The Diamondbacks are the brightest spot on an Arizona professional sports landscape that features a setting Suns team, the Coyotes that still lack a local solution to their ownership woes, and the Cardinals who are very much on the cusp of something (we're just not sure what).
It's the local baseball team that's on the rise and closer to (another) championship parade; this offseason proved how committed they are to getting. The Snakes went from "rebuilding" to "win now" faster than we expected and they did it all in brilliant fashion.
The question is, will the fickle sport fans of this transient town embrace the Diamondbacks again?
If they don't, there's no blaming team management this year.
The D-backs in 2011 achieved a fantastic turnaround, winning the NL West with a combination of gritty culture, smart value signings, and more than a little luck in the form of injuries in the Giants ranks and career-seasons by guys like Ryan Roberts and Gerardo Parra.
Most of us expected the team to try and sell more tickets off the backs of last summer's success and view 2012 as another step towards eventually, possibly, contending.
We thought the roster would mostly come back in tact and the younger players would get another year to develop. A few of the bright young arms in the system would get thrown into the fire and hopefully, the team could be entertaining again and maybe get lucky.
The Diamondbacks had other plans.
They brought back all their key players from 2011, including free agents John McDonald, Henry Blanco, Aaron Hill and Willie Bloomquist. That was expected.
But then things got interesting.
The trade for Trevor Cahill cost one of the young arms but brought back a proven starter with a needed sinker ball who's still young and cheap.
The signing of free agent Jason Kubel added a veteran lefty bat to the middle of the order at the hefty price of $7.5 million per year for two years with a mutual option for 2014. That pushed Parra to a fourth outfielder role more suited for his slap-hitting and great defense.
The final straw that broke the back of any notion this team was willing to settle for patiently waiting out 2012 came with Joe Saunders' $6 million deal. The team struck out on cheaper options for the final spot in the rotation before getting approval from ownership to spend on Joe to solidify one of the top five rotations in baseball.
The payroll, that was estimated to come in at about $65 million for the season has jumped to $80 million. Kevin Towers explained what that means:
azcentral.com blogs - Nick Piecoro - D-Backs stretch payroll, bring Saunders back
"It shows a commitment from ownership’s standpoint. Now it’s up to Gibby and I hopefully to follow through and hopefully win another division and go deeper in the postseason. It’s pretty incredible. All my years, I’ve never been a part of an organization that wants to win as badly as maybe these guys do. I think we’re a much better club than we were at the end of the year last year."
You catch that? In all his years Kevin Towers has never been part of an organization that wants to win this bad.
Those are the kinds of words that would have rang hallow in a lot of places but after the offseason the Diamondbacks had...well, let's just hope the fans are equally committed.