SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 09: Wily Mo Pena #16 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the Milwaukee Brewers during the spring training game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 9, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Diamondbacks went 3-4, dropping series at home to both the Giants and the White Sox. However, they actually picked up a sliver of ground on the Giants last week, and sit just half a game back as they enjoy today's off-day, albeit likely heading for Kansas City and interleague play. We discuss that, who our DH might be, the state of the D-backs bullpen and the disappointing homestand.
After outslugging the Marlins 12-9 in the opener, the offense averaged only three runs per game back in Chase, losing four of the six games here. Thoughts on the week?
soco: It’s hard to imagine the Diamondbacks falling on their face any worse; they were only saved by the Giants being equally inadequate. You have to win at home, dropping 4 of 6 in a homestand is not going to cut it. Offense was certainly part of it, but it almost felt like 2009/10 when the bullpen would have an awful inning and put the game out of reach. Maybe the offense hasn’t been good enough, but at the same time we can’t expect them to score 10 runs a game.
Kishi: Our season record against the Giants is just painful to behold, and dropping two games to the (sub-.500) White Sox is just disappointing, especially since we lost both games in such a convincing fashion. We’re probably seeing some normalization after such a hot run over the previous weeks, but it’s frustrating to watch.
Sprankton: We’ve seen a few stretches like this earlier in the season where the offense was vacant so it’s nothing new, especially against weaker teams. Back then, however, the bullpen consisted of Sam Demel and a surprisingly useful Vasquez. Now-a-days we have Bryan Shaw and the not-so-useful Vasquez. I expect the offense to have weeks like this, but it was a bummer to see the bullpen pitch so poorly.
Shoe: Of course a disappointing week. The holds at first base and left field vs. LHP need to be filled quickly.
Jim: I think this is going to be the way the rest of the year. At the moment, it looks like us, Colorado and the Giants will be back and forth, with each occasionally getting hot, then cooling off. But so far in June, the Giants and Rockies have won 10 games, we’ve won nine, which is pretty "meh". The Diamondbacks need to do better in the West: 12-14 against the division won’t cut it, though most of that is the terrible 2-7 against SF.
DbacksSkins: 1-2 against both the Giants and White Sox, with the Giants losing the series against the A’s? I called it.
emily: I took the week off of baseball leading up to SPF. Glad I did. UGH.
The bullpen numbers of late have been sliding back towards the 2010 version. Sam Demel and Juan Gutierrez should be back soon; where will they fit in?
Kishi: Well, I’d say one of them fits in Aaron Heilman’s spot in the bullpen. After that, who do you move? Discounting Bryan Shaw’s two innings pitched, the next highest ERA currently in our bullpen is Esmerling Vasquez, sitting at 4.61 after today’s unfortunate incident. But you can’t send him down for one bad outing, can you? What else would you do?
Sprankton: I’m not so sure Vasquez has had only one bad outing. Since May 18 he’s allowed 7 earned runs (and two inherited) in only 12.1 innings with a 7:8 BB:K rate. That’s excluding what happened on Sunday night. Shaw seems like a no-brainer to go so Heilman and Vasquez are likely candidates for removal. Though, I wish we could find a way to put Collmenter back in the ‘pen.
shoe: The Bullpen has been regressing since May 20th. Over the last 30 games the Bullpen ERA is 5.68, dropping the team to the edge of the lower 3rd in baseball. I don't think that Demel or Gutierrez are going to be large upgrades over anyone else we have been using. But they each may have streaks of effectiveness if healthy.
Jim: It seems likely Demel will be first back, and he will probably replace Kroenke, though I suspect Gibson like the extra flexibility an additional lefty provides. It’ll get more interesting when Gutierrez returns. He should technically replace Owings, but even after Micah’s blow-out at SnakePitFest, his ERA is still below three. I think the team needs a genuine long-relief arm, because on any given day, there’s a significant risk for the majority of our rotation, that they might only last four innings. Heilman’s BABIP is .380, so he has been unlucky. Will that and the fact we’re on the hook for the salary, save him?
emily: I really hope kishi is right and that someone will take Heilman’s spot. Goodness.
Justin Upton has been on a tear, getting his BA up above .300. Will he be on the All-Star team?
soco: I think he’s the obvious choice, if we assume Arizona only has one representative. He’s been an All-Star before, he’s well known outside of the city, and he’s having a very good season so far.
Kishi: If we only get one representative, I’d say it comes down to J-Up or Ian Kennedy. Either one of them would be a great choice, and both have been good against the Giants this year, so hopefully Bochy will keep them in mind when he fills in his roster.
Sprankton: With the game being at Chase and all, I definitely wouldn’t mind a little hometown love. In a perfect world, Kennedy, Upton, Drew, and Putz would all make it in.
shoe: If he keeps this up, yeah, they will put him on the roster as a reserve. Shadow over at the bullpen speculated not only will he be named, but he'll be asked to participate in the HR derby in his home park.
Jim: He certainly should, though there are a great crop of performances in the NL outfield this year. Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman probably should start, but I can’t believe Andre Ethier is getting more votes than Matt Kemp, whose OPS is close to 200 points better. Dodger fans must have left the balloting early, around the letter I [hey, it never gets old...] But off the bench, certainly. I imagine MLB would want their official FanFest spokesperson in the game.
emily: I certainly hope so. Not sure how I feel about the Home Run Derby thought, but I do hope he’s in the ASG in some capacity.
