The Diamondbacks continue to stay on the edge of things, but did get their record back to .500 this week, beating the Rockies and splitting a four-game set at Chase against the Mets. The non-waiver trade deadline is tomorrow, but the team has already seen action over the past week, trading away Ryan Roberts and acquiring a replacement third-baseman in Chris Johnson. Will that be the end of the D-backs dealing or not? Our panel, with guest grimmy01 discuss these and other topics - the waiting list to take part is currently empty, so not much waiting actually involved. Just add your name in the comments if you want to join us...
The home-stand finished with AZ going 7-3, and closing the gap on the Giants a bit. Thoughts?
snakecharmer: Really not bad, and seeing some good action out there, but I agree about the offense. Scored 17 runs in two of the Mets games and two runs in the other two.
Jim: Can't help feeling we should have done better. One thing to be beaten by an All Star with a 13-2 record - quite another by a major-league debutant, good though he may be, and by (ugh) Jeff Francis. Literally feast or famine from the offense though, who gave us tacos in all seven wins, but a total of four runs over the three defeats.
Kishi: Fun fact: the Rockies and Mets are both 2-8 over of their last ten games. Three of those four wins came against the Diamondbacks. I feel like this week was just good enough to keep people hoping, but not good enough to actually indicate anything worth hoping for.
Clefo: It had a good beat, and I could dance to it. I give this homestand a B+.
soco: Some nice moments, some not so nice moments. It certainly could have been worse.
Sonic: It looks better when you say we went 7-3, but after sweeping the Astros, going 4-3 against Colorado and NY was a huge disappointment. We're heading out on the road for much of August. We needed to go 8-2 or 9-1 to make up some ground. We're still scuffling around .500. I'm beginning to lose faith that we don't have a big run in us when last week was a great opportunity to do so.
The week saw the departure of one 3B (Ryan Roberts) and the arrival of another (Chris Johnson). Does this make the team better?
grimmy01: Too soon to know for sure. Johnson should benefit a bit by coming to Chase (though not as much as Kubel). We'll have to wait and see how it all plays out.
snakecharmer: I'm not surprised with Roberts, we all knew he wouldn't be able to repeat his career year last year. I don't know what type of impact Johnson can have that Wheeler can't. I think it's still wait-and-see, plus it sounds like Towers is still dealing...
Jim: We needed to do something after the departure of Ryan Roberts, as Willie Bloomquist as a regular 3B is not a credible option. Johnson is not Chase Headley or David Wright, that's for sure, but is probably a marginal upgrade. How much over Wheeler, hard to say.
Clefo: Short/Long term, I say yes. We got somebody hitting better (in a relative sense) for $1,600,000 less than what we were paying Roberts.
Kishi: Seems like an upgrade to me over Roberts. The guy wasn't performing, unfortunately, and that's just the way it goes. I'm not really sure why we aren't giving Wheeler a shot at it, though- but I think I'm kind of already in "look to next year" mode, so...
soco: Marginal upgrade, only because where we were at wasn't very good. The question now is whether Chris Johnson can turn himself into a beloved as well as mediocre player. He needs a schtick.
Sonic: No, this does not make our team better. Does it make it worse? Probably not. I don't see it having any major impact on on the rest of the season. But I've been wrong before.
Is your Diamondbacks fandom affected by the loss of popular and well-liked players like Roberts and Barry Enright?
grimmy01: No. Though moves can be frustrating, it doesn't change how I feel about the Diamondbacks.
snakecharmer: Not in this instance, no, but neither one was "my guy" - it certainly was affected back when Counsell was traded!! Part of me still doesn't like Drew for being his successor, no matter how necessary it was. Okay, /bitter. My love for Enright exists because he's a good guy, not because he's a Diamondback pitcher, and it was clear he wasn't coming back up here. So in his case, I'm happy for him for the move.
Jim: To modify a quote, "All within the team, nothing outside the team, nothing against the team." I've always been more about the D-backs than individual players. I wish the likes of Roberts well in their future endeavors, because they were good guys, and they deserve good things - but only as long as those don't conflict with the D-backs.
