Say Good Night Gracie

If at the end of last season you would have asked me what was the one position that the Arizona Diamondbacks should not have to fill during this off season, I would have told you first base. It seemed at times last season that the Diamondbacks were trying to corner the market on first basemen. At one point the team had Travis Lee, Greg Colbrunn, Erubiel Durazo, and Alex Cabrera on the Major League roster. So for the Diamondbacks to go out and sign Mark Grace from the Chicago Cubs to play first base was quite a surprise. I really have to question the sanity of this deal on several levels.

First, the shear number of people on the roster who can play first base. I understand that Alex Cabrera was sent to Japan and Travis Lee is no longer with the team but that still leaves Colbrunn who hit over .300 last season and Durazo who has shown he too can hit for a high average. The signing of Grace makes the status of these two players questionable as to what their role is with the team.

Second, Mark Grace is over 35 years old. This makes the entire infield of the Diamondbacks older than 30 years old. That makes it very unlikely that this group of players will play together for a long period of time to get to know each other’s tendencies. The age also brings into question the durability or longevity these players will bring to the table. As Jay Bell and Matt Williams showed last season, it is difficult to maintain their health and production as they begin to get older.

Third, there are several other areas within the ball club that needed to be addressed before first base. In the three years of their existence, the Diamondbacks have had a different person start each season in right field. Going into this season, the Diamondbacks again find themselves without a corner outfielder who can hit for power and has the ability to throw out base runners. The middle relief pitchers have struggled each season and Greg Swindell is the only left handed reliever on the staff at this moment.

Although I like Mark Grace and feel he is one of the better first basemen in all of Major League Baseball, I wonder how this is going to affect the Arizona Diamondbacks in their push back to the play-offs. I hope I am sitting here a year from now admitting I was wrong as Mark Grace was the missing piece to take the Arizona Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Series.

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