No rest for the wicked, the triumphant return of D'Back & Forth gets Managing Editor James Renwick and Staff Writer David Merchant square off about the Randy Johnson non-deal, the Diamondbacks spending spree, and whether or not this team really will contend in '05.
David Merchant: Welcome back to D'Back & Forth where in the spirit of the Holidays I'll only crush Renwick's ego, as opposed to his entire being. First topic, the Mega-Deal that was not to be. James, what happened, and what does it mean for the Diamondbacks and baseball?
James Renwick: What happened is pretty simple. The Dodgers woke up and realized that after losing Steve Finley and Adrian Beltre if they were to part with Shawn Green they would have no offense left. Even if Javier Vazquez showed up and turned into Roger Clemens all it would mean is that they would lose 50 games 2-1 and another twenty 3-2. The Dodgers realized that they were giving up too much, and it wasn't that they weren't getting enough in return, but they weren't getting what they needed in return. What does it mean for the Diamondbacks? It means that once again the front office is going to have to go back on what they said publicly, which is becoming a common thread for the D'Backs. They publicly stated that if a deal for Randy had not been struck by December 31st that Randy would remain a Diamondback in '05. There is no way they will be able to put together another deal in eight days, especially considering that the Christmas holiday falls in the middle of it, and Randy's on vacation until the 28hth.
DM: First of all, the same day the Dodgers nixed the deal they signed JD Drew to a monster deal, so giving me that 'no offense' baloney isn't going to play here. The Dodgers were giving up too much from the outset. Essentially the way the deal broke down was that Vazquez replaced Brad Penny, Koplove replaced Yhencey Brazoban, and Green gave them $16 million to work with on the free agent market. That means with the signing of Drew, they would have fulfilled exactly what that deal was supposed to do for the Dodgers.
JR: Except that the Dodgers were also giving up a pitching prospect and Kazuhiro Ishii, that's a problem. There were no replacements for those guys.
DM: What about the two Yankee prospects the Dodgers were getting?
JR: Prospects, not ready for prime time prospects. The Dodgers really think they can contend in '05, and the prospects that may or may not be ready by '06 are not going to help them in that respect. Finishing the question, what does it mean for the rest of baseball? It means that, at least for now, somebody finally said 'No' to the Yankees. In the short term the Yankees were making out far better than either the D'Backs or the Dodgers. The President of the Yankees recently said something to the effect of "We're going to have to think about whether or not we'll ever deal with the Dodgers again." You know why he said that, because he's not used to somebody saying 'No.' He's a little kid saying, "Well I'll take my ball and go home." You know how long it'll take the Yankees to deal with the Dodgers again? Midseason. That's when the Yanks will come calling about Drew, because they are still minus a quality center fielder...though it might be another year if they get Beltran and don't go after Drew until '06 when Sheffield or Matsui starts to fall apart.
DM: The Dodgers as it stands still have 203 year old Brent Mayne behind the plate, so Dioneer Navarro, one of those two Yankees prospects, would get his shot at being ready for prime time right now. Yes, some good comes of a team saying 'No,' to the Yankees, but I think the reaction in the Steinbrenner camp will be very simple, "Fine, we'll take everybody else." Expect Beltran to sign, expect any pitcher who still has an arm to sign, expect Steinbrenner to buy a small island and trade it to the Diamondbacks for Randy, expect him to get even. Next topic.
JR: The Diamondbacks have dropped more than $80 million thus far this off season, which is roughly $80 million more than anybody in the league thought they would spend. Are these good moves, or just enough to make the fans happy, and sabotage the future?
DM: Yes, these are bad moves, these are moves that truly hurt the Diamondbacks because they are not going to compete this year, and these moves mean they won't have the money to compete in the future. Troy Glaus is a career .260 hitter known as much for injuries and strikeouts as he is for winning the World Series MVP. Russ Ortiz is a nice #3 starter, problem is that if the D'Backs do move Randy what they need is a #1 starter, and they don't have one of those. Royce Clayton? Yeah, that's a good idea, really, there's no sarcasm here at all...wait, no there really is, and Craig Counsell strikes me as nothing more than a PR move, he hit .240 last year, and he's going to be your lead off hitter. All Counsell means to the Diamondbacks is that there will be two names in the starting lineup that D'Back fans will recognize come opening day. There are still holes to fill in center and right, our #1 and #2 catchers are both going into their first full pro seasons, and we're still a starter away from having a complete rotation, much less a good one. These deals are all window dressing, there's no furniture inside the house.
JR: First of all I'm not even sure what that means, second, I disagree with you about the Diamondbacks not being able to compete. The West is weak, you just got through telling me the Dodgers are in trouble, the Giants are still the Barry Bonds show, but now it's going to be the steroid free Barry Bonds show--
DM: They just signed Moises Alou!
JR: Yes, and as Cubs fans world wide will tell you, that means squat. Right now, with Randy, the Diamondbacks have to be the favorite to win the West--
DM: OH! Are you serious--
JR: Yes, but assuming the D'Backs do trade Randy, as long as they get an outfielder, and a decent starter in return, they'll still be right there with the Padres. This team is ready to win right now, with or without Randy.
DM: You are such a homer I think I'll call you Simpson.
JR: Please don't ever do that again. Ever.
DM: That is it for us here on D'Back & Forth, tune in this week since Renwick has direct family ties to the Grinch and is making me work over Christmas because he feels since he has no life, neither should I.
JR: Happy Holidays everyone...except you David.