Without Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks must make a tough call

4 Comments

At 52-46, the Diamondbacks are still in the thick of the NL West race.  They’re 4 1/2 games back of the Giants there and five games back of the Braves in the wild card.

The road to claiming a spot in the postseason just got a lot tougher, though.  Losing Stephen Drew for the season due to a fractured ankle leaves the team with Willie Bloomquist and Cody Ransom at shortstop.  Bloomquist is a career .264/.317/.337 hitter whose only real use comes against lefties.  Ransom, likewise a right-handed bat, has hit .227/.311/.391 in 304 at-bats in parts of eight major league seasons.

The Diamondbacks were supposed to be buyers before Drew’s injury, with the bullpen and maybe a rotati0n upgrade serving as the top priorities.  Now they might well be better off selling.  Certainly, if they do stay in the race, shortstop is an even bigger need than setup help or a fifth starter.

Arizona is still working to rebuild a farm system wiped clean a couple of years ago.  To give up talent now in order to improve what looks like a .500 roster doesn’t seem like a great idea.  On the other hand, I don’t have to concern myself with keeping fans coming through the turnstiles.  Plus, the Diamondbacks could probably go get someone like the Mariners’ Jack Wilson without having to surrender a legitimate prospect.

It’s going to be a difficult decision.  4 1/2 games is a significant margin, and the Diamondbacks, with their lack of pitching depth, seem more likely to fade than either the Giants or the Braves.  I’d say it’s time to start thinking about 2012 and making Kelly Johnson, Joe Saunders and Ryan Roberts available in trade talks, but then, I don’t have nearly so much to lose.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

Getty Images
6 Comments

The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.