LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt knew what he was getting when he hired Paul DePodesta as his general manager a little less than a year ago. DePodesta's reputation as one of the bright young minds in baseball was well-established despite his youth, and his co-starring role in the best-seller "Moneyball" made it obvious DePodesta was not a conventional baseball thinker.
But did McCourt really know what he was getting into when he handed DePodesta the reins to the Dodgers? In less than a year, DePodesta has turned over half of the Dodgers' big-league roster. Only two players from the 2004 Opening Day lineup (SS Cesar Izturis and OF Milton Bradley) will be back in 2005.
"We had a certain set of goals. We knew where we were going," McCourt said. "It was very clear by (the playoffs) that we were a work in progress."
The Dodgers reached the playoffs for the first time since 1996, won the NL West for the first time since 1995 and won a playoff game for the first time since 1988. But McCourt said none of that was enough to convince him to stop DePodesta from continuing his reconstruction project. Just four players from the Dodgers' starting lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of their 2004 National League Division Series survived the offseason overhaul and are still with the team three months later.
"We never said last year that this team was a perfect team," McCourt said. "That team made up for its flaws with work ethic, with desire, with team chemistry and the attitude that they would never give up.
"The team had great chemistry, no doubt. But let's remember ... it's not like we're talking about a dynasty. We hadn't won a playoff game in 16 years. It's not like we broke up a team that was a perennial contender -- and that is what we are trying to build here.
"There were fundamental changes that needed to be made in order to create a team that will be championship contender year after year after year."
--RHP Eric Gagné's new two-year, $19 million contract with the Dodgers includes a mutual option for a third season in 2007 at a salary of $12 million. The Dodgers can buy out the option for $1 million or Gagné can void the option and become a free agent (and still receive a buyout from $250,000 to $1 million based on games finished in the next two seasons).
--Among the non-roster players invited to spring training by the Dodgers are a handful of pitchers with some major league experience -- LHPs Mike Venafro and Kelly Wunsch and RHPs Aqulino Lopez, Buddy Carlyle and Ryan Rupe.
--RHP Brad Penny agreed to a one year, $5.1 million contract that eliminated the need for a salary arbitration hearing.
--Former Dodgers 2B Alex Cora has signed a two-year contract with the Cleveland Indians. Cora became a non-tendered free agent when the Dodgers did not offer him salary arbitration last month.
--The Dodgers completed their revamped broadcast team with the hiring of former Dodgers pitcher Al Downing and another former big-leaguer, Steve Lyons. Downing and Lyons will work the approximately 50 games Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully takes off each season. During those games, Downing will serve as an analyst on radio broadcasts with play-by-play man Rick Monday. Lyons will serve as color analyst on TV broadcasts with new play-by-play man Charley Steiner. Lyons will also continue to work as part of Fox TV's national broadcast team.
BY THE NUMBERS: .962 -- Career save percentage (152 of 158) of RHP Eric Gagné, best in major league history.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think he wanted to put his stamp on the team, and he has certainly done that." -- Former Dodgers 2B Alex Cora on the offseason overhaul done by first-year GM Paul DePodesta.
First-year GM Paul DePodesta clearly didn't think much of the roster he inherited last February. Since that time, he has turned over well more than half of the Dodgers' 40-man roster. Free agents Steve Finley and Adrian Beltran have signed elsewhere. Shawn Green was traded (after much suspense) to Arizona. Jose Lima and Alex Cora are gone as well. Only two players from the Opening Day 2004 starting lineup (SS Cesar Izturis and OF Milton Bradley) will report to Vero Beach this spring. The remodeled Dodgers will look to defend their 2004 N.L. West title with a starting rotation DePodesta believes is as deep as any in the National League. The every-day lineup, however, will depend in large part on the development of young players Bradley, Jayson Werth and Hee-Seop Choi as well as the good health of injury-prone OF J.D. Drew.
ARRIVALS: RHP Derek Lowe (free agent from Boston), C Paul Bako (free agent from Cubs), C Dioner Navarro (trade with Arizona), 2B Jeff Kent (free agent from Houston), INF Jose Valentin (free agent from Chicago White Sox), OF J.D. Drew (free agent from Atlanta), OF Ricky Ledee (free agent from San Francisco), RHP D.J. Houlton (selected in the Rule 5 draft).
