Restoring the rosters: No. 11 – Arizona

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reynoldsupton.jpgThis is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
The Diamondbacks took an odd road initially, making the playoffs in their second year of existence and winning a World Series just two years later, but even though they spent big at the start, they’ve developed talent consistently throughout. Despite having had less time to accumulate players besides any team other than the Rays, they rank 11th here.
Rotation
Brandon Webb
Max Scherzer
Jorge De La Rosa
Brad Penny
Brett Anderson
Bullpen
Jose Valverde
Vicente Padilla
Brian Bruney
Ross Ohlendorf
Jason Bulger
Tony Pena
Clay Zavada
That’s seven legitimate starting pitchers between the five in the rotation, Padilla and Ohlendorf. I think Padilla and Ohlendorf would be the most useful out of the pen, though there’s always been talk about trying Penny and Scherzer as closers. The Diamondbacks, though, don’t need a closer with Valverde in the role, and they have other nice power arms in Bruney and Bulger.
De La Rosa’s presence here will surprise some. The Diamondbacks signed him out of Mexico in 1998, only to sell him back to a Mexican team in 2000. He later signed with the Red Sox. That wasn’t his only stint with Arizona, though. On Nov. 28, 2003, he was sent to the Diamondbacks in the Curt Schilling deal. Three days later, Arizona moved him to Milwaukee in the Richie Sexson trade.
Micah Owings would have made some teams as a pitcher and others as a bench player. The Diamondbacks, though, seemed to have better options all around, at least if everyone were healthy. He’d still be one of the first additions to the team.
Lineup
SS Stephen Drew
RF Justin Upton
3B Mark Reynolds
LF Carlos Quentin
1B Lyle Overbay
2B Dan Uggla
C Miguel Montero
CF Carlos Gonzalez
Bench
OF Scott Hairston
OF Jack Cust
1B/OF Conor Jackson
C Chris Snyder
INF Emilio Bonifacio
How’s that for depth? Not cracking the roster were Rod Barajas, Chad Tracy and Gerardo Parra. As little need as there will be for pinch-hitters, there’s a good argument for carrying Brian Barden as a second utilityman. Still, I just couldn’t bring myself to drop Cust or Jackson.
Overbay, Montero and Gonzalez would all sit against lefties, with Jackson, Snyder and Hairston entering the lineup. The Diamondbacks should be plenty strong against both lefties and righties, and given that all of the key players are still fairly young, that’s not going to change for years.
Summary
The Diamondbacks have one of the game’s top pitching prospects in Jarrod Parker, but trades, particularly the one for Dan Haren, and budget concerns have taken a toll on the farm system recently. Fortunately, most of the team’s key players still have youth working for them, and with all of the old deferred money payouts finally starting to come off the books, the Diamondbacks should be able to keep much of what they have now. The future doesn’t look as promising as it did a couple of years ago, but if they catch some breaks, there’s no reason they can’t contend annually in the NL West.

Bryce Harper reportedly wants a $400 million extension

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals reacts after hitting a single in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports the Nationals are “balking at Bryce Harper’s demands in early talks about a long-term contract extension” and are thus prepared to let him walk when he becomes a free agent following the 2018 season.

What would make the Nationals balk? According to Nightengale’s source it’s a deal that “will exceed 10 years in length and likely pay him in excess of $400 million.”

That might seem crazy given historical norms and given that Harper is coming off a disappointing season, but if Harper returns to anything close to his 2015 form in which he won National League MVP honors while hitting .330/.460/.649 and hit 42 home runs, $400 million is going to seem quite reasonable. That sort of production was not some crazy fluke for a guy with Harper’s talent, after all. And he’ll be 26-years-old when he hits free agency, which is far, far younger than your typical free agent. Indeed, he’ll be entering what have, historically, been the prime years of most superstars’ careers.

The closest comp to star hitting free agency at that age was Alex Rodriguez, who was 25 when he signed his first $250 million deal following the 2000 season. Top big league deals going from $250 million to $400 million in the space of two decades is not really all that crazy when you think about it. Especially when you realize that, between 2001 and 2018, baseball revenues will have increased by a factor of three, assuming current growth holds.

