PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 07: Justin Upton #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up on deck during the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field on July 7, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Ugh. Just, "ugh." That's a good way to describe a Cubs series where, it appears, the offense was still lounging around by a pool somewhere, waiting for the second-half of the season to get under way. The Diamondbacks were swept in Chicago, leaving the team trailing in the West, almost as far as they were before taking the final three games of the first half against the Dodgers. Is there still hope? What needs to be done? And will Justin Upton remain in Arizona?
These and other topics are discussed by our panel, which includes guest $-The Moneyman-$ this week. The waiting list for future guests is BigLeagueAZ and grimmy01; anyone else interested in taking part can simply say so in the comments, and I'll add them to the list.
The second half started very badly for the D-backs, with a sweep at the hands of the Cubs. Should Arizona still be in "win mode"?
Clefo: Getting swept by two of the worst teams in the National League recently does not really inspire confidence. I'm kinda leaning towards "win next year" mode.
$-The Moneyman-$: This team is more bipolar than a magnet. For every sweep at the hands of the Padres, there's winning three out of four against the Dodgers. That being said, the team is banged up (and wasn't particularly good when it was healthy) so it may be time to focus on next season.
snakecharmer: Ehhh. What could we add to fix this team around that would actually let them overcome a 6 game deficit? There are lots of things that need fixing and I'm not sure that a trade or two would make a huge difference...
ZM: Well, they don't have to make any decisions tomorrow, but I'd say they've moved from "maybe selling at the deadline" to "probably selling at the deadline unless something weird happens with the Giants and/or Dodgers." If they're still more than five games back at the deadline, look for prospects.
Jim: Trading for players - say, a short-term rental - to help us the rest of the way doesn't seem to make much sense any more. This team has too many holes, it'd be like putting a Band Aid on a chainsaw wound. 6½ games back is not insurmountable, but it will take a lot more of the current roster to step up, before we can even think about dealing to win now.
Sonic: Why not? I believe you should always be in win mode if you have a chance. There's no rush to trade off pieces just to do it unless they're deals you can't turn down. Remember how far Colorado was out of it a few years back? The Cardinals last year? They were dead in the water and then came back and won the World Series for pete's sake. I'm actually of the opinion there's moves to be made that might look like total sell moves but could actually help us win this year. There's still a ton of baseball left. I am not ready to call it quits on this season. We have enough talent to make a big run. That doesn't mean we will, but it's not out of the realm of possibilities. And think how much fun that would be.
Either way, what changes would you make if you were GM?
Clefo: See if you can get anything for Saunders and Drew, since it's unlikely they'll be back next season anyway. Don't pull anything on Upton unless you get drunk dialed by Jerry DiPoto and he says, "LISTEN KT, I'M DRUNK, BUT IMMA GIVE YOU TROUT AND TRUMBO FOR UPTON, AND JON DANIELS IS WITH ME DOING A BEER BONG BUT HE SAID THAT HE'D GIVE YOU PROFAR. CUZ HE THINKS HE CAN PRO-FAR IN YOUR ORGANIZATION. SEE WHAT I DID? IT KINDA SOUNDS LIKE ‘GO FAR' ANYWAY PEACE.", or something similar (but less hyperbolic). DFA Blum. (that actually should be the first thing). If we're out of it in September, give guys like Ryan Wheeler and Adam Eaton a taste just to see how they do and what you might have for next season.
$-The Moneyman-$: Definitely look to deal Drew and test the waters on Saunders. With Skaggs knocking on the door of the big leagues, and Bloomquist being surprisingly acceptable this year, the depth is there to pull the trigger, especially given how well the Mark Reynolds and Kelly Johnson trades seem to have worked out. I'd also look to trade Young, but that would be selling pretty low.
snakecharmer: Drew, yes, since he's too expensive next year. Saunders, maybe. I'd agree with Young - I figured Parra would replace him next year - but, yeah, he's very low right now, but maybe you could pull a Reynolds-esque deal for him?
ZM: Tie up Blum, stick him on the side of the road with a twenty dollar bill on his forehead, and see who picks him up. Then call up Wheeler, who probably won't be much better (Misguiding offensive stats? IN RENO? WHAT A COUNTRY!), but the team won't know until they try. I've come around on trading Saunders for a prospect. And if the team thinks that true-talent Ian Kennedy is closer to what we're seeing now than what we saw last year, it might not be the worst idea to kick the tires on a trade there, either.
Jim: Blum has got to go. He's dead weight; maybe Roberts too, much though it pains me to say it. In their places, I'd want to see, not only what Wheeler can do, but perhaps give Adam Eaton an extended shot too. See what we can get for Saunders and Drew, neither of whom will be back next year, though neither are likely to fetch a marvelous haul. Young... Man, he was so great at the start of the season, and so utterly useless now. Who'd buy him?
