The road-trip got off to a great start as we swept LA and won the opener in Philadelphia, but the offense ground to halt over the weekend, with a particularly heart-breaking loss yesterday. The trade deadline passed, with less activity in Arizona than expected, but Patrick Corbin made a triumphant return to the rotation. These and other topics are discussed by our panel this week, with Rockkstarr12 the guest panelist, with $-The Moneyman-$ occupying the seat next week. Beyond that, we're open, so speak up in the comments if you'd like to take part!
[With an early East-coast game, the SnakePit Fantasy Report will go up tonight, after the recap]
Our first sweep in LA for almost five years, but we drop two of three in Philadelphia. Thoughts?Rockkstarr12: The Dodgers series was very exciting and I am glad we swept them. That series we really needed! As for the Phillies series, it should be pretty obvious what my thoughts are about that: Saunders was SCREWED by lack of run support!
Kishi: Better than I expected, really, but our momentum seems to have been left in the Pacific time zone.
ZM: I liked the part where we swept the Dodgers. In fact, I liked it enough that I can sort of overlook a somewhat frustrating series in Philly. They got shut down by Roy Halladay, and then they got baseball'd in a winnable game on Sunday. It happens, and the key will be how they respond to it.
Sonic: Once again we gave away a winnable game, and at a time when wins are so precious to us. The Dodger sweep was great and got us back into the race. But if we blow games in Pittsburgh like we did in Philly, we're going to start running out of games soon.
Jim: In what looks likely to be a very tight NL West, I wonder if we're going to look back at the end of the season and rue this weekend. Admittedly, we were facing two good (formerly great) pitchers, but their stats this year suggest we should have done better. Great performance in LA - not just to beat LA, but destroy them. However, we've got to build on that and put together an extended run.
The team were largely inactive at the trade deadline. Do you think they should have done more? If so, what?
Rockkstarr12: I was surprised actually that they didn't do more. I figured either Drew or C.Y. would have been gone. I was most surprised, shocked, and very upset about Breslow being traded, especially since he seemed to be having a pretty good season here, as well as him being a BIG fave of mine.
Clefo: Eh, not really. No need to make a huge splash unless the deal's right.
Kishi: No, I'm glad that they didn't do more. Keep the pieces we have for the future, there's no need to start making moves for the short term.
ZM: No, I'm glad they didn't do a ton, to be honest. They're still far enough out of the playoff race that they shouldn't really be all in for the season, but close enough not to be sellers. If Chris Johnson turns out better than Ryan Roberts, I'll call it a win and leave it at that.
Sonic: I guess it depends on what else they could have done. They were too close to go into sell mode, and there probably weren't any buyers of what we had to offer anyways. I'm thinking the trade for Johnson shouldn't be dismissed considering how well he's started out for us.
Jim: Surprised they didn't do a little more, especially with the guys who won't be back after this year. But making moves for the sake of it is kinda pointless. And speaking of which...
What did you think of the Craig Breslow for Matt Albers swap?
Rockkstarr12: As I mentioned above, I was NOT a happy camper about this move...I especially thought Scott Podsednik was a WASTE. I know I shouldn't hold a grudge against Albers because he's the innocent one in this trade, but seeing him, especially wearing Brezzy's jersey number, will only remind me of the trade and infuriate me more. This trade was heartbreaking for me since Brezzy is my fave member of the bullpen (loved him with the A's as well).
Clefo: Haven't seen enough of Albers for us to really judge anything.
Kishi: Eh, not too worked up over it. It felt like making a move for the sake of making a move.
ZM: It doesn't make any sense. But it's also a trade based entirely on bullpen arms, which seems to be Towers' speciality. It's entirely possible he saw something in Albers that he really liked, and in that case I'm inclined to defer to his judgement, since he knows way, way more about bullpens than I can ever dream of. It does seem to be another nail in Bryan Shaw's coffin, though.
Sonic: I still don't understand that one. We miss Breslow already. he would have been handy yesterday and he's the kind of guy that can pitch a lot. I have no idea what Albers is capable yet so I guess I'll reserve judgement for now.
Jim: Albers seemed to have way over-performed his peripherals with the Red Sox, and on that basis, I'm not sure what he adds. Seems Towers must have seen something in him: given the generally good work KT has done with the bullpen, I'll give this one the benefit of the doubt. Dude needs to get on Twitter though!
New guy Chris Johnson continues to hit. What are you hoping to get out of him going forward?
Rockkstarr12: I've been really impressed with CJ so far and I hope his success continues and he keeps on contributing where and when possible. I also hope that Matt Williams can and will help him work on his defense. I think in time, he could do very well at the Hot Corner.
Clefo: More production at the plate than his predecessors this season. His defense is a bit of a liability still, but hopefully maybe Matt Williams can work on that with him.
Kishi: Grand slams, all the time! No, really, just some average production out of him would be a great improvement over what we were getting before.
ZM: Above-average hitting, below-average defense, and continued joy at his not being on the Astros anymore.
