The Olympic flame was snuffed out in London over the weekend, and the Diamondbacks' NL West chances seemed to flicker in a similar fashion, before we dodged a sweep at home against the Nationals. There was a flurry of roster moves, both forced and by choice, while Patrick Corbin delivered a pair of impressive starts. All those topics were discussed by our panel, with guest $-The Moneyman-$. There's currently no waiting list if anyone wants to take part, just speak up in the comments!
A split in Pittsburgh before dropping two of three at home to Washington. Do we still have a realistic chance, sitting five games back of the Giants?
Sonic: I've been saying for a while no. We just keep lingering around .500. We can't beat good teams consistently and we can't dominate the poor teams. But it's hardly out of the realm of possible. I just don't see that our starting pitching is quite good enough or consistent enough to go on a big enough run to get past 2 teams.
soco: I suppose it's possible, but very unlikely given the way the team plays. To reach 85 wins, which some people think will be needed for the division (I think we'd need more), the D-backs would need to win 27 of the remaining 47 games. So they need to play .574 ball for the remaining month and a half. Seems like too long of a stretch to play that good of ball for this team.
$-The Moneyman-$: Sad to say, but I don't think so. If the Diamondbacks go on a tear (that's not immediately followed by a slump) then maybe. The talent is there, but the lack of consistency is killing this team.
Clefo: I guess it could happen? It would require some inspired play not lately seen by the team. Never say never, I suppose.
Jim: We still have nine games left against the Giants, but it's getting to the stage where we need to go 6-3 or better in those. We are teetering on the edge of irrelevance, but I'm still expecting the SF offense to regress to the expected mediocrity. Mind you, I've been saying "Melky Cabrera won't hit .350 forever" since about mid-April. It hasn't happened, and unless the Giants start losing a few more games, what we do probably won't be relevant.
We lost Josh Collmenter and Willie Bloomquist to the DL, while Mike Zagurski was DFA'd. Which will be the biggest loss down the stretch?
sc: Zagurki's the biggest, duh. /obviousandmean I'd say Collmenter.
Sonic: None of them are guys who would make or break where our season is going.
soco: You beat me to the fat joke :/. I'm going to say Bloomquist only because he's a decent singles hitter, and can provide flexibility in the infield. I don't know if Elmore is ready to be that guy yet, but I guess we'll find out.
$-The Moneyman-$: I'm going to say Bloomquist as well, in large part because he's actually been hitting at a decent clip and the replacement options are not the best. But yeah, I'd be surprised if we look back on this season and say, "Man, if only Collmenter and Bloomquist hadn't gotten injured..."
Clefo: Hard to say. Bloomquist would be the obvious answer, but Drew has been hitting better the past week or so, so that might negate his absence in the long run.
Jim: Was surprised to see Bloomquist still hitting .300. I had the impression his numbers had been sliding, but that's probably because he has had ONE walk since June 23! With Johnson and Drew available, Bloomquist's role is likely less important. Collmenter has been very good in his "stunt-man" role, doing whatever has been asked, and I do get the feeling there will be times when we are going to wish we had a reliable lefty in the pen. Which would not be Zagurski, obviously.
Their replacements were Brad Bergesen, Jake Elmore and Bryan Shaw respectively. Who'll have the biggest impact going forward?
Sonic: See answer above. None are difference makers at this point.
soco: Shaw. It was wonderful Saturday, and I hope the time back in the minors helped him out. I think he can be a good arm out of the pen.
$-The Moneyman-$: I'd say Shaw will have the biggest impact, but I'm rather intrigued to see what Elmore can do. Of course, he did go to ASU, so my expectations aren't high.
Clefo: Shaw. If he's figured out what went wrong, then I think the bullpen is that much better.
Jim: Shaw was very, very impressive on Saturday, and if he keeps that up, he'll be seeing some high-leverage situations pretty soon - mostly an audition for a role as 2013's set-up man, probably behind David Hernandez. Curious to see what Elmore can do, not least because he's the anti-Bloomquist, having had far more walks than strikeouts in Reno.
Patrick Corbin has blossomed since returning as a starter. Where do you put him in the 2013 rotation?
Sonic: Right in the middle of it.
soco: Hard to say. Hudson won't be back until the middle/end of the season, right? I guess it depends on whether Kennedy improves and Cahill pitches more consistently. Throw in Wade Miley and the thinking should put him #4 at best.
$-The Moneyman-$: I think he'll be a big part of it. He's probably the number three starter in this current rotation (behind Miley and Kennedy), so if Skaggs and Bauer come up as expected he could potentially be a number five starter. Or a number six if Hudson returns to form. Or a number seven if Cahill pulls it together. Phew. How can this team be this inconsistent with this much pitching?
Clefo: In the back-end. It all would depend on what the team wants to do with Collmenter going foward, and what the progress of the Trevor Bauers and Tyler Skaggs or the world is.
