It’s September. For baseball, it should be the best time of the year. Pennant races, award chatter, fall weather rolling in, what’s not to like?
Instead, like the child whose birthday is December 24, baseball struggles for attention during what should be the best time of their year. The excitement of a new football season means better ratings for preseason football than baseball’s playoff push. And if you happen to live in a city that has both sports, and your baseball team is out of the playoff picture, the last 25 games of the baseball schedule can be an absolute grind.
If you’re a Diamondback fan, September may be too much to take. When the D-backs fell out of first place, the Dodgers dropped them on their head. Two trade deadlines passed without management addressing any of the team’s glaring needs. And the Arizona baseball fan doesn’t even get the pleasure of that fall weather rolling in.
So what’s left to look forward to?
• Paul Goldschmidt for MVP – The D-backs aren’t making the playoffs. That will cost Goldschmidt votes and ultimately the award. However, the first baseman is undoubtedly a contender for the honor. He already has the best stat line of all the candidates. A huge month of September and his numbers will demand strong MVP consideration.
• Chris Owings – The shortstop put together an outstanding year in the minors, and his September call-up will give fans an extended look at the prospect. Most of the talk I’ve heard recently suggests an Owings vs. Gregorius September grudge match. Why not Owings with Gregorius? Sure, let’s see them both play shortstop. But why not a little Owings at second or possibly even third?
• Does Adam Eaton steal bases or not? – Boy, did the organization oversell us on Adam Eaton. The sparkplug has stolen three bases in 175 plate appearances this season, and the team has gone 23-25 since he was activated from the disabled list.
• Matt Davidson – Martin Prado has proven he can play practically anywhere for the Diamondbacks. So, does Prado project as the team’s starting third baseman for 2014, or is the path clear for Matt Davidson to win the job in spring training? A little too much credit was given to Davidson over his Futures Game MVP and Triple-A HR Derby winning performance, but that doesn’t mask the fact that he’s a top-five prospect in the organization with Major League pop.
• Know when to fold ’em – OK, I’ve seen enough. Patrick Corbin is good. The D-backs are out of the race. Time to sit the 24-year-old ace before something funky happens. I admit Matt Harvey’s injury has me paranoid, but seriously, why risk it? A workload of 182 innings pitched is plenty. Maybe call up…
• Archie Bradley – The organization’s top prospect isn’t likely to make his Major League debut in 2013, but I wonder if curiosity will get the better of GM Kevin Towers. The team could have him start one game in September, get his Major League feet wet, show the fans the future, and then shut him down for the rest of the season.
• A good season-ending stretch from Trevor Cahill… So that he can be traded! – Cahill was 2-0 with a 3.22 ERA in August — a marked improvement from his wretched June. But I’ve seen enough. Terrible body usually means terrible work ethic. And the guy falls apart at the first sign of trouble. Cahill is a perfect example of why the win stat still means something. It takes guts to out-pitch your opponent. Not gut. Trade him! If you can.
• Pink slips? – GM Kevin Towers announced on-air that Kirk Gibson’s job is 100 percent safe. Well, what about Kevin Towers’ job? After all, he built a team around grit, and then announced that the guys on the roster “lacked a sense of urgency this season.” Well, that doesn’t sound very gritty at all. I don’t believe Towers is going anywhere, but a guy who committed 25 percent of the team’s payroll to arguably the worst bullpen in the National League shouldn’t feel safe, should he?
And if none of these storylines do it for you, well, the Cardinals’ new season kicks off Sunday.