Sonic: Just some semi-consistent production. That's what the problem was before so that's what he should be expected to fix. So far so good.
Jim: Needs Moar Tahtoooz! I get the feeling we'll see power out of him, but I'd not be surprised to see the batting average drop to .250 or below down the line. As others have noted, defense is likely going to be an issue, so we'll see how that goes.
Justin Upton is hitting .322 since July 4. Has he turned the corner?
Rockkstarr12: He's showing signs of this being a very good possibility, but he must be consistent instead of streaky. I would like to see him get it going and really keep it there.
Clefo: I would still like to see more power, but you can't really complain about that number (well, you can, but you would look very petty). Hopefully he really gets it going soon.
Kishi: He's getting on base. It's a good step in the right direction, and I'm glad to see it.
ZM: I like it, but the average really hasn't been the problem this season. But he's been flashing a bit more power recently, and on Sunday he finally got his SLG% above .400 on the season. It's still a far cry from what he did last year, but it's progress.
Sonic: I guess so. The important thing is he's starting to hit the ball hard again. His singles are starting to look like the old Upton singles where infielders just want to get out of the way.
Jim: There have been a couple of false dawns this season, where we were told he had turned the corner, only for another slump to follow. Obviously, there will always be games where he doesn't get a hit, but we NEED the 2011 Upton to show up down the stretch if we're going to make a push. Hope he's here to stay!
Patrick Corbin returned to the rotation and pitched very well. Does he have a future (short- and long-term) with the Diamondbacks?
Rockkstarr12: I think he could, especially next season. With Daniel Hudson being out, anything is possible for Patrick whether it's in the starting rotation or coming out of the bullpen. Versatility is also a very good thing.
Kishi: I think he does. You can never really have too many arms in your system, and there will be time for them to show us what they can do.
Sonic: Absolutely. How can you not want this guy in your rotation for years t come. I'm feeling like he's destined to be a steady force in the rotation for the next 5 years. I don't think he'll ever reach elite status, but every team needs 3 and 4 rotation guys who are capable of tossing gems and demonstrating some consistency. I like what I'm seeing.
Jim: Short-term, yes. He looked a clearly different pitcher from the one we say his first time in the rotation. But next year, we'll have Kennedy, (eventually) Hudson, Cahill, Miley, Skaggs, Bauer, Corbin, Collmenter.... I don't think his long-term future is guaranteed, and suspect one of the prospects previously mentioned may be dealt for a blue-chip shortstop.
The Astros have lost 30 of their last 34 games. Given the advantage this gives to other teams in their division, should the commissioner step in and take action to protect competitive balance?
Rockkstarr12: I don't think there's much the commish could do to salvage the Stros' season. What's done is done and they seem to be rebuilding anyway. I'm sure they will have quite the adjustment to make in the AL too.
Clefo: What could he do, really? Sometimes teams just suck. We've been the beneficiaries of the grand rotation experiment in Denver this year, and for years AL East titles were built on the corpses of the Orioles and the (then) Devil Rays. It's part of the ebb and flow of seasons in any American professional sport. Lest we forget, the 2003 Tigers, one of the most awful teams in my lifetime, were a World Series team three seasons later, with a number of the same players on both teams.
ZM: He should really do something drastic, like, I don't know, move them to the AL West or something. Preferably starting next year so they spend as much time with Mike Trout as possible. That'll show them. But I'm sure something like that is just a pipe dream at this point...
Sonic: Huh? LOL. Is that a serious question?
Jim: I think it is legit: especially with the addition of the second wild-card, teams are more than ever competing against those in other divisions. Pittsburgh, say, get 45 games against the Brewers, Cubs and Astros, teams with records all worse than the Marlins. the cellar-dwellers in the East. That's a huge help.. When a team is tanking it as obviously and badly as the Astros - that's a Cleveland Spider pace of late - it makes a mockery of balance. Any team can have a bad season, but the Astros lost 106 last year, and god knows how many they'll lose in the AL West next time. There has to be a point at which MLB steps in.
The road-trip finishes up in Pittsburgh, before we come home to face the Nationals. What are your expectations?
Rockkstarr12: If we can keep Harper from killing our pitching and we can get going offensively against Strasburg, we may stand a pretty decent chance of success.
Clefo: Not high, so I will probably be surprised.
Kishi: I'm sticking with what I said last week- if we go .500, I will be pleasantly surprised.
ZM: I'll say 3-4. The Pirates don't scare me, but the Nats are worrisome.
Sonic: Seeing the matchups I'm expecting 3-1. I know they have a better record than us, but on paper we have a better team. It would be nice if the paper was right one of these days.
Jim: We can take the Pirates, and probably need to. The Giants have a tough series in St. Louis though the Dodgers get to host (sigh) the Rockies, so we should be looking to try and reclaim ground lost over the weekend The Nats series will be tough, especially the opener against Strasburg. I'm going with "ludicrously optimistic" and saying 5-2.