A mixed bag of results on the road-trip for the Diamondbacks, dropping the series to the Giants and losing the opener to the Padres, before bouncing back to take the next two, finishing strong with Trevor Cahill's complete-game shutout. The team continues to defy expectations, never quite convincing us the season is over, but never getting on a roll either. Who are the 2012 Diamondbacks, and what do they need to do to get back in the NL West race? This, the draft and where the teams needs strengthening are discussed by our panel.
Guest today is jjwaltrip: imstillhungry95 is the sole member of the waiting list, so sign up in the comments if you want to take part.
The road-trip through San Francisco and San Diego ended 3-3. Happy or disappointed?Jim: It's a lot better than it looked about the middle of Saturday, when the Padres took the lead - at that point, the series seemed on the verge of being lost, and I was quite serious when I said that I'd consider the season dead if that happened. It helps that the Dodgers went 1-5 this week, so we reeled them in a bit. Wanted more though.
Clefo: Would have liked to do something more against SF, but I can't ever be mad at a series win. The D'Backs are well on their way to being a middling team, but there's possibly more there.
jjwaltrip: It could have gone better, but it is what it is. The road is always a tough place, so it is always good to be able to go 3-3.
Kishi: Zen. .500 road trip isn't bad, though I would have liked to have continued kicking the Padres when they were down.
snakecharmer: It was expected but still disappointing. Should've been at least 4-2 and that includes what would've been a sweep of the Padres. Saunders' game in SF was pretty good too. Still, I've seen progress.
Sonic Barracuda: Disappointed. At this point, playing .500 is a losing proposition. The team went from bleeding in early May to treading water the last few weeks. Three to four more weeks of treading water and we will drown. It has to trend upward from here or it's going to be a long season and we'll be sellers at the end of July instead of buyers.
It's now the one-third mark of the season, and Arizona sits eight games back of Los Angeles. What do they need to do going forward to get back in this?
Jim: Consistent pitching is probably the #1 for me. Hudson and Kennedy haven't been the front of the rotation guys we expected, with only six wins in 16 starts and a combined ERA of 4.38. And the arms of Shaw and Putz in the bullpen have been well short of 2011 as well, with even Hernandez blowing up on occasion.
Clefo: Strong Voodoo, and better starts from the front of the rotation.
jjwaltrip: IPK and Huddy, if they aren't consistent than it doesn't matter about the strides in offense we have made in the last three weeks. I would also like to see improvement from Putz, Shaw, Upton and Roberts.
snakecharmer: Win? Wait, we've tried that. No, really, I think the rotation needs to be stronger. I think it was Schulte who pointed out that the starters have really needed to start going deeper into games, and that's now happening. Kennedy and Miley both threw into their 8th innings, then Hudson 8 whole innings and Cahill the CGSHO. And in SF, Saunders looked fine until his 7th. That'll take some pressure off the bullpen, then maybe the offense can reappear.
Sonic Barracuda: Last year somebody different stepped up every game to find ways to win. This year's team has a new guy step up every day to find ways to lose. I hated the thought of regression and the ball not bouncing our way compared to last year, but the mathematics of baseball has been particularly vile in repaying us for all of last year's good fortune. There's nothing logical to be done that can overcome the law of averages. Just got to keep plugging away and hope it turns back our way.
What position(s) do you think are most in need of strengthening?
Jim: Third-base most obviously, which is why we've been looking at Kevin Youkilis. Ryan Roberts has regressed, pretty much as Dan predicted - even if RyRo didn't like it! - and Josh Bell is not the answer [and incidentally, neither was Cody Ransom, who I note is now 4-for-24 with 12 K's for Milwaukee]. Of late, Aaron Hill has been very unproductive too, with a .632 OPS since the end of April, but that's a position you expect less from. I can see us swapping a startng pitcher for a 3B. Just don't ask me who, on either side of the deal.
Clefo: I don't know. (Third base!) /rimshot. But yeah, I'm with Jim here.
jjwaltrip: Third base and it isn't even close, I wouldn't be surprised if Roberts is in Reno at the end of June and Ryan Wheeler is our new starter at third. The Greek God of Walks is also an option.
snakecharmer: Third base offensively. Second base too right now, with Hill in a big rut. Maybe a middle bullpen guy, although that acquisition was supposed to be Takashi Saito...
Sonic Barracuda: Ummm, how about right field!! What the heck is going on with Justin Upton? We have twice as many RBI out of 3B as we do RF. Gibby's done just fine piecing together production out of 3B. But 20 RBI from Upton through ⅓ of the season? We have no chance if he continues on that pace.
Who will be in the outfield for Arizona in 2013?