Kishi: My fandom? No. My heart? Yes. I'll still cheer for the team- obviously, if I didn't give up after the Haren or Reynolds trades, I'm not going to abandon them now. But, deep down, there is seven year-old me yelling something along the lines of " "I AM NEVER SEEING BASEBALL AGAIN BECAUSE OUR FAVORITE PLAYER WENT TO THE STUPIDEST TEAM EVER I HATE BASEBALL!"
Clefo: In the dark times of pre-Diamondbacks, I was a somewhat casual Los Angeles Dodgers fan. (Kishi: FOR SHAME!) (Clefo: oh like you had better preferences) (Kishi: I concede the point.) (snakecharmer: Dorks.) In the second month of the 1998 season, the Dodgers shipped Mike Piazza to the Marlins for a package that included Gary Sheffield and Bobby Bonilla. This made 11 year old Clefo sad and angry, even though in terms of value it wasn't an awful trade for LA. I renounced my casual Dodger fandom soon after. The Diamondbacks being on TV all the time helped my transition. Now, that was a very wise decision I made, but I can't help but think back and think "Wow, that was kind of a stupid reason." Of course, I was 11, but I kinda think back to that whenever a player is traded away. Now Roberts and Enright are cool guys, and they'll be missed, but I'm still the same D'Backs fan I was before those trades, and it's all thanks to Mike Piazza. (And unlike those two, he was actually an integral part of the team he was traded from.)
soco: I really didn't care about, or care for, either player, so both moves get an emphatic "meh" from me. We lost a marginal infielder, and a marginal starting pitcher. Oh nooooooooo.
Sonic: Sometimes it does, but not in any significant way. If they were dumb moves like the Indians used to do back in the day when they would give away guys like Graig Nettles, Chris Chambliss and Dennis Eckersley, then it would for sure. But when it is an obvious effort to improve the club, it's part of being a fan.
Do you see the team making any more moves before the trade deadline tomorrow? If so, what?
grimmy01: I sure would like to see them make some trades, though I don't know if they will. I'd like to see them move Drew and Saunders since we're expecting to lose them after the season. I do like the idea of Headley but not at the price that SD wants. Also, given the trade for Johnson, I don't see that trade happening.
snakecharmer: It definitely sounds like there'll be more moves. Drew wouldn't surprise me, and I really hope we get a major-league pitcher in return, though I'm not sure his stock is that high....
Jim: Could be an interesting couple of days. Drew and Saunders are likely gone at the end of the year anyway, so why not get something for them? But do we have the depth to replace them if we're making a second-half push? We're really on the bubble, and I'd hate to pull a 2011 Giants-type move, and deal away our future for a failed present. Glad I'm not in Towers' shoes at this point.
Clefo: Wouldn't surprise me. I also would totally expect some August moves being done too if KT thinks we're still in that vague purgatory of "In contention".
soco: We're in win now mode, baby. I'm sure KT is working the phones extra hard to move Drew, but I can't predict whether it will actually happen.
Kishi: I think they're kind of inevitable, and I dread it. Unless Kevin Towers is somehow going to trade the entire roster for the 2011 Diamondbacks, I'm not sure I see one or two positions that can be upgraded enough to make this a playoff team.
Sonic: After this disappointing week, I think we should be in "sell" mode, with the caveat that a "sell" might actually help us this year. I think trades of any of the following guys could bring us pieces that could help now or in the very near future, as well as create openings for guys in the minors who should be up here now. That list includes Gerardo Parra, Joe Saunders, Chris Young, Lyle Overbay, Stephen Drew, John McDonald, J.J. Putz, Justin Upton, Takashi Saito, Trevor Cahill, Willie Bloomquist and Ian Kennedy. I'm not saying trade all of them, but none of these guys should be untouchable.
It was announced this week that Phoenix would be hosting World Baseball Classic games. Would you rather see major-leaguers play in the Olympics?
snakecharmer: Well, yes, I would, but since there is no baseball in the Olympics anymore...? If the question is, really, would I mind sacrificing some good players off my team for a few weeks to go to the Olympics once every four years, the answer is I certainly don't mind, and I wish MLB owners would support that.