DEPARTURES: 2B Alex Cora (free agent, signed with Cleveland), RF Shawn Green (traded to Arizona); 3B Adrian Beltran (free agent, signed with Seattle); INF Robin Ventura (retired); INF Jose Hernandez (free agent, signed with Cleveland), RHP Jose Lima (free agent, signed with Kansas City), OF Steve Finley (free agent, signed with Anaheim); RHP Hideo Nomo, C Todd Hundley, RHP Paul Shuey all not were offered salary arbitration; 2B Alex Cora, C Tom Wilson and LHP Scott Stewart were not offered contracts.
BIGGEST NEEDS: The loss of Adrian Beltran and Steve Finley to free agency created a void in the middle of the Dodgers' lineup. GM Paul DePodesta focused on replacing that production "in the aggregate, not position by position" by signing OF J.D. Drew, 2B Jeff Kent and INF Jose Valentin. By allocating his early offseason resources to offense, though, the GM left himself with limited option to address a starting rotation that all but collapsed in the final two months of the 2004 season, and only RHP Jose Lima (now a Kansas City Royal) acquitted himself well in the team's brief playoff cameo. Brad Penny (biceps nerve irritation) will enter 2005 with health questions to answer. But the Dodgers believe they have covered themselves by re-signing LHP Odalis Perez and adding free-agent RHP Derek Lowe to the rotation.
FREE AGENTS: C Brent Mayne, RHP Hideo Nomo, RHP Paul Shuey, C Todd Hundley.
IN LIMBO: LHP Kazuhisa Ishii.
The Dodgers have tried unsuccessfully to dump him after he was taken out of the starting rotation last season; but unless they find a taker, he's being penciled into the rotation once again.
MEDICAL WATCH: OF Jayson Werth (strained tendon in right elbow, hoping to rehabilitate without surgery), RHP Darren Dreifort (recovering from hip and knee surgeries, not likely to play in 2005).
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
If Barry Bonds has one more run in him, the Giants have made moves to give him a crack at winning a championship.
It's not as if the Giants signed free agents with, say, 2008 in mind.
Look at their offseason. They brought in three free agents for the everyday lineup and got older at each position, making it clear they're more focused on winning in the short term than the long term.
Moises Alou, 38, replaces Michael Tucker, 34, in right field.
Omar Vizquel, 37 in April, replaces Deivi Cruz, 32, at shortstop.
And Mike Matheny, 34, replaces A.J. Pierzynski, 28, at catcher.
Throw in Bonds, 40; center fielder Marquis Grissom, 37 in April; first baseman J.T. Snow, 37 in February; second baseman Ray Durham, 33; and third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo, who's the spring chicken at 31, according to the media guide, but believed to be older, and the Giants are ancient.
So it's probably now or never.
Bonds has played in one World Series, in 2002, when the Giants wasted a three-games-to-two advantage and dropped the final two in Anaheim.
The Giants were eliminated in the final weekend of the 2004 season, and two of their biggest problems were the lack of a run-producer to complement Bonds and the lack of a quality closer.
They hope to solve those problems with the signings of Alou and closer Armando Benitez, who saved 47 games and produced a 1.29 ERA.
The defense should be better with the additions of Matheny and Vizquel, though it's questionable whether Alou can handle moving from left field to right field, particularly in the quirky confines of the Giants' park, where it's only 309 feet down the right-field line but jets out to 421 feet to right-center.
In any case, the Giants might be the early favorites to win the NL West after adding four free agents and after the defending champion Dodgers lost their best player, Adrian Beltran.
--INF Pedro Feliz, who was eligible for salary arbitration, signed a two-year, $6.1 million contract.
Feliz gets a $200,000 signing bonus and will earn $2,225,000 in 2005 and $3,625,000 in 2006.
He can make an extra $450,000 in bonuses each season based on plate appearances, and his 2006 salary could rise to as much as $4.1 million based on plate appearances in 2005.
Feliz hit .276 with 22 homers and 84 RBIs last season and made $925,000. He played 70 games at first, 51 at third, 20 at shortstop and two each in left and right field.
Catcher Yorvit Torrealba also signed, meaning the Giants have no more unsigned players eligible for arbitration.
--The Giants raised $109,650 for tsunami relief in south Asia.
In a two-day online auction, the Giants accepted bids for several packages. The one that drew the most money was a private meeting with Barry Bonds, which went for $30,200.
It includes four tickets to a game, on-field access during batting practice and the chance to meet Bonds in the Giants' dugout.
