Continued Youth Movement

By now it is no secret that the Arizona Diamondbacks are planning to continue their youth movement. The core of the team in 2007 will be substantially younger than they are today. That doesn’t mean that the Diamondbacks have found the fountain of youth but rather that they plan to give their minor league prospects an opportunity to earn a starting position next season. This message was evident when the Diamondbacks front office met with Luis Gonzalez last week to tell the slugger and fan favorite that his work in left field would not be needed next season. The team had opted to use a player 9 years his junior. The message of youth was further driven home later that same day when Craig Counsell was notified that the team would like to have him back but delegated as a back-up coming off the bench. His starting role as shortstop is being given to rookie Stephen Drew making the average age of the Diamondbacks infield being less than 25 years of age. One question the fans are left asking is how far does this youth movement go?

You should begin looking at the top where general manager Josh Byrnes is only 36 years old making him one of the youngest at his position. New team president Derrick Hall is also younger than his predecessor Rich Dozer. Manager Bob Melvin is younger than former mentor and manager Bob Brenly. The comparisons are similar throughout the organization. The Diamondbacks are developing an organization from top to bottom that can be together for a long time and be a lasting force in the National League Western Division. So the announcement that was made just prior to Sunday’s game that another veteran was leaving the organization should not have been unexpected.

For the past several years the Arizona Diamondbacks have utilized senior citizens along the first base and third base foul lines to retrieve foul balls on the field. This group is known as the Golden Gloves and during times when the game is out of hand they are a constant source of amusement. Trina believes when I reach the appropriate age that I too should become a Golden Glove. Her theory is that as long as I am at the game already I may as well do something productive instead of just sit there keeping score. That’s a subject best left to another entry so let me get back on track. Before the game it was announced that the Golden Glove on the first base side was working his last game for the Diamondbacks. It made me wonder if perhaps he too had a difficult conversation with the team. Over an all-you-can-eat breakfast at Luby’s Cafeteria the Golden Glove met with team officials where they expressed their gratitude for his service but the time had come for the team to move a different direction, one that was a lot younger. Granted he was still able to retrieve the balls that came to a dead stop but they were worried about his ability to be productive over the course of a whole season. He just was not the same player he was before the hip replacement surgery. So therefore after this season they were going to part ways with the Golden Glove as the team had some new hot prospects that they had gotten from Wal-Mart. Granted handing out stickers and greeting shoppers may seem easier that fielding a line drive off the bat of Conor Jackson but they made up for that with the speed that they displayed chasing shopping carts through the Wal-Mart parking lot. The team needs vigorous ball boys who don’t require a nap and can stay awake through a whole game. The team gave the Golden Glove this advanced notice so he could enjoy his final few games of the season. Well that and they probably needed to tell him a few times since the Golden Glove seems to be suffering from some kind of short term memory loss that he equates to a “senior moment”. So next season we’ll see some youth peppered into the ranks of the Golden Gloves moving their average age below that of a tree. We the fans wish the Golden Glove well and we’re trying to gather a collection so we can get him a lifetime membership to the American Association of Retired People.

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