The non-waiver trade deadline of July 31st is now just a week away. This is the time of year that the rumor mills begin to work overtime as those in the know and those who think they are in the know all begin throwing names out attached to just about every team within a 3 game radius of a play-off spot. This year the Arizona Diamondbacks fit into that blast zone and the media types are going crazy offering suggestions of what the team needs and what they will give up in return. The problem with all of this is that no one is exactly sure what the needs priority is for this team.
Two weeks ago the majority of writers had the Diamondbacks in dire need of starting pitching. The current starters were struggling with many not making it out of the sixth inning turning the game over to a taxed bullpen that could not nail the game down. The consensus was that if the Diamondbacks could land a front of the rotation starter then all the other pieces would fall into place.
That all sounded great until the starting pitchers began to regain their form with strong outings or at least quality start outings started piling up. Randall Delgado began showing why the Diamondbacks insisted he be included in the trade for Justin Upton. Patrick Corbin locked down an All-Star appearance and finished the first half of the season with just one loss. Even much maligned Ian Kennedy settled down in his first outing after the All-Star break and allowed only two runs in the first inning. Suddenly the Diamondbacks starters seemed to be a strength especially considering two of their starters are still on the disabled list meaning they will have depth at that position shortly.
With the need for a starter being deemphasized the focus turned to the bullpen who have recorded a league leading 19 blown saves. JJ Putz, David Hernandez, and Heath Bell have all struggled at time and there are many calling for each of their heads. Funny thing is, when the starters began throwing better, the bullpen has had less pressure and has come through. Granted the results are sometimes nerve-wracking but a hold is a hold and a save is a save no matter how pretty it is.
There are still some question marks. Bell is working from behind in the count and is not as consistent as he would like. Putz continues to build arm strength and there are some who wonder whether he is still hurt from the injury he suffered earlier in the season. Hernandez is still relying primarily on his fastball, which is getting to much of the plate and has lost some movement but overall the bullpen is becoming less of a concern.
Since the all-star break the media focus has been on the offense, which has been fairly quiet with the exception of last night’s game against the Cubs. Over the first four games post-break the Diamondbacks had scored a total of six runs. Then last night after struggling early the bats were resurrected with the team scoring 10 runs off Cubs pitching. That of course is a big caveat, this was against Cubs pitching and was just one game but if outfielder Adam Eaton can begin to heat up and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt can continue to dominate perhaps the offense won’t need the help everyone thinks.
The emotions of fans and media will continue to sway in the wind as everyone tries to understand what exactly the Diamondbacks need and what are they willing to give up? So far the asking prices for pitching have been astronomical. If teams continue to ask for multiple top prospects for a single rental player then Arizona may just choose to stand pat and not make a move and that might just be the best thing they could do for the long-term future of the franchise.