Saturday, May 10, 2008

Diamondbacks Depressingly Competent

From "D'backs weave a Webb" by Jon Heyman at

Thank goodness for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who continually restore faith in the belief that yes, indeed, there is a ballclub out there doing just about everything right.

The D'backs are back now talking to Brandon Webb -- Mr. Perfect himself -- about a multiyear deal, and don't be surprised if a spanking new contract for Webb is closely followed by one for Dan Haren, their co-ace.

Arizona is about the only team without a bad contract on the roster, though Eric Byrnes at $10 million a season is close to full value. The D'backs' $66 million payroll ranks 23rd, between the Orioles and Twins, yet they've already established themselves as the favorites in the National League this year. (No surprise here; they were the D. Scoop pick in the NL.)


Under the stewardship of general manager Josh Byrnes, who previously worked in Boston, Colorado and Cleveland (coincidentally or not, his resume represents the final four finishers last year), the D'backs have hardly made a misstep. They have drafted and developed more good players than anyone over the past several years, some going back to when Mike Rizzo was making their picks as scouting director. Their excellent system allowed them to surrender six honest-to-goodness prospects in the Haren deal without suffering pain.

The rotation, as good as any of the big-market powers, also boasts two-way star Micah Owings (perhaps even a better hitter than pitcher), the aging Cooperstown-bound Randy Johnson, Doug Davis (who was recently declared cancer-free following thyroid surgery) and young hotshot Max Scherzer, a 96-mph-throwing rookie who could become the closer if the need arises.

With baseball's best balanced lineup filled with young stars, the 23-12 Diamondbacks are also long on youth and energy. As Webb understands, this team is anything but a mirage.

And some Dodgers notes from Heyman:

Rafael Furcal's having a monster year in his walk year, but with highly-touted shortstop Chin-lung Hu almost ready to go, some competing execs are speculating that the Dodgers will let Furcal walk. Furcal will certainly want a raise from the $13 million he makes now.

• I hope Vin Scully didn't mean it when he suggested he might retire after this season while on a recent trip to New York to celebrate his time at WFUV-FM, the Fordham University radio station that's also produced a lot of excellent announcers like Michael Kay, Mike Breen and Bob Papa, fine sportswriters such as Jack Curry of the New York Times and the even more famous Alan Alda, Charles Osgood and Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo). Even now, at age 80 and in his 59th season with the Dodgers, no other baseball announcer is in Scully's league.