At 52-46, the Diamondbacks are still in the thick of the NL West race. They’re 4 1/2 games back of the Giants there and five games back of the Braves in the wild card.
The road to claiming a spot in the postseason just got a lot tougher, though. Losing Stephen Drew for the season due to a fractured ankle leaves the team with Willie Bloomquist and Cody Ransom at shortstop. Bloomquist is a career .264/.317/.337 hitter whose only real use comes against lefties. Ransom, likewise a right-handed bat, has hit .227/.311/.391 in 304 at-bats in parts of eight major league seasons.
The Diamondbacks were supposed to be buyers before Drew’s injury, with the bullpen and maybe a rotati0n upgrade serving as the top priorities. Now they might well be better off selling. Certainly, if they do stay in the race, shortstop is an even bigger need than setup help or a fifth starter.
Arizona is still working to rebuild a farm system wiped clean a couple of years ago. To give up talent now in order to improve what looks like a .500 roster doesn’t seem like a great idea. On the other hand, I don’t have to concern myself with keeping fans coming through the turnstiles. Plus, the Diamondbacks could probably go get someone like the Mariners’ Jack Wilson without having to surrender a legitimate prospect.
It’s going to be a difficult decision. 4 1/2 games is a significant margin, and the Diamondbacks, with their lack of pitching depth, seem more likely to fade than either the Giants or the Braves. I’d say it’s time to start thinking about 2012 and making Kelly Johnson, Joe Saunders and Ryan Roberts available in trade talks, but then, I don’t have nearly so much to lose.
Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.
The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.
Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.
As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:
Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.
Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.
Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.