PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 10: Chris Young #24 of the Arizona Diamondbacks high fives relief pitcher J.J. Putz #40 after defeating the Oakland Athletics in the interleague MLB game at Chase Field on June 10, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the A's 4-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Well, that turned out not too bad, didn't it? Maybe not the most taxing of opponents, but any week you reel off five straight wins is not a bad one. Who'd have thought it, especially after the owner called last season's MVP an "enigma" and questioned the integrity of our longest-serving player. #cantpredictbaseball. However, that won't stop our panel, including guest imstillhungry95, from trying to do just that, as well as discussing the conflicting performances of Paul Goldschmidt and Daniel Hudson, and the man not on the roster, Trevor Bauer.
Ridster09 and blank_38 will be the next two weeks' guest panelist, but the list past there is empty. Speak up in the comments if you want to take part.
Series victories at home over Colorado and Oakland, with five victories in a row. Has the team turned the corner?
Clefo: They have certainly turned on their turn signal and are check traffic right now. Not ready to say they've turned it yet.
Kishi: Maybe. Turning a corner is a good start, but I'll feel better after we're about three miles past that corner. But it is good to see the team playing well- it's a lot more like what we expected to see this year.
ZM: This was probably the best week of the Diamondbacks' season so far. Which, admittedly, says more about this season than it says about this week, but that's irrelevant. Series wins over Colorado and Oakland aren't necessarily a cause for celebration, but the manner in which they won, scoring over six runs per game during the last six games while having generally solid pitching performances. It might not be turning a corner, but it's the most confident I've felt about the team in a while.
Sonic Barracuda: Yes. Everything is working now. The starting pitching is getting consistent, the bats have come alive and the bullpen has settled down. What else is there? Perhaps the level of competition wasn't top notch but we did what you're supposed to do to those teams.
soco: Absolutely. I can't say they'll maintain it, but they're playing more like last year's team, and I don't mean just in winning.
Jim: A good week, but beating the Rockies and A's feels more like a light sparring session in advance of the heavyweight bout we're facing this week. I like that they are playing fundamentally sound baseball, setting a team record for errorless innings, and getting good starting pitching. That'll be core to how they do going forward.
What did you think of Ken Kendrick's comments concerning Stephen Drew and Justin Upton?
Clefo: U mad, bro? In all seriousness: That sort of stuff needs to be kept in house. It's also a bit chickendung that he decided to call out Drew on the radio rather than saying it TO him. Stephen gets a bad rap for being the brother of J.D, but he's always been a consummate professional on the field for us, so there really was no reason or provocation for this, in my view.
ISH95: About Drew, it was completely uncalled for. While he's been with the team, he's always been very professional. Some point to him holding out for more money when he was drafted as an example of him not being professional, but that was pretty standard back then, if I recall correctly. Also, Drew is right on the schedule that we were given by the doctors when he injured himself, so I don't see an issue with the way he's recovering. Upton is another matter all together, though. There, Kendrick didn't really say anything that was news to anyone who has followed the team for any length of time didn't already know. Bottom line, some of it was warranted, but it all should have been kept in the clubhouse.
Kishi: Unprofessional. I must have missed Ken Kendrick's medical experience when looking back over his history, but to call out Drew? I mean, Stephen Drew isn't the flashiest player in baseball, but I can't think of a time when I've felt like he was giving this team anything less than his all. Did Kendrick go on the radio and start complaining about Webb not returning to the mound for the Diamondbacks? And we didn't even see Webb reset his own broken ankle. Drew's got a mutual option at the end of the year, and I can't help but feel like Kendrick just made his best effort to convince Drew to decline it. As for Upton, again, unprofessional, and poor timing. That's the sort of thing that Upton should hear from Gibby in a meeting- and I assume he did, what with him sitting for a few days. But he's not going to feel any better after being called out like that.
ZM: I agree with what was said above. I don't disagree with anything he said (though I have no inside information about whether Drew's nursing his injury or not), but I disagree with him saying it. Keep it in house, because no good can come of statements like that from the owner.
