July Players of the Month Tucson

Green was head and shoulders above

Each month FutureBacks.com names a position player, and a pitcher, Player of the Month from each level. We start at the top, with the Tucson Sidewinders, the Triple-A affiliate of the Diamondbacks, and find two players who have made names for themselves based largely on their versatility. In July they showed more than just the ability to fill a variety of roles, they showed the talent and skill to fill them well.

Position Player  Andy Green

There were plenty of strong candidates on the Sidewinders in July.  Carlos Quentin was explosive, hitting over .300 with six homers and 22 RBI, Brian Barden hit .354 with a .425 on base percentage, Matt Kata left via trade after hitting .350 and slugging .550, and Conor Jackson had a 'down' month that consisted of a .286 batting average, and .435 on base percentage, with 10 runs scored.

But there really was no question, Andy Green was the man Tucson.

Green led the Sidewinders in virtually every category.  He hit .378, cranked nine home runs, carried a .461 on base percentage and a Bonds-like .739 slugging percentage, all tops on the team.  Despite leading off every game in which he played Green tied Quentin for the team lead in RBI, with 22, and he scored an amazing 34 runs in 27 July games.

He hit in his first 16 July games, scored runs in 10 straight during the month, and played four different positions, five if you count designated hitter.  In fact there is really only one question, after a month like this (and it's not like it's just this month, Green's hitting nearly .350 on the season), how is it that Green is still in Tucson, and not playing at the BOB?

"The whole call up situation is a really tough thing," Sidewinders manager Chip Hale says, "We knew from the beginning of the season that as long as this group [of Major League Players] was healthy that they weren't going to make a whole lot of moves.  The Diamondbacks thinking is sound, because even if Green got called up and because one of the bench players wasn't there, he's not going to play very much.  So the problem becomes, when he gets called up and doesn't play maybe he cools down, we'd rather see him here, getting four at bats a day, than up with the big league club, getting four a week.  That way he stays hot, and if something happens and they need him he'll be ready to go."

Currently Alex Cintron is holding down the fort in Arizona as the Diamondbacks go to utility guy, but the front office, as well as manager Bob Melvin, are well aware that they've got a potent force waiting in Tucson. 

Pitcher  Mark Freed

For pitcher of the month the candidates seemed endless, reliever Randy Choate didn't allow a run and held opponents to a .154 batting average, Jason Bulger's ERA was a scant 2.53 and he struck out 16 hitters against only four walks, and reliever Matt Herges is officially back on track after going 1-0 in July with a 1.69 ERA and striking out eight in 10.2 innings.  There were strong candidates from the starting rotation as well.  Jon Cannon carried a 1-2 record, but his 3.48 ERA and .223 opponent's batting average made strong statements.  Chris Michalak was even better, going 3-2 with a 2.83 ERA and .243 opponent's batting average but both Cannon and Michalak had trouble with control.

Then there was Mark Freed.  The just-turned-28 years old left hander is well aware that the purpose of the minor leagues is to serve the Major League club, and Freed never made a peep as he was shuffled in and out of the starting rotation, often as the 'unofficial' starter, charged with entering the game in the second or third inning after relievers like Oscar Villarreal and Brandon Lyon got their mandatory work in.  It isn't easy to go back and forth, and it's even more difficult to go five, six or seven innings without starting, but Freed performed admirably.  He was 3-0 in July with a 2.35 ERA, he struck out 21 and walked only six.  Two of his wins came out of the starting rotation, the third came on July 28th after he entered in the second inning and went six innings, allowing four hits and zero runs, striking out four and walking just one. 

For Freed this might have been his most difficult month, and he handled it like a veteran, a professional, and a guy who's looking for a spot on the big league roster.  His versatility could prove valuable to the Diamondbacks, especially with the uncertainty surrounding guys like Villarreal, Lyon, Shawn Estes and Russ Ortiz, all of whom will likely be rejoining the Diamondbacks shortly after stints on the DL.

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