PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 24: Infielder Willie Bloomquist #18 of the Arizona Diamondbacks fields a ground ball out during the Major League Baseball game against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field on July 24, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Rockies 7-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Less than a week to go to the trade deadline. Will the Diamondbacks be buyers or sellers at the deadline? We'll find out in the next week, but our round-table participants this week look at the tea-leaves to see if the can discern which way we'll jump. Also discussed are the loss of our short-stop, the return of J.J. Putz and the back-end of the rotation. We welcome guest correspondent imstillhungry95 to proceedings this week; the current waiting-list there is NASCARbernet, Rockkstarr12, Clefo, BattleMoses, justin1985, Jdub220. Sign up in the comments if you're interested!
Obviously, the big news was the unfortunate loss of Stephen Drew. Realistically, does that end Arizona’s chances of the playoffs?
soco: Did that injury end our chances? No, as I’m not sure we were even in a good position to overcome the Giants before Drew went down. Does it make it harder? Probably, especially since Drew has generally ended his seasons well. We could use his (presumably) hot bat.
imstillhungry95: In a word: No. Drew is an important part of our infield, but by no means does our success depend on him. We might suffer a bit when it comes to defense, but we should be fine.
Jim: It doesn’t help, obviously, but it doesn’t change the incline on the rest of the season all that much. Still not easy. Though Drew hadn’t actually been playing that well. Since the end of April, his line was .229/.293/.350, only a .643 OPS. That should be replaceable, even by Willie Bloomquist. It would be nice though, if Willie could do what Augie Ojeda did in 2007, after Orlando Hudson went down and out.
Kishi: No, it doesn’t end them. It hurts them, but even without his glove on the field and his presence in the clubhouse, maybe the team can use it. These guys have seemed to bounce back from adversity pretty well so far, maybe it can be a good motivating tool.
C. Wesley Baier: As JIm said, drew wasn’t playing that well, but he’s known for his patented hot streaks, which surely would have helped the team. I don’t think the D-backs were going to make the playoffs with Drew, so i would be surprised if they made it with out him.
DbacksSkins: No. As noted already, I don’t think we would’ve made the playoffs WITH him, and he wasn’t really playing like an irreplaceable player, anyway.
shoe: The Drew injury doesn't end the team's playoff chances, but it doesn't help it. As I discussed in the fanpost I wrote, the team's playoff odds aren't great to begin with. While much was made of the fact that Drew hadn't been hitting, he still projected to contribute more over the remaining 60+ games than either Bloomquist or Ransom would.
Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the week? Two wins over the Dodgers, split of four against Milwaukee and two more victories against Colorado.
soco: Well, the game I got to see on Thursday was good. The past week has been nuts at work along with my classes. Add on trying to get ready for vacation later this week, and I haven’t had much time to watch the games.
ish95: I thought this week was great fun. Two series wins against division rivals, and a split against one of the leaders in the NL Central is very good in my book. The one detractor was the fact that the Giants didn’t lose much either, meaning we only gained a half game in the standings.
Jim: Can I just point out, I called the two victories against each of the three opponents? Admittedly, the Colorado series didn’t quite go as expected, but the end result was there. After nine straight games scoring four or less, it was nice to see the offense come out in the last couple and deliver 19 runs. First time we’ve won consecutive games by seven runs since August 2009. All we can do is keep winning our contests, keep the pressure on.
Kishi: Aw, man, I predicted 7-3? What was I thinking? Bah. This week had some frustrations, but we definitely ended it on a high note. Good to see strong outings from the weak end of the rotation to end it, and makes me feel optimistic as they go out on the road.
C. Wesley Baier: It was very nice to see them trounce the Rockies after what what happened on Friday. It’d be nice to see us take the next two series against the Rockies and Dodgers and build some momentum going into the Giants series.
DbacksSkins: The final result was okay, but I would’ve liked to have seen them take 3 of 4 vs. the Brewers.
shoe: Good home stand. Can't complain about 6-4 and they finished it up nicely. The OVERALL play of Justin Upton is starting to become something great. Running catches in the gap, stolen bases, head first slides to evade the tag at home, and of course the power hitting displays. He's been a very good, above average player for 3 years now. But this could be "the emergence to greatness" we have been waiting for.
The last three times around the rotation, we’ve had three different starters in Zach Duke, Barry Enright and Micah Owings. How do you see it working out the rest of the season?
soco: There’s a dartboard in Kirk Gibson’s office, and it features the pictures of various pitchers. The bullseye is re-signing Brazoban.
ish95: I would say Owings in the five spot, as long as he doesn’t regress a lot from what he did on Sunday. If he struggles his next couple times out, maybe we should consider bringing up a starter from the minors.
Jim: I was impressed by both Owings and Duke this afternoon. I wouldn’t be averse to having them as our #5 and #5a starters. Throw one out there, depending on the opposition (one being leftie, the other right) and if he struggles, go to the other. Admittedly, that would take a man from our bullpen, but really - take Cody Ransom’s spot and give it to another reliever. It’s an insane plan, but it just might work .
Kishi: Kirk Gibson has been told there’s an ancient curse on the Diamondbacks, and he must change pitchers in the #5 spot every time they go through the rotation. No, I think we’ll see Micah out there at least a couple more times- I’m okay with the two-headed starter routine- but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the DBacks call someone up from the minors in the next few weeks.
C. Wesley Baier: Hopefully Micah can go out and act as a decent 5th starter, but I think we might see Wade Miley before September if this trend continues if we keep playing 5th starter roulette.
