The east-coast swing ends for the Diamondbacks, who now return to Chase Field, hoping for better results than occurred the last time the team played at home. There was good (the Florida series) and bad (playing teams thar rhyme with "pants" - at least, in my poems, they do), with a blown save, major-league debut and issues against left-handed pitching. All are discussed in this week's round-table, with guest contributor luckycc chipping in her thoughts. The waiting list for future contributors is blank_38, Turambar, DeDxDbacKxJroK, jjwaltrip and imstillhungry95, throw down in the comments to add your name.
The road-trip ends at 5-5. Do you see that glass as half-full or half-empty?
Clefo: Just half. Being .500 on the road is ideal, but blowing two of those games when you have late leads does not leave a good taste in your mouth.
Luckycc: I don't want to be the panicked fan but I'm at half empty. It seems like things on the team just aren't clicking properly: they don't hit or the bullpen gives up a late lead. Some losses are luck, things not falling your way. I'm no good at statistical analysis, so like various American presidents, I go by my gut.
snakecharmer: Half empty. Before the road trip, I was expecting this, but then we got off to a 4-1 start, and seemed like a lot of those 5 losses were close and could've been wins. We got lucky the rest of the NL West also sucked this week.
Jim: I'm going with half-full. Given our injuries, I'm just happy to keep pace with the rest of the NL West right now. None of them went better than 5-5 in the past ten: the Dodgers were 2-4 on their road-trip, losing to the Rockies and Cubs, and the Giants went 4-5 on their home-stand.
How do you think the team is missing most: Stephen Drew, Daniel Hudson or Chris Young?
Dan: Chris Young. For whatever reason, A.J. Pollock's contact has not resulted in hits, and Parra's glove is still a step down from Young's. Considering how phenomenal CY was playing prior to his injury (unlike Hudson), that's got to be the most damaging injury.
Clefo: CY, mostly for the reasons Dan said above. CY at full strength will make our lineup somewhat frightening again.
Luckycc: Drew's been gone so long that his absence feels like a non-factor and the pitching has muddled through without Hudson. I say CY. I can't wait for him to come back and I hope he can continue the wonderful progress he's made.
snakecharmer: CY. The starting pitching hasn't been that bad and Bloomquist/MacDonald have filled in fine at short. But Pollock hasn't done much yet with his time in the Bigs, and as nice as it is to have Kubel and Parra both in the lineup, CY was en fuego when he got hurt, and that's sorely missed.
Jim: I'm going, just to be different, for Hudson - providing we're missing good Hudson, he of the 3.49 ERA last year, not the six ERA version we got at the start of this year. I think the drop off from there to Corbin/Miley has been steeper. Parra has hit .270 since Young left: and while disappointing, I don't see Pollock's 32 PAs as significant, really, though I'm surprised it has been that many.
Signs point to D-backs' Ryan Roberts heating up. Do you agree?
Dan: I hope so. I'm not one to pick apart small samples like this, but we could certainly use a capable third baseman that I'm not constantly worried about falling back to earth (Ransom) at any moment.
Clefo: I'll see it when I believe it.
Luckycc: We need him so I'll just do a Tatman rain dance and hope he's working it out. He certainly wants it bad enough.
snakecharmer: He's had better at-bats and made more contact, but it'll take more than that to convince me he's on the upward swing (so to speak).
Jim: I desperately want to believe it, but I'll need more than one home-run, and a larger sample-size, before it seems credible. Mind you, he has been so bad, that even .200 would be a significant uptick, and right now, Cody Ransom is undoubtedly the hot hand. There, that's a phrase I didn't expect to be writing this season!
J.J. Putz blew a ninth-inning lead in Washington, his second in eight chances. Any concerns here, or is this just early-season randomness?
Dan: Randomness. Made awful pitches in Washington, great ones in New York.
Luckycc: Back to what I said about things not clicking. He's had several close calls already this year. I prefer to pretend we lost when Putz was carried off by a herd of rogue pterodactyls instead of him blowing the save. I make my own fun.
snakecharmer: Just early season or fluke woes. He showed us in NY that he's still got it, most of the time. I think he has enough veteraniness to work it out.
Jim. Hard to say. I think we forgot how freakishly good he was last year. The team had no ninth-inning blown saves over the last 81 games of 2011. Closers will allow runs, and if that happens to be in one of Arizona's frequent one-run contests...well, guess what happens? But I've not had the same sense of comfort I had either. Thus far, execution or pitch selection seem off somehow.
Patrick Corbin's second start was short and brutal, prompting a suggestion he should be replaced in the rotation as soon as Super Two status is not an issue. Would you pull the trigger on Trevor Bauer or Tyler Skaggs yet?
Dan: Sure, if the organization thinks they'll be better. Don't even bother waiting until Super Two junk is done. Improve your ball club.
Clefo: I say yes, but wait until Super Two stuff is finished. As much as I wanna see these guys up, I also know the large pile of money that Tim Lincecum is rolling around in exists because the Giants brought him up fast. Sure it was worth it, but some financial flexibility for the future would be nice.
Luckycc: I didn't see Corbin's start but considering how long we stuck with Collmenter, give him another shot. That said as soon as calendar flips to avoid Super Two, I want Skaggs or Bauer.
snakecharmer: Wow, way to push the panic button, whoever suggested that. His first start was fine, his second one wasn't, why only judge on the bad?!? He's a rookie from AA with TWO major league starts! Give him a break, give him a few more starts until Hudson gets back, and chill. As for Super Two stuff, I like to think the organization ignores that and focuses purely on when players are READY to be up, and when there's a need. I'm sure they are looking at the calendar but I'm also sure they're not that worried about needing him so soon.
Jim: I don't see Miley and Corbin as a long-term solution, but if Hudson is back soon - and back effectively - that will reduce a lot of the pressure. Having either as the #5, especially if we skip them when possible, is acceptable; having both permanently present in the rotation makes me feel a lot less optimistic.
The team has struggled very badly against left-handers, with a .606 OPS. How much of an issue is it, and can anything be done?
Dan: Directly related to Young's injury and Justin Upton's relative mediocrity. Young will return, Upton will be better, and the team will be fine. Paul Goldschmidt could do something about this, hypothetically, but at this point I'm not going to be banking on it considering his struggles thus far.
Luckycc: Again with the bad at analysis. That certainly sounds bad. Justin Upton, get better please. If only so the guy at my work will stop venting about his strikeouts because Upton is on his fantasy team.
Jim. What I want to know is, why are 168 PAs shown as against "unknown" pitchers rather than leftied or righties. What were they doing? Throwing from inside a box? If so, can we face them more often, as we're hitting .298 off "unknown" pitchers. Anyhoo... The struggles of Montero, Parra and Kubel - a collective 8-for-53 vs. lefties - isn't surprising, except in its severity. But Bloomquist, Roberts and Goldschmidt are hardly any better, at 10-for-63. That's three-quarters of a line-up hitting barely a buck-fifty. Yes, it's an issue. As for what can be done about it, the players in question need to start hitting. Sheesh, and people say this "management" thing is hard.
Back home to Chase, for three against the Cardinals, an off-day, and three against the Giants. Will it go better than the last home-stand?
Dan: Sure. I think 4-2 isn't far-fetched. Could use some better pitching, to be sure.
Clefo: It can only get better, if one believes in the law of averages.
Luckycc: It'll be better. It has to be. And so long as the Dodgers stay hot, it needs to be.
snakecharmer: It should, because we can't play .500 ball forever. Let's start climbing above that ladder. Let's go 4-2.
Jim: 5-1. Beat the Cardinals, and of course, sweep the Giants.