The Rockies are in first place. Okay. The Giants are right behind them. Makes sense. And then there are the Diamondbacks in third. This brings up two very salient points:
1. Hahahaha Dodgers
2. Hahahaha Padres
But then you start to wonder if the Diamondbacks can hang around. Any sort of optimism that came out of Arizona this offseason was based on the There’s No Way The Relievers Could Suck That Badly Again Theorem, which posited that there was no way the relievers could suck that badly again. And so far, it’s been proven right. J.J. Putz has been good, other relievers have been less bad, and Joe Paterson is proving that we could have won a World Series and held on to John Bowker at the same time! Well, maybe that last part is a stretch, but I’m still pretty sure that I root harder for Paterson than anyone else in the NL West.
...until he strikes out Aubrey Huff with the bases loaded in a meaningful September game, that is. Then it won’t be so cute that Joe Paterson was pilfered in the Rule 5 draft. But are the Diamondbacks close to contending? Let’s sort them into meaningless, arbitrary categories:
Good hitters hitting well
Justin Upton is doing his thing, Miguel Montero is a healthy season away from being the most underrated player in baseball, and Stephen Drew is covetable. Oh, sweet, sweet Drew. How I want the Giants to throw money at him after the end of next season. Maybe we could offer some prospects now and save some time. My offer is this, Arizona: Joe Paterson. Consider it, and consider it wisely. I’ll be back in an hour.
Talented hitters hitting poorly
Kelly Johnson sat on the same Greyhound-station toilet that Aubrey Huff did, which is totally ridiculous because it’s not like they make you pay for the covers; they’re free. Take a few home if you want. Chris Young has an OBP of .257, and it should be pointed out that he’s in this category because of projected talent. He could really be down a few rungs if he doesn’t start hitting soon.
Decent-enough hitters doing decently enough
Hmm. Don’t know much about Gerardo Parra and Juan Miranda. To Wikipedia!
Gerardo Parra and Juan Miranda are professional baseball players. They play for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both of their last names end with "a", and they use donuts in the on-deck circle while taking warm-up swings.
This category includes Ryan Roberts, who is going nuts right now. I would write that no one expected Ryan Roberts to hit this well, except somewhere on Ryan Roberts’s torso, there’s a tattoo of Ryan Roberts hitting this well, so he was the one. His minor-league numbers aren’t that impressive, but I’ll always give a little extra credit to the guys who can keep that K/BB ratio around 1. I couldn’t really explain why.
Hey, those pitchers are good
Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson are good and cheap, and they will be for a while. It was a neat little trick the Diamondbacks pulled, turning Max Scherzer into two good young pitchers. That’s a high-wire act that other GMs should appreciate but never attempt to emulate. Except you, Ned. See if that Kershaw guy can bring back two good young lefties. You’ll never know if you don’t try!
Hey, those pitchers aren’t as good
Disclaimer: obviously any of these pitchers could shut the Giants down at any time. But Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright, and Joe Saunders are like the three finalists of Boring Starting Pitcher Idol. You’d overhear co-workers talk about last night’s episode of Boring Starting Pitcher Idol, and they’d say things like "Oh, man, I loved it when Armando covered that Brandon Backe game -- so awesome!", or, "I didn’t even think I liked Glendon Rusch, but the way Joe Saunders interpreted him, it almost made me cry!" And you’d sit back and wonder why it’s popular to watch boring starting pitchers do the things that other boring starting pitchers did but do them more boringly. Doesn’t make sense.
Hitter to watch
Those guys up there.
Pitcher to watch
Those guys up there! Seriously, get out of my way, I’m heading towards a conclusion.
Stop that. A conclusion, I said. And it’s that I have no idea if the Diamondbacks will contend. They have some serious talent. They also have some less-than-inspiring talent. I expected the Padres to fade around the end of May last year, so it shows what I know. If Upton and Drew take off, they could push the lineup. If one or two of the Saunders/Enright/Galarraga troika could have an uninspiring-yet-helpful season, who knows? Stranger things have happened.
Like, oh, last year’s Padres. That team really scarred me, so when a team is within three or four games, I don’t care if they’re starting Manny Alexander at all nine positions. They’ll worry me.