clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Arizona Diamondbacks State of the Nation

New, comments

Just about the one-quarter point, and since it's an off-day, we asked all the SnakePit writers a series of questions about where the team is, how they got here, and where the Diamondbacks go from here.... Get a cup of coffee!

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Is the D-backs season effectively over? If so, when did you decide that? If not, at what point would you consider it over?

Piratedan7: I would consider it done if we don't have a positive w/l over the next ten days. The scary thing is, with the talent that is supposedly on this club, I could see them putting together a torrid stretch that could make all of the predictive analysis look asinine. Yet, with how the team is currently functioning, I don't see it. I don't see anyone having a Meatballs "It Just Doesn't matter" speech in them to tap into the frustration. Maybe they need a brawl, maybe the need a break but this is really frustrating to watch, the team looks listless.

Steven Burt: Once AJ Pollock went down to injury, the D-backs were all but done in my eyes. They traded from their very important depth to strengthen something that already had solid albeit unspectacular depth. There's no emotion in this team except for when they drive the bus after a hit.

Clefo: If the rest of the NL West wasn't so much of a mediocre, but still existent, tire fire I'd say yes, but there's still a sliver of hope. A sliver of hope dependent on the team playing better than it has, but still there.

MichaelMcD831993: Barring a major turnaround on the next homestand, I think you have to stick a fork in this team. All of the team's problems are exasperated when they play at Chase Field. The pitching struggles at home combined with the inability to hit with runners in scoring position is why they're 5-16 so far as of Monday, May 16th. Rubby De La Rosa is the Dbacks only starter with a sub-4.00 ERA at Chase Field with a 3.13 mark as a starter. It looks as if the team succumbs to pressure instead of trying to put pressure on the other team when at Chase.

James Attwood:The NL West is just rubbish this season. If not for sweeping the Diamondbacks over the recent four-game set, the Giants would not be so far out in front. THe entire division would be within 2 games of each other. This season looks to come down to who does best winning games inside the division, even more than in other recent years. Goldy and Greinke, two perennial top-tier performers, will figure out what they need to in order to get right. I have faith that Nick Ahmed will get back over .220 for a batting average (assuming he is given a chance). I'm a bit worried about Miller on the whole, but even if he stays bad, he has to improve over his season to date. Peralta should return from injury soon, which will help the offense. I'm still not sold on RDLR having finally blossomed, but he is trending that direction. If he emerges as a #2-type pitcher, that only helps Arizona's chances. Given all those factors, I still think the Diamondbacks have a shot at winning the NL West. They have to start winning series though, and they need to improve their home record, though I tend to think that latter part is just statistical noise, and not a trend.

Makakilo:: The season is not over!

  • My three-point post-season status is yellow. The positive is my Pythagorean projection based on last ten games shows Diamondbacks will complete the season with 92.4 wins. The Diamondbacks have 9 more games against the Dodgers and Giants before the All-Star break. If Diamondbacks win 5 or more, while retaining Pythagorean numbers, we are green status for the post season.

  • Second, James Atwood made a great point that none of the other NL West teams are very good. The Diamondbacks continue to discover new talent.

Jim:: Yes! No! I don't know! Reply hazy, try again! I am so conflicted by this team. Every time I think they're dead in the water, they pull out a winning streak. Every time they look primed to make a push, they slump. Since April 29th, we've seen three winning/losing streaks of 5+ games - the same number as we had all last season. Maybe we just need to accept this is who the team will be: streaky. It does help being where we are: in the Central, our record would be 11.5 back. Neither the Giants nor the Dodgers have exactly run away with the division, though I still expect the routine fall-off from the Rockies, sooner or later. So it's not over, yet, but another long losing streak and I'm sure I'll be fully convinced otherwise.

Nate:: Not yet. Those 5-game winning streaks give me hope that they could make a big run where they go 13-2, 12-3 on a 15 game stretch to get them back in it. The bad news is that a 2-13 stretch is just as likely.

Xipooo:: It's not over by any means. There are plenty of games left to go, but we can't just hope for a winning streak, we need everyone to start producing regularly.

