The Insiders 'Inside Pitch'

<i>Pedrique just holding a spot</i>

The Insiders Network gives you the most accurate, most current news and notes from the Diamondbacks. This week, Al Pedrique's future, Richie Sexson's rehab, the Unit's trade rumors and post season Diamondback's awards.

Either he's not much into keepsakes and interior decorating, or Al Pedrique had a pretty good idea he wouldn't be invited back as manager of the Diamondbacks. He left the shelves behind his desk vacant and never hung anything on his office walls.
   Chances are he still might need to clear a few things out, however, as there was strong speculation Pedrique was either going to be fired or reassigned elsewhere in the organization at some point this month.
   Pedrique did receive some encouraging news, though, when he was told by GM Joe Garagiola Jr. following the club's final game of the season that he will at least have an opportunity to interview for the job along with a handful of other candidates.
   Though he worked well with the dozens of youngsters Arizona wound up auditioning and analyzing for next season, a new ownership group and a new CEO, former sports agent Jeff Moorad, are hopeful of retooling the roster back into a contender right away. That means bringing in a bigger name and a manager who has won and works well with veteran players.
   Several names have emerged as possible candidates, including Dodgers bench coach Jim Riggleman and former major league skippers Jim Fregosi and Grady Little, but the Diamondbacks have refused comment on just about everything having to do with the manager's job.
   Pedrique, who went 22-61 after taking over for the fired Bob Brenly in July, sounded an awful lot like a man who knew his fate when he addressed the media before the club's final game of the season.
   "It's been stressful, but fun at the same time," said Pedrique, who was elevated form third base coach when he agreed to finish the season as manager. "I'm thankful for the opportunity. How many times are you going to get a chance to manage in the major leagues?
   "I really enjoyed myself, I learned a lot. ... I knew this was going to be a challenge, and every day I felt like I came in and gave myself the best to get ready for those challenges."
   Pedrique said he would be willing to remain on the major league staff in another capacity, such as returning to his duties as third base coach, if management elects to hire a new manager. If he is offered a job in the minor leagues, where he has spent virtually all of his post-playing career before this season, however, he may look for work with another organization.
   The rest of the coaching staff, meanwhile, include pitching coach Mark Davis, batting coach Rick Schu, bench coach Lorenzo Bundy and third base coach Glenn Sherlock, will likely be relieved of their duties if Pedrique is fired. First base coach Tommy Jones, who has a history with the club in a player development role, probably has the best chance to return in another capacity.
 
NOTES, QUOTES
   --RHP Mike Koplove's 76 appearances are the third most by a Diamondbacks reliever. Oscar Villarreal made a record 86 appearances last season. Byung-Hyun Kim ranks second with 78 outings in 2001.
   --LHP Randy Johnson was the first double recipient of the club's Most Valuable Player and Most Valuable Pitcher awards, as presented by the Arizona chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Other winners included third baseman Chad Tracy (Rookie of the Year) and reliever Mike Koplove (Good Guy Award).
   --Arizona overcame a 5-0 deficit on Saturday (Oct. 2) during a 7-6 victory over the Padres, the club's biggest rally of the season and one run short of the biggest in franchise history, set Sept. 15, 1998 against San Francisco.
   --LHP Randy Johnson, who complained recently he felt he was being slighted for a chance to win a record-tying sixth Cy Young Award, put up enough good numbers to be considered for the honor but said following his last start that he isn't concerned about it any longer. "I'm not really worried about it," Johnson said.  "I've talked about it and then it got blown out of proportion, and I'm sorry I did that."
   --LF Luis Gonzalez had this to say about the sea of rookies and other youngsters who occupied the active roster most of the season because of an unusually high number of injuries to regulars: "I don't think they were too worried about winning. I think they were worried about getting their numbers because they were worried about getting a job for next year."
   BY THE NUMBERS: 2,519,560 -- Final paid attendance total at Bank One Ballpark, the lowest number in the club's seven-year history.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "My highlight? To be honest with you, managing Randy Johnson. Right there. It was amazing getting the opportunity to be his manager. I don't want to sound like I have a big ego, but I'll tell you what, that's something I can tell everybody, that I got the opportunity to manage Randy Johnson. I'm sure he'll be in the Hall of Fame and that's my highlight right there." -- Diamondbacks manager Al Pedrique.
 
