July ends, and Arizona are still in this, two games behind the Giants - and they start a three-game series in San Francisco tonight. The trade deadline also saw the Diamondbacks engage in some late activity to improve their pitching. It's these two topics that dominate this week's round-table, with guest contributor NASCARbernet. The current waiting-list is Rockkstarr12, Clefo, BattleMoses, justin1985, Jdub220. Sign up in the comments if you're interested in joining!
A couple of significant moves for the team, firstly the acquisition of Jason Marquis for prospect Zach Walters. What do you think?
snakecharmer: Apparently Walters was on track to be a utility man, and he was only in A ball, not even High A. Even though we take on Marquis’s contract, I don’t mind the trade at all. Glad we could get him for so little. The back end of our rotation does need help, and sure Marquis’s numbers aren’t spectacular, but I think he’ll be a great addition. He knows the NL West, he’s a veteran, he eats innings. I’m a little nervous about the home runs in Chase Field, though.
NASCARbernet: The starting rotation has been pretty strong through much of the season; however, the tail end has been as expected, somewhat weaker. Bringing in a strong starter like Marquis may not bring stupendously obvious results, i.e., shutout after shutout, but it does add a solid, consistent starter with experience that will be crucial in the stretch run and post season. Every pitcher on the staff will get work, and all will be seriously taxed. This is why the acquisition is probably a very good one.
Kishi: Well, if the franchise looked at Walters as a future Geoff Blum type, I can’t say I’m too disappointed in what we gave up. Marquis may not quite be a marquee name, but we don’t need him to go out there and be our ace. We need a guy who can give us fairly solid innings in the back of the rotation, and I think he can do it. He helps strengthen the bullpen by asking fewer innings from them and letting us move an arm in from the rotation (I’m guessing Micah Owings, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Josh Collmenter) and that’s one of the big things we need. I’m okay with it.
Sprankton: As Kishi noted, Walters was being likened as a future Geoff Blum so I’m REALLY UPSET THAT WE GAVE THAT AWAY - j/k. Truth be told, Marquis should be a decent enough addition. As long as he gives us even a smidgen of positive WAR and eats a good chunk of innings I’ll be perfectly happy with the trade.
DbacksSkins: By the time Walters is ready, KT might still have Geoff Blum under contract. That having been said, Walters was also really our only prospect besides Chris Owings who still had a chance to play SS in the majors, so I’m none too pleased about losing him, especially for a rental during a season in which we’re overperforming.
Jim: I’m more convinced of the need for Marquis after Collmenter and Owings struggled in Los Angeles. Not really expecting too much, but he should be an upgrade there. He has averaged six innings per start, which is solidly at league average, and should help save the bullpen from overtaxing. The fact that I had to look up Walters’ info largely sums up how minor a prospect he is. Yes, we’re thin at shortstop, but Walters wasn’t likely to be the answer anyway.
Then there’s Brad Ziegler coming to the ‘pen for Brandon Allen and Jordan Norberto.
snakecharmer: VERY. EXCITED. Someone wants Norberto? Take him. It was clear Allen wasn’t going anywhere in the Diamondbacks organization. Ziegler is a proven reliever, a ground ball pitcher, a great compliment - heck, mirror image - of Joe Paterson. He’ll give you a good inning of work or you could just bring him in for one. Nice guy too, very active in community charities.
NASCARbernet: Today’s game illustrated quite nicely why the deal had to be made - Cook was ineffective, Hernandez was taxed, and it would have been nice not to have to bring in J.J. Putz. In effect, Gibby won’t have to make the starting pitcher go as long because now the ‘Backs have another solid 7th inning choice to compliment Paterson.
Kishi: Sounds like a solid move to me. We get a good arm in the ‘pen, we hopefully get some better production out of first base by bringing up Goldschmidt, and we theoretically have Ziegler around for a couple more years, right? I’m good with it.
