Managing Editor James Renwick is back from his high energy, high protein, low yield outing with the boys, and David Merchant has pretty much decided this is his segment now, so the sparks should fly in this week's D'Back and Forth.
David Merchant: This week we hit all the biggest topics, including the Diamondbacks breaking the longest losing streak in the history of the organization, the constant speculation over Randy, Finley and the rest of the possible trades, and who might be the second Diamondback in the Hall of Fame.
James Renwick: Ready for a whoopin'?
DM: If only there were someone here who could administer such a thing?
JR: Here we go, Monday night the Diamondbacks broke their 14 game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros. Is this win, with Brandon Webb starting, Scott Hairston going 4-4 with a home run, and Greg Aquino closing things out, a mark of what is to come next year and beyond, or is the 30 games under .500 the D'Backs are playing a better indicator?
DM: I think the team, as it stands right now, is a lot closer to the 30 games under .500. For all the supposed young talent that is here, these guys haven't shown us anything. They don't play smart, they don't play good defense, and while Hairston pulled a four for four last night, he hasn't put together too many of those performances throughout the season.
JR: I'm not trying to say that the Diamondbacks are going to win 100 games next season or anything, but I really think that win was a strong indicator of what is to come. Of course they are going to struggle, they are young, but Hairston has the speed to be a very effective lead off hitter, Chad Tracy is almost the definition of a two slot hitter, now throw Gonzo and Sexson in the three and four slots, Fins at five and Bautista at six and that's a pretty solid lineup.
DM: Problem is that after Chad Tracy you may not have any of those guys next season. Gonzalez is having surgery, Sexson hasn't signed, and Finley and Bautista are on the trading block. Your catching situation is precarious at best with Juan Brito and the injured Robbie Hammock, Alex Cintron has not shown that he can be anything more than a good defensive shortstop, and there still is that fact that after Brandon Webb you don't have any pitching.
JR: But there are guys ready to step up and fill Finley and Bautista's shoes, Carlos Quentin, Conor Jackson, and if Sexson doesn't resign you've got Jesus Cota and Kyle Nichols at first base. They're young, and they are going to make mistakes, but they have the talent to be very good major league ball players and the Diamondbacks know that. If you do move Finley, Bautista and Randy Johnson, and you get pitching in return, this team could win the division in 2006, and be competitive next season.
DM: Which brings us to the next topic, the 24/7 rumors of Randy's move. Are you as tired of this as I am?
JR: Yes and no. Obviously it is a huge story, because no matter what happens it is going to impact the team for five years. He's the biggest piece of trade bait on the market, and the biggest teams are looking to acquire him, so it is a legitimate story--
DM: But it isn't a legitimate story when nothing has happened. The FACTS are this. Randy has said he will waive his no trade clause, but only for the right teams, and we don't know for a fact what those teams are. The Diamondbacks have said they will listen to offers, but are not giving Randy away. Where does that leave the media? With nothing to do but speculate. There will be plenty of time to argue whether making whatever deal they make was smart AFTER the deal is made.
JR: But you are just as much a part of this.
DM: Actually I'm not.
JR: Sure you are, you just said, "AFTER the deal is made" when in fact we don't know if a deal is going to be made. Isn't it just as likely that Randy will not be moved?
DM: Yes, I admit, it is. So let's chat. Should the Diamondbacks trade Randy Johnson?
JR: Yes, but only if they are going to get something for him. Don't give him away. He justifies his salary, he is the only Diamondback that fans want to come out and see. So this isn't a ‘cut payroll' move, it has to be a move made in attempt to make the Diamondbacks better.
DM: I think they need to keep Randy. Regardless of what is offered to you, Randy is still one of the two or three best pitchers in baseball.
JR: I look at it as a situation where you do the math. Randy is going to win between 15 and 25 games a year for you. If you are going to get back players who are going to win more than 15 to 25 games a year for you, take the deal. Anything less and pass, keep him in AZ. Next up, we know Randy is going to be the first Diamondback elected to the Hall of Fame, who might be the second?
DM: To look at the current crop of D'Backs, I don't think there is one. Gonzo has been a nice player, but his numbers just don't get him there. Ditto for Matt Williams. Schilling is going to the Hall, but barring a situation in which he returns to the Diamondbacks somehow, I don't see him going in as a Diamondback.
JR: I have to agree that the prospects are a little dim. Steve Finley is a nice player, so is Bautista, but I don't think either will end up with HOF numbers. So I'll go ahead and make a prediction. The second Diamondback to go into the Hall of Fame will be Conor Jackson.
DM: Excuse me, you are claiming the Diamondbacks next Hall of Famer is a guy in AA who is in his first season of professional baseball and may not even see time in the big leagues for another two years?
JR: I just don't see that many other alternatives.
DM: What about Richie Sexson?
JR: I see where your are going…
DM: If the Diamondbacks sign Sexson, which they have given every indication is their prime objective come season's end, its going to be to a six or seven year deal. During that time Sexson will be expected to hit somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 home runs, which will put him up over the 500 home run plateau. If he signs again after that, he could be a guy with 600+ home runs who plays the majority of his career in Arizona.
JR: Yeah, but now you are asking the Diamondbacks to sign a guy to not one, but two HUGE contracts, and asking that player to hit 50 homers a year during that time. He's already obviously shown injury problems, and you're asking him to stay healthy, plus he will probably have to reach, and excel in, the post season.
DM: And I recognize that a lot of things have to go right for that to happen, but seriously, is that any more far fetched than calling a 21 year old who has never played a major league game a guy destined for the Hall?
JR: Probably not.
DM: And as usual I win, a lot more often than the Diamondbacks anyway. I'm David Merchant--
JR: And I'm James Renwick, signing off for FutureBacks.com's D'Back & Forth.