Jason Varitek realized that if he can't get $10 million a year, he might as well stay for a potential World Series contender where he has played his whole big league career, is worshipped as a hero by the fans, is the captain in the clubhouse and won't have to learn a whole new pitching staff... and still earn millions of dollars a year in the worst economy since the Depression.
(Hey Boras, nice job having him reject arbitration.)
So now that Varitek is back in a Red Sox uniform, let's do what we can to adopt a new nickname for Varitek.
'Tek is boring. He should be the LOBSTER!
I covered this already, but I am going to make it my mission to have Varitek be dubbed THE LOBSTER by Red Sox fans everywhere.
Good to have you back Lobstah!
Now handle that pitching staff and let's dip the rest of the division in buttah!
I'm not sure who to root for in this year's Super Bowl. Neither the Giants nor the Patriots are in it, so I have no emotion invested in the outcome and in all honesty I'm not that big of a football fan.
Chances are during the game I'm going to be thinking "I wonder where Adam Dunn is going to end up." I want a close game. If the Cardinals win it... good for them. If the Steelers win it, Pittsburgh will go nuts, and good for them.
But Cub fans... you had better get a terrible towel and root hard for the Steelers.
If the Steelers don't win, you will be watching yet another "Never in my lifetime" title in your lifetime... all while the Cubs go into century two of waiting for a ring.
Right now the Cardinals have the second longest championship drought of a North American pro team at 60 years. Now 60 years is a hell of a lot shorter than 100, but if the Cardinals win, the second longest would be the Indians who have been waiting since 1948.
Then you have the Lions, waiting since 1957. Hawks in basketball who have been waiting since 1958 and the Blackhawks who last won in 1961.
It's getting lonely at the top of the "championship futility" list I am sure. You've lost your two brothers in baseball when the Red and White Sox both won.
If the Cardinals win, you'd have only one more "Pre 1950" playoff drought for a team (the Indians.)
That can't be good.
You've GOT to be rooting for the Steelers.
Besides, I am sure some of you are still mad the Cardinals left Chicago!
OK, when I finish this post I will be more than halfway through these Home Grown versus Acquired lists. So no time to stop.
In honor of the two Super Bowl teams, I am going to knock Arizona and Pittsburgh off of my list. Granted, that might not be the smartest thing in the world for me to do. You see I try to see if these posts can be passed around the web to fans of the team… and it’s safe to say Arizona and Pittsburgh fans are a smidge preoccupied with another sport this week.
Then again, neither Arizona nor Pittsburgh could sell out NLCS games in their last post season trip, so maybe they will never pay attention.
No time like now!
What can be said about the Diamondbacks? They were formed in 1998 and stunk. Owner Jerry Coangelo would have none of that and started pouring money into the team… and in 1999, their second year they were a 100 win Division Champ. By 2001 they won the best World Series in the Division Series era.
And it turns out pouring all of that money made them broke… but at least they got a World Series title out of it. (Take note, new owners of the Cubs!)
They only had three lean years and by 2007 they were back in the NLCS and putting a winner on the field.
Earned the starting job after catcher Johnny Estrada was dealt to Milwaukee and he took advantage. He is a solid defensive catcher with some pop as evidenced by his three run homer in the elimination game 4 of the 2007 NLCS.
He missed time in 2008 with a fractured testicle. The less written about that the better.
Spivey took over as the full time second baseman during the Diamondbacks World Series defense in 2002. And he rewarded the club with an All Star selection, a .301 average, double digit home run and stolen base totals and some big hitting performances.
His average was in the .330s in August and while he tailed off towards the end of the season, he kept his OPS over .860 in the #2 hole.
Hamstring problems have sidelined him over the last few seasons, but he hasn’t retired yet.
When I awarded retroactive MVPs for the Division Series, Drew took it home for the D’Backs sweep of the Cubs in 2007. Well J.D. Drew’s little brother has a world of talent. He hit for the cycle on September 1 of 2008 and has been improving each season.
