What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I’m a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2012 title for all 30 teams.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are the 2012 World Series champions! A year after their brilliant “worst to first” campaign, the D-Backs proved they are here to stay after their thrilling victory over the Texas Rangers (their third consecutive World Series defeat). Arizona pulled it off through a series of brilliant moves made by the front office years ago, that at the time were labeled “bad moves”.
It started with Josh Byrnes sending away pitching sensation Max Scherzer and reliever Daniel Schlereth for starter Edwin Jackson and prospect Ian Kennedy. The Yankees had all but given up on Kennedy who was once a promising top prospect and the D-Backs fans were left speechless in an overwhelmingly negative assessment of such a trade. Byrnes was eventually fired as the Arizona GM midway through the season and the D-backs were left with an inexperienced interim GM to navigate the trade deadline.
That inexperienced GM’s name was Jerry Dipoto, who would eventually be hired on by the Los Angeles Angels. The first move he made was trading a proven starter in Edwin Jackson for an largely little known, yet promising, pitching prospect named Daniel Hudson. The second move would be universally called a heist when the Los Angeles Angels managed to acquire pitching ace Dan Haren for the package of lefty prospects/starters Joe Saunders, Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin.
Dipoto would eventually resume his role as the Assistant GM after the Padres let go of Kevin Towers, only to see the D-backs scoop him up after a year as a consultant for the Yankees. Towers would make his own mark on the D-Backs when he hired Kirk Gibson as the manager, traded for submariner Brad Ziegler, and traded a group of prospects for Athletics starter Trevor Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow. He’d also make a couple of useful moves in free agency by signing closer J.J. Putz (who most had given up on) and power hitting outfielder Jason Kubel.
Fast forward a couple of years, Ian Kennedy is the staff ace, Daniel Hudson is a run of mill two or three starter, Joe Saunders has transformed into a capable and efficient inning eater, Tyler Skaggs is one of the best pitching prospects in the game, Pat Corbin is projecting into the middle of the rotation, Ziegler, Breslow and Putz make up on the best bullpens in the majors, and Cahill is a cost effective number three starter. In essence, the Arizona Diamondbacks have been completely transformed and it seems every move they make is the right one. The fact that they were able to draft future homerun champion Paul Goldschmidt in the 8th round and prospect extraordinaire Trevor Bauer doesn’t hurt either. Clearly the D-Backs are winning the game off the field.
The on-field product isn’t bad either. Justin Upton is a perennial MVP candidate at age 24, Miguel Montero is one of the best “complete” catchers in the game, Chris Young is a lock to hit 20+ homeruns and steal 20+ bases. The aforementioned Paul Goldschmidt is the middle of the lineup presence that every team needs at first base, Stephen Drew is an above average shortstop when healthy and Aaron Hill provides an unexpected source of power from second base. The pitching staff is the real gem here though. Kennedy, Cahill, Hudson, Skaggs and Bauer will make up the best rotation in the major leagues and the D-backs still have a plethora of talented prospects in the minors that they can trade or promote to fill a need.
This isn’t just a World Series champion, this is the beginning of a dynasty.