It’s way too early. The National League West is way too talented. Summer in Arizona is way too long.
But for the Arizona Diamondbacks to start the season with 13 wins in the first 22 games, against very stiff competition, and to do it without Adam Eaton, Willie Bloomquist, Daniel Hudson and without Aaron Hill and Jason Kubel for about half the time?
Now add in a slow start by Miguel Montero and little or no production from the second and third pitchers in your rotation. This is as good a start as you could have hoped for as a fan.
Yes, the bullpen has blown a handful of games — and a few more that Arizona managed to pull out in extra innings. But I don’t expect that pen to struggle all year. If they do, the D-Backs are done.
But while the rest of baseball is talking about how hard Arizona must be kicking themselves for letting Justin Upton go (although I agree they didn’t get nearly enough for him), the Diamondbacks are scoring runs, hanging wins and showing that their 1-25 roster might be one of the deepest around.
Yes, Upton leads the world with 11 home runs and the Braves got off to the best start in baseball — although they are quickly coming back to Earth. But Upton has only 16 RBIs with his 11 home runs (does that sound familiar?) and some of the outfield antics that became commonplace at Chase Field are starting to show up in Georgia.
Upton will hit 35-plus home runs in Turner Field. The Braves will win a lot of games with that lineup, and the Diamondbacks will have to hear about this for the next 10-15 years. And Martin Prado and prospects weren’t enough of a return for the asset they had — one they devalued by publicly knocking him.
But let’s see if Upton or Paul Goldschmidt drives in more runs. Let’s see how the Atlanta clubhouse deals with the brooding Upton once the home runs stop flying and the strikeouts pile up. Let’s see if Upton failing to come through in key situations time after time starts to get old for Braves fans.
Firing Blanks; Trouble Reloading
No surprise that Lance Blanks was let go by the Suns this week, or that Lindsey Hunter is all but assured to follow — regardless of whether the Detroit Pistons decide to hire him.
The list of names of people who would be interested in the Phoenix GM job — beyond the Charles Barkley fantasy — show you how much Robert Sarver and Lon Babby have damaged one of the best brands in basketball.
The Suns are reduced to retreads and up-and-coming assistants for two reasons, the Suns have very little to work with on their current roster and candidates know that Babby and Sarver will micromanage every decision and relinquish very little power. Who wants to sign up for that?
Either you succeed and your bosses claim the credit, or you fail and, like Blanks, you take the fall for the collapse. Phoenix’s management took a lot of grief for saying this roster was a playoff team.
But their bigger sin was wasting the final four months of this season instead of using it as a springboard for the future. That’s something the Suns have historically done very well. Look at the track record, when 30-win seasons begat 50-win seasons and a deep playoff run thanks to a quick off-season rebuild.
Not this time. The Suns have little quality talent, and what little they have doesn’t want to be here. That’s not going to attract a championship architect.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.