Hot For Trot

Going into the off-season after the 2007 season one of the biggest questions surrounding the Arizona Diamondbacks was how they were going to relieve the logjam they had at the corner infield positions. At times during the 2007 campaign Bob Melvin found himself with four very viable options for two positions. It is a decision that many managers would envy but it can be difficult especially of all four players deserve to be the starter. Part of the decision was in the hands of Tony Clark who was a free agent. He could choose to go to another franchise which would mean that the Diamondbacks would have three players for two spots which was the plan. Another option that the Diamondbacks explored was to trade Conor Jackson and resigning Tony Clark which again would give them options and adequate depth. Adequate depth is the key hear and unfortunately also the greatest unknown.

Chad Tracy fought injury most of last season resulting in micro-fracture surgery on his troubled knee. This is not a typical surgical procedure meaning that recovery time can be substantially longer depending on the patient. When the Diamondbacks traded Jose Valverde to the Houston Astros they received in return Chris Burke who filled the roster spot that had been identified as Tony Clark’s. The problem seemed to be solved. Unfortunately Chad Tracy suffered a setback in his recovery which now jeopardizes him being available to begin the season. In a short period the Diamondbacks had a completely opposite problem than they started with the end of October. Now instead of having too many corner infielders it looked as if they might have a shortage. The problem is that Chad Tracy may indeed come back in time for Opening Day which would leave the Diamondbacks with one too many infielders. It is a delicate balance and one that has left General Manager Josh Byrnes scratching his head wondering what to do.

The answer may have presented itself last Sunday when the Arizona Diamondbacks brought in long time Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indian star Trot Nixon. Nixon worked out for the Diamondbacks impressed several in attendance including manager Bob Melvin

He did well enough that you kind of wonder why he’s not in camp somewhere.
Bob Melvin – Arizona Diamondbacks Manager

The issue is what to do if/when Tracy is ready to return. It would be difficult to ask Nixon to step in to begin the season expressing how important he is to the early success of the Diamondbacks only to release him as soon as Chad becomes healthy. With the youth of the roster and the positions relatively set, it would be impossible to guarantee Trot a roster spot when Tracy is back at full strength. It looked improbable that a deal could be made. Josh Byrnes again pulled a rabbit out of his hat by finding a solution that would give the Diamondbacks the necessary depth while providing an opportunity for Trot Nixon to compete for a possible job. You never know we might look back at this particular decision at season’s end and realize it was the piece that allowed the Diamondbacks to return to the post season. Then again this may be another Mike DiFelice deal which was barely a blip on the Diamondbacks history radar. That’s what’s great about baseball, it gives us something to ponder for 6 months and question for the rest of our lives.

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