After sweeping both ends of their twin bill against Miami on Wednesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks find themselves a healthy 5.5 games out of first place in the NL West, thanks in no small part to the division leading Giants, who completed a sweep of their own, winning three-of-three against the second place Dodgers.
Yet with just 37 games remaining in the regular season and Arizona's divisional elimination number sitting at 33, the D-Backs hold a slim 16.3 percent chance of winning the NL West and advancing to the 2012 postseason.
As for the possibility of capturing that second Wild Card, that glory likely will go to the packed NL Central in its last season of carrying a sixth team: Arizona's chances of earning a wild card berth are presently just 6.8 percent.
So what of the unthinkable, that a 2011 Cinderella story will miss the ball entirely when the ball strikes 2012?
If such an event were to transpire, Diamondbacks management would have to brainstorm this offseason on how to return to October baseball, where the front office team would be wise to come up with these 10 ideas to allow Arizona to catch up to the Dodgers and Giants.
Eligible for arbitration in 2013, Arizona would be extremely wise to keep Paul Goldschmidt, even with a steep increase in price.
Described as a "total stud" by BaseballPlayerSalaries.com, Goldy is a spark plug that has the potential to rally the young troops.
With an OPS climbing above .883 and breakout performances becoming a more routine occurrence, this is one player Arizona cannot afford to lose.
The Diamondbacks reportedly have taken the first step to ridding themselves of pitcher Joe Saunders, who, having pitched merely to average in 2011, was brought back again this season after an attempt at then-free agent Hiroki Kuroda turned up empty.
The numbers have not been kind to Saunders, who in 2012 holds a 6-10 record with a 4.22 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. Simply put,
Saunders appeared to be a 2012 afterthought that the franchise likely will get rid of by 2013.
Skaggs has been the pride of the franchise for the past few years, earning multiple minor league All-Star nods and a Futures Game selection in 2011 and, as Wednesday's performance demonstrated, he is ready for major league action.
Skaggs is the type of fresh pitcher that needs to be on display in Arizona—as a top-end starter.
After a career year last season in which he earned a league-high 21 wins with a 2.88 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, starter Ian Kennedy has fallen back to earth in 2012, his ERA ballooning to 4.24, WHIP up to 1.34 and his batting average against up to .277 from .227 one year ago.
Yet Kennedy had shown marvelous potential in 2010 and earlier, whistling a 1.95 ERA during his minor league career with a 0.99 WHIP and .192 batting average against.
The 27-year-old is still on the upswing of his career and it therefore would behoove Arizona to secure his services next year.
Upon trading Stephen Drew earlier this week, the Diamondbacks set in motion a master plan to acquire a talented veteran replacement.
With GM Kevin Towers having indicated Arizona will pursue a shortstop this offseason, Arizona does not need to go out and find a franchise superstar.
Prospect Chris Owings will reportedly be MLB-ready in 2014, not 2013, meaning that the D-Backs quite possibly will only need to shop around for a one-and-done middle infielder.
A versatile outfielder, Gerardo Parra found himself in an odd-man-out type of position in 2012, receiving less playing time this season with newcomer Jason Kubel providing offensive sparks and executing nicely out in left field.
Though the youngster will still be that fourth outfielder, injuries to Justin Upton and Chris Young have necessitated, justified, and proven Parra's presence and value.
Parra might be valuable as a trade piece in advance of the 2013 trade deadline, yet he is equally as valuable to keep around for at least one more Arizona Opening Day.
When Takashi Saito left Milwaukee for Arizona, it was on a one-year contract, meaning that Saito's 2013 chances always stood in jeopardy.
The 2012-13 offseason is not a time for Arizona to contract another veteran bullpen presence—Arizona already has picked up its fair share.
Instead, it is time to insert another young arm into the equation. From converting a starter to seeking a trade, it is this tactic that will most strengthen Arizona's bullpen chances.
Now, with a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament and Tommy John surgery looming on the horizon, the discrepancy makes sense.
The Diamondbacks should stay with Hudson through his Tommy John surgery and should look no further than John Smoltz (154 saves post-surgery), Brian Wilson (dominating closer until his reinjury), Francisco Liriano (AL Comeback Player of the Year, 2011 no-hitter after surgery), Tim Hudson (All-Star) and Stephen Strasburg (Nationals prospect extraordinaire) to see why.
Any pennant-clinching hopeful must have a strong closer and for this reason, J.J. Putz is absolutely vital to the Arizona cause.
Though he hasn't had a chance to earn as many saves as he did with the NL West champion D-Backs in 2011, when he successfully closed out 45 ball games—third in the National League—Putz nonetheless has converted 26-of-29 save chances in 2012, with a 2.95 ERA and 0.98 WHIP.
Putz still has it and the D-Backs will still need it next year.
With Chris Johnson and Ryan Wheeler presently sharing third baseman duties, it is time for Arizona to consider searching for a third baseman at best, utility player at worst, to help out at the hot corner.
Meanwhile, prospect Wheeler has stepped to the plate 46 times, drawing just 10 hits and a .217 batting average.
If there is one definite and urgent weakness on the diamond for Arizona, it surely is at the third base position, one that must be remedied if the Diamondbacks hope to compete with Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2013.