Arizona Diamondbacks must rely on their veterans
It is now safe to look at the calendar. Yes, it is August, soon to be September, and the Arizona Diamondbacks are thisclose to winning the National League West and heading to the playoffs. But to get there Kirk Gibson is going to have to go against his better judgment and start riding his horses while keeping the ponies in the barn.
Nothing against Sean Burroughs, Collin Cowgill, Henry Blanco and Cody Ransom, but this is the stretch run of a pennant race and the Diamondback regulars can rest all off-season. Right now it is time to ride Willie Bloomquist, Miguel Montero, Ryan Roberts, Chris Young and Justin Upton all the way to the finish line.
How Upton can get a day off in the midst of a pennant race is beyond me. I’m sure the 2001 Diamondback core starters didn’t get many days off with five weeks left in the season and neither should this group. If Gibson wants to rest some of his players, do it in blowout games. There will be enough one-sided games where the starters can come out early if need be and get a couple of innings off here and there. And I have no issues with taking Upton out for a late-inning defensive replacement.
Look, Arizona struggled against two of the best teams in baseball in the Phillies and the Braves. They didn’t hit and I certainly didn’t expect them to. Those teams have excellent pitching and everything the D-backs saw was away, away, away. Nothing over the heart of the plate. But if the D-backs are going to go down swinging they need to do it with their big guns.
Cowgill is batting .152 and has gotten 15 at bats in the last 6 games. Those at bats should have gone to Gerardo Parra, who is hitting .286 and needs to be in the lineup every day. Cody Ransom hit a huge two-run home run to beat Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers a few weeks ago, but that is his only homer on the season and after going 0-for-4 Monday night vs Washington he is hitting .152 for the season. Bloomquist has been the heart-and-soul for Arizona this year and is hitting a respectable .262. And he doesn’t need much rest seeing as he has only played in 76 games and has only 271 at bats. No need to rest him, he’s fresh now. Blanco has done a nice job as the backup catcher this year and should play in day games after night games, but that’s about it. Montero is one of the better offensive catchers in baseball and he has done a great job recently of throwing out runners. Burroughs got three starts in the six games against Philadelphia and Atlanta and went 2-for-12. Sorry, but I’d rather just have Roberts out there day in and day out at this point.
It’s not that Gibby’s philosophy of playing everyone didn’t work. It has gotten Arizona to this point. But the whole point of resting the starters is to have them fresh for this very moment, for the stretch run so you can run them out there and let them carry this team to the playoffs.
There is a player on this team that needs playing time off the bench, Lyle Overbay. But that is because he is a veteran who understands how to play the game — see his performance against Roy Halladay in the first game against Philadelphia. Cowgill and Ransom lack the necessary experience.
Arizona has inquired about Edgar Renteria, who cleared waivers in Cincinnati, and are looking for a veteran shortstop to back up Bloomquist. And if they can find one that player will be worthy of playing time based on his veteran status. But to run Cowgill and Ransom out there at this point is like showing up to a gun fight with a water gun. It’s not going to work.
No need to panic here as Arizona is still in first place and the Giants are struggling and dealing with several key injuries. But I bet if you asked Upton, Roberts, CY, Bloomquist or Montero if they wanted any days off in these final five weeks you would get the same answer from all of them — NO. With a little more than a month left in the season and three off days in September it is time to rely on the vets.