15 July 2009

Half Empty

Lest anyone confuse a heartening 7 of 9 roll before the break with respectability, Ken Kendrick's Dream Team has publicly abandoned playoff aspirations in July - in favor of aiming for .500 and stockpiling pieces for next year.

After a gelatinous five year rebuild, what's left to say in regards to an organization crowing in April about challenging the Dodgers, but which only last week, flipflopped out of the NL West cellar with the competitively estranged Padres?

You can say Brandon Webb's hurt. That's fair. And Conor Jackson. One can also say injuries are part of the game, and limit the best laid plans of every organization to some degree.

You can say the Diamondbacks performed three games under pythag in the first half, hinting they've been a bit unlucky. One can also say they've played fifty of their first 89 at home - more than any MLB squad.

You can say Chad Tracy, Stephen Drew and Chrisses - Young and Snyder - shouldnt hit this poorly for an entire season. One can also say Dan Haren and Doug Davis have pitched over their established "heads" and Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds may be hard pressed to duplicate eye opening first halves.

In making sense of the 38-51 debacle, team apologists often fixate on where we'd stand if everyone was healthy and firing on all cylinders. That's results oriented fantasy.
Organizational advocates understandably emphasize Webb's injury, but play down the appalling lack of replacement depth at the back of the rotation. A number 6 like Brett Anderson (abandoned in the Haren deal), could've halved the impact of Webb's departure, exacerbated by a mess of cheap Josh Byrnes' charlatans sharing a collective ERA north of eight.

In addition, Bob Melvin and AJ Hinch have overseen terrific, even inspired, individual performances. Dan Haren has emerged as the premier stopper in the National League. Journeyman Doug Davis has pitched better than several clubs' aces and Scherzer isnt too far behind. Felipe Lopez and Gerardo Parra have emerged as pleasant surprises to most observers, and Upton and Reynolds are Arizona's biggest impact position players in years.

In light of these successes, isnt it sobering to consider we're still ten games behind lightly regarded, flawed clubs like the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies? Just a week ago, the Dbacks were eighteen games below .500. How far would Andrew Hinch's confused charges have fallen had Dan Haren not channeled Bob Gibson, circa 1968, for three consecutive months? If 21 year old Justin Upton didnt morph into an All Star on Bob Melvin's watch? Or if Mark Reynolds, 2008's league leader in errors and strikeouts, hadnt similarly rebounded with a 43HR / 27SB clip?

Of no concern to the dwindling clot of SedonaRed sycophants, but questions for discerning fans, about usurpers disguised as architects, baldly aspiring to lose half their games.


PAUL said...

Are you only allowed to post on the 15th of every month now? With a quick hit and run of the D-backs disappointing season and fade off into the night?
The big problem with building around a 1-2 starting rotation punch is when 1 of the 2 gets hurt the first week of the season. The Webb injury screwed everything up.
What did you take away from the Ryan Church for Jeff Francoeur deal? The stat zombies can't shut up about how much better a player Church is than Francoeur; I counter with having seen enough of Ryan Church to say that the Mets would've gotten identical production if they'd put Jeremy Reed in every situation that Church was in this entire season. Despite Francoeur's atrocious approach, he's got multiple MVP ability if he's ever reined in (the Mets have said they're gonna watch him for a couple of weeks before making any changes) and he's five years younger.

Matt said...

Please await my response to these matters - on August 15th.

Thank you.

Matt said...

The Webb injury screwed everything up.

Yes and no. You clearly cant just go out and replace Brandon Webb. Not with a limited budget. But you can and must maintain at least one competent 6th starter. Why? Because nobody goes a season with five starters - that's a fantasy Josh Byrnes is paying dearly for. If it wasnt Webb, somebody else could have gone down. You have to better prepared for that than the Diamondbacks were.

Francoeur's 25, but he's got 2500 progressively awful plate appearances under his belt - so I'm not real optimistic about him recapturing that early promise.

PAUL said...

They didn't give up anything to get Francoeur's talent is my main point. I shall mark Aug. 15th in my diary---if I start to keep a diary.

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