It's normally my habit to write some sort of brief summary of what a team's been up to before they play the Rockies for the first time on a season, but things have been more chaotic than usual on the Colorado beat lately and I'm only getting to the Diamondbacks after their three-game series in Denver concluded with an 11-4 pounding today. Now I'm going to be occupied writing that, so I won't have time to properly enjoy the rare feeling of an over-.500 Rockies team. Good thing they have a day off tomorrow.
I'm a little annoyed by this year's Arizona team, to tell you the truth. It's nothing they have done. Indeed, this Diamondbacks team is barely old enough to have done anything, starting as they are so many first- and second-year players. As for the veterans, I don't have strong feelings either way about the likes of Randy Johnson and Livan Hernandez. What bugs me about the D-Backs this year is how many experts on both sides of the scouting/stats divide love this team. How can anybody pick a club with this old and fragile of a rotation, a completely unimproved bullpen that was ghastly last year, and no proven offensive stars to win a division, even the NL West?
Nothing against Stephen Drew, Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin, and Chris Young. All of those guys will be good players, and maybe all of them will be stars. But the irrational exuberance about this young Arizona lineup irks me. Why is nobody exhibiting the same optimism about the Rockies? Colorado has a young, mostly homegrown lineup as well, only some of their hitting stars have actually had entire productive seasons in the majors. What's more, the Rockies have developed the beginnings of a good rotation and a number of very exciting bullpen arms. Arizona has developed...Brandon Webb. That's it, that's the list. Their bullpen, as the eighth inning of the game today elegantly displayed, is horrific. I've always felt Webb to be overrated (probably without any good cause), but even assuming he wins back-to-back Cy Youngs this year the rest of the rotation is a shambles. Randy Johnson is done, Livan Hernandez is 87 years old, Doug Davis is just a guy, and I don't even really know who Edgar Gonzalez and Micah Owings are. Arizona won a World Series not long ago with an average to average-plus lineup, a very good bullpen, and two dominant starters. This year they have...an average to average-plus lineup. How can you possibly construct an argument that they're going to even finish .500, let alone win the division?
The only reason I can think of that so many people irrationally like Arizona this year is the same reason that folks pick Anaheim over Oakland every preseason in the AL West despite the fact that the A's invariably play .800 ball down the stretch and leave the Angels in the dust every single year. Arizona won the World Series. The Rockies haven't done that. Assuming that Arizona's prospects will develop and Colorado's won't because a completely different group of Diamondbacks players won a championship at the beginning of this decade makes no sense at all, but there you have it.