Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Its Time To Play 5 Questions

With the Diamondbacks in town tonight, we asked the Arizona blog D'Backs Venom 5 questions about the Diamondbacks and Pirates.

1. Arizona is off to a great start. Tell me why the rest of the baseball should believe in the Dbacks?

It's hard to believe how historically bad the Diamondbacks' bullpen was in 2010. The bullpen's ERA was 5.74 last year, over one run more than the next worst team. This year's group has an ERA of 3.55, led by new closer J.J. Putz and set-up man David Hernandez, and has actually been an asset instead of a huge liability. The team offense is solid, led by RF Justin Upton, SS Stephen Drew, C Miguel Montero, and CF Chris Young. 2B Kelly Johnson started slowly but is coming on, while 3B Ryan Roberts will probably come back down to earth after hitting .268/.370/.463 so far. The team defense has been outstanding, with LF Gerardo Parra leading all major leaguers in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). Young, Drew, and Upton are also good defenders, and the Diamondbacks have done a great job of stopping the running game.

2. If the Diamondbacks could trade for any current Pirate, who would you want?

Even though the Diamondbacks have a fine CF in Chris Young, the current Pirate we would love to have is Andrew McCutchen. Good hitting, baserunning, and defense - we could definitely find a spot for him in the OF.

3. Speaking of trades, Pirates fans would like to thank the Dbacks for Chris Snyder. Not so much for Snyder but for taking Ryan Church and Bobby Crosby from us. How was that trade perceived in Arizona?

Fans were down on Snyder last year, but he had some good years for us in the past. It was mainly a salary dump for us, as Crosby and Church did nothing for us, and D.J. Carrasco only helped a little. But all three are off the roster now, so the Diamondbacks have nothing to show for it. Just trying to save a little bit of money, since the team had decided to use Miguel Montero as the #1 catcher.

4. Favorite Diamondbacks and Pirates player of all time?

My favorite Diamondback of all time is a current player - Justin Upton. He really has all five tools, and has tremendous power, with three homers over 455 feet already this year. Like in every city with a young superstar, some fans are on his case a lot, but he is an amazing talent.

My favorite Pirate of all time is 2B Rennie Stennett. I had a baseball card that listed his 7-for-7 game, and I always thought that was pretty cool. I was actually a fan of Barry Bonds back when he was a Pirate too.

5. For some reason that I'll never understand, Zach Duke was a popular member of the Pirates. Does he have to have a successful season for the Dbacks to contend?

Yes, Zach Duke is a pretty important part of the rotation. We are pretty optimistic about Duke. He's usually had respectable Fielding Independent ERAs (FIPs), and we hope that he will have better success with the Diamondbacks' solid defense behind him. He throws a lot of ground balls, which is good in a homer-friendly park like Chase Field. His first start since his injury was great (7 IP, 0 ER, plus he hit a 3-Run HR), while the second was mediocre. But the team doesn't have much depth in the rotation right now, so they need Duke to be respectable. The Diamondbacks have great pitching in the lower minors (Jarrod Parker, Tyler Skaggs, plus new draftees Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley), but not really anyone ready to step in right now.

Thanks to Amit for taking the time to answer a few questions. Check out his blog and follow him on Twitter.

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