Sonic: I would make some moves to breathe some life into this team. If you're giving up on Roberts then just call Wheeler up already. Anything's better than a struggling Roberts and 40-year-old Blum. I'd also seriously look for a way to get Eaton onto the roster and into the lineup and bench Young against all righties. He's a sparkplug kind of guy and we really need a spark. I'd seriously skip a start for Kennedy just to send him a message or something. Right now Collmenter is just better. Why not throw your best starters to try and win more games? I'm sorry if it hurts Kennedy's feelings. I would trade Young or Parra now, and preferably Parra. Parra would get us something and that's how Eaton gets into the lineup. I'd also move Upton out of the three hole just to shake things up.
On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is "certain to be traded", and 10 is "certain to remain a Diamondback", where are you with regard to Justin Upton this year, and why?
Clefo: During the season : 8, after the season is over: 5. I think the most likely scenario is that if Upton is moved, it happens during the offseason to someone like Texas. (Them especially if Hamilton walks.). I don't know how many teams are desperate for him right now, considering his powerless season so far.
$-The Moneyman-$: Probably a 7. Unless Towers is blown away by a deal, he doesn't have to trade Upton, especially with a few more years of club control coming up.
snakecharmer: I'd say a 5. The org certainly felt confident enough in him last year to extend him for SO many years and so much money. His next year's salary isn't too bad, right? There's just so much a team would have to give us to get him, that I think a deal is definitely possible, but... somehow I just have a feeling he'll still be here.
ZM: 8.5. Who wins if Upton is traded? The front office loses their most marketable name (recent booing nonwithstanding), the team loses its most talented player, and the fans see this as punting on the season. Unless Towers slept through ECON101 or honestly thinks that this is as good as it gets for Upton, the package they get back isn't going to be worth a player of Upton's caliber. It would take an amazing deal, and I just don't see any team meeting the asking price.
Jim: 5. There are a lot of well-respected people, such as Ken Rosenthal, who think he'll be dealt, and it does seem more likely than the off-season rumors. Yes, it would be punting on the season, but I'm pretty much doing that at this point. It's a position of strength for the D-backs, which wasn't the case previously, and if we can get a good long-term solution at third or short from the deal,.I'm down for that. The horrible truth could be, last year's MVP credentials could be the outlier, not the norm, and he's really only a good player, not a great one.
Sonic: 8 and 8. I can't see anyone paying enough to get Upton. If we can't get someone's top prospect for Upton then screw it, don't trade him. He's worth more to us than what we'd get for him. I saw a comp list of Justin Upton on ESPN and he's a really good hitter, but not a great hitter. Keep him and move him out of the 3 hole for a while. He's feeling soooo much pressure right now it's impossible for him to do everything we're asking of him. Put Kubel at 3, Goldy at 4 and Upton at 5 and run with it for a while.
Chris Young continues to struggle since his return from injury. What should the team do?
Clefo: Start platooning him with Parra in center until when/if he normalizes a bit.
$-The Moneyman-$: Like I said before, I think they should explore trade options for him. Outfield depth is pretty solid in the minors, and he's a wasted at-bat almost every time he comes up nowadays. I would also look to start Parra over him until he gets it together again.
snakecharmer: Parra should be playing instead of Young, for the most part. I guess platooning is alright, but CY might struggle just as much as a PH. I wouldn't be surprised at a trade.
ZM: Platoon with Parra. And consider a trade in the offseason.
Jim: The ugly truth is Young has never been better than acceptable against right-handed pitching - his career line is .225/.298/.415. Great defense and good pop for a CF probably got him more at-bats than he deserved. That was fine when he was relatively cheap, but at $7 million this year, $8.5 million next, it's a lot for a platoon guy. I'd not be surprised to see both him and Upton gone by next year, and Arizona going with an outfield of Kubel, Parra, Eaton and Pollock.
Sonic: You got to bench him against all right handers. The problem is I don't think Parra's the answer. Parra is just a very average player. But that still makes him better than Young right now.
How much of the All-Star festivities did you watch? More or less than last year? Anything stand out?
Clefo: Just the HR Derby (kinda) and the game itself. I noticed how people seemed to get up in arms about Robinson Cano being booed (CHANGE THE RULES! BOOING IS BAD! ANARCHY!), and when we did it last year to Prince Fielder nobody outside of Milwaukee or Phoenix gave a damn. No respect, I tell ya.