Sprankton: As happy as you could be over a trade for a relief pitcher. I doubt Ziegler is the guy who puts us up and over the Giants, but neither was Allen or Norberto. The bullpen got a lot better and David Hernandez’s arm is very thankful.
DbacksSkins: Sky Kalkman summed it up on Twitter yesterday: "Wow, Brandon Allen for a reliever." We paid too much. Although it IS nice to have Ziegler for two more years. The A’s are certainly doing a nice job collecting erstwhile Diamondbacks "first basemen of tomorrow" -- Conor Jackson, Chris Carter 2.0, Brandon Allen.
Then again, with Goldschmidt coming up, and Parra’s making himself more valuable in LF through defense, Allen was kind of a man without a spot on the Dbacks. Hopefully he’ll get his chance in Oakland. At least we finally fished or cut bait on him.
Jim: Allen just didn’t have a future with the team; at worst, Goldschmidt would be here by Opening Day next season. Bear in mind, we got Allen for a reliever, so that kinda shows how little he was valued. Amazing to think that Sam Demel could be the only one in the bullpen who was even with the organization at the end of last year. Kevin Towers has certainly lived up to his promise to revamp the relief corps.
Oh, and I dig submarine pitchers. Imagine an inning where the opposition has to face Collmenter, Ziegler and Paterson. That’s so much funk, James Brown would be impressed.
Anything more you think the team should have done?
snakecharmer: I might have liked another bat, infielder to replace Stephen Drew, but perhaps that comes in Goldschmidt. We weren’t going to sell the farm for an outside chance this year, Willie Bloomquist has been solid, much like Augie Ojeda was after Orlando Hudson went down. So I’m good.
NASCARbernet: The Darwinian process that KT employed to maximize his personnel is showing signs of paying off. Some of the guys like Bloomquist and more recently Nady, have been pretty solid contributors, others have been sent away. I’m still not sure why Burroughs, whom it seems like hasn’t had a hit since June, is still with this team, but that may change. I have nothing at all against him, but there are people on the ballclub who share his niche (singles hitter, some glove) but are better at it. Collin Cowgill will be the bat off the bench when he’s not in the starting lineup, and he already looks like a better hitter.
Sprankton: Soooooooooooo.... no?
Kishi: No, I’m pretty much okay with this. The more moves we made, the more we would have had to give up, and I think this fills in our big needs. (But seriously, how much longer do we have to put up with Sean Burroughs?)
Sprankton: I was thinking that Mike Aviles would have been a perfect fit to supplement Bloomquist and rid the team of Sean Burroughs but the Red Sox snagged him up. Oh well, I’m still happy with the way things turned out.
DbacksSkins: Would’ve liked a cheap IF who could play SS credibly, but then I would’ve bitched and moaned about HIS price, so...
Jim: A short-stop would have been nice, but as Bloomquist has hit .316 in July, with a .758 OPS, he seems to be stepping up as a Drewplacement. Is that sustainable? Perhaps not, so one does wonder if we could have snagged a rental in this area too. But all told, I give Towers much credit for tweaking the roster in a positive fashion, without sacrificing components of the long-term plan.
The Diamondbacks got through San Diego and Los Angeles with a 4-2 record, while the Giants were swept in Cincinnati, setting up perhaps the biggest series of the year, and some great pitching match-ups. What are you expecting from each game?
Ian Kennedy (12-3, 3.22) vs. Matt Cain (9-6, 2.91)
snakecharmer: Pitching duel #1. Staff ace vs staff ace, an awesome matchup. Should be a low-scoring game, as both pitchers could throw complete games.
NASCARbernet: This match up is what baseball fans live for. What I can’t figure out is the fact that there isn’t national television coverage for this game, or any game in this series, for that matter. Pity, because this is pure no-holds barred baseball. I have to give the edge to the Giants as they have proven experience performing well in games that count. The burden of proof falls on the Diamondbacks to show us that they are ready for this kind of pressure.
