Mar 30, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher C.J. Wilson (right) pitches against Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Ryan Roberts (left) during the second inning at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Just four days left before things get under way properly, with a series against the San Francisco Giants. Does it seem like six months since we were playing the Brewers in the National League Division Series? Not to me. In the last pre-season round-table, our panel, including guest commentator imstillhungry95, discusses the Cactus League overall, Josh Collmenter's struggles, the bullpen and batting orders, plus Jamie Moyer's resurrection. The waiting list as guests is currently: SenSurround, DeDxDbacKxJroK, luckycc and sonic barracuda. Any others can sign up in the comments.
Opening Day on Friday. Final words on spring training?
Clefo: Please be over already. I'm watching the Final Four right now. At the time of that event last year, we were already into the regular season for Major League Baseball. Now I have to wait another six days (at time of writing)!? Life is so hard!
soco: Please, please, please give me what I want.
Kishi: Well, if we're going with near references to titles from The Smiths, as long as it isn't "Heaven knows I'm miserable now"...
Jim: It seems to have gone by quite quickly - is it really six weeks since pitchers and catchers reported? - but as usual, seems too long as well. I've been very impressed with the crowds at Salt River Fields: was expecting a drop-off after the opening last year, but even more people have showed up. And we got through it healthy this time, which is an improvement.
ISH95: Goodbye, dear Spring Training. It could have gone better, but it definitely could have gone worse. No major injuries came up that we didn't know about for the past six months, so that's good. As Clefo pointed out, though, six more days?! Really?!
Which non-roster players have done most to impress you?
Clefo: I mentioned Pollock last week. Patrick Corbin is an obvious one. I was gonna mention Brett Lorin and Jensen Lewis, but a quick google says they ARE on the 40. I need to step up my paying attention to stuff skills.
Jim: Well, was thinking more 25-man roster than entire NRI. Pollock and Adam Eaton's performances have given me more confidence that, if we need to deal Parra or Young to get a SS or C, then we have credible replacements. I was hoping we might see a bit of Archie Bradley, who I know has been knocking around, but he hasn't been called into game action.
ISH95: Corbin is the obvious choice. 15 ⅔ innings with one run given up? That's pretty impressive no matter who you are or where you are on the roster
Josh Collmenter's Cactus League ERA is 11.81, with opponents hitting .370 off him. Spring fluke or cause for concern?
Clefo: Hoping the former. His struggles are enough to raise an eyebrow, but not panic-worthy (yet). I'd give him a few starts in the regular season to see how he does.
soco: Has he been trying new pitches? Is he just trying to get stretched out? Or is this reality catching up? My pessimism suggests the last, but I won't really be concerned until the season starts.
Jim: I am vaguly disturbed by this quote from Nick P: "Collmenter didn't seem bothered by questions, per se. He just seemed upset. There was something in his tone that's never been there before. Perhaps he's just sick of being knocked around in the Cactus League. Or perhaps he's struggling to figure out why he can't throw the ball where he wants it." The struggles, and the success of Corbin, etc. probably do mean he'll have a shorter leash when the season begins. Whether they will continue or not, is likely my biggest concern.
ISH95: Fluke! It has to be! I picked him waaaaay too early in my fantasy draft for him to perform like that in the regular season. Also, Spring statistics mean nothing, and he wouldn't be the first player to have a horrible spring and then have a good regular season.
Bearing in mind performance and options, which seven men will make it to the AZ bullpen? And would those be the seven you'd pick?
Clefo: Putz, Hernandez, Shaw, Ziegler, Breslow, Saito, Paterson. Due to contracts and experience I'd bet those guys will be in. Would I pick them? Sure, why not? There seems to be enough depth beyond those guys that I think we'd be ready for any eventuality come the regular season.
Jim: I'd probably drop Ziegler, who has options, and include Zagurski, who wouldn't make it through waivers. The latter has been impressive in spring, and Ziegler has been far from it, so I think the other Z deserves a chance to show what he can do. However, Gibson has shown a preference to stick with what he knows, so I think Ziegler is likely in.
