Baseball Notes: Phoenix Trip, Picks Update & DFTU

(ed. Note - Originally written 14 April, 2008)

Hello again everybody...

It's Monday and I'm fresh off of four fabulous days in sunny Phoenix, AZ.

Included in that trip were two ventures to Chase Field to see the Diamondbacks take apart the Colorado Rockies.

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Friday night was a masterful performance by Brandon Webb under the clear Phoenix night sky. A decent fireworks show capped off an Arizona win. Saturday was a more workman-like performance by Dan Haren, but a good result all the same.

The games were more suited to my Dad's taste in baseball (blowouts by the home team) than mine (low-scoring, fast-paced picthers duels), but neither game ran over 3 hours and there weren't a ton of walks or pitching changes to bog things down. Plus the fine folks at Chase Field have a multitude of ways to keep the patrons distracted during breaks in the action (helloooooo Rallybacks girls!)

Needless to say, a good time was had by all. Evidenced by the picture which I've attached for your perusal.

Due to my vacation, I haven't been able to see as many other teams as I'd like. But checking out the standings I see my picks are doing quite well (insert sarcastic eye roll here). The Yankees in last place in the AL East?! The Tigers off to a 2-10 start with no signs of a turnaround anywhere to be seen? The Florida Marlins leading the NL East? About the only thing I've gotten right so far is the Arizona Diamondbacks leading the NL West.

Not to fear however. The beauty of baseball is that it's a long season. Lots can happen and lots can change. Stay tuned!

And now for everybody's favorite segment, "Dan's Favorite Teams Updates"!!!

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are treading water at 6-6 after a couple of weeks. Coming off a 2-1 series win over the Royals, the Twins head to Detroit for what was supposed to be a tough challenge, but now looks like an opportunity to improve on their 3-2 road record. I have to think the Tigers are going to turn the corner at some point, but I don't know if it'll be this weekend. Apparently Jim Leyland took his team to task after yesterday's 11-0 shellacking with some quite colorful language, so we'll see if that lights a fire under his charges.

Francisco Liriano made his first start for the Twins since September of 2006 yesterday, but his performance didn't inspire a lot of hope. He's still struggling to control his fastball and coming off of Tommy John surgery, he's lost some velocity on his slider as well.

Pitching still isn't this clubs biggest problem though. Getting its big bats off the schneid is. Justin Morneau is finally starting to warm up a bit. But Joe Mauer is mired in a slump and Michael Cuddyer is still on the DL with a finger injury. I have my doubts as to whether the starting pitching is going to hold up, so their offense had better get it going soon.

Arizona Diamondbacks: What can I say? Best record in the bigs. The starting pitching has been solid, although Doug Davis is out for a bit now after his thyroid cancer operation. But as Doug's absence closes a door, Randy Johnson's return from the DL opens a window. RJ starts tonight against the Giants, so we'll see how he blends back in. Brandon Lyon has been admittedly shaky as the closer, but there are enough quality arms in the bullpen, that if he continues to falter, they'll have other options.

The big surprise of course has been the offense. Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds are off to smoking-hot starts, tied for the league lead in Home Runs (5) with Reynolds leading the league in RBI (15). Chris Young, Orlando Hudson, Eric Byrnes and Connor Jackson are all off to plus starts as well. Put it this way, right now the Dbacks lead the NL in: Runs, Home Runs, Total Bases, Runs Batted In, Batting Average, On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage and OPS (On-base Plus Slugging). Not a bad list...

The Dbacks kick off a 3-game set with the Giants tonight in San Francisco before returning home to face the Padres and the Giants at Chase Field.

Well that's all for today folks. Hope you all had a good weekend.

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