Making the Grade
<i>DeVore may have earned a second season</i>
DeVore may have earned a second season
Managing Editor
Posted Oct 6, 2004

This week in the triumphant return of Managing Editor James Renwick he gives the Diamondbacks grades at every position, starting today with the outfielders. From Finley's fantastic season to the revolving door of post Gonzalez left field Renwick breaks down the haves and have nots of the 2004 Diamondbacks.

Well, that sucked.

The 2004 season was not a pleasant one for Diamondbacks fans, players, managers or front office personnel.  51 wins against 111 losses.  It was the first time in the short history of the organization that the Diamondbacks lost more than 100 games.  Even more startling, the 2004 D'Backs finished 13 games worse than in their inaugural season.

And in a lot of ways, this was a brand new franchise.  Injuries and holes forced the Diamondbacks to rush players to the majors, creating a ball club that looked almost nothing like the one fans in spring training expected to see.  Want proof?  Here we go, the 2004 opening day lineup vs. the lineup featured on the final day of the 2004 season.

Opening Day Position Final Day Position
Steve Finley CF Andy Green 3B
Roberto Alomar 2B Alex Cintron 2B
Luis Gonzalez LF Doug Devore RF
Richie Sexson 1B Shea Hillenbrand 1B
Alex Cintron SS Robbie Hammock LF
Shea Hillenbrand 3B Luis Terrero CF
Danny Bautista RF Jerry Gil SS
Brent Mayne C Juan Brito C

Hillenbrand and Cintron are in both lineups, but at different positions, Green, Devore, Terrero, Gil and Brito weren't on the roster to start the season, and Finley, Alomar, and Mayne didn't even finish the year with the Diamondbacks.  In fact of the eight position players who started Game One of the 2004 season, only Cintron played in more than 150 games.

This is not the recipe for success, and the D'Backs learned that lesson the hard way.

At we're all about the silver lining, however tarnished that silver may be.  The injuries and setbacks allowed the Diamondbacks to audition a ton (I haven't done the math but considering there were more than 15 rookies on the squad this season I actually believe we can say in all honesty it was more than a 'ton') of new talent.  Managing Editor James Renwick grades the Diamondbacks position by position this week, and he starts with the outfield.  Remember these are grades only for the players who got to the bigs this year, so don't expect Carlos Quentin, Conor Jackson, Jon Zeringue or any of the other minor league studs to be on this list, that's a different article you can read later on in what promises to be an exciting winter.


Danny Bautista started the season as the everyday right fielder and had a solid, productive season.  His 524 at bats were the third most of any right fielder in the National League, the .986 fielding percentage is fantastic, his .288 batting average is nice.  11 home runs and 65 RBI is okay...for a second basemen.  There's the rub.  Corner outfield slots are supposed to be productive, and by productive I mean they are supposed to hit home runs and drive in runs.  Bautista was in a contract year, and much was expected from him, but he has simply never lived up to the promise he showed during the 2001 postseason.  Bautista may return to the D'Backs next season, but on the list of resigning priorities he's a long way behind Richie Sexson, and his potential could have other teams more interested (read: willing to pay him more) than the Diamondbacks.


Especially when you look at the progress of Doug DeVore.  Though DeVore hit just .224 in his short stint with the Diamondbacks, his three home runs, 13 RBI, and left handed bat could be a viable replacement if the (new) front office decides Bautista isn't worth his market value.  DeVore's biggest downside is contact, something Bautista made (just 63 strikeouts in more than 500 at bats) and DeVore didn't (31 Ks in 107 at bats), but if the youngster can start putting the bat on the ball more consistently, expect him to be at least the fourth outfielder for the Diamondbacks next year.


