The cliche is, "Yeah, but is it art?" A guy is duct-taping a papier-mache goose to a flagpole, and there is the guy wearing a beret, standing in the back and mumbling, "Yeah, but is it art?"
The Diamondbacks were broke. Real broke. Then they put a coat on they haven't worn in years, and found millions and millions of dollars. They bought Troy Glaus and Russ Ortiz, and traded for high-ticket items like Shawn Green and Javier Vazquez. But is it art? Or, rather, a good team?
The team will be better. Vazquez and Brandon Webb are an outstanding one-two combo, regardless of how they might have stumbled in 2004. Glaus, Green, and Jose Cruz, Jr. are upgrades, even if they aren't as valuable as they might have been in the recent past.
If the goal was to make the team better, then Russ Ortiz does so in his own special way. He shouldn't be as bad as Casey Fossum was last year. That isn't something worth paying $30 or 40 million for, though. His fetish for pitching out of the stretch will just kill him in Arizona, as the baserunners will come around more often.
The Diamondbacks also signed Shawn Estes.
(Note to self: leave this space blank to let the readers marvel at this fact. Revel in it, even.)
There was a lot of criticism about the Diamondbacks scuttling their rebuilding plans. It does make sense from a business standpoint, however. Kind of. The Diamondbacks are still a relatively new team, and still trying to carve out a fanbase.
Arizona is an area filled with transplants from other states. It is also filled with old people, but, as usual, they aren't relevant. Even a lot of the people born and raised in Arizona have allegiances to other MLB teams through the magic of the Cactus League. The franchise can't afford any more 115-loss seasons. Spending now isn't just throwing money at this season, it is also being used to build loyalty.
Great. However, every one of the acquired big-name players has, at best, a huge question mark hanging over them. Then there are the lesser acquisitions. Craig Counsell and Royce Clayton are shotguns that provide little more than double-barreled Matheny action at the plate. Shawn Estes is a better cautionary tale than pitcher.
It doesn't add up. There are so, so many things that have to go perfectly for this team to win. If they could set the dial to 2001, they'd be the best team in the majors. As is they could contend, maybe ride a hot streak into first for a while, but there are just too many leaps of logic to endorse them as division favorites.
Unless they do better or worse.