You can look at the Diamondbacks one of two ways.
They’re three games under .500.
They’re in a pennant race.
They traded veteran right fielder Shawn Green to create more payroll room next season.
They want to win this year.
They’re caught between a soft pillow and a bright future, and somehow, manager Bob Melvin has to try to win today without sacrificing tomorrow.
For his next trick, he’ll make Pluto a planet again.
“When you trade a veteran guy at the time we did, it throws up a red flag that potentially means we don’t think we can win,” Melvin said Saturday. “But that’s not the case.”
Actually, it is.
The Diamondbacks never will admit it publicly, but their focus has not been altered by the ridiculous pennant chase that is the National League West.
They’re more concerned about building a foundation for next year and beyond than winning this year.
What other conclusion can be drawn from the Green trade? In the midst of a pennant race, Arizona dealt its best right fielder to make room for Carlos Quentin, who was hitting .240 at the time.
Green may not be the player he once was, but who would you rather have taking critical at-bats in September: a veteran who’s used to the pressure, or a rookie with eyes as big as saucers?
“There’s a lot of energy in these younger guys, and they’ve had some success,” Melvin said.
Maybe, but outside of shortstop Stephen Drew, none of the Diamondbacks’ rookies look like sure things in September. It’s more likely they’ll struggle than succeed.
Yes, I’m aware Arizona traded for veteran starter Livan Hernandez to bolster its rotation for the stretch run. But know this: If Hernandez isn’t under contract for next season, the Diamondbacks don’t make the deal with Washington.
Arizona had no interest in acquiring a rent-a-player, which in itself tells you that 2007 is more important than 2006.
That may not be the politically correct statement for Arizona to make — you don’t give up on a pennant race when you can reach out and touch it — but it’s the right thing to do.
The Diamondbacks aren’t a playoff team. Even if they somehow sneak into the postseason, they’ll be dropped off at the nearest exit. To hang onto a player like Green when his salary can be used in the offseason to help procure a starting pitcher — or a legitimate clean-up hitter — would be foolish.
September could be a lot of fun for Arizona, but this season shouldn’t be defined by the final record as much as it should for how it’s set the organization up for next year.
That’s been the bottom line since April, and it remains the bottom line, even if the Dodgers, San Diego Padres and everyone else in the National League keeps trying to convince the Diamondbacks they’re something they’re not.
Now, for something completely different.
The new sound system at Chase Field is — let me find the right word here — obnoxious. I understand the folks in the upper deck had trouble hearing the public address announcer with the old system, but a baseball game shouldn’t be played at the deafening decibels of an NBA game.
Baseball is a leisurely pace and small talk with your neighbor, not music so loud your ears bleed and you can’t hear the person next to you. Do us a favor, Arizona. Turn the volume down. Either that, or keep a super-sized supply of aspirin on hand. Because you’re giving your fans a headache.