The Arizona Diamondbacks are David. The Los Angeles Dodgers are Goliath. Until the D-Backs come to that realization, as an organization, they will continue to struggle between reaching short-term goals and achieving long-term success.
After the D-Backs traded Tyler Skaggs and Adam Eaton to acquire Mark Trumbo, in a deal first reported by the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro, the team turned around and shipped third base prospect Matt Davidson to the Chicago White Sox for closer Addison Reed. The deal was first reported by MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
In the span of a few weeks, Arizona has managed to trade four of the team's top prospects, after dealing lefty David Holmberg earlier in the month. It looks like the D-Backs are trying to win now at the expense of the future. It also shows an organization that is continuing to have an identity crisis.
Arizona is a mid-market team with a payroll that topped $86 million in 2013. The D-Backs should be trying to emulate how other teams run their organizations.
The Tampa Bay Rays have built their farm system and traded veterans before they go too expensive. The St. Louis Cardinals continually bring young, talented pitchers to the majors—with great success—while letting expensive players leave. The Oakland A's frequently move pieces while contending with a much lower payroll.
The D-Backs? They just traded two young starters when the team's biggest area of need is the rotation. If this team doesn't pitch better and deeper in games into 2014, everything else will look cosmetic. The offense wasn't the problem with the 2013 D-Backs. It was the team's pitching staff. The D-Backs finished fifth in the National League in runs scored, ahead of the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
Arizona's pitching staff gave up the fourth-highest total of runs in 2013. The pitching staff is the issue.
Arizona general manager Kevin Towers is operating like a man who is trying to save his job and isn't worried about what tomorrow might bring. It should be of concern for anyone who follows the team.
Towers has made plenty of moves over the past two seasons, most of which haven't worked out. Now he is making moves to correct other moves.
The D-Backs should be embracing a youth movement. Instead, Towers is trading away young, cost-controlled players for players who will be more expensive this season and next. Eaton, Skaggs and Davidson may never become great players, but they afforded the D-Backs financial flexibility and all filled potential needs on the roster.
USA Today's Bob Nightengale mentioned that the D-Backs might flip Reed for a front-line starter. Looking at the MLB landscape right now, it is hard to see what type of starter Reed might land. Reed is a commodity, but he impacts 60 to 70 innings per season.
It would be hard to see a team trading a good starter to Arizona when there are still plenty of good closer options on the market, like Fernando Rodney and Grant Balfour.
If that was the plan, then it's flawed. The D-Backs need to pick a direction that the team can adhere to for the long-term. Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin are two excellent building blocks. The D-Backs farm system is highly-rated. Building through the farm would be the best way to ensure success this year and next. But, it doesn't look like the D-Backs have the patience for that.
Do the D-Backs have a plan? It certainly feels like Arizona and Towers are making this up as they go along.