Why has this team fallen so far short of hopes?

Piratedan7: Combination of things, the high expectations with the off-season moves and then immediately crushed with the realization that we've lost an all-star out of the lineup for what looks to be the season, before the season even started. It's almost a complete mimic of what happened when Brandon Webb went down before the season started.

Steven: The stars haven't performed like they should and the role players regressed. Added to that were unreasonable expectations and there is your recipe for disaster. Sure injury has been an issue, but if you're expecting a full season of health well you're going to be disappointed.

Clefo: Regression, and the uniforms aren't crazy enough.

MichaelMcD831993: Injuries, ineffectiveness, and bad situational play. The AJ Pollock injury probably hurts the most with no one being able to effectively fill those shoes. Then you factor in Peralta and Goldschmidt having down seasons in 2016, with the latter in a bad slump and no signs of getting out of it any time soon. The Diamondbacks had a lot of position player depth going into the offseason, now it seems that they don't have any.

James Attwood: I think injuries are the biggest culprit. The injury to Pollock was a massive blow to the team. Tomás missing most of spring did not help matter. Peralta going on the shelf has put the team in an awkward position offensively. Jake Lamb missing a solid stretch of games due to shoulder fatigue didn't help. The bullpen has missed a strong long arm, something Josh Collmenter has often provided (though he may not have it anymore). I also think that, despite what they say, Shelby Miller's problems were not only mental ones. His mechanics have been lousy, and this has resulted in his pitching with a bad hand on at least two outings.

It certainly has not helped matters that Zack Greinke has so far failed to step up as a frontline ace, or that the starting pitching in general has been spotty at best. Situational offense has also been horrific, Monday night against New York notwithstanding.

Makakilo:: Four reasons.

  • Offense was good enough, although it could have be better with Pollock, and if Goldy was at full power.

  • Starting pitching was below average despite adding Greinke and Miller.

  • A lack of outfield depth meant having 10 different players in the outfield - Brito, Bourn, Drury, Gosselin, Herrmann, Miller, Owings, Peralta, Tomas, and Weeks.

  • Very strong teams were scheduled in April. Although that might have been acceptable, it was unfortunate because Diamondbacks were fixing problems and not yet at full performance.

Jim:: I think we may have under-estimated how important A.J. Pollock was, and how much losing him hurt the team. Goldy's low average certainly hasn't helped. But for me, it's all about the starting pitching. Only 2004 had a higher rotational ERA, and we all know how that season ended. Everyone bar De La Rosa has taken a significant step back from last season's performance, and you can't hope to be successful when four-fifths of your starting pitching are underperforming. The good news is, it does seem to be getting better: our starters' ERA in April was 5.62, but in May it has been 3.83, and they have already matched the April W total.

Nate:: It's mostly about the starting rotation. I agree with pretty much everything Jim said.

Xipooo:: Coaching I think is the main issue, for various reasons, but mostly because they don't seem to be doing anything about morale.

At whose door do you lay responsibility?

Piratedan7: It's a team, therefore the responsibility lays there. The FO, the coaching staff and the players.

Steven: I think it should be equally distributed. The FO has done an awful job in the wake of injuries, the players have been just plain bad and the coaches look clueless as to what to do.

Clefo: Coaching staff seems to be kinda clueless. There's probably another person there too. Flag lady maybe?

MichaelMcD831993: I put more blame on the front office for the season failures. The $206M Greinke contract hasn't quite worked out yet as Greinke has a home ERA of 7.28 although he's been terrific outside Chase. The Miller trade was a disaster waiting to happen unless Miller was a 3x All-Star and helped the Dbacks win a title. I got the feeling that deal was not Dave Stewart's idea. On the coaching staff, I have to think Mike Butcher is a possible fire after the season unless the pitching at home improves drastically, especially in the rotation. You can't have 4 out of 5 starters with a home ERA north of 6.00.