Sonic Barracuda: I wouldn't have done it. But that doesn't mean I'm right. Part of being a leader is knowing when to lay low and when to kick some butt. Not everyone is cut out for it. Is the team performing better "because" of what he said? I don't think so. But the timing of our improved play makes it look like he did the right thing. There's no right or wrong on this one, just opinions.
soco: On the surface it's troubling and confusing, but the truth is we don't know why he really made these comments. There might be behind the scenes shenanigans going on, especially if Boras is pressing the D-Backs to pick up the option. I'd prefer this stuff to stay in house, but I doubt Kendricks doesn't know what he's doing.
Jim: I think I pretty much covered all my opinions on Thursday, but if that was "tl;dr", it's hard to say where they came from. Can't really claim they've had a negative impact on the team's results, however.
Trevor Bauer is dominating Triple-A batters (1.97 ERA) in much the same way as he did Double-A ones (1.68). Is there any point in keeping him there?
Clefo: I guess as insurance? It would be hard to justify taking anyone currently in the rotation (even Huddy) out of it unless injured or traded. However, seeing him in person certainly whet my appetite, and it seems 100% likely he sees the majors this year at some point.
ISH95: Is there any point in keeping him there? Probably not. Do we have anywhere to put him? Not really, no. Do you take someone out of the rotation? If so, who? Kennedy, Saunders, Miley, and Cahill aren't going anywhere. The only one you could make a case for is Hudson, and, get real, that's not happening. The only way he gets he soon is an injury or a trade. Saunders seems the most likely for a trade, but all the trade rumors with the Dbacks and Red Sox have kind of died down. Do I want him here? Absolutely! But I just don't really see a clear path for him, right now.
Kishi: See above. IPK's last two starts seem to show he's recovered from some of his earlier troubles, and Huddy is our only struggling starter at the moment. If the team seems to be clicking, let's not mess with the mix too much at the moment.
ZM: Hudson looks terrible right now. But come on, he's a year removed from having an ERA under 3.5 as a 24-year-old. It's just possible that he's earned the benefit of the doubt for a few more starts as he recovers from his injury. And that means Bauer, as much as we all love him, will just have to wait.
Sonic Barracuda: No, we're wasting bullets. You put your best players on the roster to give the big club the best chance of winning every game. You can't worry about hurting someone's feelings. Look at what's happening to Lincecum if you don't think we're wasting bullets. Little guys that throw hard have a limited number of professional outings. Personally, I would trade Saunders while you can get something for him. Teams in the hunt need pitching and someone will be willing to pony up something for him.
soco: An argument xould be made that the minors is also a time to learn how to struggle and overcome, that rushing a guy can ensure they don't build a solid base. But Bauer obviously isn't challenged even in an extreme hitting league.
Jim: Hard to say who he'd replace - just about everyone in the rotation seems to have two good starts, then one bad one! It's nice to have insurance, but I just hope we don't leave any struggling starter in the rotation too long, until it's too late for Bauer to be any help.
Is this the real Paul Goldschmidt?
Clefo: Closer to it than the Goldschmidt of the first two months. The power's starting to come back, but I don't know if he'll maintain the BA. It's a nice ride for now.
ISH95: Clefo's right. It's closer to the real Goldy than we've been seeing, but I do think that his average is going to come down. I don't think anyone ever thought he'd be a nearly .300 batter. I do think that he has room to improve on the power. It seems to me, at least, that he hit for power more last season, so I hope we get more than he has now.
Kishi: Well, the hit streak is nice, though probably not exactly likely to continue. But I think he's getting comfortable, and realizing he can hit off pitchers who aren't Tim Lincecum, so that's good news.
ZM: Well, no, but that's not a slight against Goldschmidt. He's hitting .424/.500/.881 during this hit streak, which tends to be somewhat difficult to sustain. I wouldn't be astonished if continues slugging over .500 for the season, but he's batting .292 right now, and I expect he'll be too strikeout-prone to keep that up over the course of a season.
Sonic Barracuda: Why not? He's done that at every step along the way. He went through the adjustment slump, learned how to adjust and has been raking ever since. There's no reason he can't be a reliable .290/.350/.500 guy or better.
soco: No, and obviously so for the reasons ZM pointed out.
Jim: I suspect - and I'm just speculating here - that there may be a game in the future where Goldzilla does not get a hit. He may even fail to break DiMaggio's record, heretical though that may seem... Of course, a .476 BABIP is unsustainable, but what I do like during the streak is that Goldschmidt's plate discipline has been a lot better. Prior to the streak, in 34 games he had a K:BB ratio of 36:11. During the 17 games, that has shrunk to 14:9. Even after it ends, if he can keep that up, he'll be a lot more productive.
