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Freaking Out About Division Rivals

In 2001, the Giants didn't make the playoffs for a lot of reasons. The starting pitching was inconsistent, there was a revolving black hole at third base, and Barry Bonds was only on base 52% of the time. The team won 90 games, but it was a bitter finish. And I spent the entire season worrying about the Padres.

The Padres didn't even finish above .500, but their organizational depth chart woke me up at night, and gave me emotional wedgies during the day. The '27 Yankees had nothing on what was to be the 2004 Padres:

C - Ben Davis (Power-hitting backstop for the next decade!)
1B - Tagg Bozied (Good gravy, what power!)
2B - Jake Gautreau (Newly drafted middle infield monster!)
SS - D'Angelo Jimenez (Former Yankees top prospect!)
3B - Sean Burroughs (Ten-time batting champion! Maybe!)
LF - Bubba Trammell (They should lock him up long term!)
CF - Mark Kotsay (As long as he stays healthy!)
RF - Xavier Nady (Dude's name starts with an X! An X!

The young pitching was similarly terrifying, with neo-Maddux Brian Lawrence, Wascar Serrano, OBP-master Adam Eaton, and some goof named Jake Peavy. I remember thinking, man, if only 50% of the young players develop, the Padres will be a dynasty. And all that talent would have been capably managed by strategic mastermind Bruce Bochy. The only saving grace was that the Giants weren't in the AL West, where teams would have to deal with a Kotchman/Kendrick/Wood/McPherson infield starting every All-Star Game until 2015.

My point is this: Sometimes prospects don't pan out. Thank you for your time. You can PayPal if you feel obligated.

Wait! I had another point. The reason for this trip down early-decade Memory Lane is that I didn't learn. I kept a very detailed Excel spreadsheet of how many eggs other teams had, and I was surprised when the omelet would fit in my shirt pocket.

Years later, the Diamondbacks started amassing talent like there was a shortage coming. Every position had five-tool goofs who were also translating the tools into results. An outfield of Chris Young, Carlos Quentin, and Justin Upton? An infield with Chad Tracy and Conor Jackson at the corners? A couple of offensively capable catchers to rotate in and of the lineup? They had so many good young players, they could afford to send entire minor league affiliates to the A's for Dan Haren. The worst part: They were already good, winning the division in 2007. This decade was going to be ugly.

While I was soiling myself thinking about Justin Upton and Chris Young combining for 1,000 steals and home runs over their careers, the Dodgers were lactating impact players. Even worse, the Rockies were building one of the best offenses in the league exclusively with homegrown talent. Most nights, the Rockies are able to start eight homegrown players. Eight! To find eight Giants worth starting over the past thirty years, you'd probably have to put Jack Clark at shortstop.

The Diamondbacks still have a lot of young talent; it isn't time to relegate them to the Nady/Bozied abyss. But my other, more relevant, point is this: Worry about yer own damned team. Seriously. I'm through getting caught up in prospect lists and under-25 superstars-in-the-making, forecasting doom for ten years in the future. If the Diamondbacks do become an elite team, they'll probably use guys like Stephen Drew and Justin Upton, but they'll have to supplement the roster with guys who weren't even close to the team picture a couple of years ago. The next contending team probably isn't going to have a lot to do with Micah Owings or Chad Tracy. I did a lot of worrying about a specific collection of talent for nothing.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go think about the 2011 infield (Posey/Villalona/Noonan/Crawford/Sandoval) for a while. They should really rip the place up, especially when Madison Bumgarner is yet another perennial Cy Young candidate. Mmm. That's going to be a tasty, tasty omelet.

And, yes, I'm quite aware that this post will be responsible for the three home runs hit by Chad Tracy tonight.