It's quiet. Too quiet.
And yet the Diamondbacks will tell you that despite
having made just one deal during the offseason as Christmas fast approached -- sending
catcher Johnny Estrada and pitchers Claudio Vargas and Greg Aquino to
Milwaukee for pitchers Doug Davis and Dana Eveland and a minor-leaguer --
everything is fine and dandy. "We like our team," general manager Josh Byrnes said as he left the
winter meetings empty-handed. But has Arizona gotten any better? The Diamondbacks finished 10 games under
.500 in a winnable division, and Davis is the only significant
addition to a roster that has subtracted left fielder Luis Gonzalez, shortstop Craig Counsell, starting pitcher Miguel Batista
player Damion Easley as well as Estrada, Vargas and Aquino.
And while the addition-by-subtraction policy appears to be just fine with
management, Diamondbacks fans have grown wildly impatient as they
have watched teams like the Dodgers and Padres reload with a series of
moves and acquisitions.
"You can't help but notice," manager Bob Melvin said.
But watching division rivals get stronger only makes the job at hand
more difficult. Byrnes has been trying to work out a deal that would
bring the Diamondbacks another starting pitcher and maybe another arm to
strengthen the bullpen.
The latest buzz had Arizona in pursuit of Rangers reliever Akinori Otsuka, who could at least challenge the up-and-down Jose Valverde for a shot at the closer's job. As for a starter, the team
appeared to have little chance of signing free agent Mark Mulder, who might not even be ready for the start of the season.
So maybe the Diamondbacks are basically done shopping and will settle for what they already have.
But compared to what teams like the Dodgers
have done, standing idle likely isn't going to cut it when the season starts.
"You try not to focus too much on that," Melvin said. "You try to
focus on your club. We know that it's looking like our division is going
to be that much stronger with some of the moves that were made. But we
still feel like there are some things out there than we can do to get
On the position player front, there didn't appear to be any reason to
make any significant moves in that Melvin already has a set lineup --
albeit young -- in a nucleus that consists of third baseman Chad Tracy,
first baseman Conor Jackson, shortstop Stephen Drew, second baseman
Orlando Hudson and outfielders Chris Young, Carlos Quentin and Eric Byrnes.
But Arizona could use another reliable starter in the rotation
behind the threesome of Brandon Webb, Davis and Livan Hernandez. And so
far the Diamondbacks haven't been able to get one, leaving the
possibility that the final two spots could fall to a couple of pitching
prospects in the organization, such as Micah Owings or Dustin Nippert.
"It's a little bit of an unknown because our younger guys haven't
been around that long," Melvin said of his team's makeup. "But we feel
like all these guys are going to be impact guys. Maybe we sneak in under
the radar a little bit."
Maybe they will. After all, it's been a quiet -- almost too quiet --
offseason thus far.
--OF Jeff DaVanon (right foot surgery) might not be ready for the start of
spring training but will work out at Chase Field in January to
try to be close. Once DaVanon is healthy, manager Bob Melvin will use him off the bench to
spell Eric Byrnes in left and Carlos Quentin in
"There are few guys who can throw a fastball by him," Melvin said of
DaVanon. "He's not afraid to let it go on a fastball. I think he's a
good fit for those bad matchups and those off days that those guys are
going to get."
--C Chris Snyder picked up his offense considerably last season, but
even if he reverted to 2005 form, when he batted .202, he'd still be in
the Diamondbacks' plans because of his defensive prowess.
"You can get away with a guy hitting .200," manager Bob Melvin said,
"if he's doing his job behind the plate because it goes unnoticed."
--RHP Eric Gagne was on the Diamondbacks' potential list of free
agent signings before the former Dodgers closer signed a one-year deal
with the Rangers. Negotiations with Gagne never got close enough for
Arizona to make a concrete offer.
--Former major leaguer Joel Youngblood was hired by the Diamondbacks
to be the hitting coach at Triple-A Tucson. He replaces Lorenzo Bundy,
who resigned to become manager of the Dodgers' Triple-A team in Las
--2B Orlando Hudson and RHP Brandon Webb were finalists for top
defensive player and starting pitcher, respectively, for the This Year
in Baseball Awards. Neither player won.
BY THE NUMBERS: 11 -- The most victories RHP Miguel Batista has ever
recorded in a season. He left the Diamondbacks to sign a three-year, $25
million deal with the Mariners.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think a little bit, especially some of the
relievers out there. But the industry is doing very well. Teams aren't
going to worry about contracts like that if they don't think they can
handle it." -- Manager Bob Melvin, when asked if he was struck by the
explosion of high salaries on the free agent market.