On the other hand, Daniel Hudson's ERA is now six. Concerned?
ISH95: Somewhat. We all know he can do better than that. We saw that for the last season and a half. I am concerned, however. He just doesn't seem to have it right now.
Kishi: Yeah. He's given up 6 earned runs in two of his last five outings, that's going to cause some concern. Hopefully he can work it out.
ZM: The only thing I really have to add to my comments above is that, even though his strikeouts are down a bit, his swinging strike rate is almost identical to what it was last year. And since he's back to throwing with more or less the same velocity we saw last year, I think the strikeouts will come, and success along with them.
Sonic Barracuda: Of course I'm concerned. How can you not be? I'm always concerned when a player stops performing to his statistical past. Because sometimes they never get it back. Like Collmenter, if he continues to struggle you have to replace him and let him work out his problems in the pen. Hudson actually has the right repertoire for being a reliever. Two-pitch pitchers almost always are better relievers than starters. You can't give these guys long ropes and let the season go down the drain for loyalty reasons. Perform or step aside. This is professional baseball.
soco: I'm concerned, but I've alwaysholding felt a bit bullish on him for the short term. He has the talent, now it's a question of whether he can access it through tribulation.
Jim: The shortest outing by a D-backs starter in almost three years has to be concerning, though his preceding start was very solid. I'm hoping it's a one off, but he'd seem to be on the thinnest ice, in terms of becoming a Bauer replacement at this point. If his next start is NG, then I think we could see another trip to the disabled list.
[OTish] Saturday was Star Wars Night at Chase Field. What other movies do you think should be commemorated in this way?
Clefo: The Room. "I did not hit dat ball, it's not true! I did nawt!" "YOU'RE TEARING ME APART, JOSH BELL" "Oh hi, Mark Grace".
ISH95: If we expand it to include TV shows, Dr. Who would definately be my top choice. Star Trek would probably be easier to get done, though. Another interesting choice would be a Stargate night. I think that would be fun.
Kishi: I'd suggest Firefly, but then the game might be cancelled in the middle of the sixth inning and we'd never see the first inning until we read the box score days later.
Jim: Plus only three people would show up to watch, despite massive Internet interest, and the game would be moved to Tucson for the final third.
ZM: US Airways presents: Snakes on a Plane. Picture it, MLB's first ever regulation game played on a 747 airbus. What do you mean, it's wildly impractical? Damn it, I'm a big picture guy, not a logistics guy!
Sonic Barracuda: I can't believe they do it for Star Wars.
soco: Few other films have the true cultural hegemony that Star Wars has. And few films, anymore, are both filmed and set in Arizona. So we couldn't feature a film that has the reach of Star Wars, but also couldn't feature one with any local relevance.
Jim: Sheesh, soco. Eight-Legged Freaks? Piranha? Hegemony that! While my movie tastes might not be quite suitable - much though I'd love a Tokyo Gore Police nght - the idea of a Rocky Horror evening against Colorado appeals. But there's no shortage of great baseball movies they could show clips from between innings, which would be way cool. Imagine if they'd shown the finale from The Natural before the bottom of the ninth on Friday night? That would have been the Best Thing Ever.
After a soft homestand, we go on the road and face two teams above .500 in Texas and Anaheim. What's your prognosis?
Clefo: Not overly optimistic. I think we go 1-2 against Texas, but we win 2-1 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Long Beach, Santa Ana, and Fontana.
ISH95: I would be happy with .500, to be honest. These are two good teams we're going to face, and .500 on the road is the magic number teams are always shooting for. If we do better, though, I'll be ecstatic.
Kishi: I'd be happy going .500.
ZM: The Diamondbacks have looked pretty awful on the season against top-quality competition, and both teams qualify as such right now. 3-3 would leave me content, 2-4 is probably more likely and would leave me begrudgingly satisfied.
Sonic Barracuda: I'm not going to be overly judgemental on this road trip. Going to Texas will be tough. I want to see them play them tough and .500 will be a good result. 2-4 will not be a disaster.
Jim: Not going to be easy, but the team is playing well. 3-3 is likely necessary, but I would still want us to sneak an extra win somewhere.