Like any sports fan, I want my team to win, and I want my team to win now. But not every team has the money or the major-market attraction to make "winning now" a consistent possibility. Success now must sometimes be sacrificed for success down the road in order to ensure the health of an organization in the long-term. I believe the Diamondbacks would be much better off if they were to trade away some veteran players, acquire as much young talent as possible, and use the rest of the 2014 as an audition process for players in their farm system.
In recent years, the Astros were the symbol of futility in the MLB, and for good reason. From 2011 to 2013, they won a total of 162 games. That’s the number of games in a single season, and it took them three years to get that many wins. That’s bad. But let’s take a closer look at what was going on during those three years. While floundering in the basement, the Astros were developing players, using an army of PhD’s to analyze stats, and build a team for the future. While the experiment is far from over, it seems that they are headed in the right direction. So far this season, they are 32-39 and have a stable of promising young arms in the rotation, as the Diamondbacks learned when they visited Houston a little while ago. That’s not even to mention players like Mark Appel and Carlos Correa who haven’t hit the big leagues yet. Given a few more years, I think the Astros will be playoff contenders.
The Diamondbacks have proven that they know how to build a farm system themselves. Until recently, they had one of the best in the league. However, through trades and promotion, they have depleted their minor-league teams of top, MLB ready prospects. Let’s take a look at some current and former D-Backs prospects and see how they’re doing today.
Currently with Diamondbacks:
- · Chris Owings- Solid shortstop hitting .270 so far this year, and has shown some serious pop for a middle infielder with 6 HRs.
- · Miguel Montero- A mainstay at the catcher position, Miguel Montero certainly is a fan favorite, not to mention a favorite of the pitching staff. He had a breakout offensive year in 2012, and after struggling in 2013, he seems to be turning it around this year.
- · Paul Goldschmidt- Clearly the best draft pick the Diamondbacks have made who is currently on the roster, especially given it was in the eighth-round. The rock in the middle of the lineup, Arizona fans hope to see #44 at first for a long, long time.
- · Evan Marshall- A recent call-up to the majors, Marshall has performed well, posting a 1.96 ERA through 18.1 innings pitched.
Now let’s take a look at some of the prospects the Diamondbacks traded away:
- · Justin Upton: Diamondbacks fan favorite, he even had a section of the ballpark named after him. He is currently hitting .280 with 14 home runs in Atlanta. It may be a little early to completely judge that trade, as some of the players the Diamondbacks acquired haven’t cracked the big leagues, but if you’re like me, there’s still a part of your heart that yearns for Uptown.
- · Max Scherzer- Max Scherzer has developed into a legitimate ace Detroit. It’s hard to complain too much since that trade brought Ian Kennedy to Arizona where he had some very successful years, but the bottom line is Arizona is left without either of those guys while they are both currently having success elsewhere.
- · Carlos Quentin- Quentin had minor success in his two years with the Diamondbacks, but immediately after he was traded, he had a breakout year, even receiving MVP votes. He has since cooled off, but remains a serviceable outfielder for the Padres.
When you look at some of these names, it’s obvious that the Diamondbacks know how to develop players. However instead of giving these guys time to develop in the majors, they go out and get guys like Brandon McCarthy, Cody Ross, and Mark Trumbo. Granted, it is too early to judge Trumbo due to his injury, and some of the veteran players the Diamondbacks have signed have been tremendous assets to the team. However, the fact remains that the Diamondbacks have a tendency to trade away young talent in exchange for winning now.
Hopefully, the Tony La Russa signing is a sign that the Diamondbacks will be focusing more on developing their own players. La Russa comes from a Cardinals organization that has arguably been the best at churning out guys who are able to have success in the Majors. This Diamondbacks fan hopes to see the management abandon the search for "gritty" players, and instead eat the contract of some veteran players in return for young prospects, and go from there. Remember, it’s a process.