Two consecutive wins does not relieve one from the existing misery.
Yet, the two straight victories the Diamondbacks achieved in Wrigley Field appear encouraging. Then again, they could fall back into the dark, bottomless abyss and never be heard from again.
Such is the fate, perhaps the future, of a team which has been under the microscope too many times in the first three weeks of the major league season.
At this point, there have been few legitimate reasons why the Diamondbacks are out of the gate so slowly. One commentator simply put the blame on “Sydney,” and argued the D-backs’ trip to Australia represented the main reason for the current debacle. No reasoning here, no explanation and just a quick-fix blame on an international journey.
To careful observers, that analysis holds as much credence as a weather forecast for snow in July.
A closer look reveals an astonishing comparison to a recent championship team and the present roster.
Just three years removed from their National League West Division title, the Diamondbacks had cause to celebrate. By the end of the season, it was clear that team clearly overachieved. Now, like-and-similar players are dramatically underachieving and when teams underachieve, they invite disaster.
Someone once said numbers and statistics are for losers but figures can serve a useful purpose.
In 2011 season, the Diamondbacks had one 20-game winner in Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, with a 16 win season, was close. Closer J. J. Putz set a career mark with 45 saves out of 49 save opportunities. Justin Upton started off to a possible MVP season, Miguel Montero emerged as an elite catcher, Ryan Roberts triggered many come-from-behind victories and manager Kirk Gibson seemed to push all the right buttons.
Also, Aaron Hill and John McDonald arrived from Toronto by a late season trade to solidify the infield and Paul Goldschmidt appeared in August from the minors to aid the offense.
Overall, this team clearly out-performed all expectations and then over the next two season, the Diamondbacks demonstrated what can happen when players do not overachieve.
The season records for both 2012 and 2013 were identical at 81-81 and no hint of finding ways to win. Slowly, the 2011 team was dismantled. Roberts was dealt to Tampa Bay, Kennedy to San Diego, Upton to Atlanta, Hudson went down with Tommy John Surgery, Putz landed on the 2013 DL and the character of a championship team evolved into a team of survival.
Now, Gibson is left to explain the unexplained. Through the terrible start, Gibson has said all the right things, general manager Kevin Towers has tried to bring personnel to right the ship but, in the end, this is a team, right now, of those who cannot reach a certain level.
Until Hill again hits above .300, until Montero can regain the touch of a .282 season with 36 doubles, 18 home runs and 86 RBIs as in 2011, until the starting pitching shows any semblance of the 2011 production, and until the team can finds ways to win, as did the 2011 squad, this will remain a mediocre baseball team at best.
IN THE THEATER, IT’S, ‘BREAK A LEG,’ NOT IN BASEBALL
The news regarding outfielder Mark Trumbo is not good.
Out for an unspecified amount of time with a stress factor to his left foot, Trumbo’s absence can change the way manager Kirk Gibson approaches the game. The forecast could be two months for recovery and that would put Trumbo’s return close to the All-Star game.
While Trumbo was brought in for power, that dimension is now missing and Gibson may shuffle his line-up with more speed at the top and the reality of playing “small ball.”
For now, the Diamondbacks have a few options in left field. Veteran Cody Ross could receive the bulk of the playing time though Gibson started Roger Kieschnick, recently recalled from Reno. A career .202 hitter (17-84), Kieschnick started Thursday against the Cubs at Wrigley and went 0-4, including striking out three times.
Following a 3-4 road trip, the D-backs return to Chase Field for a six game home stand.
First in are the Philadelphia Phillies.
Pitching match-ups for the opener Friday night are Roberto Hernandez (1-0, 5.75 ERA) for the Phils and Josh Collmenter (0-2, 4.50 ERA) for Arizona. Against Hernandez lifetime, Aaron Hill is 6-for-21, .286 average and Cliff Pennington is 7-for-23, a .304 average. The D-backs are promoting this as Zombie Night.
On Saturday, the Phillies send lefty Cliff Lee (3-2, 3.09) against Bronson Arroyo (1-2, 9.50). Lifetime against Lee, Aaron Hill is 7-for-23, a .304 average and Martin Prado is 6-for-29, .207 average with three doubles.
Against Arroyo, Marlon Byrd is 10-for-27, a .370 average with two home runs, Ryan Howard is 4-for-20, .200, Chase Utley is 6-for-20, .300 and Jimmy Rollins is 7-for-24,a .292 average,
On Sunday, it’s A. J. Burnett (0-1, 2.73) against the D-backs’ Brandon McCarthy (0-4, 6.2). The Phillies do not have much of a history with McCarthy and Phils’ centerfielder Ben Revere, who hit against McCarthy while with the Twins, is 3-for-12 lifetime, a .250 average.
Against Burnett, Aaron Hill is 7-for-22, a .318 lifetime average and Cliff Pennington, is 2-for-12 and a .167 average,
After Philadelphia, the Colorado Rockies move in for three and then the D-backs hit the road on a nine game road tip to San Diego, Milwaukee and to play the White Sox on the South Side of Chicago.