The whiffle ball games at the Drew cookouts should be getting more interesting.
No pressure on Justin Upton. He was the #1 overall pick and his talent has been compared to Ken Griffey Jr. He played in an NLCS at age 19. He has a full season and a half under his belt and he won’t turn 22 until August.
He has shown flashes of his brilliance just like his brother B.J. started reaching his potential with the Rays in this year’s playoffs. Who knows? There could be an interesting debate soon: Which set of brothers are better? The Uptons or the Drews.
The Stanford grad and one time first round pick showed some flashes in his two seasons in Arizona of the power that made him an MVP candidate in Chicago. On May 21, 2007, Carlos drove in 5 runs including a home run and the game winning sac fly to beat the Rockies. Seeing the D’Backs would finish the season a mere one game ahead of Colorado, that performance was a big one in retrospect.
Quentin was a regular on the 2007 NL West Champs, but missed the playoffs due to injury. Granted, it wasn’t a stupid injury like breaking his own hand thus having him miss the 2008 playoffs for the White Sox.
I grant you this is a pick that has more to do with the talent he flashed elsewhere. While with Arizona he was a solid power hitting prospect, but the D’Backs wanted Richie Sexson and made an ill advised trade with Milwaukee. Sexson spent one injury plagued season in the desert before leaving for the Mariners.
Meanwhile Overbay became a solid if not spectacular left handed power hitting first baseman for the Brewers and Blue Jays.
OK, back to “lots of potential” players. Owings is only 25 and already has a pair of big league seasons and a playoff start under his belt. And the potential wasn’t just with his arm. He had some pop in his bat too. He had a 2 homer game on August 18, 2007 where he drove in 6 runs.
He also hit a pinch hit homer in 2008. Alas if he is going to reach his potential as a starter and a hitter, he won’t do it in Arizona. He was sent off to the Reds in the Adam Dunn trade.
Max made his big league debut on April 29, 2008 against the Astros. He relieved starter Edgar Gonzalez in the third and retired all 13 batters he faced, striking out 7. He set the record for most consecutive batters retired in a debut performance.
Of course in his next appearance he let up a lead off double. His next big league win will be his first, but showed outstanding talent in his rookie season that I don’t feel any apprehension putting him on this list.
Look, the Diamondbacks haven’t developed that many starting pitchers. If you need proof, look no further than me including Edgar Gonzalez. He’s a talented pitcher but has had a rough time staying in the rotation.
He won 8 games as a spot starter for the 2007 NL West Champs including a key 6-1 win over the Dodgers on September 16th.
But for all his ups and downs over the past 6 seasons… he’s only 26 years old! Maybe he’ll get it together for 2009.
I almost put Chris Capuano or Brad Penny in this spot. Neither pitched a game for the Diamondbacks, they were originally drafted by Arizona and the pickings are slim for home grown pitchers.
But I decided to got with Nippert. He was a big 6’7” West Virginian who made the club in 2005. He won a single start on September 29, 2005 that kept the Diamondbacks ahead of the Giants for second place.
He’s now in Texas hoping to make the Rangers squad, all the while the Diamondbacks scouting system needs to find more big leaguers!
Valverde was an up and down bullpen closer for four seasons in Arizona. He seemed like a classic “save compiler” while never actually putting together a quality season.
Then in 20007 Valverde put it all together. He struck out 78 in 64 1/3 innings and saved 47 games. He was the Rolaids Reliever of the Year, finished 6th in the Cy Young vote and clinched the Division Series.
Naturally the Diamondbacks traded him the first chance they got!
Prinz broke into the big leagues with the 2001 Diamondbacks and became one of Bob Brenly’s go to guys out of the pen. He compiled 9 saves his rookie year and looked like he was going to be a key player in their drive for the World Series.
