Well it seems I've tricked Jim into giving me Sunday's guest recap spot. That means I'd better practice my typing skills and egregious attempts at modicums of humor. Hmmmm, looks like my alliterative dispenses needs corrective conversions.
Ok, I'm going to take the last 6 words of that sentence, run them through Google Translator to Chinese, then back to English and see what we get.
"My alliteration obviates need to correct conversion"
Hmm, not bad Google.
Anyway, it's time for that silly little article I write occasionally that gets everyone in a tizzy. Random Thoughts! In case you haven't read one of these before, this is where I make silly and completely unintelligible observations about our favorite team, then sit back and watch as you all flame me with comments about how imbecilic I am. (I always think it's better to use big words to help confuse you before you flame me.)
Lets start with the starting pitching, shall we?
It looked like the DBacks just about had the best and worst pitchers in the league just about locked up, but then they traded Ian Kennedy for a Pringles can and some Pimento beans. I'd say we got fair value. I hear if we plant the Pimento beans we might find a goose that lays golden eggs and such. That still wouldn't make us as rich as the Dodgers though. Who knew Magic Johnson was richer than God?
With the return of McCarthy this weekend and Cahill in another week, I honestly think our prospects of going to the postseason are not any better. Prior to Skagg's last start he had better stats than Cahill and McCarthy. But there's that caveat of course, he DID pitch that horrid game giving up 7 runs in 3 2/3rds innings. It was even against the Padres of all clubs. Makes you wonder how he can completely baffle the entire Texas lineup in his first start, but get clobbered by Chris Denorfia. Oh well. We'll probably see him again in September.
McCarthy is sporting a 5.00 ERA this year with 1.425 WHIP, and 11.5 Hits per 9 innings. Cahill is 4.66/1.407/9.0 if that makes you feel any better. Skaggs was 5.35 ERA/1.371 WHIP/8.8 Hp9. Like I said, not much difference.
On the upside, Delgado, Corbin, and Miley combined are a 2.84 ERA. Miley is actually the worst of the three at 3.68 mostly due to his poor May numbers. For July he's got a 1.59 ERA. That was good enough for 7th best in all of Baseball for the month of July. Glad to have you back Wade.
The interesting thing will be what to do with our guys down in the minors. We all know about Skaggs and Bradley, even a poor outing by Spruill against the Rangers (seriously, that was a bad idea starting him against the Rangers and Darvish, talk about doomed to fail), but what about David Holmberg? 2.90 ERA/1.20 WHIP/.242 avg against in 130.1 innings pitched. Not exactly Bradley's number but still very respectable and possibly worth a look in September.
I tend to favor bringing guys up early to get a taste of the big leagues. I know others prefer slow development, but frankly if a guy is too weak to handle bad lumps.. better to learn now than later. I really compare Skaggs this year to Corbin last year and see a lot of similarities. Good out pitch but needs a bit more control over the fast ball placement and should develop his change up a bit more.
It kinda sucks to already be thinking about next year, but I'm hoping to see a Bradley, Skaggs, Delgado, Miley, Corbin rotation (not in that order).
Moving on to the bullpen. 18th in ERA for the month of July and 25th in WAR. Ewww. That's below middle of the pack. But it does seem like some of the pieces are starting to fall into place. Ziegler has been good in the closer roll, Heath Bell is starting to throw his Curveball for strikes again, and JJ has had some good outings. Wil Harris has been a nice addition all year, and Collmenter must still be wondering what more he has to do to be a starter for the team. But between Sipp and Hernandez it's dreadful.
In the last 2 weeks Sipp and Hernandez combined for a 6.05 ERA. Hernandez alone was the 16th worst relief pitcher in all of baseball for the month of July in terms of ERA. (Somehow Josh Collmenter is the 3rd worst in terms of WAR. Eat that Sabermetricians.)
We have a couple of prospects down in the Minors that I'm sure we'll have a look at in September. Jake Barrett is sporting a 1.55 ERA/1.08 WHIP/.203 AVG against down in Mobile. And of course there's that Pimento bean we got from San Diego Stites. 2.08 ERA/0.87 WHIP/.194 AVG against. MLB has the nerve to consider him our 18th best prospect.
Ok, now the position players.
Wait. Who is that playing first base? He has the elf ear like Goldie but doesn't seem to be hitting like him. Aaron Hill has looked more like Danny Ainge when he's backing up Goldie in the 4th spot. .167/.219/.200 Yes, his OBP is worse than his slugging when he's batting 4th. No wonder Gibby keep's putting him in the 2 hole.
Parra hasn't been the same since the face plant either. His numbers for July are .157/.239/.193. The two guys that were carrying the team for the first half are now combined .230 in the month of July.
Luckily we've seen a resurgence of Prado (.316/.371/.505), Ross (.301/.358/.479), and Chavez (.273/.333/.491) in the month of July. Pennington (.294/.321/.373), and Nieves (.317/.317/.390) have been hitting well too.
But probably most disappointing was the long awaited appearance of Adam Eaton to the lineup. He was supposed to be that spark plug that helped turn the offensive engine. Unfortunately it's been more like a Studebaker than a Ferrari. .192/.288/.250. His defense hasn't been very good either. His UZR is -1.3 and his FP is .947. Sure he runs fast and can make throws. But he has to catch the ball and he has to get on base for any of that to mean something. Hopefully it's just SSS and more playing time will help him come around to be the beast he was in spring training.
Overall the team is tied for 4th best fielding percentage at .988 and have the second best UZR. They also have a 64 DSR rating which is only second to the Royals. 3rd is the Pirates at 40. To say this team is good defensively is an understatement.
So here's what I'd like to see changed. I want more solidification. Starters are starters. Gibby needs to stop tinkering around with who is batting where and just go with his top 5 guys every day. Moving everyone around in the order and not even sure who is going each day is creating some serious under performance. We got Prado to be our guy that gets our lead off guy over. If that lead off is Eaton.. fine. If it's Parra, fine. If it's AJ, fine... just pick one and run with him. It's not just a matter of consistent at bats, it eats at you mentally when you don't think your manager trusts you to hit against a certain pitcher. I know Gibby thinks he's just trying to play the matchups, but it's not working. Put your best hitters out there and lets go.
As for the rotation. I think starting Spruill was a mistake. Skaggs should have gotten another start. He's going to be your guy in the near future, it's time to show your support for him. But just like the lineup changes, the flip flopping around of personnel is creating unease. The next poor start could be your last is not a good message to send a young pitcher. I'm all for pulling under-performing guys, but you can't explain to me why Kubel has not been DFA'd while Spruill gets the start over Skaggs. (Ok, maybe you can but I'll give you the stink eye)
Cahill might very well be the make or break of this season. If he pitches like last year again, they've got a shot to at least stay in the race. If he pitches like he did in June, we might as well plan for next year.
Kubel was the cornerstone of a good first half last year. This year he's been injury prone, and not good when he's healthy. It's time to move on. I would not characterize his acquisition as a mistake as some might because he WAS so good early last year.
I would say our chances of making the post season are about 30/70 right now. We're all waiting for the other Dodger shoe to drop but we have to expect it won't make as loud a noise as we hope. We're also all waiting for this team to finally start clicking on all cylinders. They've got 2 months to get it going. If Goldie and Parra can return to June form while everyone else sustains their current level, I can see this team winning 20 this month. And lets not forget, teams that tend to get hot late, tend to stay hot in the post season. It's still very possible, but it's even more remote.
(Stats gathered from Mlb.com, FanGraphs.com, and Baseball-Reference.com)