PHOENIX -- The second half of the 2014 season is really about 2015 when it comes to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
A horrendous start to the season along with crucial injuries left the D-backs buried in the standings at the All-Star break, but no less determined that the second half will be productive.
While winning will still be important in the coming months, the priority is in getting a look at the team's younger players and determining who will, or won't, be a part of what the organization hopes will be a contending team in 2015.
Five key developments so far
1. The new chief
Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa was hired to be the team's chief baseball officer in May to oversee general manager Kevin Towers and the baseball operations department.
2. Injuries, injuries, injuries
Prior to Opening Day, the team lost ace Patrick Corbin to Tommy John surgery. Other key injuries included David Hernandez, Mark Trumbo, A.J. Pollock and Bronson Arroyo.
3. Early opener
The D-backs and Dodgers opened the regular season on March 22-23 at the Old Cricket Ground in Sydney, Australia. The Dodgers won both games.
|MVP: Paul Goldschmidt
He has been among the NL's offensive leaders throughout the first half.
|Top starter: Wade Miley
The lone member of the Opening Day rotation to still be in it at the break.
|Top rookie: Chris Owings
He proved the decision to start him over Didi Gregorius was a wise one despite shoulder injury.
|Top reliever: Brad Ziegler
A model of consistency, Ziegler has shown he's one of the game's best at inducing double plays.
4. Goldy still golden
First baseman Paul Goldschmidt picked up where he left off in 2013 and became the first Arizona position player to start an All-Star Game since Luis Gonzalez in 2001.
5. Awful start
An 8-22 start put the D-backs in a terrible hole to start the season. Including the two Australia games, which counted as home games, the D-backs started 1-11 at home.
Five storylines to watch
1. Changes coming?
La Russa has been on the job for three months and so far there have not been many changes, but his evaluation of Towers and manager Kirk Gibson will continue during the second half.
2. Trade Deadline
The D-backs dealt veterans Brandon McCarthy and Joe Thatcher prior to the All-Star break, but were open to trading plenty of others. As they retool for 2015, the D-backs could part with several other veterans before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Players to watch in second half
Ranked as the top pitching prospect in baseball entering the season, Bradley suffered an injury and had mixed results on the field, and his agent had critical words for the organization. It remains to be seen whether Bradley will make his much-anticipated debut in the second half.
Struggles reached such a level that he was demoted to the Minors to try to correct them. He's owed $12 million next year, so it's crucial he show improvement in the second half.
Acquired during the offseason to be the closer, he has been inconsistent in the first half. How he pitches in the second half could determine whether he's back in 2015.
3. Rotation decisions
Chase Anderson and Vidal Nuno along with possibly Archie Bradley and Mike Bolsinger will get a chance to prove that they can succeed at the big league level and that they should be part of the rotation in 2015.
4. Bullpen future
Evan Marshall has opened eyes since coming up and Matt Stites has a chance to do that as well. In addition, it's possible that Jake Barrett could also get a second-half look. Their success or lack thereof could determine the bullpen composition for next year.
5. Is David Peralta for real?
Converted from the mound to the outfield two years ago, Peralta has been a bright spot since being called up from Double-A Mobile. If he puts together a strong second half, he could show he should be a part of next year's outfield mix.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less