Scout.com's Inside Pitch 12-7-04

<i>Is 'Da Lucci' coming back?</i>

Scout.com brings you the best info on the wheelings and dealings of the 'Hot Stove,' the ongoing Randy Johnson saga, a possible return of David Dellucci, and a visit to the BOB from a Braves Ace.

If the Diamondbacks are going to deal Randy Johnson, it has become apparent that any takers had best be ready to sell part of the farm to land the 6-foot-10 left-hander. He isn't going to come cheap.
   The New York Yankees recently broke off talks with Arizona about acquiring the Big Unit because the asking price reportedly was far too much to stomach, although sources close to both clubs agreed a deal ultimately could still be reached.
   It could happen any day, but Arizona might have to alter its wish list somewhat and the Yankees might have to include a third team to make a plausible deal. The Diamondbacks are interested in right-hander Javier Vasquez, even if he has issues with his former agent, Jeff Moorad, the D-backs' CEO-elect and future chairman, but they also want much, much more.
   The holdup, according to those involved, is Arizona's alleged intent on also acquiring reliever Tom Gordon, at least three prospects, multimillion-dollar cash options on Vazquez's salary, and a starting pitcher from another club that New York would have to obtain and the subsequently flip to the Diamondbacks in a deal.
   Asked if that was a sensible demand, a Diamondbacks official coyly responded, "Hey, we're talking about Randy, the best left-handed pitcher of all-time. We've got to get what we can get if we're going to do this."
   The same thinking, however, bit the Diamondbacks at the trading deadline last July 31, when they asked for the moon from a handful of clubs and were left with no deal for the five-time Cy Young Award winner. Arizona said it was only asking for fair market value, something Johnson publicly questioned at the time, assuming the Diamondbacks simply weren't prepared to deal with the scrutiny of trading him.
   Johnson, however, has made it clear through his representatives that he no longer wishes to pitch in Arizona if the club can't guarantee him it is able to immediately compete for the National League West Division title, and ownership is fully prepared to still try to accommodate Johnson's request.
   It strikes eerily strange comparisons to the club's stance on free agent Richie Sexson, who doesn't appear to want to re-sign with the Diamondbacks. If neither player wants to be in Arizona, ownership doesn't want to waste its time with either one of them even though Johnson essentially helped put the Diamondbacks on the map.
 
NOTES, QUOTES
   --Free agent RHP Russ Ortiz of the Atlanta Braves was offered a multiyear contract offer by the Diamondbacks to help anchor Arizona's starting rotation, but if a deal is to be reached, it probably won't happen until later this month.
   --Jerry Colangelo, the Diamondbacks' former CEO and chairman, is scheduled to undergo surgery for prostate cancer on Dec. 30. Colangelo said the illness was detected in its early stages.
   --Free agent OF David Dellucci of the Texas Rangers has included Arizona among his final destinations, but if he signs with the Diamondbacks, a club for which he used to play, it likely will be in a platoon situation, probably with converted second baseman Scott Hairston.
   --The planned decision to rename Bank One Ballpark after the financial institution was bought out by JPMorgan Chase & Co. has been put on hold until at least next spring. Rumors have the stadium being renamed Chase Field.
   BY THE NUMBERS: 27 -- Dollars, in millions, Arizona would save on next year's budget should 1B Richie Sexson sign elsewhere as a free agent and the Diamondbacks decide to unload LHP Randy Johnson, who is under contract for one more season at $16 million ($6 million of which is deferred for five years) plus a $1 million personal services contract.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't see either side really pushing for it unless there's a major cry from the fans, unless people stop coming to games. But nothing's going to change. The owners are making too much money off guys hitting home runs and the players are making too much money off home runs." -- Diamondbacks television analyst Mark Grace on the steroids issue facing baseman and Major League Baseball's steroids-testing policy, which he calls "weak" and "meaningless."

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