Sadly he developed shoulder problems, wasn’t put on the post season roster and never recovered. But may we all have a solid rookie season and get a World Series ring in the process!
When the Diamondbacks flopped in 2004, they gave many talented young pitchers an audition. Bruney came up and had a nice first season as a middle reliever. For 2005 they put him into the closer role.
His ERA was an astronomical 7.43 but he saved 12 games for an 85 loss team. The Diamondbacks lost faith in the big right hander and the Yankees gobbled him up where he was a steady reliever for the 2006 Division Champs.
For his first month in the bigs (April 2003) Villarreal was a mop up man for the Diamondbacks. But he steadily became a solid middle reliever, compiling 10 wins out of the pen, finishing his season with 2 shutout innings against the Cardinals.
He wasn’t a star, but was good enough to become the key in the Johnny Estrada trade with the Braves.
Terrero saw a lot of playing time for the 2005 Diamondbacks. He played hard for them, but fell victim to a play that doesn’t work in Little League.
On August 10, 2005, the Diamondbacks were rallying against the Marlins. Florida was only ½ a game out of the Wild Card but in danger of blowing a 6-1 lead. With the score 6-5 in the 8th, Terrero led off with a bunt single and represented the tying run when he moved to third base on a 1 out single.
Florida Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell got the relay and saw Terrero was talking to the third base coach. Marlins pitcher Todd Jones made sure not to step on the mound, thus ending the play.
Terrero walked off the bag and Lowell touched him with his glove. He had never thrown the ball back. Yes… Terrero fell for the hidden ball trick.
Granted he didn’t start much for the Diamondbacks, but he flashed some power when he got the call. In game 5 of the 2001 World Series, Barajas got the start over Damian Miller and hit a two out homer off of Mike Mussina to give the D’Backs a 2-0 lead.
Granted, they would blow that lead in the 9th, but Barajas made manager Bob Brenly look smart for played his hunch.
The next October in game 3 of the Division Series, the defending champion D’Backs were facing elimination and were trailing the Cardinals 4-2. Barajas homered off of Andy Benes to bring the Diamondbacks to within 1, but the Cardinals would pull away.
Barajas would become a regular once he left the desert, but he gave a nice foreshadowing of his home run swing
Remember that All Star Game in 2002 that ended up as a tie? Remember how everyone was so angry about it that it ultimately resulted in making the All Star Game determine home field advantage in the World Series?
A big reason it remained tied was the strong performance by Damian Miller. Mike Piazza was the starting catcher, but Miller came into the game in the 5th.
Miller hit an RBI double in the 5th off of Mark Buehrle and then doubled off of Kaz Sasaki in the 7th and scored on a go ahead double by Lance Berkman.
The AL Tied the game and it went into extras where it ended in a disgraceful tie. If Miller didn’t have such a good game, the AL would have won! Way to do your job, Miller!
Orlando Hudson still doesn’t have a job. I find that odd, don’t you? He’s an All Star. He’s a .300 hitter. He has double digit home run power. He’s a multiple Gold Glove winner. He’s a good clubhouse guy.
OK, not as good a clubhouse guy as Tony Clark, but who is?
Have you ever wondered how quickly you could ruin the best night in someone’s life without doing anything illegal nor violent? Take Tony Womack on October 14, 2001.
In the deciding game 5 of a wonderful Division Series between St. Louis and Arizona, Tony Womack missed a potential series ending squeeze play, but atoned for his mistake by getting a two out series winning walk off single.
Greatest moment of his professional life!
In the post game euphoria, Womack was being interviewed by Joe Buck. A woman came over and hugged Womack.
Buck asked “Was that your mom?” Womack looked stunned. “No man, that’s my wife.”
BOOM! Night ruined! On the ride back, what do you think the topic of conversation was? A Series ending hit, or trying to convince his wife that she doesn’t look old enough to be his mom.
