I’m not going to pull any punches. Moving from Phoenix to Los Angeles over Labor Day weekend has dampened my spirits a little. What it’s also done has given me time to reflect. The drive across the Sonoran Desert in the moonlight provided me ample time to think about the Diamondbacks and no matter where my mind takes me, I keep coming back to one word: GRIT.

When the Arizona brain trust shipped Justin Upton off as part of an effort to add a more Kirk Gibson-esque, hard-nosed element to the team, Grittygate was born. Grit, gritty, grittiness and all other forms of the word were used by the media, and at one point Kevin Towers himself, to describe the style of team that the Diamondbacks were seeking.

There’s just one problem: the 2013 Diamondbacks haven’t been gritty, at least not in a fashion that’s winning ball games consistently. Instead, I’ve come up with three other adjectives that might be more appropriate for this year’s squad. Here’s what I was thinking at 1:30am in the middle of the Arizona desert.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are: IMPLOSIVE

Sporadic meltdowns by the bullpen and starters have really let the team down. Starters such as Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy and the late Ian Kennedy allowed games to slip away before our batters ever took a swing. In opposing fashion, the bullpen burned down a ton of potential wins by failing to close the door on late leads. The three-headed monster of JJ Putz, David Hernandez and Heath Bell were especially abysmal in the first half of the season, even if the bullpen turned things around a bit since then.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are: PASSIVE

If you’ve watched any number of Diamondbacks games this year, you’ve noticed that the team has struggled to cash in on its opportunities to score runs. On the year, Arizona has the 18th best average with runners in scoring position at .251. They’ve allowed opportunity after opportunity to slip away time and again, much to the chagrin of the Chase Field faithful. You can hear the collective groan when players like Miguel Montero put together terrible at-bats with the bases loaded in a one-run game and strike themselves out on three pitches. No, that wasn’t a random scenario. He killed us in the sixth inning on Friday night.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are: ENIGMATIC

This team has been really hard to figure out. They’ve put together impressive series wins at times, only to struggle against lesser foes. We’ve had big performances from lesser-knowns like Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado only to see the Opening Day starter work himself out of job and the  biggest offseason pitching addition, Brandon McCarthy, falter big time. Paul Goldschmidt has emerged while Jason Kubel’s ship sank and Montero slumped. Heath Bell went from ice cold to red hot since the All-Star break but has returned to a deep freeze — and the team can’t get back the wins that it surrendered early in the year. Put simply, this team has been really hard to get a feel for.

Which brings me back to gritty. The team hasn’t been gritty in a sense that it is grinding out victory after victory, but there are some signs of grit.

  • Arizona has a stellar record in extra-inning games (15-5)
  • Arizona has a great record in one-run games (29-18)
  • Arizona somehow has a winning record despite the slumps and careers lows from a number of their core players

And I guess this is where the word “grit” rubs me the wrong way. I just want the team to be good. I don’t care if it’s a smooth, sleek victory or they grind it out for nine innings. I could care less as long as we add another W to the win column. Unfortunately, that’s not happening often enough.

Did the front office sacrifice “good” for “grit”? That’s hard to say, and I suppose I’d like another year of observation to make my decision. So far, however, color me unimpressed with The True Grit Era of Diamondbacks baseball.

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2 Responses to Grittiness, Revised

  1. Tommy Comer says:

    I believe the FO made a number of mistakes. The worst in the last two years was trading Parker for Cahill. Not only has Parker been 4-5 wins better in WAR, but he’s making $8 million less each season. With the extra salary, maybe we could have gone out and signed an actual hitter and not the Cody Ross, Jason Kubels of the world. Ross was starting to hit at the end, but let’s be real: he’s on the wrong side of 30 and he’d been injury prone for awhile. While Prado has been great the last 6 weeks, let’s not forget he’s still way behind Upton in WAR. In fact, the cumulative stats from the trade shows it cost us several wins. I have little faith in Kevin Towers…

  2. Kevin R says:

    Tommy, while I agree with most of your comments, your WAR statement about Upton and Prado is way off. Not only is Prado not way behind Upton, he passed him a couple of weeks ago and as of last night is at 2.8 vs 2.0 for Upton. I also would have included Health Bell in the questionable trade category.

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