Weep not for the Diamondbacks, they'll be back
The 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks, who put together a season as memorable as any the team has had in its 14 years of existence, are done. No more rallies, no more comebacks, no more GibbyBall.
Friday in Milwaukee the team had chance after chance, opportunity after opportunity, and after pulling a classic Diamondbacks-have-opponent-right-where-they-want-them move in the 9th inning, the Snakes just ran out of magic in the 10th.
It stinks, but it's OK.
Arizona went into the series as an underdog, facing the team with the best home record in the National League and, maybe not surprisingly, lost all three games in the Brewers' park.
Did the D-backs play a good series? Not really, but they competed and had a chance, and that's all you can ask for out of any team and more than you would have asked for of this team heading into the season.
And it is a time like this where we must remember just how far the Diamondbacks have come in such a short period of time. Just last season they lost 97 games, and now we're upset they lost in Game 5, on the road, in the NLDS?
Shows just how far the Diamondbacks as a team - and we, as fans - have come. But the key, especially right now, is to think of not where the team has come from, but instead where they are going.
Paul Goldschmidt will begin the year with the team and playing first base. Stephen Drew will return healthy, and he'll be joined by Justin Upton, Miguel Montero, Chris Young and Gerardo Parra.
They were fourth in the NL in runs scored this season, and that was with a patchwork lineup that was short on stars and filled with players who, to be honest, probably shouldn't be starting for a team that won 94 games.
But that shows just how complete a team this was, as their pitching staff was every bit as good as the offense. And, like the offense, it too will improve.
The bullpen solidified, Kevin Towers and Co. can spend their time filling out the starting rotation, which has the potential to be as good as any in the Major Leagues. Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Josh Collmenter are firmly entrenched, and Jarrod Parker, Trevor Bauer and others just waiting for their chance to make an impact at the Major League level.
And they will.
The Arizona Diamondbacks made the playoffs in 2007 and, after losing to the Colorado Rockies in the NLCS the feeling was that the team was real close, and traded away half the farm system for players they thought would push them over the hump. The trades were so bad it took the franchise years to recover, but there will be no such maneuvers this time, as the pieces to win are either in place or on the way.
Besides, they're even closer now than they were four years ago.
The Diamondbacks had to fix the bullpen, which they've done. The rotation needed to be strengthened, which it is. The young hitters finally started playing like the stars many thought they'd be and, maybe most important, the culture has changed. Organizational advocacy has been replaced with GibbyBall, and that's here to stay.
The important thing to take away from this season isn't that the Diamondbacks fell just short, rather realize they took a giant step back to relevancy. No longer a doormat in the NL West; this team will be in the conversation for division titles and playoff spots for the foreseeable future.
What happened this season was only the beginning. Buckle up, the ride only gets more exciting from here.