--Dave Burba, who signed with the Giants in September and became a free agent after the season, signed a minor league deal with the Astros. Burba, 38, was a combined 4-1 with a 4.21 ERA in 51 games with the Brewers and Giants.
BY THE NUMBERS: .664 -- The Giants' winning percentage in regular-season games in September and October since 2000. It's the best record (91-46) in the majors in that time.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "How do you tell if a player can hit .300? You base it on history. It's the same thing with medicine. In baseball, 37 is not 37 anymore." -- Giants trainer Stan Conte, knowing the 2005 team will be the oldest in years.
The Giants were in contention until they were eliminated in the final Saturday of the season, and that surprised many fans who didn't think the roster was capable of staying in the race. With many of the same faces back, the Giants think they can be a force again in 2005. But the Giants got a lot older this winter, particularly at catcher, shortstop and right field, and injuries might be a big factor.
ARRIVALS: SS Omar Vizquel (free agent from Cleveland), RHP Armando Benitez (free agent from Florida), C Mike Matheny (free agent from St. Louis), OF Moises Alou (free agent from Cubs).
DEPARTURES: RHP Dave Burba (free agent, signed with Houston), RHP Dustin Hermanson (free agent, signed with White Sox), OF Dustan Mohr (non-tendered, signed with Colorado), Ricky Ledee (free agent, signed with Los Angeles), RHP Ryan Jensen (free agent, signed with Kansas City), 1B Damon Minor (free agent, signed with Pittsburgh), C A.J. Pierzynski (released, signed with White Sox), SS Cody Ransom (non-tendered, becoming free agent).
BIGGEST NEEDS: The Giants needed someone to protect Barry Bonds, and they hope the hole will be filled by Moises Alou, who signed a two-year contract. But Alou is questionable defensively and isn't accustomed to playing right field. With Alou in right and Bonds in left, the Giants need a big-time defender in center so that Marquis Grissom could be a fourth outfielder.
FREE AGENTS: RHP Robb Nen.
Nen hasn't pitched since the 2002 World Series and might sign a minor league contract.
IN LIMBO: The Giants would love to shed the salaries of infielders Edgardo Alfonzo and Ray Durham, but it'll be tough to trade players on the downside of their careers whose bodies aren't exactly durable. Kirk Rueter also has a contract the Giants wouldn't mind shedding.
MEDICAL WATCH: LF Barry Bonds (left knee surgery) is expected to be fully recovered by spring training after undergoing surgery Oct. 12. His rehab was to be three to six weeks. RHP Robb Nen (right shoulder tendinitis) is coming off three shoulder surgeries and might have ended his career.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Has Padres owner John Moores broken a promise to San Diego's baseball fans?
A vocal -- and apparently growing -- body of fans believes so.
They believe the Padres have made too few moves this winter considering Moores' promise that the Padres would become an annual contender once they moved into their new downtown home.
Although the Padres drew more than three million fans during their first season at Petco Park, they did little in the offseason.
They did sign right-handed starting pitcher Woody Williams as a free agent ... but only after they lost left-handed starter David Wells to the Boston Red Sox.
And, yes, although Wells eventually got much more money from the Red Sox than the Padres' offer, he had all but agreed to a deal with the Padres when he at first balked, then wanted to sign only to find the Padres had backed away.
Last week, the Padres had an agreement with former 21-game winner Esteban Loaiza at $3.2 million. But that was only if someone claimed left-hander starter Darrell May off waivers for the same amount. When no one did, the Padres' offer to Loaiza was void.
Is that the bottom line -- the Padres didn't have an extra $3.2 million to spend after drawing three million?
The club did, however, decide to spend an estimated $3 million on improvements to Petco Park. Fans believe that money might have come out of the payroll budget rather than a capital improvements fund.
Padres general manager Kevin Towers denies this possibility. But the Padres didn't make many offseason moves.
May came from Kansas City in a trade for outfielder Terrence Long. Center fielder Dave Roberts came from Boston in a trade for center fielder Jay Payton and arbitration-eligible infielder Ramon Vazquez. In both deals, the Padres had to pay out some money.
Beyond Williams, the Padres' biggest free agent signees this winter were infielder-outfielders Eric Young and Mark Sweeney and relief pitchers Rudy Seanez, Dennys Reyes and Chris Hammond.
Most Padres fans expected more.
--RHP Steve Sparks, a knuckleballer, was signed to a minor league contract and invited to spring training.