James Attwood: First and foremost, it is on the players, especially Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, and Paul Goldschmidt. Those three were supposed to collectively put this team on their backs and carry it through the season. So far, all three are underperforming, with only Goldschmidt showing any real signs of what is expected of him by still keeping the OBP and home runs up. However, I think just as much blame falls on the front office. This team had some glaring holes and some areas where depth was suspect. After signing Greinke, the team shut down and did little to address these areas. While management lucked into Jean Segura rebounding nicely, that alone will not lift this team out of the cellar, not am I yet convinced he can sustain this level of performance through October. Here's to hoping he can though.

Makakilo:: Responsibility has several parts - primary cause, decision making, and ability to impact/change. The players' performances are the primary cause tempered with the ideas that it is a team effort and the team chose the players. The current situation is a result of both circumstances and past decisions, both good and bad. However, there is a difference between real reasons and espoused explanations and excuses. Who has the ability to impact and change the situation? Perhaps that is shared at many levels, from players to coaches to managers to owners.

Jim:: It starts with the front-office. Hindsight is 20/20, but you can't spend $45 million this year and trade away multiple top young players, to get three pitchers who have combined to be sub-replacement level. Might be a fun exercise to see on what free agents that money could have been spent instead. The dispersal of depth in the rotation and outfield has been painfully exposed - especially on days when we start two converted infielders and a backup catcher out there. But the coaching staff - especially Mike Butcher - seem to have struggled to address the issues, such as Miller's painfully obvious mechanical problems. I don't know what they've been doing, but whatever it is, hasn't worked.

Nate:: It has to fall on the players. Sure, you could say that the front office should not have traded for Shelby, should not have spent 200+ million on Greinke, but who could have seen their awful performance coming? I think they'll turn it around, but the majority of the struggles is due to the rotation, Greinke and Miller in particular.

Xipooo:: As I said in the last question, I blame the coaching staff mostly. Hale seems to make poor decisions not only during the game, but also with his pitching staff's rest days. I have 0 confidence in Mike Butcher. And overall the team seems to be in a somber mood.

What's the matter with Paul Goldschmidt?

Piratedan7: Maybe he's not getting enough sleep.

Steven: Compounding stress from underperformance and losing is affecting Goldy more than most because he's the team leader. They need him to do well for them to have any chance of scoring consistent runs.

Clefo: He's walking a bunch, so it seems he's seeing the ball well, just not getting the usual power. It's a mystery.

MichaelMcD831993: Goldschmidt's aggressiveness at the plate was curbed a bit when teams stopped pitching to him at the end of April. Part of the problem is the batters before and after him aren't doing enough to force the other team to pitch to Goldschmidt. At the same time, Goldschmidt hasn't made much solid contact in the last month so you wonder if there's a mechanical issue in his swing. It may not even be noticeable to the untrained eye. I think the team needs to bat Drury 2nd and Lamb 4th to surround Goldschmidt with the 2nd and 3rd best hitters in the overall lineup.

James Attwood: Goldschmidt's timing seems to be off. He is second in all of baseball with 38 walks on the season (as of Tuesday morning), so he's still laying off pitches when the opposition is trying to get cute and not give him anything hittable. When he is swinging the bat though, his contact seems to be just off a touch. Moving Goldschmidt to the #2 or #4 hole might help, though I don't think it really matters who bats in front of or behind him, the opposition is still going to pitch around Goldschmidt and challenge the others. There does seem to be a slight alteration in his early set-up for his swing. I don't know if this mechanical change is the culprit or not, but it might not be the worst idea to go back to what worked before. Also, I'd love to see him get aggressive again, but he needs to get his timing down for that to work.

Makakilo::

  • What remains great. Goldschmidt is on pace for 32 homeruns and 4 triples. His on-base percent is .398. To be on pace with 2015, he has eight too few singles and 10 too many walks. His extra walks are making up for reduced singles.

  • What is puzzling. First, his RBIs are below last year's pace. Because homeruns and triples are on pace with last year, less RBIs could show lack of hitting opportunities with baserunners. Second, looking at each game's above/below average runs added by Goldy (RE24), in 2016 he was a big hero twice as often as a goat (6 times vs 3 times). This falls short of 2015, when the ratio was over three (41 times vs 12 times).

