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The 2012 Arizona Diamondbacks season is in the books, and it's as forgettable as the 81-81 record would suggest. For the final regular round-table of the season, our panel (and guest imstillhungry95) look back at the campaign just finished and review the highlights, as well as what the winter might bring.
The Diamondbacks finished at 81-81 - neither winners or losers. Give me three words to sum up the season.
BattleMoses: What I Expected.
ISH95: We're not Colorado
Clefo: So that happened.
John: Gawd damn it
snakecharmer: Should've been better.
Dan: Stupid one-run games.
Jim: Well, that sucked.
Kishi: Saw that coming.
When in the schedule did you realize Arizona had problems?
Battlemoses: I wanna say July. When CY came back and just didn't perform.
ISH95: I would have to agree with Moses and say July, but specifically that Fourth of July series against the Padres
Clefo: Sometime around May, I wanna say.
John: Just after the break when the Padres and the Cubs murdered us.
snakecharmer: June was promising, but when we had a 6-game losing streak in the beginning of July, and then got swept by the Cubs right after the ASB.. yeah, that was when I realized this team didn't have the same spark.
Jim: The spell at the start of May where we lost four straight series and fell 8.5 back, was a reality check. It sent us five below .500, and we'd lost 12 of the last 15 home games. That was just not championship contender fodder.
Kishi: Honestly, I thought the team had problems early in the season. Back to back 8 run losses to Atlanta in April was a sign, or going 2-8 over a span in early May.
And when did you, realistically, give up hope?
BattleMoses: When we got swept at home by the Padres. That was just so brutal.
ISH95: I don't know when it was exactly, but it was that period in September when we kept getting wins, but no matter what happened, the Cardinals stayed four or five games ahead of us. It was just hammered in every night that the Cards were a better team than us, and they were proving it.
Clefo: That sequence where we were swept at home by the Padres AND Reds. We were within reasonable striking distance before then.
John: It probably wasn't until about Sept. 10 or so when we had a couple of chances to string some wins together and just couldn't get it done.
snakecharmer: The other 6-game losing streak, in late August. Despite being within four of the second wild card spot, that never seemed realistic because of all the other teams we would've had to leapfrog.
Jim: The dismal home-stand in late August where we went 2-8 against the Marlins, Padres and Reds. Instead of gaining ground, that dropped is from 4.5 back in the wild-card to 7.5 down.
Kishi: Getting swept by the Cubs coming out of the All Star break. A spot when the team should have been relaxed, ready to play, and going up against an opponent they could hammer on, but they just didn't have it. (Wait, when did I become the Snakepit pessimist?)
What highlights will you remember most about 2012?
ISH95: The Bi-Cycle. Hands down
John: Boy, there really weren't a lot of highlights. The Bi-Cycle obviously as ISH says, but you really want to think more in terms of team highlights, and they just never put a win streak together to get themselves into the thick of the race. I'll give the top highlight to Miley for his run to rookie-of-the-year. It might have come up a tad short but it was still a highlight.
snakecharmer: The bi-cycle was fun, of course. I was most excited being so close to possibly seeing a tri-cycle. (I know I've mentioned that before and I know it didn't happen but it was cool, man!) I can't even pick a walk-off victory as a highlight, because there were only two walk-offs. And there were only four complete games by our pitching staff. It was just a very ordinary year.
Jim: Starting the season by sweeping the Giants at home, in a trio of one-run contests. Shame it'd be ten more one-run games before we'd win again. Goldschmidt's ownership of Timmeh. Aaron Hill's ownership of just about everyone. David Hernandez being the most dominant pitcher we've had since RJ in 2001.
Kishi: Opening day, that home run of Goldschmidt's off of Lincecum. First time I've been to Opening Day, and it was basically the perfect kick off to the season.
Was pitching or hitting the team's biggest problem?
ISH95: I'm going to be difficult and say neither, and here's why. There were stretches where the offense was on fire, and then there were stretches when the pitching was on fire. What really killed us was the fact that they never happened at the same time. Consistency was the team's biggest problem.
Clefo: Yes and no.
John: It has to be pitching. We scored 734 runs which was 4th in the league (and Colorado almost doesn't count). We allowed 688 runs which was 8th in the league. Pitching wins divisions and championships and our starting pitching was just too inconsistent.
snakecharmer: Yes. Oh, you want a real answer? I'd probably say pitching. The ERA of our starters was nearly a half point higher this year than last year, and they pitched 40 fewer innings, meaning they weren't going as deep into games and giving us a chance to win.
