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The 2014 Diamondbacks: Second-half preview

We're round the turn, and the end, though still some way off, is in sight. What will the second-half bring for the D-backs?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tankapalooza 2014

Rk Tm W L W% RS RA SOS SRS pythWL last10 last20 last30
1 TEX 38 57 .400 4.1 5.3 0.3 -0.8 37-58 1-9 3-17 7-23
2 ARI 40 56 .417 3.9 4.7 -0.1 -0.9 40-56 5-5 9-11 12-18

HOU 40 56 .417 3.8 4.8 0.3 -0.6 39-57 4-6 7-13 11-19
4 COL 40 55 .421 4.8 5.3 -0.2 -0.7 43-52 4-6 6-14 10-20
5 CHC 40 54 .425 3.9 4.2 -0.1 -0.4 44-50 2-8 9-11 14-16
6 SDP 41 54 .432 2.9 3.5 -0.1 -0.6 40-55 3-7 9-11 13-17
7 PHI 42 53 .442 3.9 4.4 -0.1 -0.6 42-53 5-5 8-12 14-16
8 BOS 43 52 .453 3.9 4.3 0.1 -0.3 43-52 5-5 9-11 14-16
9 TBR 44 53 .454 3.9 4.2 0.1 -0.2 46-51 6-4 13-7 19-11
10 MIN 44 50 .468 4.3 4.4 0.1 -0.1 45-49 6-4 8-12 13-17

[SOS is Strength of Schedule, the number of runs per game their opponents are better (or worse) than the average team. SRS is Simple Rating System, the number of runs per game they are better (or worse) than average.] The quest for a high draft pick next year will continue apace in the coming months. Above are the current standings in that battle, and we have a new #1 with a bullet, thanks to the complete implosion of the Texas Rangers, who have won just three of their last twenty-five games. It's a remarkable implosion for a team that won 91 games last year - they're on pace to drop off no less than 26 - and as the Pythag standings show, they fully deserve that position.

Where the D-backs end up will depend on their own performance, naturally. Their current win percentage has them reaching 67.5 wins, but if we cross off the wretched April, their pace since then, projected forward, would take them to 71.5 victories. However, it seems certain the team will be sellers at the trade deadline, which could result in the team being significantly worse down the stretch than they have been to date, though one imagines the truly positive contributors such as Paul Goldschmidt won't be going anywhere.

However, it's worth noting the schedule is generally kind to the Diamondbacks. The 66 remaining contests include 10 each against each of the Rockies and Padres, fellow strugglers in the NL West with more or less the same record, and a further thirteen against the Cubs, Marlins, Twins and Phillies, between 6-14 games below .500 There's a reason the NL West have the four easiest schedules overall the rest of the way. Bottom line? The Fangraphs' projected standings has us ending tied for fourth, level with Colorado on a 72-90 record. Baseball Prospectus has us 31-35 the rest of the way, reaching 71 wins, third in Tankapalooza.

Who will survive, and what will be left of them?

The above tagline from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre might be the best fit for the remainder of this year, though an alternative movie reflecting the 2014 Diamondbacks, The Purge might be a credible choice.

House cleaning has already begun. The departures of Brandon McCarthy and Joe Thatcher came as no surprise: both men's contracts were up this year, so the sooner they were dealt, the higher their value. Who else might go? It's probably quicker to list those who definitely aren't. According to Ken Rosenthal, our list of untouchables starts with Wade Miley, and also includes Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin, Chris Owings, A.J. Pollock, Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley "and probably [Brad] Ziegler," with a trade of Mark Trumbo described as "unlikely." That leaves some big names apparently available, including Aaron Hill, Martin Prado, Miguel Montero and Gerardo Parra.

Hill and Prado probably top my list of potential candidates, since the team has credible alternatives for them in the wings. Parra is becoming increasingly expensive, but he is having a severely down season (below replacement level by both fWAR and bWAR) and we wouldn't get the return we might have at the beginning of the year. With Trumbo and Pollock inked in, and David Peralta looking impressive so far (though I'm still worried about a walk-rate below once a week), whether Parra goes may depened on someone being interested in taking Cody Ross off our hands. I'm not exactly expecting a rush.

The potential departees aren't just limited to those on the field either. The possible death watch on Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson will continue, particularly once the trade deadline has passed. You could argue a case that, if you're going to replace them, it makes sense to allow a newcomer to get their feet under the table and settle in, during the tail end of a dead season - this probably goes more for the manager than the GM. But I have an increasing feeling that we'll probably see them both retain their positions through the end of the campaign, and we won't see any moves made until the start of the hot-stove season. Keep the champagne on ice, folks.

Young guns, having some fun

I swear, that's the only Wham! quote you'll ever see on the SnakePit. It's probably a good job Archie Bradley didn't win a rotation spot ouf of spring training. I don't know how legitimate a "contest" that ever was, but I'd have hated to blow a year of service time on the gurgling vortex of suck which transpired. 2014 hasn't been a kind year to Bradley, injury and underwhelming performance (a 38:26 K:BB ratio) combining to drive down his stock somewhat. We've certainly not heard the calls for his promotion this year I thought we might, though some of that is certainly due to the realization he could win the Cy Young and we'd still be ten games below .500.

Be interesting to see what other names might be called up to make their debuts in the second half. Previous years have seen some call-ups who stuck around: Owings (Sep. 2013), Goldschmidt (Aug. 2011), Justin Upton (Aug 2007), Montero (Sep. 2006), Stephen Drew (July 2006) and Lyle Overbay (Sep. 2001). We've already seen some names who should be part of the future, e.g. Evan Marshall and Matt Stites. Which others get their chance will depend on what gaps open up. For instance, if Martin Prado is dealt, that opens the door for 3B Jake Lamb (.960 OPS with Mobile) to pull a Mark Reynolds (.931 OPS with Mobile), and skip AAA to reach the majors.

As usual, when the team is playing games which are basically meaningless [rather more of them this year than in the previous three seasons], it's seeing young players develop and produce which becomes the main delight, with the overall results for the team largely meaningless. For instance, Peralta has 43 hits in his first 36 games, tied for 30th since 1998; can he keep that up? Will Chase Anderson's ERA continue to defy his peripherals? Might our rookie relievers get some higher-leverage work down the stretch? It's this that will fuel our interest over the next two and a half months, as we look toward 2015 and beyond.