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SnakePit Round Table: Houston, We Have No Problem Edition

Jason Kubel shows off his baserunning strength - trotting round them after hitting a home-run.
Jason Kubel shows off his baserunning strength - trotting round them after hitting a home-run.

The Diamondbacks discovered the elixir for success over the weekend: all they need to do is play the Astros. Of course, there's the tricky little problem of the other 156 games, but after that horrible loss in the Reds finale, this was a refreshing sorbet to wash the taste of that away. Plenty of moves on the roster too, along with Jason Kubel entering beast mode and the Hall of Fame inductions. We discuss all those topics, and the upcoming rest of the home-stand.

Our guest panelist is BigLeagueAZ, so thanks to them. grimmy01 is next up, and if anyone is interested in taking part beyond that, just post a comment and we'll put you on the list.

A 5-2 week for Arizona, splitting the series in Cincinnati and mauling the Astros. How did it go?

soco: All things considered, it went fairly well. Sure, that 6 run meltdown against Cincinnati wasn't fun, but they're a team at the top of their division. And the Astros were curbstomped, as a team of their lack of quality should be.

Clefo: Splitting against Cinci should make one feel good, but the aforementioned meltdown leaves a bad taste in your mouth. As far as the Astros go, it was nice to actually beat a team we were supposed to handily this month.

soco: And all the games were laughers, which is nice. The D-backs didn't just limp their way through a series win, there's no doubt they kicked some ass.

snakecharmer: "Fraulein Maria, can we do this every day?" No, seriously, can we just beat up on the Astros some more? Please? That was nice, of course, to know that the team can hit well against bad pitchers, but I don't know how sustainable it is. At least the main source of the aforementioned meltdown (Shaw) is gone. I am not surprised at this.

BigLeagueAZ: I also felt like we should have done better against the Reds. And sweeping the DISastros doesn't mean much, especially at home. You can't complain about a 5-2 week, but we find ourselves in this gray area where we aren't out enough to be total sellers, yet we are so inconsistent that there isn't much reason to believe we can legitimately contend and be a force in the playoffs.

Sonic: Giving away the last Cinci game really hurt. We're not out of it yet but we have to stop throwing away games. In fact we need to start stealing a few games. We did what we were supposed to do to Houston. We need to do the same to Colorado.

Jim: As others have pointed, it should have been 6-1. Decent though our results were, we picked up a whole half-game in the standings. But there's no denying the offense clicked on all cylinders over the weekend, even if it was against the hapless Astros. That's always nice to see. Just keep winning. It's all we can do.

A lot of changes for the D-backs this week, with team debuts for Takashi Saito, Brad Bergesen and Ryan Wheeler. How much did those get your adrenalin flowing?

soco: Ryan Wheeler, sure, because he's Good Wheeler and he flashed some nice leather (and also got some hits). I have no thoughts on Saito or Bergesen yet, I will give them time to disappoint me.

Clefo: It at least tells me that the team is trying to be improved, which is nice. It's kinda fun seeing Wheeler at a AAA game on Wednesday then see him on TV in the bigs a few days later. I think Saito will be solid, and I know absolutely nothing about Bergesen, but I hope he sticks around and does good things.

snakecharmer: ..Um... Am I supposed to get my adrenaline flowing when I see those names? Saito I don't know what to expect; it's July, and we're just now seeing him. Know nothing of Bergesen either. It's nice to see another prospect get a shot.

BigLeagueAZ: I actually forgot all about Saito. He was less than impressive in spring training and the minors, so I don't want to get my hopes up. The bullpen still features Zagurski, so how much worse can it get? Much needed call up for Wheeler, so I'm happy about that. I can't get excited about a pitcher that was cut by the O's, though. A sinker-baller at Chase!!!! I heard all about that last winter.

Sonic: I love the Wheeler move. I'm not sure if it got my adrenaline flowing though. But I feel the offense has a set program going forward that I can buy into. Strict platoon at 3B with Wheeler and RyRo. A general platoon at SS with Drew and Bloom. A fairly strict platoon in center field with Young and Parra. Spot starts for Overbay at first and Bloom at 3B. We need to run with that program for a while. Saito should be an upgrade and Bergerson, who knows?

Jim: I was really surprised to see Saito get called up, given he had been pitching in the AZ. I expected a rehab stint against more challenging hitters - then probably another setback, and he vanishes from our consciousness again. Ah, just last November, we and about three other people were watching Wheeler on a frozen night at SRF. Now, here is is, on our televisual devices. I still don't know who Bergesen is. Given he's a long reliever, and will only come in if our starter sucks, I hope this ignorance continues for the foreseeable future.

The week also marked the end of the Geoff Blum era. Thoughts?

soco: Who?

Clefo: I pulled something while writing my opinion, I need an extended DL stint.

snakecharmer: You boys make me laugh. Anyway, sad to see that his tenure was so un-notable. He could've been a real asset, but just couldn't stay on the roster long enough to make much impact. Nice guy, though.

BigLeagueAZ: Nice hair. Nice guy. Him and KT must be drinking buddies though, because it's hard to explain how he made it this long. Much needed move.

Sonic: So long overdue it's not funny. If Wheeler had been called up two months ago he'd already be through his adjustment period and had two months of Matt Williams tutoring at 3B. I find it hard not to criticize the FO for how they handled 3B.