UPDATE: My first thought after reading all of this was “I wonder if the Nats leaked the $400 million thing, whether it was an actual demand or not, in order to turn the PR in their favor if they deal Harper?” Question answered:

At least one quarter of the Today’s Committee owed Bud Selig a solid

Bud Selig
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OXON HILL, MD — The 16-member committee that voted Bud Selig and John Schuerholz into the Hall of Fame — the “Today’s Game” Committee — consisted of the following members: Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Bobby Cox, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, Pat Gillick, Ozzie Smith, Don Sutton, and Frank Thomas, major league owners/executives Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Phillies) and Kevin Towers (Reds); and media members/historians Bill Center, Steve Hirdt and Tim Kurkjian.

That’s certainly a venerable list of names. A quarter of that electorate, however, could be characterized as having a pretty notable conflict of interest when it comes to Bud Selig. At least if anyone cared about things like conflict of interest when it comes to baseball.

Whatever the case, two of those 16 guys became owners — and even more wealthier as a result — due to his affirmatively choosing or approving them to join sports’ most exclusive club. Two others were personally chosen by Selig to assist him over the years, raising their profile and importance in the game and giving them resume pieces that will one day be part of their own Hall of Fame cases.

  • Royals owner David Glass: Became the Royals CEO and Chairman in 1993, right after Selig became the acting commissioner. Glass was a key ally for Selig’s efforts to impose a salary cap and take a financial hard line in negotiations with the union, which eventually led to the 1994-95 strike. In 1999-2000 he became the full owner of the Royals after Selig personally stepped in to stop a bid for the club by a competing ownership group and is thus widely refereed to as Selig’s handpicked man. Glass is on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, on which Selig served for decades.
  • Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr.: Bought his club in 1995, after Selig had taken over and thus would not be a baseball owner without Selig’s approval. DeWitt was a point man for Selig on a host of his pet projects, including the Wild Card and interleague play. He likewise led the charge for revenue sharing and other potentially divisive financial matters which tended to be in the interest of smaller market clubs, the sort of which Selig himself championed when he was a mere owner. DeWitt chaired the committee to find Selig’s successor, which eventually served to validate Selig’s desire to have his hand-picked choice, Rob Manfred, succeed him.
  • Phillies President Andy MacPhail: Selig’s handpicked choice for the labor negotiating committee in 2002 which, at the time, continued speculation that MacPhail would one day be on the short list to succeed Selig. A few years before that MacPhail was public in saying that Selig would be the right choice to become permanent commissioner at a time when many were concerned that a team owner assuming that role was a conflict of interest.
  • Former President of the Blue Jays, Paul Beeston: In the late 90s, Beeston resigned as president of the Toronto Blue Jays following a successful reign to accepted baseball’s newly created position of president and chief operating officer. The move was widely seen as a means of giving Selig a top lieutenant — a defacto deputy commissioner — which would help him smooth his transition from acting commissioner to permanent commissioner. Many thought at the time that if Beeston was not hired for that gig, Selig may have declined the full-time commissioner’s role. Selig was described in the press at the time as a strong admirer of Beeston’s. In 2014, Beeston reflected glowingly on Selig’s legacy, saying, “I absolutely admire him on this steroid thing.” Beeston is on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, on which Selig served.

Is there anything necessarily wrong with that? No. Baseball is a small world and Bud Selig existed in it for a long, long time, so having a relationship with Selig was pretty unavoidable for almost anyone with any sort of profile in the game. No technical rule or historical baseball norm was violated by virtue of this vote or the composition of the committee itself. Indeed, the old Veterans Committee to the Hall of Fame was widely seen as a group of good old boys voting their old friends. Worth noting, perhaps, that that iteration of the Veterans Committee was abolished precisely for that reason, but I suppose we’ll leave that go for now.

I wonder, however, what the vote totals would have been for some of the other candidates if 25% of their electorate consisted of people who owed personal and professional debts to them the way Selig’s electorate owed him. Maybe Barry Bonds’ agent could get a Hall of Fame vote? Roger Clemens’ mechanic? Mark McGwire’s interior designer?

I suppose we’ll never know.