Don’t look now but the Diamondbacks are back in playoff contention. The team had struggled all year after winning the division crown a year go. That was until a hot July, sparked by a recent 7-3 10-game stretch, which they bring to Citizens Bank Park this weekend. Future MVP Justin Upton has carried the burden of the team’s frustrations in the first half, but the young snakes have picked him up. Paul Goldshmidt, Miguel Montero, and Aaron Hill have all been key offensive contributors.
When Last We Met: The Phillies actually won their last series against the D-backs in April. They took 2 of 3, with Cole and Vance getting the wins. An end of April series victory appeared to be getting the team back on track, but we all know how the rest played out. 3 months later and the Phillies are trading away the team, and snakes are playing for a playoff spot. Go figure.
Series Predictions: 1) The Phanatic is placed on waivers, but it’s only a routine move. They wouldn’t trade the Phantaic would they?
2) Kyle Kendrick relishes the oppurtunity to be back in the starting rotation by giving up multiple home runs. Why did we re-sign this guy?
3) The D-Backs stay hot and sweep the Phillies on their way to recapturing the NL West. Remember you heard it here first.
Fansided Perspective: Nick Valenzula of Venom Strikes breaks down the D-Backs trade deadline and more in our weekly mailbag.
1) A popular trade floating around had Cliff Lee going to the desert for Justin Upton. Craziest rumor or actually a good idea for the club?
Definitely a crazy rumor. Although the squad could use a premiere starter to bolster their rotation, and Lee has proven to be one of the best starters in the game, Lee is still due over $87.5 Million over the next three seasons. At roughly $29M per season, that would equate to more than a third of the D-backs club payroll. Although Justin Upton has not had an ideal season at the plate, he is still only 24 years old, and one year removed from MVP consideration. If Arizona were to deal Upton, they would have to haul in a package of players with a lot of youth and upside.
2) The Diamondbacks never made that “blockbuster” deal. How would you grade the teams trade deadline?
Only days removed from the deadline, I would have to give the D-backs a B- for their trade deadline. Kevin Towers made a solid acquisition by picking up former Houston third baseman Chris Johnson for two prospects, and his offensive potential was already displayed in this week’s sweep of the Dodgers, collecting 6 hits, 2 home runs, and 7 RBIs in three games with Arizona. I think he is a solid addition to the bottom half of the lineup. The area that went unaddressed was the starting rotation. I think this deadline there was an opportunity to pick up a front of the rotation type starter and GM Kevin Towers wasn’t able to put together a deal in time. With SP Daniel Hudson out for the year and a down season by Ian Kennedy, there is a need for a consistant veteran in the rotation. However, although we did not make a big move for a pitcher, we also didn’t give up any key pieces to solid roster.
3) What’s the deal with Justin Upton? He seemed like a lock to be in the MVP race this season, but his numbers are very pedestrian.
His numbers are very pedestrian. Having seen his regression this season, it appears that he is pressing and trying to do too much at the plate. Upton’s strength has always been his ability to use the entire field and spread his hits out. He’s great at hitting the ball the other way and using the gaps to his advantage. This season it appears he is trying too hard to collect HRs and RBIs, swinging too hard most of the time. His smooth/natural swing produces enough power to generate over 30 HRs a season (as seen last season). He has more protection in the lineup this season with the addition of Jason Kubel and the progression of Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero, but has not used that to his advantage. He still has the potential to duplicate and surpass his numbers from a year ago, its just a matter of getting out of the mental funk that he is in.