Matt Williams just couldn’t get a World Series ring. He played on the 1989 Giants squad whose World Series experience was rocked by an earthquake. He played for the 1993 Giants team that won 103 games and missed the playoffs. He played for the 1997 Indians team that got to within 2 outs of the World Series title…
And he decided to go back home to Arizona with the expansion Diamondbacks. He had one of his best seasons with the 1999 Diamondbacks batting .303 with 35 homers and 142 RBI. He homered in the 2001 World Series off of Andy Pettitte, but it looked like once again, no World Series title. The Yankees had Rivera on the mound in the 9th… how could they lose?
He was on deck when Gonzalez singled over Jeter. Enjoy that World Series Ring.
Has Reggie Sanders retired yet? I honestly don’t know. All I know is he seemed to be in every post season with a different squad. I guess he was this generations Lonnie Smith in that regard.
For all of his trips to the playoffs, his lone World Series ring came with the 2001 Diamondbacks. It was Sanders home run in Game 5 of the Division Series that put the Diamondbacks on the board (they would win in the bottom of the 9th). He would also single home the first run off of Greg Maddux in a 2-0 victory in game 1 of the NLCS.
For teams on the verge of the post season, I would recommend signing Sanders. He seems to be quite an effective Rabbit’s Foot.
I know several Cub fans who were rooting for the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series. Not because they were not Patriotic. And not because they were like me and hated the Yankees and would root against the Yankees no matter who they played.
They were rooting for the Diamondbacks because they wanted Mark Grace to win a World Series ring. Grace was as popular a Cub as I can remember and when he helped start the series winning game 7 rally, I know Cub fans cheered like he was doing it for the Cubs.
He didn’t. He did it for the Arizona Diamondbacks… but that is nitpicking.
How much am I supposed to gush over Randy Johnson? In the Mariners post I said he belongs in the conversation for greatest pitcher of all time.
OK… I’ll gush a little more.
When The Big Unit’s contract ran out and he left the Houston Astros, he signed as a free agent with Arizona. It was a risk for the second year team.
And I’ll say it… it was the single best free agent signing in history. Which one was better?
Johnson won the Cy Young Award each of the first 4 seasons in Arizona. They went from a struggling expansion franchise to a 100 win team instantly. They won the World Series… and Johnson went 2-0 in the NLCS and 3-0 in the World Series including a gut check game 7 relief performance for the ages.
Seriously! What other contract comes close? The only other two that should even be in the conversation are Barry Bonds (who saved the Giants in San Francisco but never delivered the title), Reggie Jackson (who put the Yankees over the top, but they were already very close) and Kirk Gibson (who turned LA into champs, but really only gave them one year.)
We forget that Schilling made a name for himself as a big game NLCS MVP pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. Because in many ways, his legacy will be “the final piece” for two franchises World Series hopes.
The Diamondbacks have Randy Johnson… but they needed another ace to make them World Series champs.
The Red Sox have Pedro Martinez… but they need a 1A starter too.
Both times Schilling came in and pitched his guts out and beat the Yankees in heart stopping fashion.
Yeah he’s a blowhard. If I were as much of a clutch pitcher, I’d be a blowhard too!
It would be a stretch to call Daal an ace, but in the Diamondbacks first year, he was their best pitcher. His ERA was 2.88 as he won 8 of the D’Back 65 games.
The next year, the team won 35 more games and Daal’s record reflected it. He won 16 games despite a higher ERA. With Randy Johnson as the ace, Daal had less pressure on him to win and would throw effectively with an occasional gem.
Eventually he would be sent off to Philadelphia in the Curt Schilling deal. Alas he would not be there for the title run.
Batista was a classic journeyman pitcher with a cluttered back of his baseball card when he joined the 2001 Diamondbacks. He had his best years in the desert, winning 11 games in 2001.
His game 5 of the World Series, throwing 7 2/3 shutout innings in Yankee Stadium, was outstanding… as is evidently his poetry, which was published in a Spanish language compilation entitled “Feelings in Black and White.”
