We Diamondbacks fans have been living a delusion for half a season.
This team has hung onto first in spite of the injuries, now just imagine what will happen when Aaron Hill and Adam Eaton get back. Doubles and triples and boat races galore danced across in our imaginations, and we hoped that the return of these two offensive dynamos would boost the Diamondbacks into the playoffs.
That could still happen, of course, but the results so far have been mixed at best.
Aaron Hill has largely returned to the form that was granted a contract extension during the offseason, and he's sitting on a 119 wRC+. Adam Eaton, on the other hand, hasn't been the center field savior some were proclaiming during Spring Training, with a wRC+ of only 59.
Yet the problem the Diamondbacks have had since both came back have been the problems that were already rearing their ugly heads: sloppy starting and relief pitching, and inconsistent offense. Hill hasn't jumpstarted the offense, because there's not a lot he can do get Paul Goldschmidt out of his slump, or to get Ian Kennedy to stop throwing and start pitching.
Even with the recent fall from grace, though, the Diamondbacks still are only 2.5 games back. With the trade deadline looming, the question on everyone's mind is whether the team will be buyers or sellers?
Given Kevin Towers predilection towards wheeling and dealing, 'buying' will always be the safe bet. Others might point to that slim margin between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers as evidence we should be buying. But we probably should be looking to buy because selling is a worse option (we'll assume not doing anything is a toxic option to KT, because, well, KT).
Selling carries the problem that the Diamondbacks seemingly only have toxic assets, or pieces too valuable to dump with a .514 record. It would be pathetic to move Goldschmidt when the team isn't that far away from fighting for the division. At the same time, it will be difficult to move Jason Kubel or Ian Kennedy at the current second for a price that is acceptable.
If moves were to be made, however, they need to be the kind that build the team team into next year and the immediate few years, not rentals and other trade deadline fiascos. It's even less likely they'll win the trade deadline than they'll win the division, so it would be better to be conservative about trading.
The Diamondbacks have been rumored to be pursuing both left-handed relief and starting pitching, but it seems like the gulf between quality and what the Diamondbacks should spend can't be breached. And with starting pitching, someone will have to be dumped to make room.
The Pablo Sandoval in the room, of course, is the Dodgers. They've become the team we feared at the beginning of the season, and although they can't be this hot forever, they can probably still be good for the rest of the season. They've been getting healthier, Matt Kemp excepted, and they have the flexibility to be stupid in the trade market.
I know people love imaging trades, but I think the D-backs would be pretty dumb to make a move in either direction, unless they're getting a steal. It would be better to retool after the season and reconsider the path we've been on.
What do you think: should the Diamondbacks be buyers or sellers?