  • What's the problem. His 2016 BABIP of .275 is 30% lower than 2015. Regression to career average would be a welcome increase. His hard-hit percentage of .333 is 20% lower than 2015. Maybe this is fixable.

Jim:: We looked at the difference in production a little while back, and things like the shift to Goldschmidt being much more a pull hitter, and a sharply-increased number of infield flies tends to suggest there has been some kind of mechanical change. Alternatively, this could be the result of pitchers working him differently: maybe more pitches inside? If so, then it would be up to Paul (and hitting coach, Dave Magadan, to make the appropriate adjustment. Whatever that might be remains to be seen, but until it happens, one imagines pitchers will continue to do it, because a Goldschmidt that's hitting in the .230's is the one opposing hitters want to see, even with the walks.

Nate:: I have absolutely no idea.

Xipooo:: His zone recognition seems to be worse than it's ever been. Yes he's getting the walks, but it sure seems like he's swinging at piches out of the zone more. It may be his setup and not getting ready soon enough in the pitchers motion, but I can only speculate without doing a full appraisal.

Why can this team not win at home?

Piratedan7: Obviously this is an indictment of our fandom, we're not clapping loud enough or doing the wave at the approved designated times. I wish I could say why, but this isn't the first time that they have underperformed at home. Maybe the type of team that has been constructed isn't the type of team that succeeds in Chase Field.

Steven: It sure would help if the pitching would be better at home. A 5.83 ERA isn't going to work out in the long run.

Clefo: The pitching staff can't seem to figure it out there. Maybe they're keeping the roof open too much? I remember that's something Curt Schilling used to whinge about (Yes, Curt Schilling complaining, shocking.)

MichaelMcD831993: Starting rotation is not getting the job done. The ERAs at home for the rotation are Greinke 7.28, Miller 7.46, Corbin 6.48, De La Rosa 3.13, and Ray 8.31. At the same time, the pitchers are giving up an inordinate amount of home runs at Chase. Compounding the lack of pitching is the team's inability to hit with runners in scoring position. The Giants series was a sad trombone montage of failing in clutch situations.

James Attwood: To date, because this team just hasn't been very good. I think as the leaders of this team come around and Arizona starts going right, that the home record will take care of itself. It's still too early in my book to determine the Diamondbacks are incapable of winning at home. By the end of the season, I expect this poor stretch to be statistical noise.

Makakilo:: Chase Field - it must be mastered. In 2015, AJ Pollock said that during batting practice, he tracks balls all over the outfield so he knows how they are carrying that specific day. Changes in temperature and humidity change how balls carry. The roof or panels can be opened during the game, adding wind that changes how balls carry. Ian Kennedy said he changes the aim points of his pitches based on baseball park elevation. Only one baseball park is higher than Chase Field at 1059 feet.

Jim:: Too many long-balls allowed at home. 34 there, only 11 on the road? Maybe it is time to start thinking about a humidor again, because Chase Field seems to be hurting our pitchers a lot more than it's helping the hitters (our offensive HR ratio is only 30:20). I don't know if it's poor pitch selection or a failure to execute the pitches being called, but again - that's why we have coaches.

Xipooo:: It could be the pressure they feel at home to produce, where as on the road they can relax more.

Who have been the bright spots?

Piratedan7: Segura, Lamb, DeLaRosa and to a lesser extent, It has been nice to see Owings do better, to see Castillo sustain his performance and Herrmann make us all forget Tuffy.

Steven: I don't even know where this team would be without guys like Jean Segura and Rubby de la Rosa playing as well as they have. Drury has surprised with the bat and Owings in CF has been a success.

Clefo: Jean Segura alone makes me think that this Front Office sometimes gets it. Rubby De La Rosa has proven why various teams had been high on him for awhile. Brandon Drury has almost singlehandedly redeemed Kevin Tow- sorry I couldn't finish that sentence without breaking out in hives.

