The Diamondbacks are a punchline.
GM Kevin Towers wants his eye-for-an-eye, and he has his like-minded henchman in the dugout in Kirk Gibson. Both wish for the Diamondbacks to be the league’s most intimidating team, a group of gritty, do-anything-it-takes-to-win outlaws. When it comes to the roster, talent has taken a backseat to simply fitting the mold.
But it hasn’t worked. Not at all. After consecutive .500 seasons, the Diamondbacks are 48-63 this year. The future seems even more bleak. They’re not a young club now, and they’ve traded a number of prospects for veterans the last two years.
On Saturday, the Diamondbacks flat-out embarrassed themselves. Because of their mentality, it was a given that they’d seek revenge after Paul Goldschmidt suffered a broken finger when he was hit by a pitch during Friday’s game. There was nothing intentional about that pitch, something Goldschmidt himself acknowledged. But the Diamondbacks were going to drill Andrew McCutchen last night regardless.
No, what was pathetic about the whole incident was that the Diamondbacks did nothing the first three times McCutchen was up. They waited until they were down 5-1 in the ninth, then they had Randall Delgado throw a 95-mph fastball at the small of McCutchen’s back. A little higher, and a team with no postseason aspirations might have had a huge effect on a team aiming to play in October.
It was a true act of cowardice from baseball’s most ludicrous tough guys.
MLB will suspend Delgado for the incident, but what it really needs to do is go after the director. Delgado was following orders. Gibson orchestrated things. An uncommonly long suspension would serve him right.
But the Diamondbacks… they need to clean house and move on. New team president Tony La Russa should get rid of both Gibson and Towers, not because of Saturday’s incident, but simply because it’s long overdue.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.
Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.
On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.
For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”
Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.
MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”
Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.
The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.