Can you imagine how 2001 would have been different for the D’Backs if Matt Mantei hadn’t been hurt for the playoffs and World Series?
It would have been WORSE! Chances are he would have gotten the last three outs of game 4 and 5 in New York. That World Series would have been a dull 5 game series where the Diamondbacks celebrate on the field in a silent Yankee Stadium.
We didn’t need to see that! It’s best that Mantei, one of the more effective relievers in D’Backs history was hurt.
Then again, he DID let up a Series ending walk off homer to Todd Pratt in the 1999 Division Series... so who knows?
Well at least the Diamondbacks got SOMETHING in the Curt Schilling trade! He filled in for Jose Valverde in 2005 and saved 14 games. And after Valverde was dealt to the Astros, he saved 26 games in 2008, walking only 13 in 59 1/3 innings.
He also pitched in 5 of the 7 playoff games in 2007 for Arizona and had an ERA of 0.00.
OK, it wasn’t worth a potential Hall of Fame ace… but it was something!
Cruz looked like he was going to be one of those pitchers who got kicked around from team to team when he came to Arizona in 2006. They were his 4th team in 6 years. But he settled down in the desert, becoming a reliable middle reliever.
He was unscored upon in 4 post season performances in 2007, striking out 8 in 4 NLCS innings.
He’s a free agent now… some contender will swipe him. Probably it will be team #5!
I know there are more talented pitchers who have worn a Diamondbacks uniform… but I HAD to honor Mike Morgan somewhere! He played for 12 MLB teams between 1978 and 2002. He was never great but was good enough to survive and good enough to make the 1991 All Star team while with the Dodgers.
He wandered to the desert in 2000 at age 40 and was hurt for most of the 2001 season. Most 40 year olds with an 8.31 ERA in their 21st season would hang them up. But Morgan came back in late July and became an effective middle reliever down the stretch and made the post season roster. He pitched in the Division Series… then the League Championship Series… and finally threw 4 2/3 shutout innings in the World Series.
What did those two games have in common? Other than a heart stopping (or heart breaking) ending? Other than young expansion teams winning over established franchises?
They both had Craig Counsell.
In 1997 with 1 out and his team down a run in the bottom of the 9th, Counsell lifted a sacrifice fly that technically made the Marlins an out away from elimination. But Moises Alou scored to tie the game. Later in the 11th, Counsell scored the World Series ending run on Edgar Renteria’s 2 out single.
In 2001, Counsell was the NLCS MVP and also hit in the 9th inning… but this time he hit with the game already tied. He was hit by a Mariano Rivera pitch, setting up Luis Gonzalez’s walk off bloop.
Heaven help the next team that has a 9th inning lead in game 7 of the World Series facing Counsell!
When the Marlins purged their World Series roster in 1997, they exiled Devon White to the expansion Diamondbacks. White responded by making the All Star team with his third organization.
After a subpar last season in Miami, he found his home run swing again with 22 and stole 22 bases for good measure.
He did his time with a 97 loss expansion team and left for the Dodgers in time for the 1999 season. L.A. was supposed to be an easy pick to win the West. They didn’t come close… the Diamondbacks won 100 games in ’99.
There were many veterans on the 2001 World Champion Diamondbacks roster who were playing for their first and probably only World Series title.
One of them was Jay Bell who was in his 16th season and making his first ever appearance in a World Series. He was a reliable power source for the Diamondbacks but was on the bench in favor of Counsell and Womack during the series.
Bell came up as a pinch hitter with the Diamondbacks down a run in the 9th inning of game 7 and facing Mariano Rivera. He reached on a fielder’s choice which many Yankee fans thought could have been a double play. Bell would move around the bases and eventually score the World Series winner on Luis Gonzalez’s single.
So when Diamondback fans think about their World Series title, their first memory should be Jay Bell crossing home plate.