DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 22: Chris Johnson #28 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits an RBI single during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 22, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Diamondbacks defeated the Rockies 8-7. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Back to back series wins, albeit against the Padres and Rockies, propelled the Diamondbacks back above .500, while Chris Johnson continues to rake, Ian Kennedy to pitch, and Wade Miley battle for Rookie of the Year. These and other topics are discussed by our panel: due to a communications mix-up (my bad!), there is no guest panelist this week, so AzDbackfanInDc will get another shot next week.
5-1 week for the D-backs, their best since June 18-24. Good, or just bad opposition?Dan: Shades of both, of course. Justin Upton is playing much better, and we're going to be a far more successful team as a whole when that happens. It's one of the biggest things that I think this team has been missing all season and his stellar play of late is part of why I'm quietly optimistic about 2013.
Clefo: Well previous home series against the Padres would suggest that they aren't bad opposition. The Rockies are hapless without the hap, but it's still good to beat up on them.
snakecharmer: Both. It is the Rockies, and it is Coors Field, but turning it around against the Padres was excellent.
Sonic: The Rockies pitching staff is downright horrid. But we did what we're supposed to do to it. Padres have had our number so winning 2 of 3 was a positive. The teams hasn't quit and I like that about them.
soco: Caught the Padres flat footed and played a bad Rockies team. Good, in that I like seeing wins. Irrelevant for the season.
Jim: Man, the Rockies suck. Yesterday was probably the first time all year I was utterly unconcerned when we fell behind, because I felt absolutely certain we could come back against the bullpen - like we did the first two games. And, lo, we did. The Rockies and Astros make a good argument for EPL-style relegation from the major leagues.
Would you be happy with Chris Johnson as our starting 3B next year?
Dan: I think he's been phenomenal, and he would be solid as our primary third baseman. That said, I do think he benefits from having a backup who can play on days when the club faces off-speed-oriented pitchers, who Johnson struggles against (Johnson loves himself some fastballs). I'm mostly not sure if Ryan Wheeler is that guy.
Clefo: I'm down. He's under control, cheap, and he's been pretty good in his time here. I think Shortstop is the more glaring need on the left side of the infield, and I think Johnson/Wheeler will be more than adequate next year.
snakecharmer: He's solid. I see him having some Reynolds-esque ups and downs, but not as severe, and his defense is fine. And I agree, I haven't seen enough of Wheeler to be stoked about just him. So, I'd be fine with it.
Sonic: Yes, I'm fine with him as well as with Wheeler backing up him and Goldie. It's a very nice package. The defense can be a little hard to watch at times but Brooks Robinson is retired.
soco: Is there a better choice out there? He's cheap, so if it doesn't work out then no harm, no foul.
Jim: Will the real Chris Johnson please stand up? 41 D-backs games in, and these may be the bizarrest splits I've ever seen:
Overall, he had seemed competent enough that plugging the hole is no longer a priority. Mind you, his career OPS+ coming in to this season isn't all that much above Ryan Roberts' (102 vs. 98), so it's hard to be certain.
Wade Miley got his 16th W, but his ERA continues to go up. How do you rate his Rookie of the Year chances?
Clefo: Alive but who knows? It sort of all depends on the voters I guess. You could make compelling arguments for Miley and Todd Fraizer (Less compelling arguments for Bryce Harper based on total "body of work" IMO).
snakecharmer: Ehhhh... his chances have gone down. Wins are nice but ERA etc are important. Frazier still has good overall numbers, despite an awful September. It would help if Miley's next start was fabulous.
Sonic: He still has a very good chance. He needs one more good start but you can tell he's getting tired.
soco: I think his chances are still pretty good, but there's no runaway, consensus player this year (unless the media goes crazy and votes for Bryce Harper) so who knows.
Jim: Gonna be close. Frazier has been flagging of late too, while Harper is finishing strong. It's tough for a starting pitcher to win the award - hasn't happened in the NL since Dontrelle Willis in 2003. However, his numbers (14-6, 3.30 ERA, 127 ERA+) are not far off Miley's (16-10, 3.25 ERA, 130 ERA+). If Wade can win his remaining two starts, that'll be a huge help.
