Tonight, five days after their last game, the Diamondbacks embark on the second half of the 2011 campaign. Can the surprising performance of the opening section carry forward past the break? Will the team be active in the three weeks before the trade deadline? And will Brandon Allen be an upgrade over Juan Miranda at first-base? All these questions are covered in this week's round-table, with a special guest contributor of blank_38. Here's the waiting list for future guests: imstillhungry95, NASCARbernet, Rockkstarr12, Clefo, BattleMoses, justin1985. Sign up in the comments if you're interested!
That was the All-Star Game? Any last thoughts until its next return in about 2041?
Jim: I think it went well. It wasn’t exactly a game that will stick in the memory, but few All-Star Games do [and even fewer for good reasons, e.g. we all remember 2002]. SB-1070 barely rated a mention, the infrastructure handled the influx of people and even the weather was not as brutal as it could have been. Otherwise, a competent, solid event. Might have been nice if the haboob had dropped in, provide something spectactular for the visitors.
Sprankton: Ummm, yeah. I actually didn’t watch much of it... Ooops. I sort of whiffed on watching/enjoying/being a part of any of the activities.
snakecharmer: Well, yeah, I can’t comment on the atmosphere but on the game itself, I’m a little surprised the AL couldn’t provide more offensive power. Pitchers always seem to have an advantage over hitters, so it was nice to see the NL come with an exciting inning to win. That was about the only excitement. The Futures Game went back and forth some more, so that was fun to watch.
Kishi: I thought it went pretty well. The bits I was personally involved in were fun, we managed to avoid any major controversy, and I didn’t hear nearly as much complaining about the heat from the media as I expected to. Plus, the National League won, so I figure that’s about as positive a result as I could have hoped for.
Wailord: As Jim said, it was incredibly memorable or anything, but it was fine. I wasn’t able to really get the full impact of it (living in Vegas and not Phoenix), but I imagine it was pretty good for the city. I didn’t get to watch the entire thing, missing a bit in the middle, but I did get to see Wilson close it out, which was nice. At least we’ll get home-field now. /dreaming
Shoe: I've opined before they should move the all star game to the end of spring training as a way to invite the fans back to baseball. They would get better turnout from the top players, and the team rosters would make more sense as fans could vote during the run up and into spring training, based on the entire previous season's results.
They could shorten the break a day in the middle of the season
blank_38: Man that was fun. I was in Wailord’s boat being out of state but everything I saw looked excellent except for the fangs on the uniform. /shudder
Next up: the trade deadline. Do you see the team being active? If so, in what area: hitting, the rotation or bullpen?
Jim: All three are possible. We’ll see what Brandon Allen and Geoff Blum can provide for the team on the corner infield, but if they don’t produce, the team may look outside. The back of the rotation is another area that could be strengthened, but I suspect we’ll look to get J.J. Putz and Juan Gutierrez back in the ‘pen, and see how that goes. If we do get someone, I think/hope it will be a rental, where we take on salary and don’t have to give up much in prospects. Something like the Adam Dunn deal from a couple of years back.
Sprankton: Knowing that KT went so far as to take offers for Justin Upton in the offseason, I’d have to believe that he’s going to make a few moves. I’m guessing he’ll stick with his "pitching is winning" mantra and bolster up the rotation and/or bullpen.
snakecharmer: I’m sure Kevin Towers is going to make some sort of move; whether it’s as big as what we want it to be so we can contend in the post-season, I’m not sure. There are arguments for us competing now and others who say we’re outperforming and not to waste anything this year. I think we’ll see KT look at both sides of that equation and surely make some sort of move, and I sure hope it’s in the area of pitching.
Kishi: Moves are coming, I’m sure, and I expect we’ll see most of our changes on the mound. A starter would probably be my first target- it’d help boost the rotation and the bullpen, by letting us move Collmenter back to the ‘pen. If we do make a move for a bat, I suspect it would be in the third base department.
Shoe: They will keep trying to trade for a reliever. But I expect a low level deal. I'll be surprised if any big impact deals.
blank_38: I think Kevin Towers knows he needs to make at least a couple moves to satisfy his surprisingly increasing fan-base. I think he’ll go after a bullpen arm first and depending on how Allen does, he may go after a half-year rental at first. Carlos Pena anyone?
The Miranda experiment appears over. Will Brandon Allen be any better?
Jim: We’ll see. Over a thousand PAs in Reno, and an OPS there of close to a thousand too. But his performance at the major-league level has never come anywhere near those numbers. This is likely his last hurrah, with Goldschmidt likely to Happen at some point in the near future. However, given our 1B this year have a collective line of .239/.309/.382, a .691 OPS, Allen won’t have to try too hard to improve on that.
