09 November 2010

Just My Imagination?

If Ken Kendrick aims to identify with something besides failure (like Valley fans, for a change), it seems our other local teams are co-operating. The Cardinals, Suns and Coyotes each have begun underwhelming autumns, after endearing playoff campaigns. Even ASU's bowl chances appear slim, despite seventy postseason slots.

The Diamondbacks are sure to create some buzz regardless, between Derrick Hall's $100 million dollar practice field and the All Star Game Bud Selig denied Jerry Colangelo (and Dback fans) for a decade. But if they could win - on top of that predictable corporate theater - in a Valley numb from losing....imagine the possibilities.

Just hanging in some semblance of a pennant race through June or July, Ken Kendrick's Diamondbacks could not only shed their longstanding laughingstock status, but might capture a ripe sports market as well.

Yet in a show of studied defeatism worthy of Kendrick himself, groupthinkers over at azsnakepit are already throwing in their proverbial Diamondbacks' dishrags...before New Years'. It seems they dont want Towers to acquire anyone too good (ie "expensive"), because they've done the math and decided we're not going to contend anyway.

Diamondhacks is more irresponsibly hopeful. The last couple years have been rough. Heck, the team's had a pretty miserable seven year run. But past performance doesnt dictate future results, especially after such a fundamental shakeup.
-- By parting with Eric Byrnes, Webby, Laroche, Heilman, Howry, Rodrigo, and trading off Haren, Ed Jackson, Snyder and Qualls, the Dbacks have freed up an enormous amount of payroll, while forfeiting less current and future value.

-- Towers can bump a 69 win roster (pythag) up to about 75 merely by acquiring 250-300 innings of replacement level pitching, which is easy and cheap to do. I imagine KT'll do better than that. If he can cobble together a league average staff - an admittedly taller task - they're up to 83 wins.
-- Every projected positional starter will be younger than thirty on Opening Day, and all (except Allen, who may not be here) now have significant starting MLB experience.

-- The most difficult, "defensive" positions to fill are already occupied by average and above average "two way" performers (ie Drew, Johnson, Young, Montero). Towers needs to backfill the most one dimensional positions (1B, LF) - and situationalize his bench - to enable an above average lineup.

-- MLB's least experienced and likely least capable coaching staff has finally been jettisoned. Normally, coaching changes dont amount to much, but the removal of Hinch and Stottlemyre may be significant exceptions. In a few cases, their unwelcome and amateurish contributions destroyed player confidence, and ultimately appeared to sap teamwide resolve.

I wont predict we'll win the division just yet. Towers' triage is ongoing and mostly what we know, so far, is who he doesnt want (ie LaRoche, Webb). But the contrarian in me does think this is a relatively expectant time to be a Diamondbacker. When online 'masters of the obvious' hold out very little hope, yet actionable possibilities abound. When seismic shifts in organizational direction suggest the destructive vestiges of at least Jeff Moorad's Reign of Terrible may finally be behind our 'snakebitten' franchise.

Just My Imagination

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