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Posted: Friday May 8, 2009 12:27PM; Updated: Friday May 8, 2009 3:42PM
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Daily Scoop (cont.)

D-Backs get A-plus for choice

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Where has Lance Berkman's bat gone? The Astros star struck out four times on Thursday.
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I like the non-conventional choice of front-office standout A.J. Hinch to manage the Diamondbacks after their rather uninspiring 12-17 beginning followed a 62-72 finish last year. The fired Bob Melvin had some very good years in Arizona (a 26-game improvement in 2005 and an NLCS appearance in 2007) but his message was starting to get lost on his young team.

Diamondbacks people felt their team looked flat and that they should be hitting better; they also wondered why prospects Carlos Quentin and Emilio Bonifacio performed better when they left. Quentin especially improved, was looking like the MVP last year until he broke his hand in a temper tantrum.

The move is the first big one in the regime of new team chairman Derrick Hall, who replaced Jeff Moorad, but the decision was made by GM Josh Byrnes. Hinch, a Stanford man and, like Melvin, a former big-league catcher, always impressed Byrnes. Hinch helped develop all the D-backs fine young players, including Stephen Drew, Chris Young and Quentin.

The Diamondbacks are better than this, and they see an opening with the Manny Fiasco in Los Angeles, so they wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

Around the majors

• One more positive. At least MLB treats stars like average players. So at least those folks can be trusted. MLB easily could have looked the other way but instead dug into Ramirez's records to find the truth.

• One good thing for Ramirez is that by not challenging the penalty he'll be back for the pennant drive (and the salary drive). He has lost $7 million-plus already, and presumably he'll be somewhat tainted as a free agent. But there's always someone desperate for a big-time hitter.

• The natives are getting restless in New York, but the Yankees have two things going for them: 1) they get Alex Rodriguez back tonight in Baltimore, and 2) they're in Baltimore, which at least isn't New York. But while fans were chanting "We Want Torre,'' in their new stadium -- absolutely the last thing Yankees officials want to hear now -- Joe Girardi appears safe for now. As does highly regarded pitching coach Dave Eiland despite the struggles of the rotation and bullpen. "He's terrific,'' GM Brian Cashman said of Eiland.

• A-Rod's last words to me (said on his press conference day), "Are you the only [writer] who still likes me?''

Joba Chamerblain's rough first innings are what's justifying keeping him in the rotation as the Yankees' bullpen falls apart. That, plus the fact that they need him in the rotation now.

• Meanwhile, fans are laying off the Mets as their play has improved and they beat the nemesis Phillies two straight days. Santana still isn't getting much support but a rainout at least has him facing non-aces now (little good it did him against the Phillies' No. 5 man, Chan Ho Park).

• It was a bad day for all the writers from the Japanese papers (the shimbuns) who came to tail Mets reliever Ken Takahaski (and yes, there are quite a few of them -- apparently Takahashi, now 40, was quite a star in Japan), when his start on Friday night was canceled for top Mets prospect Jon Niese, who has a great curveball and great potential.

• What the heck's going on with Lance Berkman, who's down to .184 after an 0-for-5 game Thursday (including four strikeouts). Astros owner Drayton McLane is unlikely to deal either of his big stars -- Berkman or Roy Oswalt -- considering his personal feelings for them, plus the Astros' recent history of strong finishes.

• More likely to be traded would be Indians ace Cliff Lee, who didn't get an offer this winter off a 22-3 season and Cy Young Award and has a reasonable $8 million option for 2010. His trade value should be fairly high even in a depressed market.

• Dolphin Stadium gets its fifth name since 1987 when it is renamed Landshark Stadium, which I'm told is a beer. Hopefully, this name won't last long, either.

• Condolences to the family of Dom DiMaggio, a real gentleman and a nice man.

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