We'll be covering this more later today, but what other D-backs deserve consideration, in your mind?
soco: I’d like to believe either/both Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson are doing well enough for consideration. JJ Putz has been ridiculous, and certainly deserves to be in the conversation, but will be left off in favor of sexier picks. Stephen Drew is another one that will get crowded out, I think, though it helps that Hanley Ramirez is having an awful year. I think Miguel Montero could be helped by a weakened catcher pool. McCann and Molina are ahead of him, but who else? Of course, I said this last year about Kelly Johnson in regards to second base, but he wasn’t selected.
Kishi: I gotta start checking the next question before I start writing answers. Like I said above, I think Ian Kennedy deserves a spot in the game. Miggy deserves some attention, too, as does David Hernandez, I think. I think Parra and Drew aren’t going to necessarily get a whole lot of love for their bats, but I think the deserve consideration for their defense. I’d be surprised if we get more than one spot in the game, but with Bruce Bochy seeing our players a lot and Kirk Gibson serving as one of the coaches on the team, maybe we’ll be lucky to get two or three.
soco: Drew should get love for his bat, he’s one of the top shortstops in the NL in OPS+ (currently 2nd).
Sprankton: Oops. I got ahead of myself...
soco: Geez, am I the only one who reads all of the questions first?
shoe: Quite a few actually. Hudson and Kennedy, Putz, Montero, and Drew. A case could be made for all of them. My guess is one of these 5 will get to go, and it will just depend on performance over the next two weeks and roster construction that the manager wants.
Jim: Let me give some love to Ryan Roberts, who leads all NL 3B in bWAR, and it’s not even close - he is at 2.1, the second-placed guy is at 1.5. Miguel Montero is in the same spot, and Ian Kennedy sixth among starters. But I think it’ll be Upton and Kennedy.
emily: Drew, please. I’d really like to see Daniel Hudson too, but I know that ain’t happenin’.
It’s on the road in interleague play for Arizona, with Wily Mo Peña as a DH. Thoughts?
Kishi: Interleague play always seems to be a struggle for us, even in the years we’re good- don’t quote me on that, because I haven’t looked up the numbers. Wily Mo’s been solid in Reno, but, like Han Solo almost said, good against AAA is one thing, but good against the majors? That’s something else. (Oh, man, George Lucas’s dialogue has never been good.) I’m relieved to see the Sean Burroughs experiment end- if only so no one has to explain the Naked Lunch reference again- but I’ll retain my skepticism until we see if Pena’s prowess at the plate made the trip up, too.
Sprankton: There’s a reason why Wily Mo hasn’t played on an MLB team in over three years... I’ll just hope for the best and be satisfied with anything more productive than Sean Burroughs and Russell Branyan gave us.
soco: Maybe he’ll come out of the gate hot and help boost an offense that has been seriously scrapping. We can’t keep hoping the Giants will lose everyday, the Diamondbacks have to make their own destiny at some point. But I’m not sure if Willy Month Pena will be the answer
shoe: .They telegraphed that move a week ago.
Jim: It’ll be interesting to see whether Peña’s OPS translates any better to the majors than Burroughs, who was over a thousand in Reno, and barely half that after his promotion. What will be very interesting is what happens at the end of interleague play. If Peña continues to be nuclear-hot, will he stick as a first baseman?
emily: Sean Burroughs was less than impressive, but I’m not expecting much more from Wily Mo (side note: how do you pronounce his first name?)
Random Q: would you rather be the owner, coach, or General Manager of the D-backs, and why?
soco: Owner. I’m not going to pretend I know enough to evaluate or coach talent, but I think I’d do a good job being the boss-man.
Kishi: Coach. I’d prefer to be down on the field, involved in the game and with the players. Though I wouldn’t object to having the resources of the owner.
Sprankton: GM, definitely. Trades, drafts, free agency, winter meetings, lots of stats to look at, it all sounds awesome.
shoe: Owner. That way I could be really rich and meddle all I wanted.
Jim: GM for me. Providing the owner wasn’t a meddling type who insisted on extending outfielder contracts for three years, at least. Though being the owner would be nice, so I could change the name of the park on a weekly basis, just for kicks. What? I care not for your "legally bound naming rights"!
emily: Well, I’d take any of those, but I seriously doubt that an MLB team would hire a female coach, which leaves me with GM or owner. I’ll go with owner.
How will we do in the six games in Kansas City and Detroit?
soco: I expect to be disappointed. Detroit’s a good team, and KC will probably outclass us. I just have a feeling.
Kishi: 4-2. Detroit’s pretty good, but I think we can handle the Royals- except for Frenchy, of course- and I have hopes for a winning road trip.
Sprankton: We’ll break even, 3-3. Jim Leyland will find some way to make his team lose.
shoe: Both teams have good offenses, and will be a challenge for our pitching staff. And both teams have had inconsistency in their pitching staffs. OK: K.C.'s staff is horrible. We should knock them around, and there will be high scoring games. 2-1 series win in KC. But tougher to go in Detroit, as I believe we'll draw Verlander. Not sure if we'll face Max. He's been up and down. To many ex D-backs....besides Max, you have Valverde & Schlereth too. All these hard throwers amped up to kick our ass. We lose that series 1-2.
Jim: I tend to agree with shoe’s analysis. Any road-trip where we go 3-3 is fine by me, especially one with multiple Joe Saunders starts.
emily: Take 2 from each. Mostly so my coworker can’t tell me how much better the Royals are and what a terrible first pick Justin Upton was.