I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received this season from Diamondback fans lamenting the great season Max Scherzer is having with the Detroit Tigers, and how his 13-0 record would have Arizona comfortably in first place instead of fighting tooth-and-nail with its shaky starters and flammable bullpen this summer.
Scherzer is now an ace in Detroit. Tigers fans now circle his starts on the calendar instead of Justin Verlander. Detroit is a first-place team in a competitive division and Scherzer has been a difference-maker.
Why, oh why, they wonder, did Arizona trade such a promising young arm to Detroit back in 2010 in a three-team trade for Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson (who was later dealt to the White Sox for Daniel Hudson)? Now that Kennedy is struggling and Hudson has had two surgeries and finds his career in jeopardy, watching Scherzer in the All-Star Game Tuesday in New York will only make the grumbling even louder.
Never mind that Kennedy and Hudson combined to win 37 games in 2011 and lead Arizona to a division title. That was then. The banner is on the wall in Chase Field and forgotten. What matters is now. The chance to capture another flag is there and a Scherzer/Patrick Corbin combo would already have 23 wins in the bank to trump whatever Yasiel Puig, Zack Greinke and the rest of those dastardly Dodgers can bring to the table.
The Diamondbacks sacrificed the future for the “now.” The “now” got them to the postseason after a three-year drought, which for spoiled Arizona fans is about as long as they can stand before revolting (five division titles in 15 years).
So with the trade deadline approaching and the Diamondbacks leading their division but laboring, general manager Kevin Towers will again feel the pressure to trade the future for now. Does he deal a guy like Tyler Skaggs, who, like Scherzer (9-15 with a 3.86 ERA during parts of two seasons in Arizona) has done little more than tease with his big-league stuff for the opportunity to fortify his starting staff or bullpen now?
You can’t have it both ways. To get something you have to give something. To get a proven arm, prospects must be sacrificed. Or you stick with the pitcher you now know inside and out and give him the ball.
The Diamondbacks have already traded a lot of their young arms. Will Jarrod Parker or Trevor Bauer blossom into the next one that got away?
The Dodgers have an incredible lineup of talent and plenty of money to add more before the deadline. They can afford to make mistakes because they can use their piles of cash to erase them. Matching moves isn’t really feasible. As hard as it is to watch David Hernandez and Heath Bell burst into flames right now, is it worth trading the future for so-so-starters or rent-a-relievers that may not be much better?
I would like the see Arizona hang on to Skaggs and Archie Bradley, as it did with Corbin, trust the offense will be better in the second half, and the bullpen has to get better.
Watch enough Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy, and realize that unless you can afford high-priced horses in free agency, acquiring starting pitchers other teams are willing to deal is just as risky as developing your own talent.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.