Plucky Diamondbacks can’t count on a repeat performance


They were the comeback kids of 2011: the Diamondbacks won a major league-high 48 games in which they were trailing on their way to the NL West crown.

Too bad that’s not the kind of thing a team can count on carrying over from year to year.

Ian Kennedy, Miguel Montero, Ryan Roberts, Josh Collmenter, Gerardo Parra all might have had career seasons for Arizona. Starting pitchers Daniel Hudson and Joe Saunders likewise exceeded expectations, and the team’s best hitter, Justin Upton, played in 159 games after missing significant time in each of his first three seasons.

It’s not that everything went right for the Diamondbacks; Stephen Drew’s injury was a big inconvenience and the team got little from first base and second base for much of the season.

But more went right than anyone would have counted on six months ago, which is why Kirk Gibson is very likely to be named the NL’s Manager of the Year after the World Series.

It’s not going out on a limb to suggest that things won’t break so well in 2012. Kennedy could be excellent again and still not win 21 games. Roberts is a flawed player, one who will probably need to be returned to a utility role as next year goes along. Collmenter’s funky delivery and two-pitch arsenal probably won’t fool so many hitters.

So, the Diamondbacks need to be aggressive. Adding a legitimate No. 3 starter to pitch behind Kennedy and Hudson has to be the priority. Top prospect Jarrod Parker may be that pitcher as the season goes along, but it’d be for the best if he can start the year in the minors.

The Diamondbacks will also address second base, whether it’s in re-signing free agent Aaron Hill or looking elsewhere. They don’t need to do a whole lot else for the offense. Paul Goldschmidt looks like the answer at first. I’m not sure Parra will hit so well again, but he’s a nice option in left field while he’s cheap. Besides the second baseman, they really just need a solid player to pair with Roberts.

Arizona will likely enter 2012 as the favorites in the NL West, but that simply doesn’t count for much. Let’s hope owner Ken Kendrick untightens the purse strings some more in an effort to keep the Diamondbacks on top.

Let’s end spring training now, you guys

Getty Images

There’s a saying that goes “nothing good ever happens after 2AM.” It can also be said that nothing good ever happens after, say, week 5 or 6 of spring training.

Today, for instance, are a lot of inconsequential games. Those are neutral. Then there are a rash of these sorts of incidents which just went down today, all of which are bad:

Archer seems to be OK for now. Moncada walked off his thing and went back into the game. We’re still waiting to hear on Bumgarner and Ichiro. If there is anything serious with them we’ll update as we learn things.

But really, guys: Spring Training is too long. Even in a year like this one, when it’s a tad shorter than usual because of an early start to the regular season. Everyone who was gonna get their timing down well enough to make a big league roster has already done so. If someone isn’t healthy and in playing shape now, they’re not gonna be six days from now for Opening Day. The cake, as they say, is baked.

All that can happen is possessed-by-the-devil baseballs attacking unsuspecting players and injuring them in meaningless exhibitions. Let’s cease all baseball now until the regular season starts. Out of an abundance of caution.