Sprankton: I like that we have a buttload of momentum coming into the series. The Giants were just swept by a sub .500 team and never scored more than three runs in a game while the D-backs won their series, scoring six runs twice and five in a loss. That being said, Kennedy has a career ERA of 1.81 in nearly 50 innings against the Giants. WE CAN DO THIS.
DbacksSkins: Somebody wins 1-0.
Jim: Hello, meaningful games in August. Didn’t expect to see you round these parts, but CoolStandings.com currently gives us a 45.0% chance of the playoffs. It’s time for the D-backs to show whether they are contenders or pretenders: the Giants have kicked our butts so far, winning seven games of nine. That kind of ratio won’t fly.
Daniel Hudson (10-7, 3.81) vs. Tim Lincecum (9-8, 2.78)
snakecharmer: Pitching duel #2. Not sure of Arizona’s numbers against Lincecum but they probably aren’t good. Got to get him to up his pitch count and get to the bullpen, which is beatable.
NASCARbernet: Timmeh has earned my respect, but he does know the D’Back names. The D’Backs seem to get jazzed a bit more when he’s on the mound, and I hope it carries over. Hudson hasn’t struck me as being entirely comfortable all year. His arm angle looks lower recently, which reduces north/south movement. Maybe this will be the game that gets Hudson going again, then again, maybe not.
Sprankton: Timmeh hasn’t earned my respect. I still hate him. If the D-backs win the opening game of the series, it’s just more motivation for Hudson and the D-backs to get it done.
DbacksSkins: The Giants win 1-0.
Jim: This is the one I’m most eagerly anticipating. Should be a cracker: Hudson’s last couple of outings haven’t been so great, but I’m thinking that will simply be added motivation for him to deliver the ace-like performance FanGraphs is promising us. :-)
Jason Marquis (8-5, 3.95) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (8-1, 2.23)
snakecharmer: This is the matchup most in our favor. Marquis has great numbers against the Giants and the Diamondbacks scored two runs off of Vogelsong back in June, which is nearly as good as anybody else has done. It’s a day game so the ball should jump out a bit easier.
NASCARbernet: I agree with ‘Charmer. In conditions where fly balls carry, this crazy D’Back offense has to have the edge. I like Marquis and I think he’ll be well-motivated to be on his game for this one. Edge goes to the D’Backs.
Sprankton: We win. The D-backs now lead the division. End of story.
DbacksSkins: Vogelsong "regresses", Marquis continues to own the Giants. The Diamondbacks win 1-0.
Jim: What? No-one used the term "Marquis match-up’? Sheesh. You people... Vogelsong’s streak of 15 consecutive games allowing three ER or less comes to an end. I think we can take two of the three to pull within one.
Then it’s back home for three more against the Dodgers, while the Phillies come into San Francisco for a four-game set. Will Arizona end the week closer to or further from the Giants?
snakecharmer: Well, we’ll leave SF any odd number between 1 up and 5 back. We should again be able to take two of three from the Dodgers next weekend. I don’t expect we’ll end the week farther back than two, and my sense is we end up one back or tied.
NASCARbernet: I see the D’Backs losing a game against the Giants in the standings, but make it up and then some against the Dodgers (again). I think the Phillies will be motivated to make a statement, so when all is said and done, by this time next Sunday, I see the D’Backs within a game of the Giants. I had no idea that the D'Backs would be in the position that they are in today. I hope everyone is having fun with this because it doesn't happen every year.
Sprankton: We’ll be one up. BOOM.
DbacksSkins: One behind.
Jim: I don’t think this series will be decisive, but if we can take SF, then there’s a genuine, legitimate chance we end the week in first. They play one more game than us, so there will be a half-game involved somewhere. Let’s see... We take two of three in SF, so are a game back. We take two of three from LA [dropping the finale against Clayton Kershaw], the Giants split four with the Phillies. What’s that... One-half game back, and ready to dig in the fangs.