PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks have taken the baseball world by storm the last few weeks as they have won 15 of their last 17 games and vaulted all the way to first place in the NL West.
However, the question still seems to remain, “Can the D-backs sustain their high level of play?” or “Will they come crashing back down to earth?”
Looking at Arizona’s roster, you can spot plenty of glaring holes.
“That is not a division championship rotation,” said Doug Franz on the Sports 620 KTAR’s Doug and Wolf show on Tuesday.
True, Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson have been solid the last month, but after them you have Joe Saunders, Zach Duke and Josh Collmenter.
While all three have had good moments this season, it’s hard to picture them sustaining a high level of play throughout the entire season.
Collmenter is a rookie who has only been in the Major Leagues for about a month.
How will he respond once teams have a chance to study tape on him and start to figure out his delivery?
Joe Saunders is the veteran of the group, but he has never really dominated throughout an entire season in his career.
You can count on his ERA to remain around four or five for the entire season.
Zach Duke is just returning from injury and the D-backs were only able to acquire Duke after the Pittsburgh Pirates designated him for assignment.
When bad baseball teams like the Pirates let you go, there’s probably a good reason for it.
While the D-backs also have a shortage of power from the corner infield spots at first and third base, the team probably needs another arm for the rotation if they are to hang around the top of their division.
Still, that brings up additional questions such as, “Who to go after,” and “What are you willing to give up?”
Good caliber starting pitchers aren’t just floating around and usually cost a king’s ransom to acquire in a trade (think Dan Haren back in 2008).
Also, in deciding what you’re willing to give up to acquire that pitcher, an organization has to ask itself,”Will landing this player put us in contention to win the World Series?”
If the answer is “yes”, then you should be willing to mortgage part of your future in prospects to land that player.
Unfortunately for the D-backs, as impressive as they have been this season, it doesn’t seem like adding another quality starting pitcher will carry them to the World Series.
Thus, the team shouldn’t be willing to trade any of its solid prospects like a Jarrod Parker, Tyler Skaggs, Chris Owings, Matt Davidson or Boby Borchering.
However, that doesn’t mean the D-backs should necessarily stand pat.
If they can find a team with a high payroll that is out of contention by the trade deadline in July, then it’s possible that they could get a decent player without having to give up much if they are willing to assume that player’s salary.
One ESPN analyst has already reported that Arizona will have the payroll flexibility to add salary at the deadline.
It’s too early at this point to say for sure what teams might fall into that category, but looking at how the season is already playing out, it’s possible that a few teams might be a match.
If their teams fall out of contention and want to shed salary, players like Chicago White Sox starter Mark Buehrle, Minnesota’s Scott Baker, Chicago Cubs’ Ryan Dempster or even Houston Astros’ Brett Myers might be available.
Adding any of these players probably doesn’t make Arizona a World Series contender, but it would make them the favorites to win the weak NL West and get back to playoffs.