(Kyle Maki made our cut. Please welcome him to the team.)

Chase Field takes center stage
All eyes were on Phoenix, Arizona as All-Star festivities kicked off over the weekend culminating with the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday evening.

It’s disappointing for local fans that there is not more D-back representation on display. Justin Upton was set to be the lone D-backs representative until it was announced that catcher Miguel Montero was added as a late replacement. J-Up was snubbed from the Home Run Derby and pitcher Ian Kennedy failed to accumulate enough fan votes to earn the “Final Vote”.

Home Run Derby Gold Balls

I like gooooooold
Attendees at Monday’s Home Run Derby will have a chance to bring home a valuable souvenir. MLB has announced that a portion of baseballs infused with real gold will be used during the annual exhibition. Each ball carries a retail value of about $150. A little advice to those sitting in the bleachers—you better bring your glove and maybe a bodyguard.

Midsummer Classic comes at a good time
The D-backs continue to surprise the league and have maintained their position in the standings despite being in the midst of a grueling stretch of games where the majority have been on the road. Like many teams at this point in the season, the D-backs are nursing some injuries and have been without the services of closer J.J. Putz since June 29.

J.J. PutzThe All-Star break couldn’t come at a better time for Putz. After the first two months of the season, Putz was putting up some of the best numbers in the league amongst closers. Since that time, his numbers have taken a dip and he eventually landed on the 15 day DL with tendinitis is his throwing elbow. This didn’t come as a surprise as it became apparent during his last couple appearances that J.J. just didn’t have the same stuff he displayed earlier this season. The D-backs will be excited to have their closer back in the pen, but in the meantime David Hernandez has been solid handling closer duties.

Well deserved R & R
Hopefully the D-backs will take a few days to relax and re-energize in preparation for a long stretch run. As proud as the organization deserves to be at this point, it’s important that they’re not satisfied. The D-backs need to stay hungry and continue to play with the same passion that they’ve demonstrated thus far. If that happens, D-backs fans should remain optimistic heading into the second half of the season.

D-backs look to continue halfway successful season
From a pure success standpoint, the D-backs have exceeded most expectations so far this season. However, for the 2011 campaign to be considered a complete success, the D-backs will have to continue performing at the same level for the second half of the season.

The Diamondbacks are currently three games out of first place in the NL West chasing only the San Francisco Giants. Prior to the start of the season, it’s hard to imagine anyone predicting the D-backs remaining in the pennant chase up to the midway point of the season. Of course it would be ideal to have a ten game lead right now, but given the teams recent futility the last couple seasons, the current standings are a pleasant surprise and more than anyone could have asked for.

  • I want one of those gold balls… wait what?

    New writer Kyle… welcome… no photo??