Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Poor, Poor Diamondbacks 

I decided to outsource my blog entry today to the Arizona Republic. OK, not really, but Craig Harris' article this morning outlines what I'd have said anyway. Now, I'm probably beginning to get a reputation as the unhinged "D-Back Financials" guy, but I'm still frustrated at people not understanding the D-Backs' basic finances. Take this article purloined from the New York Daily News stating that they had no idea where the $250+ million in reinvestments came from.

The reinvestment (or at least $160 million of it)? Try this article from nearly 3 years ago.

Ask any reader of D-Back blogs, and they could've told you that there were a whole bunch of contracts coming off the books this year. But it's as if everyone else, both locally and nationally, are surprised.

Look, I have no idea if the D-Backs are truly losing money now (Kendrick says they will in 2005), thanks to the tangled web of MLB finances which make me wary of believing anything anybody associated with a team says regarding its finances. You could argue that it would be better for the D-Backs to scale back this year in hopes of competing in 2006 and onward. (And, if you have a chip on your shoulder, you could argue that the whining is self-serving rumor by GMs ticked off that the D-Backs took a good hitter and decent pitcher off the market at premium prices.) But it was crystal clear at the end of the season that the D-Backs could -- if they wanted to -- make a splash in the free agent market. Makes you wonder why there wasn't more attention paid to this beforehand...

Completely forgot to mention a new piece of news from Kendrick in the Harris article -- they're planning on keeping the payroll in the low $60s in 2005. Previously, they'd talked about keeping it right around $70 million again in 2005, so it appears they've dialed it down a notch.

Unless, of course, this is a smoke screen to make other teams think the D-Backs are close to finishing up. (Though they still have another $10 - $12 M to spend just to get to the low $60s.)
Stefan - agree with you wholeheartedly regarding the extent to which so many folks (many of whom SHOULD know better) are stunned by the Dbacks' spending ways this winter. I have been jumping up and down insisting that they should go after Beltran and/or Renteria. I mean, why blow your wad signing players at positions already adequately manned (like 3B, for example)? They clearly have the resources to sign either/both. . . (but I digress)

Appreciate you sharing your thought that the org has another $10-12mm to spend just to get to the low $60s. That's precisely where I have them right now and was looking to others for confirmation. My spreadhseet has them at about $47-48mm, depending on how you allocate MLB-minimum and minor leaguer salaries AND leaving Hillenbrand out of the loop.

BTW - if I am counting right, the Clayton signing combined with the recent adjustments returns the active roster to 40. I figure a deal with Counsell is also done (too many rumors), but is awaiting a trade for Hillenbrand to be completed before it can be made "official". With too many middle infielders, I am half-expecting the deal to be Hillenbrand and (pick one) Cintron, Gil, Hairston, Kata or Tracy for a CF or RF. And when's Dellucci going to sign and who will HE replace?

Stephen -- the $10-$12 M estimate came from Kendrick, not from me, but it makes sense -- they had $40 M to play with, they've spent about $17 M of it, leaving $23 M left over. If they go from $73 M to $60 M, that takes another $13 M away, leaving $10 M. If "low $60s" means something more than $60, then that's just more $.

Beltran would've been a nice pickup, but if you're D-Backs management, your choices would've been:
1) Wait to deal with Scott Boras for a contract upwards of $100 M and 6 years, bidding against the Yankees, Astros, and who knows who else. (And, by the way, try convincing Beltran to join a team with 51 wins.) And you're screwed if you lose, as you probably will, assuming you have delusions of competing for the wild card in 2005.
2) Try to pick up some available second-tier free agents.

I can understand the D-Backs' logic (in picking up Glaus and Ortiz), if that's what they were facing in getting Beltran.

Re: 40-man roster. Not sure where they stand. I think they've cleared a spot for everyone they've "signed" (Glaus, Ortiz, Clayton, and Counsell), but am not positive.

It does make waiting until, say, mid-January important in evaluating roster moves because let's say Hillenbrand and Cintron are traded somewhere. All of a sudden, we've received something "useful" for those two (the proof, as always, being in the pudding), while freeing up first for Tracy and the shortstop position in 2006 for Santos. Maybe they won't do anything at all, in which case I'm worried. But I want to give them a chance first.
I'm not sure if Dellucci is going to sign. There was an article earlier this week (or late last week) that quoted Dellucci's agent as saying that the Rangers had come back with another offer.

If we don't move Hillenbrand to another team, I think I'd rather put Tracy out in RF than spend the money on Dellucci.
Right - the Beltran/Renteria comment was more for effect than to suggest that I consider such a prudent strategy. You are very correct to note that these guys are waiting and the longer it takes, the fewer alternatives remain. (and how prudent AZ is to not play a game of musical chairs where they are very likely to be the one without a chair) Additionally, it is highly likely (IMO) that these two guys wouldn't (didn't?) even give a Dback offer consideration. . . for whatever reasons, some of which may be related to misperceptions about organization finances.

As for Dellucci, I get the feeling he won't be signing, either. If he were, I think it would have been done. But it's probably still an outside possibility. Frankly, I think either he or Tracy are abysmal choices for RF. Neither has the arm for that position. Hairston doesn't, either. What I REALLY fear is we'll sign a load like Burnitz. Kroeger's got the arm to handle MLB-level RF. So does Terrero, although his problem is a) knowing WHERE to throw, and b) knowing if the ball will be anyplace CLOSE to his selection in (a).

Which points out the other abysmal position on this roster - CF. There is no major league solution in the organization at this time and Dave Roberts is not the answer.

How about Hairston and Hillenbrand for a REAL centerfielder?


PS - spend some of that money signing Stephen Drew. I don't believe Santos can play MLB-level SS. (of course, I have my doubts about Drew in that regard, but haven't yet seen HIM play)
The money situation. My accounting puts us at just under $48 mil for 2005, including $4.5 mil to Hillenbrand and approx $50 K for all guys on the 40-man roster and guys like Valverde and Koplove getting $350 K. Don't know if that is realistic or not, but we should also remember that $6 mil of Johnson's salary is deferred until 2007. Bottom line is we have some nice coin to throw around still, but we better spend it wisely. It sould have been nice to go after Renteria, Orlando Cabrera or even Jeff Kent.

As for Stephen Drew, I keep hearing that he projects as a centerfielder, much like JD is, or should be.
yeah, I know - I have read/heard the same thing about Drew. I have never seen him play, so I don't have a personal opinion. I guess color me skeptical on that right now. I just think he is so much more valuable if he can play short. . . I fear he doesn't have the same pop as his brother.
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