Arizona Diamondbacks Coming Up Short


Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill dives against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. IMAGE: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The trade deadline has come and gone and although the pre-deadline chatter was perhaps at an all-time high, not much transpired for the Diamondbacks. Although it may not have been from a lack of effort on the part of GM Kevin Towers, the only deal to actually go down saw former ace Ian Kennedy pack his bags for San Diego in order to acquire lefty reliever Joe Thatcher, minor league reliever Matt Stites and a composition round pick. This addressed two critical needs: the addition of left-handed relief pitching and the departure of IPK from the rotation.

What it did not do was fix the sluggish offense.

Over at Inside the ‘Zona, Ryan Morrision recently had a great piece about the logjam in the outfield and I spoke about the inflexibility of the roster on this site just last week. The roster is full of names that should be producing but simply are not. This is taking its toll on the Diamondbacks’ postseason chances and if you really care about the team, you were probably already nervous about this.

Let’s run down a quick list and compare key players to their career averages. Warning: it is not pretty.

Diamondbacks Hitters in a Down Year

Yes, the starting pitching has been hit or miss. On the whole, it has been right about league average, maybe a tick above. There are some really bad rotations out there. The bullpen has been, well, you know all about that. It has been a nightmare and ranks near the bottom third of the league. It has been a tough year on the mound for Arizona and the FIP numbers bear that out.

But at the plate, it’s been even worse. There are only six teams (WAS, KC, HOU, NYY, CHW, FLA) that have a more punchless offense than we do. Our wRC+ sits at a paltry 90 where 100 is considered average. For what it is worth, the Dodgers are at 104, sandwiched between the Cardinals and Orioles. We are nowhere close.

So what could have been done about this? Very little, actually. Unless Towers could have found teams willing to take on aging players and their long-term salary commitments, no offensive player had a chance to move except Kubel, and no one is interested in that. If he moves, it will happen after he passes through waivers in August. There were not a lot of exciting pieces available and those that were, probably would not have been able to kick start the offense or be worthy of the prospects they would have cost. Sorry folks, but Alex Rios was not going to save the day, especially in an already crowded outfield.

I think we may be at the point where we just have to stand up and face the fact that we have a bunch of guys having down years simultaneously. It happens. We have lost some key guys to injuries and filled in the best we can, but Cliff Pennington can’t replace the production of Aaron Hill and Cody Ross and Jason Kubel never seemed to get right after their injuiries. Oh, and as much as everyone loves Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock, they have not produced much offensively.

In 2014, we can hope for returns to form at the plate from Miguel Montero, Martin Prado and Ross. Maybe Didi Gregorius and Eaton will mature and Gerardo Parra will sustain his performance for an entire season without fading. Paul Goldschmidt appears rock solid and it is critical that he and Hill stay healthy. But 2013 is starting to look like a lost cause. Not only would we have to catch fire to reach the postseason but we will need help from the Dodgers, too.

And I just do not see it happening. At least not with what I have seen so far. Could a miraculous turnaround be just ahead of us? Maybe, but I am not betting on it.

When you look back at this season, you will probably think about blown saves because they are dramatic and memorable. But our offense has been like a slow, steady suffocation. Remember the bases-loaded groundouts and the 1-2-3 innings sitting us down in order when you wonder why we didn’t get it done in 2013.

*All stats via FanGraphs, accessed 8/2