Dan: Stupid one-run games. On a more informative note, it was the inability to succeed in those "late-and-close" situations that we were so good in last year. I can't explain why we struggled in those situations, but hopefully it's not the case in 2013.
Jim: I'll buck the general trend and also go with hitting. Specifically, as Dan noted, when we needed them most. We were the first NL team since the 2000 Cubs to hit below the Uecker Line in Late and Close situations, which likely cost us a boat-load of losses.
Kishi: The fielding. No, I think they both had their problems. But I think the real issue was that we frequently couldn't get both of them going at the same time.
What do you want to see the team do this off-season?
ISH95: TRADE JUSTINE UPTON FOR TWO RELIEVERS!!!! Sorry... I couldn't resist. Get a starting shortstop. I don't think Bloomquist is going to cut it next year, mainly because he's disappeared. He left the team because of back issues, and I at least have heard nothing since.
Clefo: Do things within reason to make sure that Willie Bloomquist isn't the opening day Shortstop.
John: I actually think there's a lot they can and should do. We have a lot of trade chips with Parra, Kubel, Young, Johnson, Wheeler, McDonald and some young pitching combined with free agency decisions to land us a new shortstop, a new third baseman, a new left fielder, a veteran starting pitcher and one or two left-handed relievers. I expect this roster to see some pretty decent re-shaping if for no other reason than to bring a little more fire to the roster.
snakecharmer: Cahill wasn't the veteran starter we needed him to be, and with Hudson not back until July, I wouldn't mind another starter just in case the dozen or so rookies (it seems like a lot) struggle. We'll need more bullpen arms. A bat at shortstop would be nice, and we'll probably have to trade one of those rookie arms for that. I'd like to CY traded for something decent, rather than the give-away Stephen Drew was.
Jim: I am kinda amused that a 24-year old like Cahill could be thought of as a "veteran starter"!
Dan: Not a whole lot, really. Probably trade an outfielder - I'd rather deal Kubel than CY since I think Young will be undervalued after a relative down year - for either a third baseman or shortstop, and trade a young pitcher for the hole that's left over. Sign a starter if there's room in the payroll (Brandon McCarthy?), and settle the backup catcher and LOOGY spots.
Jim: It's mostly fairly obvious. Shortstop and probably another starting pitcher, with the outfield depth being used to bring them in. I don't expect Upton to be moved, but Young probably will. His OPS was only 10 points below his career average, so he pretty much was what we thought he was. I don't think we need sell the bank for a shortstop, since we could be sorted with Chris Owings in a couple of years. But it's definitely a position where we need help.
Kishi: Has someone mentioned a new shortstop? I feel like it hasn't been brought up enough yet.
Who did you want to see in the World Series?
ISH95: A's and Reds. A's because their name is really the Oakland DiamondA's and the Reds because they're the least annoying team left.
snakecharmer: They're the Athletibacks!
John: A's and Reds, but I'll take Baltimore too. Anyone but the Yankees and the Giants.
snakecharmer: Ideally, A's and Nationals, but in the end, I'm with John and Clefo - anybody but Yankees and Giants.
Dan: Whoever would play the best baseball in the World Series.
Jim: The Not-Giants vs. the Not-Yankees. As long as that happens, I'll settle for anyone else.
What are your personal plans for the winter?
ISH95: Get my blog up and running on a fairly regular schedule and learn to play piano.
Clefo: Imma be a College Graduate. I'm going to spend the Winter finding out the wonderous world of going out into the job market with an Arts degree.
John: I have a full-time small business to tend to that is growing steadily and that I have high hopes for in the next couple of years if the economy takes any kind of positive spin. As a small business owner I'm watching this election closely with my fingers crossed. I'm not trying to start a political argument, it just would mean a lot to me and my employees if it goes the way I think would help the economic environment the most.
snakecharmer: Power soccer is starting up now, and I've got some other potential projects going on too.
Dan: Hopefully find a job in the game, mostly...
Jim: Sleep. A lot. Watch a crapton of movies. Update some shamefully neglected websites. Maybe some non-baseball writing. Looking forward to it!