Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Offseason Review: The Arizona Diamondbacks

King Grit himself, manager Kirk Gibson
After winning the NL West in 2011 the Diamondbacks followed up with a disappointing .500 season in 2012, finishing at exactly 81-81.  Restless and aggravated with their inability to repeat their success; they engaged in possibly the busiest offseason of all teams in baseball, completely overhauling their lineup.  In an effort to rebuild not only their roster, but their entire image as a team, manager Kirk Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers went as far as to unload their young superstar Justin Upton for the "gritty" Martin Prado, as well as prospects.  The acquisition and unloading of players doesn't even come close to ending at Upton.  2010 All-Star outfielder Chris Young was traded off, as were third basemen Chris Johnson and Ryan Wheeler and excellent young pitching prospect Trevor Bauer.  In exchange for the above mentioned players; the Diamondbacks acquired shortstops Didi Gregorius and Cliff Pennington, as well as former closer Heath Bell and young pitcher Randall Delgado.  Even more talent was tacked on to the loaded Diamondbacks roster by way of free agency.  Cody Ross, Brandon McCarthy, Eric Hinske and more will all be wearing Arizona's colors in 2013.

So what does this mean? You'd think rapid-fire moves like Arizona is making would have some sort of discernible logic to it, but then things like the Justin Upton trade occur and make you question exactly where this team is going.  It's granted that after running his name through the rumor mill for more than a year that Justin Upton needed to be moved; but if a team is trying to win now by way of mass acquisition then why are they even discussing moving talent with such enormous potential as Upton's in the first place?  The apparent logic in the Diamondbacks front office rests on an intangible, and that is "grit".  Apparently players like Justin Upton and Trevor Bauer don't carry the gritty, dirty style of play that players like Martin Prado and Cliff Pennington do.  My tone is less based on bitter sarcasm and more on utter confusion. I can't manifest a logical scenario in my head that make a controlled contract of a fan favorite, major talent like Upton's a commodity.

Kevin Towers:
Fickle and restless maniac or strategic mastermind?
The D-Backs are in a division with last years World Series champion Giants and a new look Dodgers team that is striking a legitimate fear in every other team's heart, so some manic behavior isn't surprising.  The most befuddling element is that, despite the whirlwind activity on behalf of the Diamondbacks, I'm not sure they are any better than they were last year.  Trading Justin Upton to acquire Martin Prado and some promising but not fully developed talent doesn't exactly compute to definite winning, especially given their immediate competition. Still, I generally like how Towers manages the Diamondbacks roster, and sensible or not, players like Delgado and Gregorius are exciting and promising adds. I don't think the D-Backs make the playoffs in 2013, but they are also not to be dismissed.

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