Jim: In the mid-60's, they made two spinoff Doctor Who films starring Peter Cushing as the Doctor. I adore Cushing totally, but the results were utterly awful. I mention this, because much the same happened here. I've not met anyone who has other than good things to say about Blum. But among all non-pitchers with 60+ PA in their time with AZ, only three have had a lower batting-average. We ended up paying Blum $180,000 per hit over two years...

Jason Kubel had 20 total bases between Saturday and Sunday. Do you see him in the running for team MVP?

soco: He's not just running, he's in the DRS zone and it's activated. Who else stands close? Aaron Hill obviously has done well, and had that amazing couple weeks with the 2 cycles, but Kubel has been pretty steady. I'd like to see the road numbers come up a bit, but overall I'm very pleased.

Clefo: Yeah, I don't see him Maldanadoing it anytime soon. I think he's certainly glad to be out of Target Field, and has definitely exceeded most expectations us internet people laid on him.

snakecharmer: I don't see any other candidate polling anywhere near close to him right now.

BigLeagueAZ: Running AWAY with Team MVP. I can't believe I ever doubted this move. I will never question KT again. At least not until he makes another move.

Sonic: Certainly offensive MVP, it's not even close.

Jim: Hmm, I was expecting more debate - fWAR still has him 4th, behind Hill, Montero and Goldschmidt. He has certainly surpassed even the most optimistic of expectations, and has a real shot at putting up the most homers by an AZ outfielder since Gonzo in 2001 (currently owned by Chris Young's 32 in 2007). If he keeps this up, he'll certainly be, not just in the conversation, but the main topic.

Wade Miley set a team record, picking up his 11th win as a rookie. Has he a chance at Rookie of the Year, or might that as well be wrapped up and given to Bryce Harper?

soco: No chance. He plays for Arizona, he has no hype, and I'm sure some nerds out there don't like some of his peripherals.

Clefo: Bryce Harper could blow out both of his knees in a freak combine accident tomorrow and he'll still win ROTY.

snakecharmer: That's a clown question, bro.

BigLeagueAZ: I give the Rookie of the Year voters a little more respect than the All-Star voters, so yes, I think he has a chance.

Sonic: They'll give it to Harper even if he goes oh-fer the rest of the year.

Jim: Harper harper harper harper harper HARPER harper. Harper harper harper? Harper harper - harper harper harper.
Wade Miley: fWAR 2.6, bWAR 2.6
Bryce Harper: fWAR 1.4, bWAR 1.6

I sense a Brandon Webb/Dontrelle Willis scenario possibly brewing.

The Hall of Fame induction took place this weekend at Cooperstown. What relevance does the HoF have in the modern game?

soco: Uncertain. It has no impact on modernity, because Hall of Fames, being museums, are necessarily looking backwards. The men who make the Hall are generally removed enough that their stories are generally tinged with historical nostalgia. But I think the Hall is relevant in the sense that it attempts to preserve moments as they happen, and it is still the destination of every player.

BigLeagueAZ: I think the HoF's relevance will be made clear after Clemens, Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, etc. run through their eligibility (or get voted in). Then again, the all-time hits leader and Buck O'Neil were left out so maybe it is already irrelevant. Obviously it's a great honor for a player to get selected. But there will always be controversy.

Sonic: Ummm, I don't know? It's like the All-Star game for me. Big deal. It's just something for sportswriters and talking heads to fill papers and air time with. But I was a big Barry Larkin fan so I was happy to see him get recognized.

Jim: To some extent, it acts as the game's moral compass, tagging the careers of those deemed inappropriate with a Cooperstown-shaped asterisk. It's a somewhat wonky compass, applied with no great objectivity: but even that's a good deal better than the lack of backbone we've seen from the Commissioner's Office. It'll always be a challenge to compare current players against the greats of the past, but that's half the fun.

We now face the team with the second-worst record, the Rockies, for three games, then four against the more challenging d) the Mets. Kennedy and Saunders get two starts apiece. Will we end the week above, below or at .500?

soco: Above. I think we win against the Rockies, maybe even sweep (hopefully even sweep). I still don't believe in the Mets, but it doesn't matter because they obviously believe in themselves. Given that it's at Chase, however, I have a feeling the D-backs will be competitive and at least split.

Clefo: We should destroy them, so thus I will be disappointed.

snakecharmer: I swear, I don't even know what our record is now. :( [← Bad Fan] We need to go 4-3, though.

BigLeagueAZ: I think we have to go 5-2 if we want to talk ourselves out of having a clearance sale before the deadline. The worst pitcher in our 5-man rotation is better than the best pitcher in the Rockies' 4-man rotation. Sweep the Rockies, and at least take 2 from the Mets.

Sonic: This is our moment right here. We've been standing on the abyss of the season for a month now. With most of August on the road we have to go 6-1 or 7-0 in this stretch to get back into it. 5-2 is tolerable but just barely. If we go 6-1 or better here I predict we make the playoffs. 4-3 or worse and I predict we won't. Moment of truth coming up.

Jim: We almost have to get above .500, which would mean going 5-2. That seems quite possible, with the Mets 1-9 over the last ten and back below .500, while the Rockies their usual 16-29 on the road this season. Let's do it. This team needs to decide whether or not it's a genuine contender, and stop wasting our time, dammit. I have five more seasons of Supernatural to get through and this just isn't helping!