And so the Diamondbacks lose their fourth straight series, falling to 4-8 on the year. While not completely inescapable - as noted previously, we had the same record after the first dozen games in 2001 - there is certainly a great deal of room for improvement. Most obviously, from an offense which is scoring only 3.3 runs/game. In particular, our batters are struggling against left-handed pitching. 1-for-20 today against Randy Johnson, reduces the Diamondbacks' overall average against left-handers to just .146 (19-for-130). The team is 0-5 in games where the opposition started a southpaw, and has scored a total of five runs in those contests.
That's far from the only problem afflicting Arizona thus far. Our ace is out of action, with no scheduled return date. The bullpen has an ERA of 6.27, and our starters have a record of 2-8. The team has stolen only three bases - and been caught stealing the same number. The D-backs are hitting .211 (15-for-71) with runners in scoring position and have already endured a trio of shut-outs in a dozen games: last year, our third shut-out didn't occur until game #91. But after the jump, let's go through the current roster [and the DL-listed Brandon Webb], see what we can glean from the opening two weeks, and list the ten players I'm most concerned with.
Incomplete. Not seen enough to come to any real conclusion.
Bobby Korecky - two innings pitched
Chad Qualls - four innings pitched
Ryan Roberts - seven plate-appearances
Doug Slaten - three innings pitched
Not worried about at all. They've either played really well through the first dozen games; or while they have flaws, these have been outweighed by the positive aspects of their game.
Doug Davis - 2.57 ERA, 21 IP, 19 H, 6 BB, 15 K
Dan Haren - 1.89 ERA, 19 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 17 K
Felipe Lopez - team-leading .347 BA, albeit also team-leading three errors
Augie Ojeda - 6-for-14
Juan Gutierrez - 3.68 ERA, 7.1 IP, 2 BB, 11 K
Tony Peña - 1.50 ERA, 6 IP, 5 H, 1 BB
Somewhat troubling. These players have had their ups and downs, performing good one day, then poorly the next. Overall, however, they are within the bounds of normal variation, though have room for improvement in some or all aspects of their play.
Yusmeiro Petit - one decent start, then lit-up when pitching on short rest
Mark Reynolds - 12 K's in 37 AB, only three walks. Does have two homers
Max Scherzer - too many walks, must be more economical (18.7 pitches per IP)
Scott Schoeneweis - be ok, if Melvin stops using him against RHB
Chad Tracy - OBP creeping down, barely above .300...
Chris Young - leads the team in strikeouts, K:BB of 13:2.
Frankly, disturbing. Here are the ones for whom bells of some kind are going off. These range from the tinkly, Christmas kind, through the alarm-clock variety, up to the full-on, three-alarm fire variety. Small sample-size naturally applies [and will continue to do so through the rest of April], but these are storylines which it'll be worth keeping an eye on as we go forward.
10. Stephen Drew. Played just a couple of innings in this series, due to a hamstring problem; was hitting only .222 up until that point. Does have more walks than strikeouts, however.
9. Miguel Montero. One single and one walk in 13 PA's to date, resulting in an OPS+ of -38. Not quite the offensive force we anticipated off the bench.
8. Jon Garland. Was fine in his first start, but the second was truly wretched, with seven hits and five walks in less than four innings: that's already eight free-passes handed out in 10.2 frames.
7. Conor Jackson. His three-run homer was nice to see - get that monkey off his back. But this is definitely not the man we expected to see batting at the Uecker Line, with a K:BB ratio of 7:2.
6. Chris Snyder. While he leads the team in walks (seven: Drew is next, on four), that won't last if he keeps hitting below .100. The rest of his game seems fine [three base-thieves thrown out], but we don't need any more automatic outs.
5. Tony Clark. Call up Whitesell (two HR, 6 RBI in the Reno home opener) and use TC's 'veteran presence' off-roster. Hitless in six games and 12 ABs: Opening Day was an aberration, on the scale of Easley's three-homer game against Atlanta.
4. Justin Upton. Though showing signs of life after a wretched start, still has gone only 5-for-30, with two walks and 11 K's. Has also made his first error in right-field, so that hasn't changed. If this is the future of the franchise, we're in trouble.
3. Jon Rauch. Sucks as badly as expected. 5 IP, eight hits, four BB, six earned runs and opponents batting .333. He'd rank lower, except most appearances have been with us down by one - thanks, Bob! - and he's allowed a run every such game.
2. Eric Byrnes. If performance really determined playing time, we'd not be seeing Eric at all, with his .457 OPS. He's 3-for-26 with one extra-base hit, and hasn't even attempted a stolen-base.
1. Brandon Webb. Our ace's injury is the worst thing possible, and it doesn't seem he'll be back soon - he only threw on flat ground today. This time last year, Webb had three wins - those missing victories would sure make our 2009 record look a lot better.
The question is, what (if anything) needs to be done about these issues in the short-term. [Wimb has a wwell-written Fanpost on the topic of what action can, or should, be taken in the longer view]. Though as noted, any or (please and thank you) all of these may sort themselves out in due course. I'll probably revisit the list in a couple of weeks and see how the order has changed. But how would you handle things at the moment?