For the second year in a row, the MLB Playoffs won't include the Arizona Diamondbacks. Though the team led the NL West for much of the summer, the Los Angeles Dodgers ended up pulling away and left the rest of the division in the dust.
Though it remains to be seen how the Dodgers will fare in the playoffs, and a lot can change during the offseason, it's likely they will enter 2014 as the prohibitive favorite in the division. The D-backs recognize this, as both general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson acknowledged it's an uphill battle to compete with the Dodgers.
"I mean the Dodgers are the Dodgers," Towers said in his end-of-the-year press conference. "They have unlimited resources and I fully expect them to pile on, add on to what they currently have this winter."
Towers believes the D-backs have comparable talent to the Dodgers, but stressed they need to play more consistently to win the division.
"For us, it's playing good baseball for six months," Towers said. "I think we can play with the Dodgers. We did earlier in the season. We just need to be more consistent from April to the end of September. And hopefully keep our core players on the field and you're going to have to have [more] significant years from some pitchers and some positional players than we did."
He also said he doesn't see this season from the Dodgers as a fluke, that Los Angeles' huge run in the summer was more indicative of the team than their slow start.
"I think everyone fully expected them to be a lot better than they were in April and May and I fully expect them next year to be strong again," Towers said. "I think they'll even probably be better."
The Dodgers entered the 2013 season with the league's second highest payroll, according to the AP, and have been connected with almost every big name free agent expected to hit the market this offseason. Towers said they can't expect the Dodgers to fall back to the rest of the division.
"I think it's up to us and the Giants, the Rockies and the Padres to close the gap on them," Towers said.
Gibson admitted the D-backs have some issues that need to be addressed, like the bullpen and possibly the need for a power bat. However, he doesn't think it's unrealistic for his team to contend with the top teams again next season.
"I don't feel like we're that far away," Gibson said. "We can have a magical year."