Wednesday, February 02, 2005

State of the Union 

Friends, a year ago I would have stood in front of you and said that the state of the Diamondbacks union was strong. Leaders always say the state of the union is strong, even if there's considerable debate on that point. One very difficult and challenging year later, I'll get up and say it -- the state of the D-Back union is not strong, but neither should it be said that it's entirely hopeless, either.

A 51-win season will cause most fans to fall asleep faster than an exhausted narcoleptic, especially in a region stuffed with many other sporting diversions. But I have reason for hope in 2005. For example, with the exception of centerfield, I expect overall offensive and defensive production to be better (or at least no worse) at every position in 2005 than in 2004. I am hopeful that the presence of multiple offensive threats will make it easier for the heart of the lineup to get on base and drive in runs. As for the pitching staff, it hurts (in more ways than one) to lose future Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson, likely the first person to enter the Hall of Fame with a Diamondbacks uniform. But I think we can plausibly say that the starting rotation as a whole will be better in 2005, which will hopefully also allow the relief staff to be better deployed.

Now, if this were a standard state of the union, I would continue in this semi-hopeful vein. I really don't think I'm being wildly optimistic in that above paragraph, but I do feel compelled to mention all the caveats a President (of either party, let me make that clear) would just skim over, such as the signing of some questionable contracts. The signing of Troy Glaus to the 4-year contract was a risky one, but I was comfortable with it in hopes that he's past his injury and will be worth the production. The Shawn Green contract, well, for a team as obsessed with signing Green as the D-Backs were, they came out not entirely fleeced (if you count the cash we got from the Dodgers). The Russ Ortiz contract was too much, of course, and everything else was comparatively meaningless. In management's defense, they did not offer ridiculous (or, to be honest, any) contracts to a bunch of players from last year. Re-signing Bautista, Hillenbrand, Colbrunn, or any of the others they let walk for the prices they were looking for would have been foolish. (Note: an entire, though brief, discussion on bad GMs and the Diamondbacks aren't even mentioned.)

Of course, what would a state of the union be without the citation of an example to prove a wildly outlandish point, so here you go -- the D-Backs are still looking at trading for a centerfielder. Note to the Republic: Please, please, please don't mention players teams are interested in -- Webb, Tracy, Jackson, Quentin, Santos, and Pena -- because it's just stupid. OF COURSE THEY'RE LOOKING AT THOSE PLAYERS! Let's seeā€¦ good, cheap, and, as Hubie Brown (or the Sports Guy) might say, "huuuuuge upside." If I were an opposing GM seeking to dump a large contract of a player with declining skills, I'd ask for them, too. There's no indication in the article, however, as to whether the D-Backs are actually listening to these requests. We shall see whether we head into Spring Training with a bad taste in our mouths.

Before I finish this state of the union, I wanted to comment briefly on the state of D-Back blogging, which unfortunately is not quite as strong as it was a few months back.

Robert gave up the ghost with an immortal final post; MVN's D-Back outlet has been lost since Levski left; Roses and Rattlers never got off the ground.
In Limbo
Ryan promised to be back by Spring Training, so we'll see. The Baby Backs site will hopefully be up and running again soon.
Never Left
Only Jim has been constant in his postings.
I've just noticed that 2003 blogger Wil is making his return. And the Diamondbacks Bullpen is definitely the best place to go to for a D-Back discussion (and Levski and Robert are also BTF regulars).

But for a group who I compared to the Scooby gang back in July, our group is now looking more like the gang from Assault on Precinct 13 (though you'll probably have to go to Jim's other site for a review of that movie). Here's hoping that the new season will bring fresh blood into the community.

Thank you.

I for one would like to thank you Stefan for your reports and a different side to the D-backs story's. I dont comment often but am a daily reader.
Tom, thanks for your comment. Always glad to have readers; commenting is just a friendly bonus. Hope to have you keep coming 'round.
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