--The Padres signed three other right-handed pitchers to minor league contracts (with an invitation to spring training) with lesser credentials.
Joe Dawley, 33, has a career record of 0-0 with a 10.91 earned run average in eight major league games stretched over three seasons. Brian Falkenborg, 27, a former second-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles, made six relief appearances with the Dodgers in 2004, going 1-0 with a 7.53 ERA. Danny Patterson, 33, went 0-4 with a 4.75 ERA in 37 relief appearances with Detroit last season. Over parts of nine major league seasons with the Rangers (1996-99) and Tigers (2000-04), Patterson has a career record of 24-22 with nine saves and a 4.14 ERA.
--The Padres also signed C Michel Hernandez to the same deal. Hernandez, 26, caught five games with the Yankees in 2003.
BY THE NUMBERS: 55 -- Total players invited to the major league spring training camp.
9 -- Free agents signed to minor league contracts with an invitation to spring training.
Feb. 18 -- When pitchers and catchers report.
Feb. 23 -- When the full roster is expected in camp.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm glad this is done. It's good to have this behind us." -- Padres general manager Kevin Towers on once again avoiding arbitration hearings by reaching agreement with arbitration-eligible players 3B Sean Burroughs and RHP Scott Linebrink within days of the deadline.
Trading for CF Dave Roberts gives the Padres speed at the top of the order and someone who can cover the huge pasture in center and right center. The loss of free agent LHP David Wells to Boston means the Padres could still be looking for another starting pitcher. Darrell May (acquired from Kansas City in a trade for OF Terrence Long) is the top candidate at No. 5 now, although RHP Tim Stauffer, the club's first-round draft choice in 2003, moves into the mix. There seems to be no movement toward trading either LF Ryan Klesko or 1B Phil Nevin.
ARRIVALS: LHP Chris Hammond (free agent from Oakland), CF Dave Roberts (from Boston via trade), LHP Darrell May and RHP Ryan Bukvich (from Kansas City via trade), RHP Woody Williams (free agent from St, Louis), 1B-OF Mark Sweeney (free agent from Colorado), INFs Eric Young (free agent from Texas), Damian Jackson (free agent) and Geoff Blum (free agent from Tampa Bay), RHP Rudy Seanez (free agent from Florida), LHP Dennys Reyes (free agent from Kansas City), RHP Steve Sparks (free agent from Arizona).
DEPARTURES: SS Alex Gonzalez (free agent, signed with Tampa Bay), LHP David Wells (free agent, signed with Boston), CF Jay Payton (traded to Boston), INF Ramon Vazquez (traded to Boston), OF Terrence Long (traded to Kansas City), RHP Dennis Tankersley (traded to Kansas City), RHP Jay Witasick (released), RHP Marty McLeary (released), OF Kerry Robinson (released), RHP Ricky Stone (released), RHP Antonio Osuna (free agent, signed with Washington).
BIGGEST NEEDS: GM Kevin Towers said he's happy with the roster as constructed and doesn't plan anymore significant changes before spring training.
FREE AGENTS: RHP Andy Ashby, INF Rich Aurilia, INF Robert Fick, INF Dave Hansen, RHP Antonio Osuna.
Ashby could be offered a minor league contract.
IN LIMBO: The Padres still have two extra reserve catchers, Miguel Ojeda and Humberto Quintero.
MEDICAL WATCH: 3B Sean Burroughs is expected to be ready for the opening of spring training after having season-ending surgery to his right knee. The second phase of his rehab has begun. SS Khalil Greene is not expected to have any carry-over with the damaged ring finger on his throwing hand. RHP Andy Ashby has had further surgery to reconstructed right shoulder and won't be ready to pitch until April or May. RHP Justin Germano has recovered from an elbow ailment that bothered him at the end of the season and forced him to miss his final scheduled start.
The Rockies brought back left-handed pitcher Darren Oliver. But he's only an insurance policy, and if he makes the team he likely would be a long reliever.
The Rockies feel pretty good about their projected rotation but know that expectations can turn into disappointments, so they want to have some alternatives just in case. That's also the reason they are watching Pedro Astacio, the team's all-time leading winner, work out in the Dominican in his attempt to come back from shoulder surgery.
