While few people thought the Arizona Diamondbacks were built to contend for the NL West crown in 2014, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who predicted they be as bad as they’ve been.
Which is why their 9-22 start to the season is so surprising.
“I don’t think that the Diamondbacks were constructed, by any means, in the ideal way, but I did not see this coming at all,” Yahoo! baseball writer Jeff Passan told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday.
The thing is, when you’re not built to win then it’s possible you are built to lose, and Passan believes the Diamondbacks have made their fair share of mistakes over the last few seasons, including the deals that netted them Trevor Cahill, Mark Trumbo and Addison Reed.
“I don’t think it’s been the type of offseason — or really a couple of offseasons now — that the Diamondbacks necessarily can sit there and be proud of, but to think it was going to turn this bad this quickly, I never would have imagined that,” he said.
But he did expect them to struggle, at least on some level.
Pointing to last year’s trade that sent Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves for a package of players, Passan said the D-backs really started overvaluing the wrong things in a player.
“I’m sorry, you don’t give up a dollar for a couple of quarters, a few dimes and a couple of nickels, and that’s what the Diamondbacks did,” he said. “They gave up a kid in his prime who had potential superstar written all over him for intangible reasons?”
Upton has not exactly been great with the Braves, but in 174 games with the team has hit .272 with 35 home runs, 88 RBI and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .849. The key player the D-backs received in the deal, Martin Prado has hit .279 with 14 home runs, 92 RBI and an OPS of .736 in 185 games for Arizona.
The issue is not so much in the stats, though, but rather the mindset the deal represented.
“Using this intangible ethos as the thing around which to build your ballclub can be a potentially dangerous thing and I think we’re seeing the pitfalls of it right here,” Passan said. “I think we’re seeing it in a much more exaggerated sense than anybody could have thought and I don’t think this is necessarily a knock against intangibles or disproves the idea that intangibles exist, I just think when intangibles are your number one criteria you potentially run into problems.”