David Merchant: Welcome back to D'Back & Forth, this week I'm joined by the lovely Amy Lassen and the topics are as follows, who's the manager? Will Big Sexy be back? And is Luis Gonzalez still a positive influence on the Diamondbacks? Ready Amy.
Amy Lassen: Absolutely, let's get started with the manager of the Diamondbacks. Right now it is Al Pedrique, but tomorrow it could be someone different.
DM: It will be someone different.
AL: I agree, but whom?
DM: The short answer, whoever they can get. The long answer is Mark Grace.
AL: The names that have come up, Jim Fergosi, Jim Riggleman, Grady Little, and you're telling me the Diamondbacks would rather have a first time manager, a guy who's never been a coach at any level, much less the majors, to lead a team of youngsters.
DM: It's the only logical choice, Fergosi and Riggleman are not LaRussa or Torre. It's not like they have some sure fire leader stepping into the picture. Grady Little is a very good manager, but are you really going to try and sell your fans on the guy who blew a Game 7 against the Yankees?
AL: I know Grace is a great choice from a marketing standpoint, but let's remember something, this year's attendance was the lowest in team history. In Arizona, the only thing fans respond to is winning, and I'm not sure Grace has the patience to manage a team full of kids.
DM: Mark Grace is a winner, and Mark Grace is a leader and Mark Grace is a guy who will walk into the clubhouse and immediately have the respect of both the veterans and the kids. Plus, let's not forget this, the primary objective of the D'Backs right now is signing Richie Sexson, and bringing in a former Gold Glove first baseman might make a good impression on Big Sexy.
AL: First of all lets clear something up, Mark Grace played the vast majority of his career for the Cubs, so calling him a 'winner' is a stretch at best. Second, I think you would be hard pressed to find two first basemen that were less alike than Grace and Sexson, so implying that Grace is an incentive for Sexson to stay is pretty stupid. Next, say what you want about Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in too long against the Yankees, but in two years with the Red Sox they won 187 games, and without his leadership, they never would have even gotten to that game seven against the Yankees. If they can get him, and I'm not sure they can, Little is the right choice. Next up let's concentrate on Sexson for a minute. Will he be a snake next season.
DM: My gut tells me no. Sexson is looking for at least three years at roughly $10 million per year. The Diamondbacks know that by the time they have a chance to win the World Series again, Sexson would be in the final year of his deal, which means they would only be getting him for those three years. They are looking for a guy to anchor this team, maybe if Sexson agreed to six or seven mil a year for five or six years they could get him, but outside of that, I think we'll be watching Sexson in Seattle.
AL: My gut tells me he will be a Diamondback, but hopefully not under the scenario you propose. How is it smart for a team looking to cut payroll to sign a guy who's had major surgery, for a degenerative shoulder, to a five or six year deal? Did we learn nothing from Todd Stottlemeyer? A three year deal, even at $10 million, is a bargain, both from a baseball standpoint, and from a public relations standpoint. If they lose Sexson, then the Milwaukee trade, a trade that has been widely criticized, becomes the biggest blunder in the history of the franchise, and one of the most lopsided trades in the history of baseball. Give him what he wants, hit your knees every night praying that Sexson stays healthy, and end the issue.
DM: The problem is that Seattle is just as bad as the Diamondbacks, but they have more money to play with. They will offer him more money, more years if that's what he wants, and the Diamondbacks will be left with nothing. Last but not least, Amy, let's discuss comments Luis Gonzalez made about the 'Baby Backs.'
AL: The quote is, "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." This is ridiculous, Gonzo is supposed to be a leader, supposed to be one of the guys that brings these kids along. If he really believes what he said, then he should have been one of the guys in the clubhouse getting in these kids faces, he should have been one of the guys teaching kids like Terrero how to play the game the right way. Let's not forget that Gonzalez is the guy who waited for surgery so long that he will likely not be ready for opening day 2005. I'd love to see Gonzalez's contract and find out if there are 'games played' or 'at bats' incentives, and see if he reached them.
DM: I agree with you to an extent Amy. Luis Terrero is going to be the starting center fielder for the Diamondbacks. Maybe not next year, but eventually. Chad Tracy and Scott Hairston are going to be part of this team long after Luis Gonzalez is gone. The statement was asinine, but its hard to ask Gonzo to be the guy leading these kids when he is on the DL. The real question is, was Gonzo right?
AL: Even if he is, is it really a bad thing? By the time most of these kids got here the Diamondbacks were already the worst team in the league. They weren't going to make the playoffs, and lets not forget, the reason the Diamondbacks brought these kids up was to find out if they were going to be with the ballclub next season. If the club brings you up for that reason, what is wrong with playing for that reason? It's not like some kid trying to drive the ball into the gap is going to hurt the team.
DM: But when a kid misses a sign, like Hairston did back in Baltimore, and it costs you a game, isn't it possible that he didn't miss the sign, but ignored it, knowing that a double and an RBI is going to give him a better shot at making the team than a sac bunt?
AL: Now you're as bad as Gonzo. Kids miss signs. That's part of the learning curve, especially when you're rushing kids to the majors. To think that a kid fighting for playing time is going to ignore a sign is stupid. Not even the dumbest of players is going to think ignoring a sign is going to help him in the long run. If I'm a youngster, like a Chad Tracy or a Luis Terrero, I now have a problem with Gonzalez, because he didn't give names, he didn't even say 'some of them' he painted all the youngsters with the same brush. When he comes back, and we're assuming he will, the 'Baby Backs' are going to look at him like the shady uncle, who will sell you out whenever it suits him. Gonzalez's biggest asset from the Diamondbacks standpoint is that he could help bring these kids along, now I think the front office looks at the situation and says, "You know what, if he doesn't produce, he's gone, and he immediately becomes trade bait if he's healthy."
DM: There is no way the Diamondbacks will ever trade Luis Gonzalez, and that's a fact. Things like this get said, and they go away. In February when Spring Training starts nobody will be talking about this quote, they'll be talking about the progress of his elbow. If the elbow's right, then Gonzo's alright.
AL: That's it for D'Back & Forth, I'd like to thank James Renwick for the shot, and my co-host David Merchant, for taking it easy on me.
DM: That's alright Amy, it was a pleasure to have some civility in this piece for once. Next week James will be back in the chair across from someone...we're just not sure who. Thanks again.