Of the rest of the right fielders (there were six in limited duty) the only one who stood out was never intended to be a right fielder.  Luis Terrero got 14 at bats as a right fielder and hit .357 with an RBI.  That would be great save the fact that Terrero is the Diamondbacks center fielder.  It is a testament to how tough a season the Diamondbacks had that Quentin McCracken was trotted out to right for fifteen games, and one can assume that the Scott Hairston in the outfield experiment is, if not over, at least on hold.


D'Backs RFers .273 14 75 .319 7


Steve Finley has patrolled center field for the Diamondbacks for a long time, and this season the 39 year old had maybe the best of his career.  Unfortunately he did not finish his brilliant season in Phoenix, but in Southern California, in Chavez Ravine playing for the NL West rival Dodgers.  Finley hit .278 with 23 homers and 48 RBI.  What does that tell us?  First that Finley hit everywhere from leadoff to the six spot in the order, and second that there were rarely other D'Backs on base when Finley came to bat.  There is much speculation that the front office will aggressively pursue Fins in the off season, trying to re-sign the free agent and bring him back to the Valley of the Sun.  Problem is the Diamondbacks got a good long look at rookie Luis Terrero, and they liked what they saw.  With the likely departure of Bautista a resigned Finley would likely move Terrero to right, where the youngster's cannon arm and great speed would certainly make the outfield defense a formidable one, even if Luis 'Rubber Band Arm' Gonzalez is back in left. 

For his part Terrero struggled, but showed signs of brilliance.  In 229 at bats Terrero hit at a .245 clip and though his four homers and 14 RBI seem low the majority of his at bats were in the leadoff position, a spot he saw little of during his minor league days.  Like DeVore Terrero's biggest problem is simply putting the bat on the ball consistently.  In those 229 ABs he had 78 strikeouts.  That is not good, but especially for a leadoff hitter.  Both Finley and Terrero were more successful out of the leadoff spot, so the Diamondbacks need to start looking in another direction for someone to hit in the #1 position, but Terrero's stellar defense and power potential almost certainly assure him a spot on the roster next season, and regardless of Finley, probably a spot in the starting lineup.



D'Backs CFers .262 27 64 .327 17


With the possible exception of Randy Johnson no player is more associated with the Diamondbacks than Luis Gonzalez.  Though it seems unlikely Gonzo will ever reach the 50 homer plateau he exceeded in 2001, his 2004 stats showed that he is still a productive corner outfielder.  His elbow, which cut his season short after he elected to have surgery at the end of August, certainly affected his numbers, but at .259 with 17 homers and 47 RBI in 374 at bats seem to indicate that if Gonzo can come back 100% after the surgery he can once again claim his #3 spot in the batting order, and be a dominant left handed hitter in the otherwise very right handed Diamondbacks lineup. 

Once Gonzalez headed to the operating table left field seemed to be the preferred audition spot for Al Pedrique and the D'Backs.  The Scott Hairston outfield experiment stopped in left, rookies DeVore, Josh Kroeger, Andy Green, Tim Olsen and Luis Terrero all did time in left and after coming back from injury Robbie Hammock saw the majority of his time patrolling Gonzo's corner.  Even McCracken got into the act, seeing the majority of his playing time holding Gonzalez's spot.  All in all the fill ins were productive (McCracken, DeVore, and Hammock all hit over .300 in left), but don't count on anyone even thinking about a regular spot in left next year. 

Gonzalez ended his season early in the hopes of rehabbing his elbow in time for Opening Day 2005.  While that may be a bit optimistic (Gonzo's surgery usually takes at least a year to come back from, though former D'Back Tony Womack returned this season after less than eight months), expect him back by late May or early June.  What that means for the Diamondbacks is that they will need someone (or possibly two someones) to step in and be productive.  One option could be a platoon of Robbie Hammock and Doug DeVore, but realistically that depends on the status of Bautista, Finley, and Terrero.  What that first month or two could be is a perfect opportunity for the Diamondbacks to give either Carlos Quentin or Conor Jackson their first taste of the majors.



D'Backs LFers .275 21 65 .362 7

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