Vazquez Gone to White Sox

Will 'El Duque' do this for the D'Backs?

On the surface, it looks scary, trading a young pitcher with a live arm for an old pitcher with an inconsistent one, but the Diamondbacks are now on the verge of a pair of moves that would take a pitching staff that was, at best, in disarray last season and turning into one that should be able to keep them in games, and a center fielder who can win them.

Javier Vazquez didn't need to go, he wasn't rumored to go, he was going, and it appears now he's gone.

The World Champion Chicago White Sox will add depth to an already deep starting rotation today when the Diamondbacks and Sox officially announce a deal that will send Vazquez to the Sox for at least two, and possibly three players, all of whom will make the opening day roster, and be expected to contribute.

The question becomes in what rolls?  Orlando Hernandez was an inconsistent, oft injured starter for the White Sox last season, and made his biggest contribution to the team in a playoff long relief role.  He will of course become a starter in Arizona, but he is hardly the 'Ace,' or even 'Potential Ace' that Vazquez was.

Would it even be possible that the Diamondbacks could move Hernandez into the bullpen?  If they wanted to give Bill Murphy and Dustin Nippert a chance, and depend on Brad Halsey and Russ Ortiz to stay effective and healthy, it would be a possibility, but if Luis Vizcaino is included in the deal, it becomes an almost impossibility, because the Diamondbacks made another move, on Tuesday, that along with Vizcaino, would virtually set the bullpen.

No one is quite sure which Jason Grimsley will report to Spring Training, the potential closer who left Atlanta for the hitter friendly skies of Baltimore, or the struggling, often injured pitcher he was when he got there.  Grimsley had Tommy John surgery in '04, and pitched sparingly for the Orioles down the stretch, but if he does indeed return to form, and it appears from his final month in Baltimore he might, then he and Vizcaino, would form a solid, if all right handed, bridge from starters like Hernandez to Jose Valverde.

The jewel in this deal though is center fielder Chris Young.  The Diamondbacks have been searching for a middle man in their outfield for the entire offseason, but rather than pining after high priced free agents like Johnny Damon or giving away the farm for a burner like Juan Pierre, the Diamondbacks took the move they had to make, trading Vazquez, and turned it into the move they wanted to make, acquiring perhaps the best minor league center fielder in baseball.

He immediately vaults into the top five prospects in the D'Backs organization, but won't stay there for long, because he will almost certainly be the starting center fielder for the Diamondbacks in 2006.  He just turned 22 in September, and he's ready for the big leagues today.  Maybe not ready for All Star status, and yes, he will disappoint at times because his long swing still strikes out too much, but he's learning, and will get the opportunity to learn on the job, probably hitting in the seven spot in the order, for the D'Backs.


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