$-The Moneyman-$: Not a single part (though I watched for news on Miley). The All-Star festivities are an utter waste of time. Unless there's a Diamondback player taking part, count me out. Probably a good thing too, I would probably boo out of boredom and hurt some multi-millionaire's wittle feewings.
snakecharmer: I watched the HR Derby (though, really, I'm not sure why) and the first few innings of the ASG. Then I watched something else and flipped back for the 9th to see Miley.
ZM: More than I had any reason to. I watched the Home Run Derby and a chunk of the game itself before realizing that neither are ever as exciting as I always expect them to be going in.
Jim: Very little. I watched a couple of innings of the All-Star Game, but that turned into a blowout so quickly, I lost interest. I should probably have stuck around to see Miley face his two batters, but don't feel enormous guilt about that. The appeal of the All-Star Game probably isn't what it was, when it was the only time people got to see the stars of other teams. These days, they're only a click away on your phone.
Sonic: I watched all of it, but it was hardly very exciting.
We had a discussion in yesterday's GDT, on the role athletes play as role models for kids. What's your take on that?
Clefo: Yes, athletes should be on their best behavior whenever possible in all aspects of life, but I think the parent should be able to let their kid know that a Milton Bradley-esque meltdown is not an okay thing to emulate. Ultimately, I think, it's up to the parents to guide their child through the treacherous swamp of things that can influence your children, and to teach them what's right or wrong and not expect a professional athlete to do it for them. That's how my folks raised me, and I turned out pretty good... (why... why are you laughing? STOP THAT!)
$-The Moneyman-$: I think it's ridiculous to expect athletes to be "role models" for children. It's the responsibility of parents, family members and friends to be role models for their children. I've been watching sports since I can remember but I've never once "looked up" to an athlete, unless I meet them in person, since there's a good chance they're taller than me.
snakecharmer: I never looked up to athletes as role models, and I also wasn't really a huge fan of a team. I mean, I LOVED Joe Montana and Jerry Rice and I was fortunate enough to meet Steve Young, but I never wanted to BE them (obviously!) and I never followed their off-the-field exploits. But keep in mind, for those of us who are older, how much things have changed since we were kids. The tabloids didn't follow athletes around, didn't care about their personal lives - there weren't very many "public figure" athletes that make billions, like A-Rod and Jeter and Manning and Tebow. There was no 24-hour news cycle, no Internet for people to ingest loads of information - some true, some not - and nit-pick every single thing an athlete does. It's so different now. But, there's nothing wrong with a child growing up and wanting to be just like a professional athlete. Of course a kid has to be his own person - what you see of a person in public is certainly not knowing the person - and learn good behaviors from family. But if you see a favorite athlete and see him doing something nice like volunteering and it gives you the idea to volunteer too, or if you read a rags-to-riches story about an athlete and think "If he can do it, I can do it too" - what's wrong with that?
ZM: I don't see any problem with it. I mean, Steve Nash is my role model and I don't see what could go wron--oh god...where am I? Is this Los Angeles? WHO HANDED ME THIS KEYSTONE LIGHT WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING???
(Yeah, I've never understood why athletes are held up as role models for kids.)
Jim: I've got mixed feelings. On the one hand, if your important role models as a child are the people you see on TV, then you've likely got bigger issues. That said, kids certainly imitate what they see, good and bad. The latter should be used as a "teaching moment", explaining Player X is frustrated with his performance. We shouldn't expect players to bottle everything up and behave like choirboys - I hate the whole "OMG! Kids must be protected!" argument - but we need to accentuate the positive as well.
Sonic: I don't expect athletes to be role models. They're freaking ballplayers for crying out loud. How can they possibly be role models. I never encouraged my kids to look up to ballplayers. I explained to them that they're just ballplayers and they should look elsewhere for role models. Thankfully they did.
Four against the Reds, then back home for three against the Astros, with two starts for Miley and Bauer. Expectations?
Clefo: Despair with a side of drinking problems.
$-The Moneyman-$: How low can you go? (Cha cha!) How low can you go?
snakecharmer: I've not had any expectations for a while now...
ZM: Well, we've already lost series to three of the four worst teams in the National League. Come on down, Houston!!!
Jim: If we don't at least split the four games in Cincinnati, it's probably over. Not going to be easy, but I'm not giving up hope quite yet. Not quite... But I think we'll probably drop three, then come home and beat the Astros twice.
Sonic: I really don't know what to expect. I could see them getting waxed in Cincinnati. My hopes (not my expectations) are to come home from Cinci within shouting distance of a playoff spot. We're staring into the abyss right now. Someone on this team needs to pull us off ledge. KT has to do something. You can't just stand pat.