The 2011 Diamondbacks were a team that surprised a lot of people by winning the NL West. Granted they got there with the help of quite a few Pythagorean wins, but in my opinion, they were a young, exciting team, with a manager who loves to punch guys in the arm as hard as he can when a big accomplishment is made, and they had very good pitching performances. They were fun. Last year they fell a bit down to earth, and this year they are expected to be in the thick of things, but not really expected to be a playoff contender, especially after unloading their most popular and productive player, for a utility guy and a 5th starter.
I was at game 2 of the 2011 NLDS in Milwaukee (the day after Ryan Bruan tested positive for PED's, essentially nullifying the result of that series), and being a lifelong resident of Milwaukee who currently is not a fan of the Brewers, realized that this Diamondbacks franchise was one to look to if you wanted to "do things the right way", and be a fan of.
This team has a great farm system, a player at almost every position that I really enjoy, good pitching, and they do it all on the cheap.
You guys have a great catcher who can mash and plays good defense, and to top it all off he hits lefthanded. And although Miguel Montero may have had a big part in getting Trevor Bauer shipped out of town, he is still a guy I can really like. Besides, Bauer got his revenge with that "rap".
The first baseman is a guy who I particularly enjoy. I like Paul Goldschmidt because he was somewhat undervalued the year he was drafted, and then spent a first year in professional ball hitting the cover off the ball to then become a top prospect. I really wish I had seen him play more in that playoff series against the Brewers, the rssult of the series may have been different, not withstanding Braun*'s indiscretions nullifying the series already.
In Aaron Hill you guys have a nice little player here who hits for power, plays a nice little keystone defensively and again, like Montero, is locked up to a team friendly sort of deal. I can forgive the fact that he dated my wife while they were in high school, and every time a D'backs game is on tv and Hill comes up to bat, I hear "pshh Aaron Hill, what a d'bag". I still like the guy.
The left side of the infield is a little suspect and everyone knows that, but the team should still be able to survive and do ok with what they have. If Justin Upton had any intelligence at all and realized that Seattle is a much cooler city to live in than Atlanta, the team at least would have Nick Franklin to look forward to. And Martin Prado, the guy who always outperforms wherever he plays, was a very nice piece of the puzzle in the eventual Upton trade that he approved.
The outfield seemingly would be a hodge podge of players who on the surface, you wouldnt expect too much out of. But this is the place where Kirk Gibson's managerial style comes into play the most. You have the top prospect with wheels who hits and grinds and covers ground on defense in Adam Eaton, there is the prototypical Twins cast off who looks like a fan wearing a wife beater t-shirt and a beer in his hand, than a guy who can hit 30 HR, and the epitome of grit in Cody Ross, who seems to perform wherever he goes and puts up decent numbers as well with key at bats at key times, all while playing solid D.
I love how the majority of the Snake rotation is former big prospects who have turned out having solid numbers. Kennedy doesnt overpower, but throws hard enough and has good command. Trevor Cahill should continue to improve, Daniel Hudson, one of my favorites, if he can ever stay healthy should always produce, just needs to command his pitches, and then there are the two big huge arms on the farm that will eventually become top of the rotation starters in Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, or the Arizona Diamondbacks. And I just dont get that. They had the number one farm system in baseball in 2006, have had two playoff appearances since then, were on the cusp last season, and should just fall short this season, despite giving up its star player during the offseason. They have 7 potential All Stars on the roster, and 2 more on the farm. And they have a manager who hit one of the most dramatic Home Runs in World Series history, as one of the best seasons of the past half century as a Tiger. Heck, I can see Gibson back in his Detroit days hanging out in scummy bars near old Tigers stadium back in the day drinking with UAW employees and then coming in to play double headers half loaded. This is a great organization that doesnt get the credit it deserves because it plays in the same division as the new Evil Empire, the World Series winner 2 of the past 3 years, and they have a GM that doesnt do things the way the beat reporters like things to be done.
I am projecting this years Diamondbacks team to win 86 games this year and be the best NL team to not make the playoffs. Maybe with soem of that 2011 luck, or a not so regressed season for Wade Miley and they get in as a Wild Card. Whose fault would it be if the team no expects to make the playoffs, misses them? Probably Wade Miley and the Gods of regression. It wont be Justin Upton's absence or Kevin Towers' insistence on trading him away. I just hope that if they are close in July, that a trade isnt made for a missing piece that involves Bradley or Skaggs that would only result in a short term success, when holding onto the two will result in at least 6 years of sustained success.
I think that KT's time as a successful GM for cash strapped San Diego was the perfect pre-curser to working with this organization. He is always going to try and draft well, he will never spend bad money on Free Agents to "go all in", or trade from a farm system position of weakness, and he seems to have a knack for trading guys when its needed, and locking guys up when its merited. Any chance you guys could move your franchise to Milwaukee and you can have the one we have up here?