Arizona Diamondbacks Notes: Roberts Traded, Marlins Screw Fans Over

By jimneveau

The Arizona Diamondbacks won their fifth straight game on Tuesday night, beating the Colorado Rockies 6-2 at Chase Field. The victory means that the team stays a perfect 5-0 on their current 10-game homestand, and gives them a chance to sweep a second straight opponent when the two squads meet again at 6:40pm in downtown Phoenix.

Before that game takes place tonight, here are a couple of stories worth your attention.

Ryan Roberts Dealt to Tampa Bay

With the return of John MacDonald from the disabled list, the Diamondbacks were going to be forced to make a roster move, and they did, sending 3B Ryan Roberts to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for a minor league prospect.

The move isn’t a surprise, considering that Roberts hasn’t been getting a lot of playing time lately. With Stephen Drew back in the fold at shortstop, manager Kirk Gibson has been playing Willie Bloomquist at the hot corner more often, and he has also been inserting rookie Ryan Wheeler into the lineup as well.

Wheeler was well deserving of a spot in the bigs, and Kevin Towers had no choice but to clear a path for him to get his feet wet. Ryan has 15 home runs and has driven in 90 runs in triple-A Reno this season, hitting at a .351 clip with an OPS up near 1.000. While he has gotten off to a bit of a slow start with the Diamondbacks, it wouldn’t hurt to see exactly what they have in him for the future, with no other guys on the roster really laying serious claim to that job.

As for Roberts, he will be sorely missed both in the clubhouse and by the fans. Gibson and company speak very fondly of his work ethic, and his reckless abandon with which he plays the game are easy to embrace. Joe Maddon and the Rays are going to be very fortunate to have a guy like that around as their tumultuous season continues, but the Diamondbacks will definitely miss “Tatman” in more ways than just on the field.

Could Joe Saunders Be Next?

With pitchers like Cole Hamels being locked up to extensions, and other guys like Wandy Rodriguez already being traded away, the market for pitchers coming up to the trade deadline is starting to thin a bit. Sure, there are guys like Ryan Dempster of the Cubs and Josh Johnson of the Marlins who will be the subject of rumors, and Zach Greinke will get a huge amount of interest too.

When push comes to shove though, if a team needs a relatively cheap option to plug into their rotation for the short-term, any list is going to have to include Joe Saunders’ name.

Ever since he came back from the DL in July, Saunders has had three straight quality starts, and looked positively excellent on Tuesday night, scattering three hits over seven innings and striking out nine Rockies batters. His 5-6 record isn’t exactly sterling, but he has been pretty solid this season overall, and he could make an intriguing trade chip should the Diamondbacks decide to deal him.

The Atlanta Braves could be an intriguing option, since their pursuit of Dempster has been pulled back. The Dodgers could also get in on him, but it would seem unlikely that the D’Backs would want to trade him to a team they will be competing against for a divisional title if they continue their strong play as of late. Finally, the Chicago White Sox could make a move for him, especially if they fail to land Greinke, whom they have expressed strong interest in.

With the trade deadline less than a week away, Towers will be fielding plenty of phone calls, and Saunders may be a guy that could draw some serious interest.

Thoughts on Miami

There is a brand new ballpark in Miami, Florida. The Miami Marlins were the talk of baseball coming into this season, not only because of their sparkling new home run monument in left field, but also because of their aggressive performance in free agency. They landed closer Heath Bell, shortstop Jose Reyes, and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle, and they also got a colorful new manager in Ozzie Guillen.

Even with all of those moves, however, a cloud of suspicion still hung over the franchise. This, after all, was a team who had sold off nearly every single one of its assets after they won a World Series in 1997, and did the exact same thing in 2003. They cried “poor” at every opportunity they could, saying that they couldn’t afford to compete without a new taxpayer funded stadium, and despite later reports coming out that owner Jeffery Loria had actually pocketed nearly $50 million in profits thanks to baseball’s revenue sharing program, Miami-Dade County bought these cries for help, and helped finance a new stadium.

Now, the citizens of that area are stuck paying the bill on a $2.4 BILLION bond issue, and the owners are acting as though nothing has changed. With the team falling out of contention, the Marlins dealt away Omar Infante and Annibal Sanchez earlier in the week, and today they finalized a deal that sent third baseman Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers in exchange for, frankly, not much.

These moves prove once and for all just how slimy of an owner Loria is. After running the Montreal Expos into the ground, Loria was given a loan by MLB to buy the Marlins, and he has begun the process of destroying a team all over again. While the team on the field wilts, he is likely rolling in the dough, and spitting in the faces of the fans who helped finance his new mecca to corporate malfeasance.

If there is any justice in this world, Loria and crew will come under even heavier scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission, who has been investigating the way the group ended up securing public financing for the ballpark. After that probe ends, hopefully Loria will find himself staring at his minty fresh new park from behind prison bars, rather than the glass of a suite. He is a hideously bad man, who essentially stole money from taxpayers just to line his own pockets.

Miami-Dade officials should feel ashamed of themselves for falling for this shyster’s pleas for help, and MLB should be held accountable for allowing Loria carte blanche to destroy yet another franchise. In a league that supposedly values fans and fairness, the league has abdicated its responsibilities in an unprecedented way.

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