A light turnout of respondents for the round-table this week, with 'charmer taking on the world, and a number of others apparently cowering in the corner after the D-backs were shutout in consecutive games by the Angels. But we plow on regardless, with guest correspondent Ridster09 joining the team this week. blank_38 will occupy that spot next week, and we're open to volunteers beyond that - I think we can re-open it to previous guests as well at this point. Topics this week include Justin Upton, our offensive struggles, possible trades and the upcoming All-Star Game.
The Diamondbacks lost interleague series to both Texas and Anaheim, but remain three games out of the second wild-card spot. Are we in this thing or not?Clefo: Technically, yes. This upcoming week will be a good chance to make up some of that ground, but I'm not planning any parades yet.
Ridster09: Yes. Those two series were a microcosm of the season. We lose, and look ugly doing it. Though somehow we score the same amount of runs and were still "in" all but the first Rangers game where lost by eight. That's our season. Ugly, but still in it. Now to be a little less ugly...
Jim: The problem is less the games back than the large number of teams ahead of us. After the first game of the Angels series, we looked poised to move through the pack, but lost any ground gained over the weekend. Another five-game winning streak would be welcome in this regard.
soco: This seemingly is based on how well/terrible the other Wild Card teams do. Unless the D-backs start having some really good months, then they feel like a .500 team. I don't think that'll get it done, even with an extra spot available.
The offense scored a total of one run in the four defeats, and averaged 2.8 per game overall. Does the team need a shake-up?
Clefo: Hell if I know. The whole team is very bi-polar at the moment. I'm sure as we debate this tomorrow there will be another run explosion and we'll be all like "What?".
Ridster09: We need to shake Mr. Upton, wait for the pressure to build, and watch him pop! Seriously, if one of the best talents in the league starts to hit then it'll be like we made a great trade.
Jim: The problem is, there aren't many places where there are alternatives available who might be better, beyond Ryan Wheeler at third. But Chris Young has now been back for an entire month, and has hit .157 with no home-runs and a .468 OPS in that time - as ridiculously-hot as he was before injury, he's now close to zero Kelvin [paging Mark Grace!]. Really, A.J.Pollock and Adam Eaton would seem better alternatives: a DL stint may be in his future, and I recall the last time he spent time in Triple-A, it had a positive effect.
soco: Before the road trip they seemed to be making strides on offense. And the first game against the Angels was nothing sniff at. But the rest was pretty awful, showcasing their streakiness.
How much more patient can the team be with Justin Upton?
Clefo: Considering how the rest of the offense is also struggling along, very patient. He seems to be getting hits and getting on base, but there's no power. It may behoove Gibby to keep Upton in the lineup, but put him down in the order, like in the 5-7 range.
Ridster09: We were asking the same thing about Goldschmidt a bit ago. That turned out well. I'm not saying Upton's going to go on a monster streak, but it's an example of how a player performing below expectations can rebound. But man, 71 AB's without a homerun while striking out 30% of the time during that same stretch, that needs to be less ugly. Like Clefo said, I thinking moving him may be a good move.
Jim: It's the amazing fact that 49% of his K's have been looking which baffles me - almost twice league average. His overall number of 29% of strikes looking is up a little this year, but his pitch recognition seems to evaporate with two strikes. As shoewizard pointed out, even Matt Kemp has had similar spells, but until Upton ends this one, calling him "an enigma" seems positively kind.
soco: Is there an alternative? He's been a 2 time All-Star for the team, it's hard to suggest giving up on him.
There's been discussion over the team possibly trading Joe Saunders. Would you pull the trigger on a deal?
Clefo: Yes, but I wouldn't pull the trigger on just ANY deal.
Ridster09: If the trade is juicy enough, of course.
Jim. While not trade Saunders for a bag of balls, we should remain realistic here, and look at what similar pitchers have gone for in the past. Saunders is a non-elite starter, who's a free-agent in three months, so expecting more than, say, the mediocre haul Seattle got for Eric Bedard last trade deadline (basically a single B prospect) would be doubtful.
soco: Like I said in the FanPost, it always depends on the deal. He's been solid for us, and I imagine they'd try to get a bat. I personally feel like right now we'd get more value out of him as a starter, than whatever kind of bat we'd bring in.
Who do you think should be the D-backs All-Star representative? And if different, who will it be?
Clefo: Wade Miley, but TLR will select Breslow to get that important situational lefty to use with 2 outs in the 8th inning.
Ridster09: Miley. Since he's fallen into the rotation Miley's pitched through the sixth inning all but one time and kept the game well within reach. Which is exactly what you want. Plus, he spots a shiny 2.39 ERA which, of course, is the absolute way to judge a pitcher.
Jim: Miley has been our best player, but it's still not certain, especially in the "Year of the Pitcher" [isn't this about the third of those in a row?]. Paul Goldschmidt has a chance, in a season where NL 1B's past Joey Votto haven't exactly been outstanding: I'd love to see either one get in: it will likely depend on what positions are needed to fill on the roster.
soco: Wade Miley, since the question asked "should." Who will, however, be the representative is more about game theory than who our best player has been (and we'd be kidding ourselves to believe more than one D-back is going).
If you were commissioner, would you make any changes to the All-Star Game?
Clefo: This time it does not count. I would also take a little bit of the power of choosing the starting lineup out of the hands of the fans, who always seem to choose injured/slumping players that were good 3 to 5 years ago. A system like the fan vote counts for 50%, while a vote from writers or players or managers or some combination would count for certain other percentages. I'm sure someone better at math than I am could figure something out.
Ridster09: If I were the commissioner I'd act like Putin and throw the votes away.
Jim: Agree absolutely about getting rid of it deciding home-field advantage for the World Series. I'm not sure about the "one player per team" rule: this year, it probably works for us, and it helps avoid the massive skewing to big/East-coast franchises that happens. There has to be SOMEONE you can find on a franchise who's above average.
soco: I like Clefo's idea of diluting the fan vote. It's either that, or letting the fans only pick the Last Man In thing they do. Otherwise we get Lance Berkman.
Back home for Arizona, and series against the Mariners and Cubs. How well will they do?
Clefo: Win both series and toy with our hopes for another week. Every game of the Seattle series will be a 1-0 game that goes 18 innings. I will celebrate every game of the Cubs series by going to different places around town and getting the Arizona Hot Dog of my choice.
Ridster09: We'll definitely play baseball against the Mariners while winning the series and get no-hit by the Cubs but still win 2-0. Sounds right.
Jim: Time for another 5-1 week. Playing at home against the teams with the worst record in the NL and second-worst in the AL? Should be murderball. I particularly look forward to us beating up on the Cubs, which is always a pleasure.
soco: Mariners are cupcakes, so we'll lose that series 500 runs to 2. Cubs always draw well and bring out the competitive fires, and Chicago doesn't do well with fire. We win that one, me thinks.