ISH95: I've been impressed by Zagurski, but I think Ziegler will probably get his spot, since, as Jim pointed out, Gibby likes to stick with the tried and true, unless they give him a reason not to. Other than a bad spring, Ziegler hasn't given Gibson a reason to doubt him, so he's in. Other than him, Putz, Hernandez, Shaw, Breslow, Saito, and Paterson.
Gibby has tried a range of batting orders this spring. What order would you like to see the D-backs line up, and why?
Clefo: Parra, Roberts, Upton, Goldschmidt, Montero, Young, Hill, Bloomquist. You've got decent on-base guys who aren't prone to random acts of being picked-off. You protect Goldy with Miggy in the lineup so he can mash a bit (hopefully). When Kubel's in the lineup instead of Parra, just bump Roberts up to leadoff.
Jim: "Somebody who can get up there and make things happen. Somebody who is good on the bases (and) has the ability to steal a base. You always want them to be to handle the bat, maybe go deep in a count." That was Gibby's description of a good lead-off hitter, and I think the last-named is perhaps Parra's weakness. He was last among qualifying AZ batters last year in pitches per at-bat, with 3.56, compared to league average of 3.79. Willie B was almost at average; Young is best there, and is also good on the base-paths. I'd go Young, Parra, Hill, Upton, Montero, Goldschmidt, Roberts, Bloomquist.
ISH95: The lineup I'd like to see: Young, Parra, Upton, Goldschmidt, Montero, Roberts, Hill, (Pitcher's spot), Bloomquist. That's a good lineup. Everyone will be able to contribute, and we'll all be happy, and Ponies will abound. The lineup we will see: Bloomquist, Hill, Upton, Young, Montero, Goldschmidt, Roberts, Parra. Why will we see it? Because we won the NL West with that lineup, why would Gibby change it now?
The team starts with three against the Giants, then hits the road to San Diego and Colorado. How will the team do?
Clefo: I think we'll win at least two of those series. In early SSS news, Buster Posey start a little slow for the Giants, and the would-be Pierre Salinger's in the San Francisco fanbase will accuse Scott Cousins of voodoo. I also predict that Troy Tulowitzki will have an ugly meltdown when an intern doing the scorekeeping at Coors does not award him a triple.
Jim: The opening series is likely the tough one, as we face the top of the Giants rotation. If we can take two of three there, I'd be happy with that. General rule of thumb is do that at home and split your road games, and you're golden. That'd be 5-4 over that first stretch.
ISH95: I think that we'll eek out a series win against the Giants, put a beatdown on the Padres to eliminate them from the playoff picture, and probably give up two wins to the Rockeis. 6-3
Jamie Moyer has made the Rockies rotation at age 49. What are your thoughts?
Clefo: I'm sure the focus will be on "Wow, the Rockies pitching staff is so thin that Moyer is their #2?". However, we are overlooking this: Jamie Moyer is a sorcerer. He will never die. He will keep pitching until the sun stops fusion and engulfs the earth. It will be well timed because he will finally have gotten his 300th win the day before.
soco: Pretty much what Clefo said. How bad does your pitching have to be that a lich can make your rotation?
Kishi: Jamie Moyer is only 49 years old?
Jim: He was actually replaced by his grandson of the same name a decade ago. I'm delighted for him: as long as there is one major-leaguer older than I am, I can cling fervently to my dream of discovery! Amazing to think that he was playing in the major-leagues before seven of our likely roster were BORN, yet will probably play against them the weekend after next. .
ISH95: "Then God said, ‘Let there be light, and just for good measure, let's throw in a pitcher that will continue to be effective until the end of time itself'" That pitcher is Jamie Moyer. As long as people play baseball, Jamie Moyer will be pitching somewhere, and when baseball ceases to exist, he will suddenly grow very, very old, and leave Middle Earth forever on the last ship to leave the Gray Havens. Thus will end the Age of Rings and Elves. Thus will begin the Age of normal, human Men