DbacksSkins: Pitch Enright for 3 or 4 innings, then Duke for 3 or 4. 2-headed 5th starter. ;) (Yes, I know, it’s been done, and they ended up hating LaRussa for it)
shoe: It's like Russian Roulette, except there is a bullet in every chamber. It's not likely to end well. EDIT: I wrote this before Sunday's game, which was encouraging. Not so much Duke. Plenty of hard hit balls hit off him in his 4 innings. If Owings can throw a few more strikes and get into the 6th inning most games, he'll be fine for a 5th starter.
J.J. Putz will be activated before the next series. Who gets dropped and how will it affect the bullpen overall?
ish95: My gut tells me it will be Cook who gets dropped. Yes, his ERA is down from the infinity that it was after his first appearance, but 36.00 is still nothing to brag about. That would be an improvement, I think. Maybe one day, Cook will be better than Putz, but as of right now, that’s not the case.
Jim: Yeah, Cook seems the likely contender. I think Gibson likes having two lefties, and Castillo hasn’t been awful. Hernandez has been excellent in the closer role, and I can see him taking that position on full-time in 2013. But for now, he can go back to the 8th inning, with Putz returning to the ninth: it will certainly help the bullpen in those late innings.
Kishi: Yup, Cook seems to be the one going down. I think we’ll see the [Inappropriate Term] back in the closer spot, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if he was only a few blown saves from that being rearranged. Either way, always good to have a fairly solid arm back in the ‘pen, and that can only help things get smoothed out.
C. Wesley Baier: I’m thinking either Cook or Castillo will go when Putz comes back.
DbacksSkins: Putz will probably be handed the closer role fulltime, with Hernandez sliding back to setup. Cook will be sent down, as they’ve already confirmed.
shoe: I'm guessing Ryan Cook. If Putz is healthy again it can only help the bullpen and the team overall to have him back.
The trade deadline is 1pm Sunday. Will the D-backs be buyers, sellers or stand pat?
soco: Anyone we’d be able to sell we’ll want to keep for the next couple seasons. I’m not sure we’re in position to buy, but that doesn’t mean the FO won’t go out and find something. I hope we stand pat.
ish95: I agree with soco. Unless we can pick up say a good bullpen arm, or maybe a starter for not very much, if Owings struggles, I think we should probably stick with what we have, and hope that we can get to the playoffs with that. If we can’t, well a close second is much better than basically anyone thought we would do.
Jim: Everything I’ve been hearing from the front office has been sound and sensible. e.g. Kevin Towers saying, "The last thing I want to do is do something crazy that is going to hurt us down the road." Exactly. If we can improve somewhat without mortgaging things like our potentially golden rotation, then do it, but I’m viewing 2011 as a bonus snack, not the main course. Slight buyers, maybe a bullpen arm or bench bat, but I’d be surprised if there were anything major.
Kishi: The only position in baseball that makes me more nervous to consider than a closer is the GM. I actually hope we don’t make any major moves. Unless we see some really great deal that we can’t bear to pass up, I think we should stand pat. But I’m worried we’ll be buyers.
C. Wesley Baier: It depends on how we do in the next two series, but I think we might be slight buyers. As long as we’re not trading an arm and a leg, I’m fine with that. Hopefully if we do acquire a piece, it’s a guy who’ll be around for the long term rather than a three month rental. We have a ton of minor league depth, so it’s imperative we don’t just sell away the farm for a guy like Carlos Beltran.
DbacksSkins: For all the bluster about contending, and all the excitement of unexpectedly spending some time in/within striking distance of first place this year, I think Towers is still smarter than that. Maybe slight buyers -- grabbing a decent utility infielder, like San Fran recently did, or something like that.
shoe: A low level deal for a reliever could be considered standing pat if they don't give up anyone of consequence.
The upcoming series sees Arizona hit the road, in San Diego and Los Angeles. What does the team need to do?
soco: Win, obviously. I think they need outings from the starters that doesn’t have us over-using the bullpen. The offense needs to be consistent. They need to play the game well, and not make little baserunning or fielding mistakes. So basically, the same things the Diamondbacks have been needing to do for a while but can’t consistently do.
ish95: We just need to play smart baseball. They need to refrain from making stupid mistakes on the bases, keep up the hitting, and get pitching on par with what we’ve got in the last week, for the most part. If we can do that, the winning will follow.
Jim: We should be looking to take both series. The Giants have a nasty road-trip to Philadelphia and Cincinnati, so I’d like to see Arizona pick up a couple of games this week, before the crunch on in San Francisco. 4-2 for us, 2-4 for the Giants, and we enter San Francisco 2½ back.
Kishi: These teams are a combined 25 games under .500. These are the guys we really need to wallop. Anything less than a 4-2 week, and I’m going to be disappointed. (No, really, Diamondbacks, please don’t disappoint me.)
C. Wesley Baier: As I said, it’d be very nice if the D-backs could build some momentum by winning against the scrubs in LA and SD. Giants have a tough two series ahead of them, so we could gain some serious ground on them by just playing well over the next two series. I’ll be seriously disappointed if we don’t at least split the next 6 games.
DbacksSkins: The team needs to show some fight on the road. They get to play 28 games in the second half (25 left) against these guys, so it’s time to start beating ‘em up.
shoe: They need to go in and take both series, and go at least 4-2. There is no more room for .500 baseball if they want to make the playoffs. (They are 21-21 since June 5th.)