Once upon a time, there was a team with a loaded farm system. Absolutely loaded. Every position had a young player just waiting to break through. They had a neo-Griffey in Justin Upton, a shortstop with defense and power, a third baseman who could hit 50 homers one year, and a reigning Cy Young winner. They had a pair of good corner outfielders who were interchangeably annoying1 and promising. They had so many young players that they could afford to trade six prospects for Dan Haren, who would surely put them over the top. They had, like, five catchers who could sneeze out a 100 OPS+ when most teams were just looking for one. They were a total supergroup.
Then the Giants won the World Series with a bunch of waiver claims, minor-league free agents, and busted veterans. Sure, there were four first-round picks who paid off almost immediately, but every team has that happen, I’m sure. The Diamondbacks tried to build the right way, with a team of engineers, reinforced steel, and all the proper permits. The Giants had a pretty sweet house, but they didn’t have a roof -- just some adobe, a couple of palm fronds, and some duct tape they picked up at a flea market. But the Giants won. The Giants. Not the Diamondbacks, they of the frightening collection of youth. The Giants. 2
Now Arizona is in complete rebuilding mode. They somehow turned Brett Anderson and Carlos Gonzalez into Joe Saunders and some low-minors arms. Brandon Webb disappeared into a Noah Lowry vortex. They still have Justin Upton and Stephen Drew, but they’re starting to look like the talented exceptions, not the stampede of talent we were all fearing just a couple of years ago.
Oh. Geoff Blum and Melvin Mora. Henry Blanco and Zach Duke. Xavier Nady? Xavier Nady! It’s like the Diamondbacks missed their fantasy draft and forgot to change the Yahoo! auto-rankings from 2008. The bullpen for Arizona was beyond wretched last season, so Putz is a good acquisition, but Blum for two years? Swapping Mora in for Reynolds, sub-Mendoza chicanery notwithstanding? I don’t get it.
Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy are pretty impressive. Drew and Upton are still cornerstone-types, with Kelly Johnson and the wee Chris Young not too far behind. And I guess there really wasn’t a whole lot the Diamondbacks could have done to complement those players this offseason. The idea was to get some value -- any value -- for Reynolds, and hold the fort until the minors are bearing fruit. But, man, them’s some ugly acquisitions. When the Diamondbacks were just above .500 in 2008, I thought, just wait. When they were awful in 2009, I said, hey, look at the talent and don’t count them out. Then came 2010 and the case of the flammable bullpen. Forget it. I’m not buying it this time. Geoff Blum for two years? Not that he’s going to be a starter, but, sheesh. He's like Eugenio Velez without the speed. If another team is offering more money, just up the years, man.
Fifth place with a bullet. This isn't even the prediction post, but there it is.
1 They were drafted in the same round of the same draft, their names sound similar, and they each went to one of those Bay Area schools that I was totally going to go to until Southern Oregon made safety schools like those irrelevant. I still don’t know which one got MVP votes with the White Sox and which one had a creepy mystery illness, and I refuse to research it now.
2 And the second the Diamondbacks turn their back, Pat Burrell will get in that stupid pool with three waitresses from Kincaids and some Miller Lite, and he’ll chuck the empties into center field.