For most, today is an average Tuesday. You will hate it slightly less than Monday and exactly 16.2 times more than Friday. But for the Arizona Diamondbacks, this Tuesday is a joyous one as the club is finally back at .500.
Please...hold your applause. I know, it's an impressive achievement to be sitting with an even record in late July. But I'm sure your neighbors have already had their fill of ruckus after you undoubtedly had an all-night, techno dance party in celebration of the D-backs winning four straight.
Don't worry though, I'm not here to judge your taste of music. After all, I keep attending Diamondbacks' games even though the PA guy has made it his sole mission to play "Call Me Maybe" until my ears bleed.
The real reason I am here today is to share with you that we are exactly one week away from the roller coaster of emotions that is the non-waiver trade deadline. And in our era of the 24-hour news cycle, there's more demand than ever to constantly divide each and every ball club into two distinct categories: buyers and sellers.
But what if I were to tell you that D-backs' general manager Kevin Towers would be best off leading his team down a third entirely different path? Yes, I realize that I just met you and this is crazy. But here's my proposition for the D-backs to stand pat and not make a single significant move. So please continue reading maybe?
On July 25 2008, the Diamondbacks found themselves sitting on a 51-51 record as they looked to defend the previous year's surprising NL West title (sound familiar?). Three days prior, they had just given up a valuable young utility player in Emilio Bonifacio to acquire Jon Rauch from the Washington Nationals in a valiant effort to keep the surging Los Angeles Dodgers at bay. I mean, Bonifacio ain't too shabby but still nothing too crazy right?
Fast forward a couple weeks and the D-backs are pushing all their chips in the pot while holding a deuce-seven off-suited. On August 11, Arizona nabbed slugger Adam Dunn from Cincinnati, a belated yet direct retaliation in to the Dodgers blockbuster acquisition of Manny Ramirez. And while Dunn would go on to put up decent numbers in 44 games wearing Sedona red (8 HR, 26 RBI and .417 OBP), the move proved to be futile as the D-backs finished a middling 82-80, two games behind those pesky boys in blue.
Sure, the only real asset we ending up losing in that trade was Micah Owings and it's not like he went on to light up Ohio (5.35 ERA in his two seasons with the Reds). But what most forget is that Owings was widely regarded as one of the organization's finest pitching prospects, especially after their farm system was ransacked by Oakland in the Dan Haren deal.
To give a comparison for those who don't remember, that'd be like if the present D-backs included Patrick Corbin or Tyler Skaggs as the centerpiece in a deal for a rental. And then still fell flat on their face.
Still rushing to get in line for a Hanley or a Hamels?
Truth is that the difference between making the playoffs or not for the Diamondbacks isn't something that can be acquired. Instead that difference, or differences, has been on the roster all season.
If the D-backs were playing to their full potential, this squad would easily be good enough to get back to postseason, especially with the additional wild card. I fully believe they have all the necessary pieces already in place to be a serious contender in the National League. But the facts are that they currently aren't. And that's because this divine "full potential" has alluded them all season.
So no, the D-backs don't need to nab a marquee third baseman or an experienced arm. They need Ian Kennedy to perpetually pitch like the true ace he's shown to be in his last two starts. They need Justin Upton and Chris Young to continue to be key parts of their offensive rallies like they've shown they can be this home stand. And more importantly than all else, they need to capture a concept that's rarely been used to describe their play this season: consistency.
Whether it's at home, on the road, in the rain or on the battlefield for Middle Earth, the D-backs have to find a way to show up each and every day and be ready to produce. That's a predicament that can't be solved by a rent-a-player or one of the thousands of make-believe propositions for Justin Upton that pop up all over the interweb on the daily.
So what do I name this proposed third route in between buying and selling? Busyelling. Damn, not as a catchy as it sounded in my head... Well let's just call it confidence then. Confidence that this well-built team is talented enough to succeed without repeating 2008 and potentially mortgaging what looks to be bright future. Now that's an idea that all the prospects in the world can't buy.