Determined to put the embarrassment of their disappointing 2004
season and the failed managerial hiring of Wally Backman behind them, the
Diamondbacks set the baseball world on its ear with the surprise signings of
free agents Troy Glaus
and Russ Ortiz
to a pair of four-year contracts
totaling $78 million.
While it could be said the two are merely replacements for Richie Sexson
and Randy Johnson
, the additions pack a lot more punch than Arizona's
two biggest free-agent purchases a year ago, starting pitcher Shane Reynolds
and second baseman Roberto Alomar, both of whom turned out to be busts in the
Though Sexson was expected to sign elsewhere and Johnson still
seemed intent on ultimately forcing a trade, the Diamondbacks are intent on
making the industry take notice that they plan on returning to past glory as
quickly as possible. Until the signings of Glaus, a power-hitting third
baseman, and Ortiz, who has won at least 14 games and pitched 195 innings in
each of the last six seasons, many in the business were skeptical.
"Well, probably the reason that they're skeptical is they
don't know what we're doing, and maybe when they begin to see announcements
like this, the skepticism might change," Ken Kendrick, one of the team's
four general partners, said. "And actually, it's kind of fun to be under
A day after the signing of Glaus lured Ortiz to choose the
D-backs, CEO-elect Jeff Moorad had to refine Kendrick's comments.
"We had an opportunity to operate under the radar,"
Moorad said. "That door now swings shut."
Glaus, a three-time All-Star with the Anaheim Angels
World Series MVP honors with the team in 2002, said he wasn't scared off by
Arizona's 51-111 record last season because club officials promised him they
had grand plans to compete immediately for a fourth National League West
"I didn't come here to lose," he said. "I didn't
come here to be on a team that's going to be in that 95-to 100-loss area. If I
believed that would be the case then I wouldn't be sitting here right now.
They've been honest with me all the way through from the first day we ever sat
down and talked. This organization is moving forward, I wanted to be a part of
it and now I am."
Ortiz, a resident of Gilbert, Ariz., during the offseason, said
he is convinced the Diamondbacks are reloading, not rebuilding.
"I want to be a part of what they're trying to
accomplish," said Ortiz, who won 15 games for Atlanta last season and has
never been on the disabled list. "Especially seeing they signed Troy
really helped because they were serious about what they were trying to
New manager Bob Melvin
was waiting on other additions before
discussing his lineup in any depth, but he is eager for the start of spring
training, knowing he will inherit a club with more useful tools.
"I'm ecstatic," Melvin said. "It not only shows
our fans and our players, but it shows the baseball world that we're serious
about getting back to where we've been."
--LHP Randy Johnson apparently wasn't overly impressed with the
signings of Troy Glaus and Russ Ortiz, because after the two free agents were
inked to separate four-year deals, one of Johnson's agents said the Big Unit
still prefers to pitch elsewhere in 2005.
"Randy has a very positive outlook -- he just feels
determined he needs to be elsewhere," Alan Nero said.
The Diamondbacks had been willing to sit down and discuss a
possible contract extension with Johnson, but the overall sense in the
organization seems to be if Johnson doesn't want to pitch in Arizona, the club
will attempt to facilitate a trade. The New York Yankees
, St. Louis Cardinals
and Anaheim Angels figure to be Johnson's most likely destinations, but he
won't come cheap.
Diamondbacks officials were huddled in extensive discussions with
Johnson's representatives over the weekend.
--1B Richie Sexson was the only player among 11 free agents on
the team to be offered salary arbitration, but Sexson was expected to decline
it and sign elsewhere. Seattle, Baltimore, the New York Mets
and at least two
other clubs were seeking his services.
The club decline arbitration offers to pitchers Matt Mantei
signed with Boston), Steve Sparks, Shane Reynolds, Mike Fetters
, Jeff Fassero
and Scott Service; infielders Greg Colbrunn
and Carlos Baerga
; and outfielders
and Quinton McCracken
McCracken, however, agreed to a minor league contract with an
invitation to spring training and a chance to make the 25-man active roster.