MichaelMcD831993: Rubby De La Rosa and Jean Segura have been pleasant surprises. Brandon Drury and Jake Lamb are playing very well, although that's to be expected when considering their track record. Drury is a Rookie of the Year candidate and the power in his bat that everyone talked about but never materialized in the minors has broken out this year. Segura was a change of scenery candidate after the emotional trauma suffered he endured two years ago and the need for a fresh start. He's cooling off a bit recently though. De La Rosa finally figured it out and is just murdering the league now that his slider has become a plus pitch for him.

James Attwood: Jean Segura has been very refreshing having a rebound season so far, I hope he can keep it up in the second half of the season and does not fall off like he did after a hot start in 2013 for Milwaukee. Brandon Drury has shown he can hit and that he is liable to stick. RDLR seems to possibly be coming around and developing into the pitcher many over the years have thought he could be.

Makakilo:: Jean Segura! Rubby De La Rosa! Chris Herrmann!

Jim:: I'm more confident that De La Rosa's improvement is sustainable than Segura - I'm still bracing myself for Jean's BABIP to regress from its insanely high rate, because his walk-rate still makes Chris Owings looks like Barry Bonds.. Speaking of which, Owings has been a nice surprise: he is walking more, striking out less, and while the metrics are mixed, hasn't been a car-crash in center. Drury appears here to stay too.

Xipooo:: Chris Owings playing center field, Segura's ability to get on base AND his defense. Jake Lamb's power at the plate, and Chris Herrmann is probably the best backup catcher in the game. Poor Tuffy.

If you were in charge, what changes would you make?

Piratedan7: I know that this will sound blasphemous but.....

If we continue to suck... I would sit Goldy for a series, bring up O'Brien and let him play 1st base for a week. I would release Bourn. I would move Ray to the long man and let Archie have a shot. I would move Owings to SS. and upon his return, give you an OF of Peralta, Drury and Tomas. If nothing else than to send the message to the entire team that performance plays. Even if it's just a semantic gesture, it could shake the complacency loose.

Steven: Blow it up. Trade Greinke and Miller and start the young guys. Send Ahmed down and start Segura at shortstop.

Clefo: Slap Ken Kendrick to open up the wallet some more next off season to help with depth. Maybe hire a hypnotist to get some value for Miller? I'd probably keep Greinke around cause it'd be a hard contract to trade to anyone's satisfaction, and it seems some regression to the mean for him is due.

Really I just kinda wanna slap Ken Kendrick.

MichaelMcD831993: I'd give Archie Bradley a shot at a rotation spot and to clear room, I probably option either Ray to AAA so he can figure out how to attack hitters better. I give Bradley 3 starts to see if he's a better alternative than Ray for 2016. Bradley now is in a similar boat to RDLR before this season, the pitching lags behind the stuff.

James Attwood: THis is a tough one for me. Most of my dissatisfaction with the decision makers has been related to pre-season decisions. THis is not the roster I would have gone with. However, Socrates Brito needs regular ABs to get himself going right again, so the 25-man that we have is pretty much the one I would keep now. I might shift the bullpen about some by moving Delgado out, but even otherwise even that part of the roster seems fine. There simply is no place to play O'Brien on this team until Arizona starts playing some interleague games in AL ballparks. If O'Brien could play CF, things might be different, but he has limited range on the corners already. Putting him in CF is just inviting disaster.

Makakilo:: It seems obvious to me. Due to Pollock's injury, the Diamondbacks need to add a center fielder. So far, ten players have played in the outfield. Adding one star could reduce the uncertainty of who will play. It seems there is no room in the budget to fill the hole. Can an exception be made for such a serious injury?

Jim:: DFA Weeks, get O'Brien up here: he has 38 HR in 166 Triple-A games and a .292 average, so I'm not sure what else he has to prove there. With Peralta out, it should have been a perfect opportunity to give him a shot in the show. I still don't think Miller's mechanics have been fixed: even over his last three "better" starts, he still has as many walks as strikeouts, and a competing team can't afford to let him figure it out in games that matter. I'd option him - maybe not even to Reno, but a better pitching environment like Mobile - and give Bradley a long look. I also like the idea of making Hudson the regular closer, and moving Ziegler back to a fireman role.

