Advertisement

Did Diamondbacks make best trade in wacky NL West?

Did Diamondbacks make best trade in wacky NL West?
Arizona's Welington Castillo jokes with the home plate umpire as he steps in to bat against the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 10. (Ralph Freso / Associated Press)

Ticket sales should be brisk this September at Dodger Stadium, at least. 

The Dodgers could have blown away the National League West by now. Instead, we're looking at a pennant race -- and it might not be a two-team race.

The San Francisco Giants just completed a killer trip -- seven games, all on the road, against the two best teams in the league. The Giants lost two of three in St. Louis. They lost three of four in Pittsburgh.

They gained a game on the Dodgers. The Giants have not led the Dodgers since May 29, but San Francisco is within 1 1/2 games of first place.

Advertisement

The Dodgers played five games last week, losing them all. And the footsteps are growing louder from teams presumed to be the walking dead: the Arizona Diamondbacks at 5 1/2 games back and the San Diego Padres, within 6-1/2 games of the Dodgers.

Advertisement

Of all the mid-season trades in the NL West, the Diamondbacks might have made the one with the greatest impact.

The Dodgers acquired seven players on July 30 alone, headlined by the arrivals of starting pitchers Mat Latos and Alex Wood. Second baseman Chase Utley followed last week.

The Giants, with a measured and targeted approach, acquired starting pitcher Mike Leake and outfielder Marlon Byrd. The Padres, widely expected to be active in trade, essentially stood pat.

On June 3, the Diamondbacks made a trade largely viewed this way: The Seattle Mariners, trying desperately to pump offense into a supposed contender, acquired slugger Mark Trumbo from Arizona for four players -- most notably double-A outfielder Gabriel Guerrero, the nephew of former Angels and Montreal Expos star Vladimir Guerrero.

Of the four players sent to Arizona, catcher Welington Castillo is the only one in the majors. He is on his third team this year, a backup on the Chicago Cubs in April and on the Mariners in May.

The Diamondbacks did not start him when they got him. However, in a season in which Arizona has used six starting catchers, Castillo has outlasted the likes of Tuffy Gosewisch and Jarrod Saltlamacchia -- and emerged as vital force in the lineup.

Castillo, 28, has 15 home runs in 54 games for the Diamondbacks. The only Arizona player with more: All-Star Paul Goldschmidt, who has 24 home runs in 123 games.

Of the NL West players with at least 200 plate appearances for their team, there are two with an OPS+ above 145 -- a statistic that adjusts for park and league factors, with 100 representing league average.

Goldschmidt has a 170+ OPS. The other player? Castillo, with a 149+ OPS.

Advertisement
Advertisement