Diamondbacks lead in baseball’s arms race

Jan 18, 2012, 1:56 AM | Updated: 5:54 pm

Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Trevor Cahill.

Josh Collmenter and Joe Saunders.

Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley.

Eight pitchers for what will be five spots in a rotation.
An embarrassment of riches, anyone?

The news broke
Tuesday that the D-backs are bringing Saunders back

for one more season, a move that is as surprising as it is

Saunders, a lefty with a 3.69 ERA in 212 innings of work
last season, will be back, as either the team’s fourth or
fifth starter. That’s just plain disgusting, and the key
reason why the Diamondbacks are likely to repeat as NL
West champs in 2012.

If ever there was a time to give a team’s GM a standing
ovation, this is it.

So, I’ll do it: bravo, Kevin Towers.

The return of Saunders could be the final piece to a
puzzle that ends with another NL West title and, maybe,
even more, because all Towers has done since the
Diamondbacks were eliminated on October 7 is trade for
Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow, sign Jason Kubel and
Takashi Saito and bring back Lyle Overbay, Willie
Bloomquist, Henry Blanco, John McDonald and Aaron Hill.

Sure the NL West should be better, with the Giants getting
Buster Posey back and the Dodgers actually having an
owner, but that’s exactly why Towers didn’t sit on his
hands all winter. In his second full season with the club,
Towers was aggressively patient as he boosted the
rotation, fortified the bullpen and improved the lineup.

His moves have rightfully drawn acclaim from baseball
experts, and if the D-backs are to grow into a
championship contender, this offseason has seen Towers
water the seeds that were planted last summer.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are currently better than the
team that won 94 games last season, and Towers was able to
make that happen without sacrificing the team’s future.

This is not a repeat of what happened in 2007, after a
surprise run to the postseason convinced Josh Byrnes and
co. to part with half the farm system to bring Dan Haren
to the desert. No, Towers has played things incredibly
smart, finding a way to improve the present without
mortgaging the future.

Oh, and what a future it promises to be, but let’s not
forget about the present.

With one of the top five
pitching staffs
in all of baseball, the game’s best
and enough youth that should improve with
another year under its belt, the pressure is on for the D-
backs to take the proverbial “next step” this season.

Towers knows exactly how to do that, since the blueprint
was put together in the 90s when the Atlanta Braves had
the likes of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Steve
Avery, Denny Neagle and the like. A strong rotation will
lead to many victories, and a deep rotation affords a team
the opportunity to make trades. After all, everyone could
always use more pitching.

Except for the Diamondbacks, that is.

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Diamondbacks lead in baseball’s arms race