--Though the Diamondbacks were intent on adding injury-related
clauses to any and all contract offers previously made to 1B Richie Sexson
because of fears about the slugger possible re-injuring his left shoulder, the
club guaranteed all $45 million to new 3B Troy Glaus, who underwent a similar
operation on his right shoulder last season.
Arizona's medical staff performed extensive physical examinations
on Glaus three days before he came to terms on a deal that will pay him $8.25
million in 2004 (not including a $4 million bonus), $9.25 million in 2006,
$10.75 million in 2007 and $12.75 million in 2008.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- Diamondbacks' longest winning streak in
14 -- Diamondbacks' longest losing streak, overall, in 2004.
11 -- Diamondbacks' longest losing streak, home, in 2004.
9 -- Diamondbacks' longest losing streak, road, in 2004.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Today is a very special day for the
. It is, in my view, the first day of the new
Diamondbacks. We have told you over the last couple of months repeatedly that
our intent is to not rebuild, but to reload. We are reloading. We told you
that our intent is to be competitive and we're going to be." --
Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick, announcing the signing of
free-agent 3B Troy Glaus to a four-year, $45 million contract on Dec. 9. A day
later, the team signed starting pitcher Russ Ortiz to a four-year, $33 million
The remaking of the Diamondbacks -- team officials are calling it
"reloading" -- has begun. 3B Troy Glaus was signed to be the team's
everyday starter at third, and RHP Russ Ortiz will help anchor a starting
rotation that may or may not include ace LHP Randy Johnson. OF Quinton
McCracken agreed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring
ARRIVALS: 3B Troy Glaus (free agent from Anaheim). RHP Russ Ortiz
(free agent from Atlanta).
DEPARTURES: RHP Shane Reynolds (released), RHP Matt Mantei (free
agent, signed with Boston).
BIGGEST NEEDS: Arizona's starting rotation still is in flux,
depending on what happens with LHP Randy Johnson. The addition of RHP Russ
Ortiz is a good start, but the team can't stop there.
FREE AGENTS: RHPs Shane Reynolds, Steve Sparks, Mike Fetters and
Scott Service; LHP Jeff Fassero; INFs Greg Colbrunn and Carlos Baerga; and OF
Danny Bautista were not offered salary arbitration.
The Diamondbacks offered arbitration to 1B Richie Sexson, but he
isn't likely to return.
ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE: 1B Richie Sexson, LHP Randy Choate
, 1B Shea Hillenbrand
, RHP Mike Koplove, RHP Brandon Lyon.
Hillenbrand's situation will become more clearly defined once
Arizona knows its status with Sexson. Koplove was one of the mainstays to a
rather unpredictable bullpen even though he didn't have his greatest season.
He will be back, however, as a setup man.
IN LIMBO: LHP Randy Johnson, 1B Richie Sexson, 1B Shea
Hillenbrand, SS Alex Cintron
, 3B Chad Tracy
Johnson might force the Diamondbacks to trade him to a contender
(the Yankees top the list), which would free up $17 million (including a $1
million personal services contract). But Arizona must get fair market value
for the Big Unit, which could make things tricky. With Glaus joining the
lineup, Tracy could become an outfielder. He also could play first if both
Sexson and Hillenbrand leave. SS Alex Cintron spent the last six weeks of the
season at second base, and Arizona has eyes on bringing in a veteran (Royce Clayton
, Rich Aurilia
) to play short.
MEDICAL WATCH: Arizona's medical department is predicting there
is at least a 10 percent chance of 1B Richie Sexson suffering the same injury
that wrecked his 2004 season -- a left shoulder subluxation and torn labrum.
LF Luis Gonzalez
, who underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament
in his right throwing elbow, will begin throwing around Christmas to test his
rebuilt arm. C/INF Robby Hammock was scheduled to meet with surgeons who
operated on his left knee in spring training to see if another surgery is