Nate:: I'd get rid of Weeks, call up O'Brien. No reason to have Weeks out there. I'd also go relegate Ahmed to a bench role.

Xipooo:: Fire Chip Hale and fire Mike Butcher. Name Sherlock my interim coach since he's probably the most stabilizing guy in the duggout, and give Dave Duncan the job as pitching coach. Bring up O'Brien and let Rickie Weeks go. Shop Archie Bradley around to see what type of value I can get for him in the outfield and/or bullpen.

Will there be staff getting fired?

Piratedan7: I don't see why, it's not like the SP has sucked ass as of late, the bats aren't putting runs on the board but guys are getting on base. In key situations, guys are being given opportunities. So far, the results haven't been there.

Steven: I don't think so. Derrick Hall had a chat last week and reiterated how happy they were with all their coaches.

Clefo: Maybe not in-season, but seeing some reshuffling in the offseason seems inevitable

MichaelMcD831993: Unlikely, although Mike Butcher is a candidate if the rotation continues to struggle moving forward.

James Attwood:I doubt this administration fires anyone during the season. I can picture a few scenarios where one or more coaches resign though. Now, once the season is over, unless this team is at least 82-80 to finish the season, I could see most of the staff getting the axe in a hurry.

Makakilo:: Instead of firing, can Diamondbacks add someone with needed knowledge and skill?

Jim:: If the last road-trip had continued to go south after Miami, I think it's very likely some heads would have rolled. Albeit probably not those responsible. I don't see Kendrick having much patience if the team drops back; in particular, if they drop further behind the 2015 team's record, there may come a point at which Something Needs To Be Done.

Xipooo:: Yup. Do it now while there's still time to recover.

What are your hopes going forward?

Piratedan7: That the team executes on their opportunities at a better rate than they have been.

Steven: Youngsters playing a lot of innings and stars actually showing they can play baseball at a high level.

Clefo: More sweet uni combos

MichaelMcD831993: I just want the Dbacks to play more loose, it seems like they're playing with an 800-lb gorilla on their backs.

James Attwood: I am looking forward to this team getting healthy and playing at least close to their true talent level. If this team puts up a .500 record or worse, but is at least playing to its true talent level, I can take it. It is painful to sit by and watch this team struggle so mightily on so many fronts right now though, and to have injuries compound those issues.

I look forward to more wins at home, Goldy getting off the schnide, and Ahmed hitting well enough to stay on the field so he can win both the GG for NL SS and the Fielding Bible Award.

Makakilo:: Diamondbacks will play in the post-season.

Jim:: It's certainly not over. Several of last year's playoff teams had records little or no better than the 2016 D-backs after 43 games (Toronto were 19-24 too; Texas and Pittsburgh also below .500). But that means most of them WERE better, and the team have some catching up to do, and their margin for slumpage going forward is correspondingly thinner. For now, they still need to play like it matters. I'm optimistic they will, but getting front of the rotation performances from... well, the front of the rotation is becoming increasingly imperative.

Xipooo:: I hope this team comes together and starts to play like a team. There is a lot of good individual effort, but it seems like they aren't feeding off of each other. This goes again to that chemistry part that I don't think the Coaches are helping with much.

Predict a final win tally for the Diamondbacks now.

Piratedan7: 77

Steven: 75

Clefo: 80

MichaelMcD831993: Still sticking with my 86 win prediction until they lose more than 76 games.

James Attwood: Ugh...uhm...Until I see some signs of life, I am going with 79.

Makakilo:: I'm sticking with my prediction of 89-92 wins, at least until the All-Star break. If Diamondbacks fail to win at least 5 of our 9 games against the Dodgers and Giants, I will relook my prediction.

Jim:: I'm hoping for more, but would set the over-under at 82. They've only been outscored by nine runs so far, and that's with obvious room for a lot of positive regression from Goldy, Greinke and Miller.

Nate:: 84

Xipooo:: Hoping for an 89 and just enough to get in the playoffs, but probably more like a 79.