Maybe it’s all about little victories now, and while a couple of the games could easily have gone either way, the D-backs managed to go 4-2 in the last week, with series victories over the Brewers and the White Sox. Tack that onto the series win against the Padres, and you’ve got a 6-3 record for the month.
Despite the four-game losing streak at the end of April against the Phillies and Rockies, things may have turned around a bit before that. In fact, since Mark Trumbo‘s last game (April 21), the D-backs have gone 10-8. That’s about as good as we thought this team might be with spring training, rose-colored glasses.
It says a lot about the team’s horrendous start, however, that a 6-3 May only raised the team’s winning percentage from .290 (9-22) to .375 (15-25). It would still take a 10-game winning streak or, say, a 15-5 stretch to get the team back to .500. We knew this team was too good to set historical records for being bad, but since the team needed everything to go right in order to make the playoffs, we can just about write them off already. FanGraphs gives the D-backs a 0.7% chance of winning the division, and a 2% chance of snagging a wild card — with a record likely to end around 74-88. Just good enough.
Just good enough to avoid a rebuild, that is. It might be just good enough to avoid a change at GM. Just good enough to avoid getting one of the very top draft picks. Just good enough to convince the team that tweaks might work, that the team’s core shouldn’t be disturbed, that a key acquisition or two could turn the whole thing around and make the D-backs a contender.
Just good enough to stay mediocre for a much longer time. I’m not saying I’m rooting against the team, because I’m not. But maybe the very worst thing that could happen to this team is to go 74-88 this season. It’s really bad timing given the approaching TV deal, but if this team is ever going to be a good team again, it may need to consider stripping down and starting over. Not a rebuild as thorough as Houston’s, although I have a lot of respect for their commitment. Maybe a bit more Washington Nationals-ish.
A rebuild may not be in the cards, however, if the organization is able to write off April as a baseball nightmare, an act of God that derailed a season that otherwise may have gone well. If the team continues on this course, it’ll be more beige than Sedona Red.
- Last week, Nick Piecoro posted an article about the D-backs’ next steps. Is this a team that can retool, or a team that needs to rebuild? After talking with officials from other teams, Piecoro wrote: “Rival executives seem split on whether a roster with most of the same core players can win as soon as next year.” Good reality check from Piecoro.
- ESPN’s Jim Bowden reviewed 10 “early trade candidates” in baseball, including both Martin Prado and Aaron Hill in his group. It would take a major shift on the part of the organization to trade Prado, who is more valuable than his statistics may show. I also think it would be tough to get good value for Hill in a trade, and if the market for middle infielders favored sellers, Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings would probably be wearing a different team’s uniform right now.
- Despite winning both series last week, the D-backs rose just one place in ESPN’s Power Rankings, and now sit at 28th. A hard truth, but talent-wise, the team seems neck and neck with the Padres, and only the Cubs and Astros look worse. Note that the Astros’ reverse surge has given them 26 losses — more than the D-backs have at the moment. I’m pretty sure the D-backs have still set a record for consecutive days with most losses to start a season.
- Wendy Thurm of FanGraphs on the saga that was Apple’s removal of certain baseball-themed podcasts. Apparently MLB asked Apple to remove trademarks, and then Apple obliged and then some. Seems pretty out of control to me, but it’s hard to reconcile the proliferation of MLB’s trademarks throughout the media with the idea of trademarks themselves. I mean, am I infringing MLB trademarks when I say “Diamondbacks” on this site? I don’t think so. But even if that broad reading could be supported, why would MLB want to create a chilling effect on baseball-related content?
- Looking back, I also found this FanGraphs interview of Kevin Towers by David Laurila an interesting read over the weekend. I feel like I know how Towers thinks a little bit better just by reading, and you may feel that way too. “First and foremost, you trust your scouts…[o]f course, now we have so many resources, like the analytics. We certainly look at that end of it as well.” Do they? And what does “look at” mean? Personally, I like “the analytics.”
- At Snake Pit, Jim McLennan did an excellent breakdown of the D-backs’ defense, and how it’s fallen off since last season. Definitely important to keep in mind, and well done by McLennan. As we say around here, extreme baseball outliers are almost always an indication of something true, baseball-wise, but also luck. So while luck doesn’t stick… the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
- I was caught off guard by the news that Anthony Me0 was released by the D-backs, and Venom Strikes’ Joseph Jacquez has an explanation. This is not my department, really, but Meo was thought of as a legitimate relief prospect as recently as the end of last season. His velocity may indeed be down. But, really, isn’t this yet another example of how the D-backs have made decisions based on the assumption that they can’t fix pitchers? It’s not just Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs, as we saw last week (end). The good news for Meo is that since the D-backs have this reputation now, other clubs have every reason to give Meo a look.
- Also at Venom Strikes, Thomas Lynch argues that if Hill goes, Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings could play in the same infield. Agree, I’m just not sure that it would be a good infield.
- I linked to these last week, but check out Jeff’s piece at Beyond the Box Score on separating fact from fiction when it comes to BABIP, and mine on the value of positional flexibility, which had a particular focus on Prado and Ben Zobrist.
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