Dbacks 2014: All Is Not Lost,
Although The Season Likely Is
The Loss Of Patrick Corbin And The Stymied Development Of Archie Bradley Are Main Factors Behind The Lackluster First Half, But The Future Still Remains Bright
Image provided by MLB.
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
June 18, 2014 — Without question, the Diamondbacks season thus far has been a complete disaster. The team is in the cellar in the NL West and has no realistic shot at the post-season. However, in baseball, there are bad teams and then there are bad teams, and I contend that the Diamondbacks are the former: a decent, if not transcendent, team that is having an awful season due to some bad management and a couple of horrible bounces.
Why does this distinction matter? Because the truly awful, no good, down right terrible teams have a painful rebuild ahead of them. I don't think this is the case for the D-backs and here are a few reasons why.
Pitching Woes Are Insurmountable
Right now, the Diamondbacks are fielding a rotation filled with a bunch of No. 4 and 5 pitchers. Thus, the team ERA is 4.48, good for 28th in the majors. But there is a bright spot. Rookie Chase Anderson had a historically good start to the season, winning his first five starts, and is currently 5-1 with a 3.21 ERA.
Anderson does not appear to be a flash in the pan. He has a plus fastball and excellent command of most of his pitches, a rare quality in a rookie. Picture a rotation that features a healthy Patrick Corbin and prospect Archie Bradley slotted in at No. 1 and 2 before Anderson at the three spot. We all know the Diamondbacks have plenty of four and five starters to fill the rotation behind them.
Chase Anderson Career Stats
In the bullpen, the Diamondbacks have the ever-reliable Brad Ziegler to pair with Oliver Perez and Joe Thatcher. Closer Addison Reed has been hit or miss, but I expect him to have a bounce back season next year after shaking off the jitters brought about by being a key piece in a fairly decent trade with the White Sox. That is a good core to start with and, assuming he is not fired, Kevin Towers has a good track record finding usable relief arms on the free agency market.
Offense A Rare, Overachieving Aspect To Team
Offense is not really the Diamondbacks problem right now. The team currently ranks 13th in MLB in runs scored with 299 runs as of June 17. Paul Goldschmidt is mashing as consistently as ever and I would not expect that to change anytime soon, as he has established himself as the most consistently productive first baseman in the National League.
Paul Goldschmidt Career Stats
But the real story here is the resurgence of Miguel Montero. Many thought Mark Trumbo would be the much-needed protection for Goldy, but it turns out, simply by tweaking his swing, Montero has become that important cog in the lineup. He is having one of his best offensive seasons and, if the stories about a simple batting tweak are true, this production should be long term.
Miguel Montero Career Stats
Injury Bug Has Decimated Roster
The Diamondbacks lost their staff ace, cleanup hitter and leadoff hitter to injury this season. No team can be reasonably expected to overcome those odds. I do not want to overstate the impact the Trumbo injury would have on the season as he is an Adam Dunn-esque player with an all or nothing mentality and subpar defensive impact; however, 35 home runs is still 35 home runs.
The Corbin and AJ Pollock injuries are more substantial. Corbin, the obvious ace of an already weak staff, left a void that the team simply couldn't fill. Adding his 15-17 wins and 3.50-ish ERA to the staff next season will be a major boost.
Additionally, Pollock was in the middle of what most baseball people term "figuring it out." All the tools were in place for Pollock to be a 20 homerun/20 steal lead-off man with above average defense in centerfield. The D-backs were so confident in his potential that they shipped Adam Eaton and all of his potential to Chicago.
Switching Pollock's 3.1 WAR with the likes of Ender Inciarte is not an even trade off. With a healthy Pollock getting on base in front of Goldy, Miggy and Trumbo, the already potent offense could do some real damage.
In baseball, anything can happen. A freak accident, a slumping slugger, bad management. Any of it can derail a season. But, in the same way, lady luck can occasionally land in a team's dugout and give them the little extra boost it needs to find success. With a little bit of that luck, this year's dismal D-backs team can rebound and turn in a stellar season next year.
Then again, a trade for a quality starter or two could put the team right back in the hunt for a wild card spot. Aaron Hill and Martin Prado — beloved and capable of producing — might not make it to September in Sedona red. Neither might either Didi Gregorious, Chris Owings or minor leaguer Nick Ahmed.
After all, they are only 6 games back and changes certainly are coming.
Beyond that miracle, though, the Dbacks will be sellers as the trade deadline looms.
All is not lost, but the season likely is.
Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
Pizza Noir: Pie In The Sky The galaxy-class astral catwomen paint by numbers way out in the Fornax Void, and grease some filthy-dirty alien werewolves in the process.
Beyond The Hill An exceedingly intelligent homeless amnesiac finds a dear friend on the streets who is not really from the neighborhood, but beyond the hill.