you say, I can't really imagine how Webb would not be the biggest name on the free agent market unless he runs into some injury trouble between now and then. And I don't see the Reds doing well in that sort of situation. Frankly, they probably shouldn't--teams with greater distribution of payroll tend to be much better than those who invest it all in a few players. Just saw a study on that somewhere (hardball times?).