The Diamondbacks have been one of the busiest teams in Major League
Baseball this winter, and after their horrendous slide in 2004, it shouldn't
come as any surprise. But after acquiring the likes of Javier Vazquez
, Troy Glaus
, Russ Ortiz
, Royce Clayton
and Craig Counsell
, there was still plenty of
work left to do.
Arizona finally completed the much-awaited trade with the New York Yankees
that sends Randy Johnson
to the Bronx and was feverishly working
to finalize a side deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers
that would bring a new
right fielder and a proven No. 5 hitter in Shawn Green
Acquiring Green would almost top off the Diamondbacks' relentless
pursuit of rebuilding a once-proud, young organization that slumped to a
51-111 record last season, the worst in the major leagues. But considering
Arizona would have to enjoy a 30-win improvement next season just to reach the
.500 level means the tinkering will likely continue.
In Vazquez and Ortiz, two capable, inning-eating starters, the
Diamondbacks have retooled their rotation, but it now no longer includes
Johnson, perhaps the most dominant left-hander in history.
It does, however, open the door for Arizona to sign free-agent
lefty Shawn Estes
, who has made it clear he would love to pitch near his
offseason home in a Phoenix-area suburb, and with those three proven arms
aboard, it should only help further the development of prized sinker-ball
pitcher Brandon Webb
Competition for the fifth starter's job figures to be intense,
with ex-Yankee Brad Halsey
, another lefty, battling with former reliever Oscar Villarreal
and hard-throwing prospect Ramon Antonio Pena Paulino.
Glaus, Arizona's new third baseman, helps replace the power
source the club lost when Richie Sexson
left to sign as a free agent with
Seattle. Green, meanwhile, gives the Diamondbacks extra pop and more run
production they never could have received had they re-signed free-agent right
fielder Danny Bautista
The middle of the infield, where defensive lapses often triggered
many losses, is stronger with the additions of Clayton and Counsell at
shortstop and second base. Shea Hillenbrand
, who has been on and off of the
trade block and was Arizona's most consistent hitter in '04, could return as
the starting first baseman or may still be dealt, opening up a starting job
for last year's third baseman, Chad Tracy
But once Green is in the fold and the Diamondbacks can sign
either Estes or try to land A.J. Burnett
from the Marlins, they still have a
void in center field. Arizona couldn't convince free-agent Steve Finley
return, and the club isn't sure Luis Terrro, a raw talent, is ready to assume
the everyday responsibilities.
With that in mind, the Diamondbacks recently turned their
attention to Oakland outfielder Eric Byrnes
, who hit .283 with 20 home runs
and stole 17 bases in 18 attempts last season. Byrnes, 28, could be moved for
a package that includes one of Arizona's extra infielders -- Matt Kata
, Alex Cintron
or Scott Hairston
. Only one of those three is likely to be with the
Diamondbacks when they start spring training next month.
--RHP Curt Schilling
of the Boston Red Sox
said he wasn't
thrilled about his former Arizona teammate, LHP Randy Johnson, joining the New
York Yankees. But he acknowledged the rivalry between the two teams and the
two aces just got more intense.
"You put that guy on the top of the rotation and you've got
the edge on everybody," Schilling said. "I'm not conceding anything
if I happen to match up with him. But at the same time, he's got the track
"I certainly didn't want him to go there, and unfortunately,
the rich get richer, in a sense. But it's going to be something special. It's
definitely another challenge. And like we said last year: If one guy is the
reason we don't win, then we don't deserve to be world champions."
--LHP Shawn Estes, who won 15 games last season for the Rockies,
had offers from Houston, Washington and San Diego on the table, but he let a
deadline with Padres expire and was said to be leaning toward signing a
one-year deal with the Diamondbacks.
--RHP Steve Reed
could join the team and add some valuable
experience to a bullpen that had a bloated 4.69 ERA and allowed 295 walks in
523 1/3 innings.
BY THE NUMBERS: 30 -- More wins needed by the Diamondbacks from
last season's win total just to reach the .500 mark in 2005.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was a joy and exciting to see Randy
pitch. Watching him was a learning experience for the young guys. I hate to
see him go, but he wants another shot (at a World Series). Hopefully this will
work out for us as well with the players we're getting." -- Diamondbacks
relief pitcher Mike Koplove
on the trade of Randy Johnson to the New York
Yankees for pitchers Javier Vazquez, Brad Halsey, catcher Dioner Navarro
about $9 million in cash.
SS Royce Clayton signed a one-year deal worth $1.28 million and
will be Arizona's everyday starter in 2005. 2B Craig Counsell signed a
two-year deal worth $3.1 million and is expected to be the club's starting
second baseman next season. C Kelly Stinnett
agreed to a minor-league
contract. RHP Andrew Good
was released. LHP Shane Nance
was designated for
assignment. 1B Richie Sexson signed with Seattle as a free agent. LHP Randy
Johnson was traded to the Yankees. The club was on the verge of acquiring RF
Shawn Green from the Dodgers. Green and the Diamondbacks agreed Sunday night
(Jan. 9) on a three-year, $32 million extension.
ARRIVALS: RF Shawn Green (trade with Dodgers, pending physical),
RHP Javier Vazquez and LHP Brad Halsey (trade with Yankees), 3B Troy Glaus
(free agent from Anaheim). RHP Russ Ortiz (free agent from Atlanta), SS Royce
Clayton (free agent from Colorado), INF Craig Counsell (free agent from
Milwaukee), C Kelly Stinnett (free agent from Kansas City).
DEPARTURES: LHP Randy Johnson (traded to Yankees), 1B Richie
Sexson (free agent, signed with Seattle), RHP Shane Reynolds
(free agent, signed with Boston), RHP Andrew Good (released,
signed with Detroit), LHP Shane Nance (non-tendered).
BIGGEST NEEDS: Arizona's starting rotation still is in flux. The
team was angling for another veteran starter, LHP Shawn Estes.
FREE AGENTS: RHPs Shane Reynolds, Steve Sparks
, Mike Fetters
Scott Service; INFs Greg Colbrunn
and Carlos Baerga
; OF Danny Bautista.
The Diamondbacks offered arbitration to 1B Richie Sexson, but he
left as a free agent and signed with Seattle.
IN LIMBO: 1B Shea Hillenbrand, SS Alex Cintron.
With Glaus joining the lineup, Hillenbrand could be dealt.
Cintron spent the last six weeks of the season at second base and will compete
with Counsell there now that Clayton has been signed to play short.
MEDICAL WATCH: 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 necessary.