Diamondbacks Stand Pat Before Key Stretch

The Diamondbacks made no additions to their major league roster before a key six-game stretch in which they play at the Padres and Dodgers, their two main rivals for the NL West crown. Both the Padres and the Dodgers were active at Tuesday's trade deadline, but after the Diamondbacks shut out the Padres in game one of this stretch, they both find themselves trailing the Snakes in the standings.

After learning that Randy Johnson would miss the remainder of 2007 with his back injury, and enduring rough stretches from starters Livan Hernandez and Micah Owings, many thought that the Diamondbacks would rev up their pursuit of another starting pitcher at the trade deadline.  The fact that no team bit at the myriad of starting pitchers offered by the Chicago White Sox speaks to how much Sox GM Kenny Williams was asking for in return for Jose Contreras or Jon Garland.

"I'd say in the last week or so we've made pretty aggressive proposals for 10 to 15 players," General Manager Josh Byrnes said. "We just couldn't get to a deal. We're disappointed, because I think the offers we were making were aggressive attempts to try and get us better. We worked hard as a team to get where we are in this race. Obviously, we were hoping to get a trade that helps us in this race that made sense, long-term.

"We're frustrated in not being able to do that."

The Diamondbacks were also late entrants in the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, reportedly offering Conor Jackson and Triple-A pitcher Greg Smith along with two other prospects for the power hitting third baseman.  That and other deals may have fallen through because of the D-Backs' unwillingness to part with top prospect Carlos Gonzalez.  The 21-year old outfielder who struggled earlier in the year at Double-A Mobile hit .344 in the month of June.

Meanwhile, the rival San Diego Padres weren't nearly as shy about dealing their prospects.  In addition to acquiring Scott Hairston from the Diamondbacks in a rare intra-divisional trade among contenders, the Padres brought third baseman Morgan Ensberg, pitcher Wilfredo Ledezma, and utilityman Rob Mackowiak into their fold. 

While on the surface it may appear that the Padres went for quantity over quality, these moves do actually help the team.  Rob Mackowiak replaces the released Jose Cruz Jr. in the outfield, and brings the versatility to play second or third base should the Padres require that.  Mackowiak had hit .299 between May and July to Cruz's .196 mark.  While Ensberg and Hairston have had rough seasons, both come over from situations where they were not happy with their roles, and both have shown the ability to hit in the past.  Ledezma provides insurance for the Padres' rotation without weakening their magnificent bullpen.

The Dodgers did not make quite the splash that San Diego did, but nevertheless improved their squad far more at the deadline than Arizona did.  LA swapped utility infielder Wilson Betemit for Yankee reliever Scott Proctor.  Betemit was a spare part on a very deep Los Angeles offense, while Proctor gives them a third solid bullpen option behind the dominant Takashi Saito and Jonathan Broxton.

Although the Diamondbacks appear to have missed an opportunity to keep up their rivals, that is not necessarily the case.  They still might be able to pull of a trade for a player that clears wavers, as Josh Byrnes orchestrated on August 7th of last year in the deal that brought Livan Hernandez to the desert.   

"It's a lot more out of your control, but certainly we'll keep trying," Byrnes said.


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