I just hope he gets a chance to play regularly. And, I mean every day. Miranda only twice got to start more than two consecutive games for us - over those eight contests, he went 13-for-28, with seven extra-base hits. All told, when he played consecutive games, Miranda hit .438 (21-for-48) with three HR and nine XBH That suggests he was no good when he didn’t get to play regularly, rather than that he did not get to play regularly because he was no good.
Sprankton: I’d be stoked if Allen can dish out some solid numbers. Not necessarily for the sake of this season, but to help prop himself up as a nice trading chip when Goldy is primed and ready.
snakecharmer: I was never impressed with BA at the ‘bigs last year or the year before, and that he struggled this year in Reno where hitting big numbers is supposed to be easy doesn’t exactly make me excited. But as Jim said, he doesn’t have to do much to be an improvement.
Sprankton: He hit a grand slam in his first game of the season last year. I think that settles it. He’s awesome.
Kishi: I have hope that he will. If my memory is right, he was a pretty solid glove over at first last year, and I think he’s got potential at the plate. We don’t need him to start hitting .350 and give us a home run every game, just to consistently contribute. I think he can do that.
Wailord: I’m not really sure. His past stints haven’t inspired a ton of confidence (save the awesome grand slam), and I fear that he and Miranda will essentially swap places: one will underperform at the big league level, while the other rakes in the PCL. The names on the jerseys will just swap. Hopefully not, though. We’ve waited a fair bit of time to see him get a true true shot, so maybe he can be omgawesome. It’s only a matter of time, though, as others said, until Goldy’s time is here. Allen should be able to function as a decent stopgap. I hope.
Shoe: Hopefully. He could be worse than Miranda too. But I'm guessing the Don Baylor factor will be in play here.
blank_38: Goldy will put pressure on Towers if he continues to mash but if Allen can duplicate the numbers he put up last year he should stick around. I know its a small sample size but I think we’d all love an OPS+ of 112 from our 1st baseman.
A ten-game homestand, against the Dodgers, Brewers and Rockies, so twice around the rotation. How will we do?
Jim: I’d like us to go 6-4 or better, with two wins against each opponent. It’ll be interesting to face Milwaukee and see what reception Brewer and Weeks get, on their return to the site of the Home-run Derby and All-Star Game. Kershaw will be problematic for us, but the Dodgers are playing out the season already, so (hopefully) motivation will be tough to find for them. .Hopefully, the Rockies will soon be going the same way.
snakecharmer: I think the Brewers are going to take those hurt feelings and fight back. They also weren’t wild about our comeback wins in their house. K-Rod should improve their ‘pen. We should take the Dodgers easily, and we need to just keep playing over-.500 ball. A 6-4 homestand is a must, 7-3 would be nice. It’ll depend on the back of the rotation, though...
Kishi: I think 7-3 is feasible. The real question is can we continue to keep Tulo struggling at the plate against us?
Wailord: I’ll take a 6-4. Just to mix it up, though, I say two of three from Los Angeles, one of three from Milwaukee, and a sweep of Colorado. I don’t foresee us taking seven out of ten, but that would certainly be a great way to hit the ground running out of the gates.
Shoe: 5-5. The Brewers series is the real trap series. They must take 2 of 3 from the Dodgers to start it off right or people will start getting ansty. The Giants just keep winning.
blank_38: I think how we start these next 10 games will determine how we will do this second half. The Dbacks will set the tone early and go 7-3. Yikes, just writing that makes all giddy.
We start the second half at 49-43. Where do you now see the D-backs finishing in 2011?
Jim: I would still happily settle for anything above .500 at season’s end - that would likely make us one of the most-improved teams in the majors [the Pirates, depending how their second-half goes, might be better]. If we just play .500 ball the rest of the way, which I think is a cautious estimate, we’d have 84 wins, and that seems about right. Amazing how that would almost feel like a disappointment now!
Sprankton: Hopefully, we’ll finish around our pace - 86 - 87 wins - which would be amazing.
snakecharmer: It would feel like a disappointment now, after all the promise we showed in May and we should’ve had at least 51 wins before the break. I’d be very happy with 87 wins, even if it isn’t enough for the post-season.
Kishi: I think 86 wins would be a pretty nice season.
Wailord: Roughly around the .500 mark, probably. I’ll say 84 just to differentiate myself from the rest. If we end this season with more victories than defeats, though, it’ll be a resounding success, considering a lot of the predictions going into the 2011 season.
Shoe: Depends on what they do tradewise, and team health. If they stand pat with the pitching staff, but Putz comes back strong, they will probably stay over .500 and in contention. But if they fail to make a deal and Putz doesn't make it back strong, it's going to catch up to them and they'll fall back to .500
blank_38: The Dbacks have one of the easiest 2nd half schedules in baseball and because of that I say they’ll get to 90.