The 2005 Diamondbacks will look almost nothing like the 2004
Diamondbacks. That is a good thing, but we at FutureBacks.com were
wondering, what could have been?
Let's assume the Diamondbacks did what most thought they would do, continue
the rebuilding effort. The big free agent signings probably wouldn't have
happened, the Randy Johnson deal very well might have. The starters from
last year, what might have been in 2005, and what probably will be in 2005.
Why the exercise? Let's take a closer look.
Left field is Gonzo, no questions asked.
Center field may change. The Diamondbacks are still in the hunt for
Mike Cameron, Eric Byrnes and possibly Jeromy Burnitz, but it is possible they
won't get any of those guys, and this brings us to our first question.
What could have been? Terrero was one of the top prospects in the
Diamondbacks organization, until his attitude, problems on and off the field,
and poor production during his call up dropped his stock like an anvil.
The up and comer in center field is Marland Williams. While Williams is
still striking out too much at Double-A, he's a true burner, something we
haven't seen in the Diamondbacks lineup since Tony Womack. So one wonders,
would it be better for the D'Backs to give Terrero or Williams the opportunity,
trade for Byrnes or Cameron and their salaries, or sign Burnitz for the probably
$4 million a year or so he will ask?
Right Field is an even touchier issue. Shawn Green came at a price, and
that price was essentially Randy Johnson. While Halsey and Vazquez are
nice additions, make no mistake, the piece that the Yankees absolutely had to
part with to get Randy was Navarro, and that was because the Dodgers wanted the
young catcher in exchange for Shawn Green. Green's contract extension with
the Diamondbacks gives him $28 million over the next three years, for a player
who's numbers have dropped every year since 2001. Green has always hit
well at the BOB, and there is reason to believe he will continue to do so, but
$28 million is a lot to pay a guy who is holding up the top prospect in the
D'Backs organization. Quentin is a big, strong, power hitting right
fielder with a canon arm and the ability to take walks, hit for average, and
provide above average defense. Perhaps the most perplexing move the
D'Backs made this offseason, and it begs another question, is Carlos Quentin on
the trading block?
First Base: The most productive hitter on the Diamondbacks in 2004 was
Hillenbrand, and he's now a Toronto Blue Jay. Of course, Tracy moves to
first with the signing of Glaus, and Jackson could quite possibly become the
right handed part of a platoon at first in '05, but once again, a top D'Back
prospect (Jackson, #2 on the FutureBacks.com Top 50) is held up by a big signing
(more on that later).
Second Base: The Scott Hairston experiment went much like The Jaime
Kennedy Experiment, which is to say, quickly and with quite a few
laughs. The only real question about Hairston is why the Diamondbacks
continued to move him up the minor league ladder as a second baseman when they
apparently knew all along that he wouldn't be able to play the position at the
major league level. Hairston is still one of the best bats in the
organization, and figures to be the first outfielder available to spell Gonzalez
and Green, but that is a lot of bat to be keeping on the bench, probably the
biggest reason his name is often brought up in the Byrnes rumors. Late in
the season Cintron saw time at second, and he seemed to be comfortable
there. The switch hitter, who had a fantastic, most would say surprising,
rookie year, but came back to earth in '04, looked to have the inside track on
the position leading into the offseason, but suddenly fan favorite Counsell was
brought back to town. At just over three million for two years, he's
certainly not breaking the bank, but he hasn't been producing either.
Tentatively slotted as the Diamondbacks lead-off hitter in '05, Counsell is
another example of a player whose stats have declined in recent years. The
.275 batting average and .359 on base percentage Counsell showcased during the
'01 World Series winning season would be low for a lead-off man, but the .241
average and .330 on base percentage Counsell carried last season are not
impressive. Yes, Counsell does the 'intagible' things that a team needs,
including pretty good defense, but Cintron's '04 numbers (.262/.301) were
similar, at less money, with at least as good defense, and slightly better
Shortstop is a real weird scenario. The top shortstop in the D'Backs
organization is Sergio Santos, and most agree he will eventually be converted to
third base. Gil was given the opportunity, and showed us exactly what we
thought. Slick with the glove, clueless at the plate. Clayton also
came cheap, and more to the point, he came with just a one year deal. Both
Gil and Clayton are just holding the spot, but for whom? The answer is
Stephen Drew. The number one draft pick in the '04 draft is still
unsigned, one of just two first round picks (along with the Angel's Jarred
Weaver) yet to be signed. If Drew signed tomorrow, it seems likely he'd be
the starting shortstop as early as midseason, if he doesn't, the focus turns
back to Santos, in the meantime, it's Clayton's job.
Third Base: All hail the Man Troy. The first signing, Glaus was
the pebble that turned into a landslide. Big money, big expectations, big
power. He replaces Chad Tracy, who made the All-Rookie Team last season
and moves over to first. So just in case you forgot, Glaus, a career .253
hitter, who's playing third base after two surgeries on his throwing shoulder,
has moved Chad Tracy to first, where Tracy blocks the progression of Conor
Jackson. Glaus must do three things to justify his four year, $45 million
deal. The first is hit homers, a lot of them. The second, is raise
his average above the .251 he showed last year, and most importantly, he must
stay healthy. After the horribly bad luck they faced when Richie Sexson
went down last season, the last thing the Diamondbacks can afford is another
high profile aquisition going down to injury. Why would we mention
this? Because Glaus only played 149 games...over the last two seasons.
Catcher: Perhaps the most intriguing position that could have been is
catcher. Yes, Navarro was acquired in order to get Green, but what if he
had stayed. Snyder and Hill both show promise, Navarro shows more.
Perhaps the most complete young catching prospect since Pudge Rodriguez, Navarro
is about as close to a 'sure thing' as there has ever been behind the
plate. Only time will tell if the combination of Hill and Snyder produce
at a level even close to Navarro, but isn't it fun to wonder, what could have