What? Another off-day? Sheesh, what is this, the NFL? Still, plenty to talk about for the panel after a good week for Arizona, saw them get as close to Los Angeles as they've been since the first week of May. However, it wasn't all good news, with Joe Saunders going on the DL - even if this appears to mean the long-anticipated arrival of one of our top pitching prospects (and certainly, top Tweeting prospects!), Trevor Bauer. This, the struggles of the rest of the rotation, and what to do with Chris Young are among the topics discussed by the SnakePit crew, and guest panelist, blank_38.
If you're interested in guest paneling, just speak up in the comments. The current list for that is: AzDbackfanInDc, dbacks25 and $-The Moneyman-$.
Another good homestand, beating the Mariners and sweeping the Cubs to go backabove .500. But was it just because of the quality of the opposition?Sonic Barracuda: Partially. Good teams are supposed to beat inferior opposition. No question the bats have come alive. We still have a couple of key starters scuffling so that's a concern in being able to do the same to good teams.
soco: Sure, but the D-backs have had trouble before with supposedly inferior teams. Hopefully this will help them get a little swagger back and they remember, "hey, we are a good team!
Clefo: Well, yeah, at least some of it, but all games count the same, so wins are wins, and as soco said, maybe this is the springboard to the promised land.
blank_38: Of course it was the quality. The Mariners/Cubs are teams we should beat easily. The real concern for me is if these teams are so bad, why did our starting pitching struggle so badly(outside of Miley of course).
Jim: Yep, while going 5-1 may not say much about our own qualities, in the standings, they don't count any more or less because of your opponent. This is what we should be doing against the dregs of the majors.
snakecharmer: Maybe, but wins are wins, and they count no matter who the opponent is. A 5-1 homestand and scoring all those runs should give the guys some positive momentum on the road.
There does seem to be some national buzz going, Buster Olney saying we "could become best NL team when dust clears." How optimistic are you that's the case?
Sonic Barracuda: It's a logical conclusion. We have pitching depth better than almost anyone in baseball to be really good for the next 4-5 years. We have control of some key positions over that same period, Upton, Montero, Goldschmidt, Parra, Young. And we have some young bats getting ready to take over spots or become contributors over that course as well, Davidson, Eaton, Pollock, Owings, Wheeler. We'll have a few holes to fill here and there but the franchise is in really good shape to be regular contenders for the foreseeable future. It's a good time to be a Dbacks fan.
soco: Eh, we've been hearing about potential so much that I'll believe it when I see. I, like Kevin Towers, still believe this team has the talent to be the best in the division, or at least win a Wild Card. But I'm having a hard time thinking the team really is the best in the NL.
Clefo: I like to hear that, but part of me thinks he might be #tripping.
blank_38: Would I want that to happen? Sure, being the best team after a horrible April would be amazing. But I'm not drinking the Kool-Aid. We're a good team and we play great at times, but I believe we're playing over our heads at the present moment. I don't expect Hill, Goldy, Miley to continue buoying this team.
Jim: It's maybe not so far from the truth, and a lot sooner than we think. As badly as we've played, our run differential is still in the top 5. Over the past month (on the right-hand side of that link), we're tied with the Pirates for the best record in the NL, and have the highest run differential. Throw in a returning Drew, Upton getting back to his old ways, and what we've done over the past month is a lot more like the team I expected to see going forward.
snakecharmer: I still haven't seen the Dodgers fall back to earth, yet. I certainly think we're better than the Giants, but the BEST NL team? I don't believe that yet. We still aren't consistent with our offense, Kennedy and Hudson are nowhere near last year's quality... just too much not happening right now.
The offense seems to have been going particularly well - with the notable exception of Chris Young. Is it time for Gerardo Parra to become the everyday CF for a while?
