Dark Monday

Today marked the last off day the players will have for the remainder of the 2006 season. It’s hard to believe the regular season is nearly over and even harder to believe that the Arizona Diamondbacks are not going to make it to the post season. For some of the players this off day may be welcomed as it gives them an additional day to heal from the small bumps and bruises that occur from a prolonged season. For other players they may be dreading the thoughts of having a day off. During the last off-day both Luis Gonzalez and Craig Counsell met with management only to find that their starting positions with the organization were being given to others basically ending their tenure with the club after this year is over. Given the youth movement that this organization is committing to, any veteran with more than a few years experience could be thinking that they may be next.

For the fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks this time of year can polarize you. On the one hand the team is all but mathematically eliminated from the play-offs so there is not much to cheer about while on the other hand the number of young players being given opportunities gives the fans a glimpse into the depth of the farm system and renewed hope that the future for this team looks extremely bright. It is interesting to see how quickly the Arizona fans welcome the young players into the starting line-up. In 2004 when the “baby backs” began to make their way onto the big league roster the fans had renewed hope that these young players could reverse the team’s fortunes but with youth come inexperience which led to errors and inconsistent play and resulted in a 111 loss season. With that memory fresh in their mind, the fans are somewhat skeptical about whether this crop of youngsters is going to fair any differently. The next two weeks will be a telling sign going into the off-season as to where the Diamondbacks will need to focus and which players will remain on the 40-man roster. I have a feeling that not all of the young prospects will be back with the team when spring training starts next February. Some may be back in Tucson and others may be packaged in a trade to acquire starting pitching to help the team reach the next level. All of this is speculation that helps to keep a fan warm during the long winter nights when the field is dark and major league baseball is dormant. For now we’ll just enjoy the brief day off and move forward with what remains of this season.

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