Demons and Angels: Who's Hot and Who's Not for the Diamondbacks

Four weeks ago, I came up with ten Reasons to be Fearful for Arizona fans. Time, I think, to revisit the situation, but in the interesting of not becoming one of those Nattering Nabobs of Negativity [visit AZCentral.com if you want to see those], let's go instead with five good things since that last piece, as well as five ongoing causes for concern. Unless noted, all stats are for the past 28 days and do not include today's game.

Which ended up being postponed entirely, during the process of writing this, rendering the previous clause redundant. Still, we got over 250 comments in the Gameday Thread, not bad for a game than never actually took place! soco pipped unnamedDBacksfan, and also present were: hotclaws, Wimb, sayheyupton, snakecharmer, Muu, kishi, Pyromnc, TwinnerA, Smoggie, 4 Corners Fan, paqs, SeanMillerSavior, mrssoco, Shifty1. Very glad I didn't bother getting up early for this one: as we're not back through Atlanta again, they may not bother playing it as a make-up game, unless it's going to prove significant. Happy enough to dodge Lowe, and extend our non-losing streak to two days!

For this week's poll, I think we'll revisit the pre-season projection for the number of wins this team will get. Obviously, expectations have now been drastically lowered, but I am curious to see how far they have dropped. Now, follow me after the jump, where I name names...

1. Justin Upton
And to think, he was #4 on the biggest problems in the original piece. What a difference a month makes: we were seriously discussing sending him to Reno, but Upton has completely exploded, hitting 360/.444/.721, for an OPS of 1.165 [7th best in the majors over the past 30 days]. He leads the team in just about every offensive category: hits, homers, RBI and the new triple crown of BA, OBP and SLG, plus put together the best hitting streak by a Diamondback in five seasons. A BABIP of .421 is unsustainable, but enjoy it while it lasts.

2. Dan Haren
Haren has turned opposing batters into Bob Uecker this month: they've batted only .199 against him, with an overall OPS of .523. Five games; five quality starts; 37 innings pitched; more than a strikeout per; and a K:BB ratio of 39:6. He should have been 5-0, except the two games he didn't win, we scored a total of four runs. And speaking of which, did I mention Haren is hitting .308 with an OPS+ of 101? Is there any other pitcher in the majors whose OPS in the past month is 246 points above that of the batters he has faced?

3+4. The D-backs catchers
I combine Miguel Montero and Chris Snyder, because they were both listed, at #6 and #9 respectively, but have both done similar jobs of turning it around: Montero has hit .289, Snyder 277. As you'd probably expect, Miggy has shown more pop, slugging .553, while Chris has been more patient, with an OBP above .400. With a combined OPS+ of 136, it's been a welcome relief to discover another spot in the line-up with decent production. With a BABIP of .328, this output seems not far off sustainable. Now, Miguel: about that defense...

5. Chad Qualls
Could have listed him or Tony Peña here. The latter has a slightly better ERA (1.59 to 1.80), but Qualls has a 0.90 WHIP, having allowed only eight hits and one walk in ten innings of work, striking out nine. In franchise history, the best reliever with 100 IP is Jose Valverde, who had an ERA+ of 141. Chad Qualls, in his time playing for the Diamondbacks, has thrown 87.2 innings and has an ERA+ of 167. Even if Juan Gutierrez doesn't pan out, that deal is looking like one of Josh Byrnes' best.

And now those from whom a good deal of improvement is still needed.

5. Esmerling Vasquez
Yes, for once we get to discuss bullpen suckage without using the words "Jon" and "Rauch" [in case you're wondering, still too many base-runners and a .302 opp. BA, but a 4.50 ERA will do]. It's Vasquez's lack of control which is the biggest concern: in 11.2 innings, he has walked seven batters and hit another two. This had led to opposing hitters getting on-base at a .407 clip; add in five extra-base hits and 13 in total, and that's why he has allowed seven earned runs.

4. Chris Young
Oh, dear. We didn't expect a great batting average from CY, but .152? With a K:BB ratio of 20:5? There's some bad luck involved (a BABIP of .190), but pop-ups on the infield are unlikely to turn into hits, and we've already seen an entire season's worth of those from Young. Part of the worst outfield in the majors [in CJ, CY and EB, we have the #1, #3 and #8 lowest OPS+ among all OF with 100+ PA], this necessitated Gerardo Parra getting yanked up from Double-A: on current form, Chris should probably start taking a cushion with him to games.

3. Yusmeiro Petit
Lasted exactly four innings into the Hinch era, before our new manager had seen enough. Well, the official reason is "placed on the DL due to shoulder discomfort" - but I ask, have you heard anything about Petit's status, in more than a week since? [And the same goes for the similarly-"injured" Tony Clark]. In four starts, Petit didn't get past the fifth inning once and in 17.2 innings allowed 26 hits - six of which left the park. An overall OPS of 1.009; basically, he turned all opposing hitters into Manny Ramirez [career OPS 1.006].

2. Conor Jackson
...is unwell. [The obligatory obscure reference only Brits of a certain age, and possibly geographic location, will get] What, exactly, that illness might be, no-one seems to know - or be willing to say, at least - but it proved serious enough to get Jackson dropped onto the DL. And whatever it was appeared to be some kind of psychic, BA-draining vampire, as Jackson was batting .169/.279/.220 - about the only thing he was doing, was walking as often as he K'd. For a consensus pick to have the best average on the team, it's been a serious, quick plummet: get well soon, Conor.

1. Brandon Webb
Since the previous report, it proved to be the case that our ace's injury was a lot more serious than originally thought. He played catch for the second straight day yesterday, but there's still no timetable for his return - some time in June seems most likely. At this point last year, Webb was 8-0 with a 2.41 ERA: his replacements (Yusmeiro Petit and Bryan Augenstein) have combined for zero wins and a 7.45 ERA. That difference is, by far, the largest reason this season has been derailed so quickly and disastrously.

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