What’s Next for the Diamondbacks?

Today marked the final day of the 2009 Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. The Arizona Diamondbacks went into this week with a lot of questions and not a lot of money to spend. What they came away with was a three-team blockbuster trade that landed them two starting pitchers who will be counted upon to bring the team out of the National League West cellar.

While the Diamondbacks were successful in filling one of their many roster holes with the addition of pitchers Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy, the team is not nearly ready to begin the 2010. So the question that begs to be asked, “What’s next?”

“The Trade” as it’s coming to be known around baseball could be classified as addition by subtraction when it comes to the Diamondbacks. They basically switched number three starters with the Detroit Tigers then added what they hope is a fourth starter in Kennedy.

Given Kennedy’s injury history there will be questions surrounding him throughout the year. If he stays healthy and if he pitches to his potential the Diamondbacks will have a formidable starting rotation.

As an Arizona Diamondbacks fan, I cringe to think the success of next season’s team relies heavily on two big “ifs” in the starting rotation. On paper and within the EA Sports video game universe, the trade makes sense.

So now that Arizona has filled their starting pitching holes what’s next for the team? According to General Manager Josh Byrnes the team is still searching for a veteran reliever and perhaps a bench player or first baseman.

The Diamondbacks took steps to rectify the first when they met with representatives for LaTroy Hawkins. Hawkins was interested in playing for Arizona but was looking for a two-year deal. The Diamondbacks were only willing to offer one year and Hawkins signed with Milwaukee.

Arizona may have helped in their quest when they drafted Zach Kroenke in the major league portion of the Rule V Draft. This marks the second year that Kroenke was selected in the Rule V Draft.

Last season while a member of the New York Yankees; the Florida Marlins claimed Kroenke. He appeared in two Spring Training games and was then offered back to the Yankees. Now a year later and with a season of Triple-A under his belt Kroenke comes to the desert with a chance to make the ballclub.

Based on his stats in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre along with his Arizona Fall League exposure; Kroenke looks like a serviceable arm that can get both left and right-handed hitters out. With the departure of Daniel Schlereth as part of “The Trade”, adding a second lefty would be valuable to the Diamondbacks.

Despite getting Kroenke, Arizona still feels they need one additional reliever preferably with a lot of experience to help mentor the young pitchers as well as provide some options late in the game.

Arizona has been rumored to be interested in former New York Mets reliever JJ Putz who is coming off injury. They have also been linked to Bobby Howry and Brandon Donnelly. Hopefully one of these three will be a fit for the Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks continue to focus on pitching despite the woes of the offense the past two seasons. Earlier this off-season the team attempted to trade for Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay but Toronto backed out of the deal that would have sent catcher Chris Snyder north of the border.

Snyder’s name continues to come up but as of yet no team is willing to take a chance on trading for a catcher coming off back surgery. Likewise the Diamondbacks are finding little or no interest from teams for outfielder Eric Byrnes.

Given the comments by General Partner Ken Kendrick and GM Josh Byrnes, the Diamondbacks have suggested they would be willing to release Eric Byrnes so other teams may be waiting to see if that happens rather than giving up something in return.

With just $6 million to spend this season it is starting to look doubtful that Arizona will add another bat such as former Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson. While the baseball operations staff insists that the maturation of the young core of Diamondbacks players will result in better offensive numbers I am not sure I agree.

Arizona desperately needs to find someone to play first base who is great defensively and has a high on-base percentage. Perhaps then the offense won’t be so anemic. If the Diamondbacks continue to stock pile arms wile ignoring the offense it may be a very long summer in Phoenix as the team loses a lot of one run games.


2 Comments

  1. As long as they don’t trade Augie, then I’ll be happy. I am glad the Rangers went after and got Mike Lowell away from the Red Sox so hopefully the DBacks will back down and balk the idea of trading Augie.

    Nick Johnson SUCKS and can’t stay healthy either so I hope we don’t go getting him, but knowing hte stupidity of Josh Byrnes, we probably will. Bad enough he got rid of Chad Tracy and stuck with Brandon Allen who has not impressed me or many fans I have talked to. As for Eric Byrnes, RELEASE HIM!

    • Given the financial constraints there are not a lot of first base alternatives. Due to his health issues Johnson may be one of the few first basemen that the Diamondbacks can afford. It’s hard to fault the departure of Chad Tracy. Mark Reynolds has a choke hold on third base and is progressing nicely. Tracy had shown he was a marginal first baseman at best. His struggles against left-handed pitching did not help build a case for him remaining.

      Despite the Rangers getting Mike Lowell I expect them to still inquire what it would take to bring Augie Ojeda to Texas. Arizona is very interested in Rangers reliever C.J. Wilson and had offered Chris Snyder for him. Don’t be surprised if the offer turns to Augie Ojeda instead of Snyder. Josh Byrnes believes the tandem of Rusty Ryal and Ryan Roberts is capable of handling second base and the utility role. It is clear from last off season that the team does not believe Ojeda is capable of being the every-day second baseman. He’s a gritty player but it does not appear the team values his services as much as the fans do.

      As for Eric Byrnes, you just might get your wish. It is hard to believe his stock has fallen so low that the Diamondbacks cannot find one team to take him for even a low minor league player. Given the recent injury to Gerardo Parra, don’t be surprised if Arizona keeps Byrnes at least until Parra can prove there are no ill effects from the torn leg muscle.

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