Battle in the Bullpen

With Tony Womack wrapped up for another four years, the Diamondbacks have set their sights on the other three players they have that are eligible for arbitration. First up is Matt Mantei. Mantei solidified the bullpen for the Diamondbacks last season and many feel that he was the key ingredient in the late season charge resulting in the team winning the Western Division championship. Matt must feel the same since he and the team are currently at odds over what he should be paid next season. The Diamondbacks have supposedly offered a three year deal valued around $9 million. Mantei on the other hand feels he is now one of the premier closers in the game and is looking to be paid similar money to what Trevor Hoffman was given in San Diego. Neither side seems willing to compromise. This could become a case where the two sides will need arbitration to solve their differences. This will not sit well with Jerry Colangelo. He has made his feelings known to baseball that the current arbitration process should be abolished.

Besides Mantei, the Diamondbacks still have two other players eligible for arbitration. Brian Anderson who looks to be the number four starter in the rotation will be next up. The team and Anderson’s agent have exchanged figures but no deal has been made yet. It would appear that Anderson is waiting to see what kind of money Mantei commands before agreeing to a new deal. Andy Fox is the final player facing arbitration. The Diamondbacks have been shopping Andy around this winter but no deal has been made. It seems they are trying to acquire another relief pitcher in exchange for one of the premier utility players in the game. I question how hard they are trying to trade Fox. Andy has always been a favorite of Buck Showalter since they were together in New York. I expect to see Fox return to wear the purple pinstripes again this season.

Speaking of the bullpen, the Diamondbacks are still not content with the pitchers they have for middle relief and to set up Matt Mantei. After a year of struggling with his control and his health, it seems that Darren Holmes is on the trading block. With the year Holmes had last year and his health problems, it may have to be a package deal if the Diamondbacks are to get anyone of value. Former Diamondbacks closer Gregg Olson signed this week with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The deal was for two years with a club option third. Hopefully, Oly will be able to straighten things out given a new environment.

Andy Benes is getting close to signing. He has narrowed his choices down with the St. Louis Cardinals currently in the driver’s seat. The Cardinals who have been very active this off-season have offered Benes a three year deal but the sides are off by about $3.5 million. Benes will have to decide whether pitching with his brother is worth the pay cut.

Bobby Chouinard was indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury on Wednesday. Chouinard is charged with aggravated assault against his wife Erica in a December 25 domestic violence case. If convicted, Bobby could face a prison term of 5 to 15 years. Managing partner Jerry Colangelo has stated that no diciplinary action will be taken against Chouinard until legal proceedings are completed. It is rumored that Joe Garagiola Jr. is actively shopping Chouinard but with no takers expected until his legal problems are resolved.

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