Sonic Barracuda: I don't think so. That's smacks of more of a "what have you done for me lately" reaction. Young was carrying this club the first 3 weeks. You've got to keep running him out there most nights and let him work back to that. Parra's a really good 4th outfielder. Let's keep him there.
soco: I suppose it depends on why he's struggling. Is it because he's still injured and shouldn't have been rushed back? Or is it because he's just in a slump? I think he's earned a chance to work through that, like Justin Upton did, but he might need a little more rest time, like Justin Upton did.
blank_38: He's been slumping hard and has shown signs of getting out of it lately but something is off with his swing. Parra has played surprisingly better as of late, and I think we should give him the time off to get healthy and get that confidence back that he had at the start of this season.
Jim: I think Young should end up facing only left-handed pitching for a while. The question is, is he still injured in some way? I hope the club has looked into that thoroughly. Initially, it was "oh, we brought him back from the DL too soon," but we're well past that point. CY is batting .141 in June - that would be a career-low for a full month of action.
snakecharmer: For a while, sure. Gibby should play the hot hand, and Kubel is certainly staying hot in left, so why not put Parra in CF for most of the time? Get CY his time and play the matchups but also play the hot hand.
The team lost Joe Saunders to the DL. Who should replace him?
Sonic Barracuda: Bauer.
[at this point, it was announced it was actually going to be Bauer. Things subsequently...well, you'll see...]
Clefo: Todd Van Poppel.
blank_38: Is Elmer Dessens available?
Jim: I hear Brandon Webb is almost throwing off a mound these days...
snakecharmer: Me! Wait.......
[Sigh] Ok, let's rephrase the question. What do you think of the decision to promote Bauer?
Sonic Barracuda: I love it! The kid's got game. Even if he only gets a couple of starts and gets sent back to Reno it will be an invaluable experience. What a tough place to start your career though, in Atlanta. They've got some stud bats over there so it should be very interesting. I can't wait to see how he performs. I honestly don't have a prediction on how he'll do though.
soco: On one hand, it seems he's not being challenged in the minors. Yet I'm not completely confident this will be an easy transition for a variety of reasons. His walk rate will have to come down. He will need to figure out how to go deeper into games. Then there are the maturity issues; he's going to quickly find out that the Major Leagues can be a very strictly enforced entity by its participants.
I can't speak to the latter (and his talent might make it irrelevant, as great players are given more leeway), but the former reminds me of Max Scherzer. Another hard throwing, strike machine who maybe walked too many, and had trouble going deep at first.
Clefo: I'm also of the opinion that he seems like the sort of guy who needs to struggle through the majors for a little bit, if he does. There seems nothing to prove in the minors now, and the PR factor should also be taken into account.
blank_38: Personally, I hate the decision to pull him up. Is he the best option? Yes. But it seems to me that we're rewarding him for walking so many per game. The results have followed but I don't think he's quite polished yet to be considered an MLB pitcher. With that said, I'm excited to see what he can do after absolutely destroying the MiLB.
Jim: If it's going to be "one and done", I'm not sure he's the best candidate, but if it's going to be an extended run, he's as good a pitcher as we have available. The walks could certainly be a problem, but I'm wondering how much of that might be Bauer working on secondary pitches? He has had outings where he's so utterly dominant, it seems hard to think of his control suddenly becoming so bad. Just a shame his first game will be on the road, and on a day when I'm at work.
snakecharmer: I agree mostly with what soco and Jim said. He might be the best option right now, but he still has things that need work, like walks and pitch counts. He's not perfect, he has struggled a few times, and that's good. You don't grow if you don't struggle. Personally I'd like to have seen him have more time in the minors, at least until after the ASB, but, sh!t happens and we need a starter. His professionalism seems good, he's a confident kid, and I guess we'll just see how he does...
The rest of the pitching has had its issues as well, allowing 29 runs through five games going into Sunday. Which starter concerns you most?
