The Arizona D-Backs didn’t win the National League West because Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez got hurt. Posey and Sanchez wouldn’t have kept the D-Backs from winning anywhere between 91 and 96 games this season (without Stephen Drew for the last two months). And even with Posey and Sanchez, would the Giants have won 94 games this season? They’re 84-73. It’s possible they could have, but not worth worrying about anymore.
Congratulations Justin Upton. You’re an absolute beast. Congratulations Daniel Hudson. The fact the White Sox traded you for Edwin Jackson will never make sense. Congratulations Ryan Roberts. You’re a walking Ed Hardy commercial.
The D-Backs weren’t the beneficiaries of the Giants’ injury issues, terrible offense and allegiance to over-the-hill vets. They got hot, stayed hot and proved themselves to be the better team over a long period of time. Can they match what the Giants did last year and ride this momentum to a World Series win? Who knows.
But enough flattery. There are a few reasons why watching the D-Backs celebrate (I turned it off about five seconds after Aubrey Huff’s fly ball was caught by Chris Young, so I’d say I followed my own advice to a certain extent) is really infuriating. It’s because the D-Backs don’t have their own identity. They’re a team of biters. They might not copy the Rockies (the other annoying expansion team in the division, and yes I know calling them an expansion team shows my age), but the D-Backs are an amalgamation of every other NL West team.
Dodgers: Kirk Gibson is leading the D-Backs to division titles while Don Mattingly does whatever it does that Mattingly does (like deciding not to keep Clayton Kershaw in the loop on warnings from former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, for instance).
Padres: The D-Backs general manager, Kevin Towers, was the Padres’ GM for 15 seasons.
Giants: San Francisco thankfully yanked Will Clark back from the D-Backs, but they’ve lost Matt Williams to the snakes forever. The D-Backs’ Giants mimicry used to be more pronounced, with one former Giants catcher (Bob Brenly) followed by another (Bob Melvin) as manager. Other former Giants who’ve worked for the Diamondbacks include Mike Aldrete, Joel Youngblood, Chris Speier, and probably a few others I’m forgetting.
This is all a joke, of course. The Giants won their only World Series with Bruce Bochy, a Padre through and through, as their manager. And the Giants manager who came the closest to winning a title before Bochy since 1962 was Dusty Baker, a Dodger. Major League teams swap players all the time, and once playing careers are over, players are only loyal to the teams that keep paying them. The D-Backs’ skills (and youth … cough … Paul Goldschmidt) shone through. But I’ll never get used to seeing Matt Williams wearing a baseball uniform with a Southwestern motif.
Bochy and Belt
— Brandon Belt collected his second hit of the night, and Bruce Bochy pulled him for a pinch runner, Andres Torres. Maybe I’m looking into this a little too closely, but it seemed like Belt looked a little deflated.
— Belt’s frustration was nothing compared to Bochy’s when Belt made it clear he’d rather take a break than play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. From Baggz:
Brandon Belt wasn’t excited when Giants officials broached the subject of playing winter ball. But the rookie had a change of heart after meeting with manager Bruce Bochy on Wednesday.
Now the reticent Texan is looking forward to his first trip out of the U.S. in a few months, when he’ll head to the Dominican Republic.
“After talking with him, I really think it’s going to make me a better player,” said Belt, who was working with the Giants to find a roster spot. “If it’s the best thing for me, then it’s important that I go. There’s a lot I can work on, and it’d probably be for just half a season.”
Belt missed a month with a broken wrist and hasn’t always been an everyday player when healthy during his four stints with the Giants this season. It’s been a mentally exhausting season, and he was looking forward to taking a break.
It almost sounds like Bochy thought to himself, “A break, huh? Well kid, you’ve driven me crazy all year with your called third strikes, and I’m sick of the fans thinking I’m anti-youth every time I wrote Huff’s or Pill’s name in the lineup inside of yours.”
Bochy believes that Belt will soak up something else of value while performing in a competitive, fervent atmosphere, too.
“He knows how I feel,” Bochy said. “I feel strongly it could benefit him at this point in his career.”
Bochy telling Belt how he feels is one thing. Bochy telling the beat writers how he had to convince Belt to play winter ball … I think we can rightfully assume that the relationship between manager and rookie has soured a bit since Bochy offered Belt a beer after telling him he made the Opening Day roster.
— I’m not even upset Bochy didn’t lift Eli Whiteside for a pinch hitter, I’m upset Whiteside was in the game at all. Chris Stewart deserves playing time. Hector Sanchez is the future. Whiteside has no future with the Giants.
— Evidence switch hitters don’t always make things easier: Pablo Sandoval’s inability to hit lefty against lefties.
— The only good thing about Goldschmidt’s triple against Sergio Romo was that Giants fans won’t go into next season thinking that Romo will never fail again.
— Freddy Sanchez better be doing every single exercise the rehab doctors advise him to, because I can’t watch a full season of Jeff Keppinger next year.