ROSTER REPORT
   POSSIBLE CHANGES IN 2005:
   --Who's on first? The Diamondbacks desperately want and need to re-sign slugging first baseman Richie Sexson, but can they afford his asking price of three years and an average of $10 million? If not, they will have nothing left to show for the six players they dealt to Milwaukee to get Sexson, who missed most of the season with a shoulder injury. If they can sign Sexson, what happens to Shea Hillenbrand, who took over at first and was the team's best hitter? He could go back to third base, but Arizona has a cheaper and effective enough solution there with Chad Tracy, who enjoyed a solid rookie season.
   --Help for Unit: The club is confident in youngsters Brandon Webb and Casey Fossum, but that's not nearly enough help in the starting rotation to keep veteran Randy Johnson interested in finishing his career with Arizona. Johnson wants to win, and although he is under contract for one more year at $16 million, he might force a trade if management doesn't convince him that the Diamondbacks can contend again in a hurry. The Diamondbacks need at least two more serviceable starters with experience to have any kind of chance.
   --Out of the outfield: The Diamondbacks will have a hard time convincing Steve Finley to return to Arizona as a free agent after his walk-off grand slam home run won the National League West for the Dodgers. But Arizona needs a center fielder -- Luis Terrero proved he is still not ready for everyday play in the majors. Right field could be open, too, as Danny Bautista is set to become a free agent. He might come back, although there are some questions about his durability down the stretch. Left fielder Luis Gonzalez, meanwhile, is coming off major elbow surgery, and although he is convinced he will be 100 percent for the start of next season, who really knows for sure until then?
   STATE OF THE FARM SYSTEM: The good news is that the Diamondbacks are pretty far ahead of the curve over their counterparts in that they got an extra long, close look at the best major league-ready prospects they have by playing virtually all of them during the second half of the season. Several youngsters were brought up when the team was ravaged by a club-record number of injuries, giving management and the coaching staff an ample opportunity to evaluate them in pressurized situations. They liked what they saw in 3B Chad Tracy, C Chris Snyder, LHP Michael Gosling and RHP Greg Aquino, but they aren't quite sold yet on 2B Scott Hairston, RHP Edgar Gonzalez and CF Luis Terrero, among others.
   PROSPECTS TO WATCH IN 2005
   --INF Andy Green does enough things well that he reminds certain people in the organization of a do-everything player like former Diamondback Craig Counsell. Green can play third base, shortstop and the outfield, but manager Al Pedrique wants him to get some work in at second base to make Green even more of a candidate as a key bench player.
   --CF Luis Terrero probably won't be handed the keys to the starting job and might have to spend the year at Triple-A Tucson to sharpen his skills. He has all the tools -- speed, power, a cannon for an arm -- but lacks the instincts he needs to play center field at this level. In another year, he should be ready.
   --2B Scott Hairston is a good enough hitter to play in the majors -- hitting coach Rich Schu said the rookie is capable of hitting 25-30 homers a year -- but his defensive liabilities at second have convinced the Diamondbacks that he probably is better served by moving to the outfield, possibly to left, where he someday could replace Luis Gonzalez. Hairston wasn't scheduled to play any winter ball, however, and if he shows up at spring training without having worked enough on learning a new position, he could be left in the dust. As it is, he's probably earmarked for a full season in the Pacific Coast League.
   MEDICAL WATCH: 1B Richie Sexson (torn labrum, left shoulder) has been advancing in his rehab treatment and has been playing golf near his offseason residence in Vancouver, Wash., which is a good sign. LF Luis Gonzalez (Tommy John surgery on right elbow) will begin throwing in late December and expects to be ready for the start of the season. LF Quinton McCracken was scheduled to undergo surgery Monday (Oct. 4) to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. RHP Brandon Lyon (nerve transposition surgery) never pitched an inning after his procedure in the spring but was close to being ready in the final week of the season. He was not activated simply for precautionary reasons.

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