Going into Sunday night, the D-backs are one game behind the Dodgers. With a nice soft schedule, will we catch them?
Dan: I think so, actually. Just don't think much of that club, despite the high-profile - if not high-performing - acquisitions.
Clefo: We will catch them and we will leave them in our dust. They will be hitchhiking on the road while sad like at the end of "The Incredible Hulk."
snakecharmer: I think so, yeah. I think the Dodgers will slow down as their run for the postseason slows down.
Sonic: Yes, I think so. It's very satisfying to see the Dodgers spend all that money and not make the playoffs.
soco: No clue, but man would that be funny.
Jim: Certainly something to play for. I think we can continue to beat up on the Rockies and Cubs, and not sure how interested the Giants will be. If they keep running the likes of Yusmeiro Petit out there, as they did yesterday, we should be fine.
In seventeen September starts, Ian Kennedy has one loss and a 2.20 ERA. Any idea why he finishes so strongly?
Dan: First off Jim, I don't think Kennedy has seventeen September starts. If he does, it's a miracle his arm is still attached! :D Really, though, I have no idea what the difference is (sadly I have largely been unable to watch amid my odd, hectic life). I just hope it bodes well for Kennedy providing us a mid-rotation mainstay going forward.
Clefo: Could mean seventeen total in his career? Either way, he just must be the anti-Haren.
Sonic: The law of averages catching up. We knew he wasn't as bad as was earlier, so it's good to see him reassert himself as one of (if not the) best pitcher on this staff. He's simply not making as many mistakes in the middle of the zone and he's gotten a better handle on his off-speed pitches and using them more effectively. His fastball isn't overpowering so he has to have the curve and the changeup working to be a good pitcher.
soco: He finally got his internet hooked up at his house and found all the crap people were talking about him so then he had a Rocky montage scene to get better and he was all angry and now he's rocking. Or, regression, blah blah blah.
Jim: Yeah, career. Obviously. What do you think he is, David Hernandez? Maybe Kennedy enjoys feasting on all the AAAA call-ups? I'm treating it as much as a warning as anything: after all, in his final seven starts last year, Kennedy went 6-0 with a 1.66 ERA, and that didn't really carry forward to the start of this season.
WBC qualifying started up. Which of these 16, mostly non-baseball teams would you like to see make it?
Clefo: DEUTSCHLAND DEUETSCHLAND ÜBER ALLES.
Sonic: No disrespect but this competition doesn't really matter much to me.
soco: It would be funny to see some real non-traditional countries make it (Great Engerland, I'm looking at you), but they're all about the same. I'm not one of those kinds of people that has some weird connection to their ‘motherland' from like 20 generations ago.
Jim: The more non-baseball the better. No disrespect to Canada, but I'm really not interested. That Spain qualified? Way cool. Sadly, there'll be no Team UK, but at least we didn't finish last, even if our two defeats were both mercy-ruled!
OT: The Cardinals are 3-0 for the first time since 1974. Impressed, unimpressed or apathetic?
Dan: Kevin Kolb has done this whole playing-good thing before, folks. Let's not get suckered in yet. That said, mostly apathetic.
Sonic: Very impressed. They have a dominant defense, easily Top 5 in the league. And when you have that you can win a lot of football games with just competent offense. I think this will continue.
soco: Impressed to a certain extent. I think their defense it a lot more real than what people might think, but I don't believe in that quarterback situation. It will probably be good enough to compete for or make the playoffs. Unfortunately, this also means I'm going to have to listen to people try to start conversations with me about the Cardinals for the rest of the season.
We finish up in Colorado, then hit the road for the last road series against the Giants, and come home to face the Cubs. Thoughts?
Dan: Looks like I might be able to watch the final series of the season. Awesome.
Clefo: NO MERCY.
snakecharmer: Actually sad to see the season end...
Sonic: I want to finish above .500 so the Giants series will be important for that. I'll be going to 2 of the Cubs games to get my fix for the long off-season.
soco: Agreed with ‘charmer. Sad this whole thing is about to end, not certain how it plays out.
Jim: Finish strong, give us something warm to wrap around ourselves this winter. Having a winning record against the division champions would be something nice to defend ourselves with too. And beating the Cubs is always a pleasure!