Jim: I think Eaton and Pollock's knocking at the door does make a trade seem likely. Young or Parra would be my guesses: the later will be expensive, the former might draw more interest, being younger. Just as long as we distract the scouts if Parra's facing a left-hander [today's homer notwithstanding!]. I'd say Young, simply because the money can be used elsewhere.
jjwaltrip: Krauss/Pollack/Eaton, at AAA that is. Kubel/Young/Upton. I think we trade Parra to the Rangers for Elvis Andrus, or to Oakland for Cliff Pennington and others. Anthony Rendon or Ian Desmond could also be an option for a trade. I just wanted to throw in a Parra trade scenario.
snakecharmer: I don't know, but I know it won't be who we have now. Sadly, I expect either Parra or Young to be traded, which will suck because I really like both of them, and it's so hard to see anybody but Steve Finley or Chris Young in CF. But Young and Parra both are worth too much for the club to keep them both past this year, especially if we're not contending at the deadline.
Sonic Barracuda: I think it ultimately depends on how the rest of the season goes. While I really like Pollock and Eaton, if the trio of Upton, Young and Kubel perform and make a run at the playoffs I suspect KT will keep them together for one more year. If things fall apart I wouldn't be surprised if they traded two outfielders with one of them even being Upton. But those trades better bring serious infield help or you're just swapping production for production without addressing your areas of need. But pressed into a corner, I say both Young and Parra are moved to get a couple of infielders. That would make the OF Kubel, Pollock and Upton with Eaton in reserve.
We pick 26th in the draft, a lot lower than last year. Are you going to pay it much attention?
Jim: It's a lot less interesting to write about, not just because we won't get an obvious stud, but because 25 teams get to go to the buffet first. There's maybe another 25 players we could end up picking, and I'm not interested in 96% of my research being of no interest. I'll be interested to see who we pick, and will then look into them, but in advance of that, not a great deal of excitement.
Clefo: I'll be a little interested, but a quick Wikipedia search shows that the 26th pick has not been a productive one for whoever had the pick (Who the hell is/was Richie Robnett?). The MLB draft is more of a crapshoot than other ones, so who knows what will happen, but I can't imagine myself getting too worked up about it.
jjwaltrip: Only for a little bit, just to see if we draft a shortstop of the future, or if we throw the pick away on another pitcher, I know, you can never have enough pitching, but we need a shortstop.
snakecharmer: Not really, no.
Sonic Barracuda: Absolutely! I love the MLB draft. There's always a handful of surprises in every draft and it's great fun scouring through so many new players trying to identify the next Goldschmidt or Eaton. Granted it's more fun when you have a bunch of high picks, but that doesn't mean you can't score some talent.
OT: For the approaching zombie apocalypse, you get to pick one man and one woman with whom you get to team up. Who would it be?
Jim: If we're talking fictional characters (and, let's face it, we're talking about zombies), Dr. Who and Alice from Resident Evil. Actually, someone needs to make that crossover. If you're discussing real people, give me Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. He'd have quite a few resources at his disposal. And Mrs. SnakePit, who has a large collection of useful weaponry, knows how to use them, and has seen enough zombie movies to be aware of the rules. In the event of her unavailability, due to her intestines being gnawed on, I'm still going with Milla Jovovich. :)
Clefo: FemShep (heavily armed and has experience fighting sort-of zombies) and Guybrush Threepwood (thrifty, good with a sword, good comic relief).
jjwaltrip: Wily Mo Pena and Kate Upton. Wily Mo so he can be my big scary bodyguard and Kate Upton for sacrifice.
snakecharmer: ...... yeah, no.
Sonic Barracuda: Bruce Willis and Jennifer Aniston. Willis never loses. But if he does, I'll die in the arms of Jennifer.
Home stand of six games against teams below .500 in the Rockies and A's. Predictions, and thoughts?
Jim: We SHOULD be beating up on these kinds of teams. But we've just struggled so horribly at home this season. That's something which absolutely has to change, and I think the past couple of games might - just, might - get us going in the right direction. 4-2. Be nice if we can beat Dan Haren, as it looks like we'll face him when Oakland come to town.
Clefo: You mean Jarrod Parker? Hopefully there's some good hoodoo at home to be found. I think we win both series in some fashion. Of course, my optimism must be punished.
snakecharmer: Man, if Haren was still in Oakland... we'd be in big trouble.
Jim: Woops. Yep, Parker - though I think we might see Haren next week too, when we get to Anaheim.
jjwaltrip: 5-1. Rockies pitching is a joke, SWEEP. Behind Yoenis Cespedes, the A's will win a game, with my luck, it's probably going to be the game I go to on Saturday. Yoenis Cespedes ends the series with 4 480-foot home runs, 3 miss played balls, and 1 outfield assist.
snakecharmer: I keep saying we have to go 4-2 and we keep going only 3-3. What's a girl to do? Maybe I should say 5-1.
Sonic Barracuda: Thoughts? We need some sweeps so badly to get back into this thing before it's too late. Predictions? My heart says 5-1, my gut says 3-3. Long live the heart!