Jim: I think he has got to be in the mix for a role. As we discussed in the topic earlier today, the rotation is not a part of the team we apparently need to be too concerned about, with more potential candidates than spots. But Corbin has been so good of late, that I'd feel better about him right now than almost any other prospect, even Miley. Kennedy, Cahill, Corbin, Miley and maybe Skaggs for Opening Day 2013? Still not sure Bauer will be ready...
We're almost three-quarters of the way through the season - who has been your team MVP to date?
Sonic: I'm sticking with Jason Kubel with Goldy right behind him.
soco: Kubel's been a great bounce-back, but it depends how we want to define Most Valuable. I think Montero could make a very solid argument for selection, both with the numbers (most fWAR on the team) and the difficulty of his position. If we lost Montero, we can't replace that and he's been really good. If we lost Kubel we put in Parra. Goldschmidt makes another strong argument (3rd in fWAR) and also because we don't have a strong candidate to replace him. He's also played great defense at first, so we'd have to replace both tremendous hitting and great defense.
$-The Moneyman-$: I don' hardly reckon I understand any o' dem newfangled stats that there soco cited, but I would say Goldschmidt because, frankly, he's the most irreplaceable person on the team right now. I have Hill and Kubel right after, the former because he's been one of the best second basemen in the National League this year (All-Star voters just ignored that last sentence) and the latter because he's been incredible.
Clefo: Paul "Batspeed/Bad Glove/Platoon Guy at best" Goldschmidt.
Jim: It's really difficult to choose: Goldschmidt, Hill, Kubel, Miley and Montero all have performed well above expectations - probably no-one further than Miley [amazing to think he only made the roster because of the last-minute injury to Takashi Saito, and is now perhaps the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year]. Just to spread the love, I'll go with Hill, who has not received quite the obvious adulation of others, and was so unjustly robbed of an All-Star spot.
OT. Soco can ignore this one if he'd rather yell at the Olympians to get off his damn lawn!] The Olympics ended yesterday. Any memorable events or personalities stick in your mind?
sc: All the jokes on Twitter. There are some funny people out there...
Sonic: I just love the Olympics and am so sad they're already over. So many memorable moments. The women's 4x100 relay smashing the world record. Kayla Harrison winning the Gold medal in Judo. David Boudia taking down the Chinese in diving on his final dive. Nathan Adrian coming out of nowhere to win the 100 Free. The women's soccer team's insane comebacks and last second goal against Canada. Hope Solo's ridiculous save in the final minutes against Japan. Serena Williams having Sharapova on the brink of tears in her beat-down. Gabby Douglas shaking off all the pressure and delivering in the clutch. I could go on and on. These athletes just amaze me with all the hard work and preparation they do for this one moment in the sun and the enormous pressure they're under. It's just beautiful sports. Sorry if I'm getting carried away!
soco: My fondest memory is it being over and people stop talking to me about it.
$-The Moneyman-$: I couldn't watch any of it because a certain network still seems to labor under the delusion that it's the 1960s and the Internet is a fad, but the gold medal tennis match between Andy Murray and Roger Federer is my major takeaway. It was great to see Murray win the gold at Wimbledon, even at the expense of Federer, who is my favorite player. Table tennis is also always fun to watch.
Jim: It was great being able to turn on the TV and never know what you'd get. White-water canoeing? Sure, I'll watch that for a bit. Taekwondo? Pass the popcorn. But I think the opening and closing ceremonies are likely the bits that will stick in my mind.
The upcoming road trip sees us face the teams with the best and worst run differentials in the National League. Will we come home still above .500?
sc: I vote we do.
Sonic: Is it just me or has our schedule just seemed brutal. We can't catch a break anywhere. We go against a slumping Philly team but Howard and Utley are back and we go up against Halladay and Lee. Then we play Pittsburgh on the road who has the magic going. Then we face the Nats and Strasberg. Sheesh. Our season still stands on the abyss and while we keep getting close to the edge we still haven't fallen in. If we can somehow go 4-2 this week heading into a home stand where we can go something like 8-2 or 7-3 on, there's still a chance for us. But to specifically answer your question, I think we will come home above .500.
soco: We're going to need our strong hitting if we want to beat the Cardinals. St Lou has problems, certainly, but they can definitely kick ass and it's going to be difficult. 1-2 would be a series win, unfortunately. We should not expect anything less than a sweep of the Astros at this point. That isn't to make fun of the team, though they are legitimately awful, but simply because the D-backs need to sweep. Have to beat these bad teams. I think we can do it.
$-The Moneyman-$: I think so. Knowing the Diamondbacks they'll probably sweep the Cardinals and then lose two of three against the Astros. This season has been weird that way.
Jim: If we don't, I'll be calling the season over. If we want to compete we're going to need to go 4-2 or better, and I'd rather not be left in the position of having to sweep the Astros to do it (quite possible though that is). Time to quit talkin' and start chalkin'.