Sonic Barracuda: Hudson and Kennedy obviously. Amazing how much baseball performance can change from one year to the next. They were one of the best 1-2 combinations in the league last year and this year they're having a hard time going 6 solid. In order to make more than a tepid run at the division those two will need to pitch closer to what they did last year. They don't need to be quite as good as they were but they need to be better than this.
soco: Agreed. You have to look at the top of the rotation and wonder what happened. Hudson seems lost, though he did have a great start against the Rangers, and Kennedy hasn't been much better. On the other hand, Cahill has been settling down, and Miley is doing what he does. If Bauer can have success right away, then that's not too bad. But it probably won't be good enough.
blank_38: All of them. I know we just went 5-1 over these supposed "horrible" teams, but their performance against them doesn't inspire any confidence in their ability to pitch effectively. That being said, they should improve over the second half and at the very least, keep us in ballgames.
Jim: I think all of them disturb me in one way or another. Even Wade Miley, because he wasn't supposed to be this good: I'm still expecting him to explode into a fountain of K:BB confetti. Cahill's inconsistency has been disappointing, while it has got to the stage where I have to brace myself for Kennedy and Hudson starts. I'm sure the bullpen feels the same way.
snakecharmer: Of course Kennedy and Hudson. They both allowed a lot of runs in their starts. Hudson's been struggling all season, Kennedy has been inconsistent. These guys led us to the postseason last year, and now, frankly, they're unreliable...
OT. We're approaching the Fourth of July holiday. Going anywhere or other plans?
Sonic Barracuda: I'm going to the Dbacks games on the 4th, the 6th and the 7th.
soco: Nope. Next week I start my new job, and I don't get vacation time for 6 months. I won't have to work the 4th, but there's no point in trying to cram in a daytrip. I'll probably lounge around, read, watch the game, play games with Le Son.
Clefo: Lighting things on fire, the usual.
blank_38: I will be doing my best impression of this man. (Warning: Language)
Jim: Fishing tea out of Tempe Town Lake and mourning the loss of our empire. I do have the day off for once [for a couple of years, it has been on days I haven't worked anyway], but no plans. Saving cash and vacation time for my 10th wedding anniversary, a couple of weeks down the road.
snakecharmer: It's time for my annual rant about the 4th of July. Congress actually voted on independence on JULY 2ND (my birthday) but it took them two days to agree on the wording and write the damn thing so it wasn't announced to the public until the 4th. Pbbbbbt. Anyway, nope, no vacation plans yet, but trying to find a BBQ to go to. Vacation this summer will be a co-birthday road trip to San Diego in August.
It's on the road to Atlanta and Milwaukee for Arizona this week. What are your expectations?
Sonic Barracuda: I'm expecting at least a 3-3 week and predicting 4-2. Bauer versus Jurrjens next Thursday should be a great watch. I think Kennedy will snap out of it soon and give us a victory next week along with Miley, Cahill and Bauer.
soco: I feel optimistic for a 4-2. Milwaukee should be beatable, but they're getting slightly better. Last year they had a ridiculous home record, this year they're struggling to stay at .500 at Miller Park. They haven't had a winning month yet, and don't seem likely to reverse that trend for June. The Braves, oddly enough, are also not a good home team. They haven't even reached .500, and aren't having a great June, either. They're a good team, but their record is largely the work of a hot April. They were below .500 in May, and just .500 so far in June. It seems to me the Diamondbacks will playing two teams this week that are going in the opposite direction of Arizona: down.
Clefo: 4-2 is also probable in my view. As long as we don't ship-err, pitch anything good to Ryan Braun, we should be fine in Milwaukee. The Braves also seem more beatable from when we played them in April.
blank_38: Before this past week, I would have said 2-4, 1-5. Something like that. But now, I'm going to go out on a limb and say 5-1. The pitching will be decent, but the offense will continue its hot streak and carry us to victory. Oh and Trevor Bauer.
Jim: It'll certainly be a tougher test, but those teams are a combined 26-26 over the past month, so not so overpowering. I'd hope for a winning record, but a 3-3 road-trip will be fine. Worth noting the Giants and Dodgers, as well as facing each other, have potentially tricky series against the Reds and Mets respectively. I think we can gain some ground this week.
snakecharmer: I'd be satisfied with 3-3, definitely, but going 4-2 is preferable...