Jim: One of the reasons cited for its removal was MLB's refusal to send the top players, and that will likely be a block to it being re-added in future. The logistics of it would be really tough, given the extended period of such an event: can't see MLB shutting down, and if they don't teams won't happy about it, given there's a real risk of competitive imbalance, even setting aside the risk of injury. I think the WBC meshes better with the established order. And if it takes place in Phoenix every eight years, that's a lot more often than the Olympics!
Kishi: Nah. I already have pros playing 162 games a year and giving me an international tournament every few years anyway. I don't need to spend more time with the media trying to tell me how much I should love whatever Yankees player they've picked out this year. If the Olympics wants baseball, as long as we're on the topic of things that'll likely never happen, move the draft back a couple months every four years and let the top college athletes use the Olympics as one extra chance to show off.
Clefo: Let's get baseball back into the Olympics before we get that on the table.
soco: Pros in the Olympics wouldn't make me watch, because the Olympics are bunch of crap to begin with. I'm going to try to go to some of the WBC games, as I did not have the means to do it in 2006.
Sonic: No, short baseball tournaments are really kind of dumb. Baseball is only meaningful over the long haul of a season. Even the MLB playoffs are a crapshoot as evidenced by some of the teams who have won in recent years.
Speaking of which, this week's off-topic question: what events in London are you most looking forward to?
grimmy01: Wait, what? Is there something going on in London?
snakecharmer: I'm still bitter SF doesn't have this Olympics. :-( (I get bitter easily...) I like gymnastics the most.
Jim: Sign me up for the sports that get no love the rest of the time. Handball, fencing, canoeing, that kind of thing. I still think Ninja Warrior needs to be in there though.
Kishi: White water kayak slalom! Actually my favorite summer Olympic sport. Which I always forget to watch. Whoooops.
Clefo: I'll watch some of the glory individual events I.E the 100 Meter Dash. However, I do take a certain pleasure in watching sports I know and follow in international competition. For example: Through shady interweb methods, I watched a BBC stream of a Men's Basketball match between Russia and Great Britain yesterday. It was played terribly compared to College/Pro basketball in the US (esp GB), but it was kinda fun, especially since there were British announcers on a basketball game, which made the experience fun and different.
soco: There's so many things I'd rather do with my life than waste precious moments watching the Olympics.
Sonic: I love them all. I'm really digging being able to watch any event live on the internet. Plus, it's awesome to be able to go back and watch the actual competition from start to finish of any event. The USA got silver in the archery and I went back and watched every match. Fascinating stuff actually. Now I can actually watch all of the decathlon for example instead of a few snippets of highlights on TV. That's when you get a true appreciation of the competition and what winning those kinds of events is all about.
This week starts with an important series in LA, then across to the other coast to play the Phillies. Can we continue to close on the leaders?
grimmy01: Maybe but not by much if we do. SF plays 4 games in St. Louis but then comes home to face...the Rockies. LA plays the Cubs after us. If our offense shows up, we can gain some ground but likely not more than 1-2 games.
snakecharmer: We didn't do so well our last time back east, so I don't have my hopes up. That said, we have to take two from L.A.
Jim: Glad we get to dodge Kershaw in LA: I think our rotation stacks up pretty well for that series. And then the Phillies, who have to be the biggest disappointment in the National League this season, on pace to drop more than 30 games from last year. A couple there seem very credible. Need 3-3 at least, and I'm hoping for 4-2.
Kishi: I doubt it. If we go .500 on the week, I'll be surprised.
Clefo: Reply hazy, try again.
soco: The Dodgers have been looking good again, so I imagine we'll have a tough time in Los Angeles. Phillies have a terrible record but certainly have pieces that should work better. I expect disappointment.
Sonic: I think we're in deep doo-doo. I'm not saying we're out of it yet, but our odds are declining rapidly. I don't think we have the top-shelf starting pitching you need to really take the division over and go on a roll. It's way too inconsistent. We don't have that 1-2 punch of Kennedy and Hudson like we had last year when you knew they were going to hold the opponents to a couple of runs. I said last week we were standing at the abyss. Now I think one foot has slipped from the ledge and we're struggling to keep our balance to avoid falling in. Almost every week from here on out has to be a winning week, and I'm not talking about 4-3 weeks. We need like 3-4 straight 5-2 or better weeks or it's going to over shortly.