The Rockies go to spring training with a projected rotation of right-handers Jason Jennings, Shawn Chacon and Jamey Wright and left-handers Joe Kennedy and Jeff Francis. They also are expecting Aaron Cook, who has the ability to be the ace of the staff, to be ready by mid-May. Cook is recovering from surgery designed to alleviate blood clots that developed in his lungs last year.
Oliver, however, isn't afraid of the odds. He was a long shot when he came to spring training with the Rockies as an invited player two years ago. By Opening Day, however, the Rockies had five pitchers on the disabled list, and Oliver was in the rotation.
To make the team, Oliver agreed to sign a waiver that if he was released within the first 45 days of the season the Rockies would not have to pay him his full salary. Turned out he was with the Rockies all season and led the team with 13 wins.
Now he's back, trying to recover from an injury-marred season in which he bounced from Florida to Houston.
He does have an out in his contract that would allow him to become a free agent if he doesn't make the big league club. Oliver's base salary in the big leagues would be $600,000.
Chacon is a project this spring. He is returning to the rotation after trying to become the team's closer last year. Chacon never got comfortable in that late inning role. He did make the NL All-Star team as a starting pitcher two years ago.
--RHP Jason Jennings avoided arbitration by signing a two-year, $7 million deal. It's the first multiyear deal the Rockies have given a pitcher since the December 2000 signings of Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton.
--The Rockies have gone to arbitration once -- three years ago with Dennys Reyes. Odds are they won't be going again this year. They signed RHP Jason Jennings and LHP Joe Kennedy, leaving RHP Shawn Chacon as the only arbitration possibility. Chacon made $1.925 million last year. The Rockies offered $2.15 million in arbitration, and Chacon's agents asked for $2.925 million.
--Mike Berger, who was the scout who pushed for the Rockies to take Luis Gonzalez for $50,000 in the winter draft a year ago, was honored during last week's scouting meetings at Coors Field as the organization's scout of the year. Berger is the former scouting director of the Montreal Expos. Longtime Rockies scout Burt Holt was presented the Herb Hippauf Award, given annually in memory of Hippauf, an original employee of the Rockies' scouting staff who died shortly after the June draft in 1995.
BY THE NUMBERS: 23 -- Victories at Coors Field for RHP Jason Jennings in his career, one win shy of the record held by Pedro Astacio.
The Rockies are looking to beef up their bullpen and have added power arms to work the late innings. They are committed to getting younger in 2005 and will insert J.D. Closser at catcher and Clint Barmes at shortstop; they also are considering Garrett Atkins at third base and will give Brad Hawpe, Cory Sullivan and Choo Freeman opportunities in the outfield.
ARRIVALS: LHP Darren Oliver (free agent from Houston), OF Dustan Mohr (free agent from San Francisco), INF Desi Relaford (free agent from Kansas City), RHP Marcos Carvajal (winter draft from Los Angeles), LHP Matt Merricks (winter draft from Los Angeles), RHP Aaron Taylor (trade with Seattle), SS Alfredo Amazega (waiver claim from Anaheim), RHP Tim Drew (free agent from Texas).
DEPARTURES: 3B Vinny Castilla (free agent, signed with Washington), SS Royce Clayton (free agent, signed with Arizona), RHP Tim Harikkala (claimed on waivers by Oakland), OF Rene Reyes (refused minor league assignment), RHP Adam Bernero (refused minor league assignment), RHP Denny Stark (refused minor league assignment), LHP Denny Neagle (contract terminated).
BIGGEST NEEDS: The Rockies need to beef up their bullpen. They will return lefties Brian Fuentes and Javier Lopez and are looking for help from their farm system with RHPs Scott Dohmann, Chin-hui Tsao and Allan Simpson.
FREE AGENT: OF Jeromy Burnitz.
IN LIMBO: The Rockies have tried, without success, to move veteran C Charles Johnson ($9 million guarantee in 2005). The Rockies know they will have to either take bad contracts in return for Johnson or eat the bulk of his salary.
MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Aaron Cook (surgery to remove upper right rib to alleviate problems that caused blood clots in lungs), OF Preston Wilson (rehabbing from two surgeries in 2004 on his left knee). Both are expected to be healthy.
Although he knew he had a partially torn ligament in his right throwing elbow entering last season, Luis Gonzalez often joked that, unless his arm completely fell off, he wouldn't try to let the injury bother him.
But after eventually shutting things down and undergoing "Tommy John" surgery on Aug. 2, in which it was learned the ligament was completely torn, Gonzalez and the Diamondbacks plan to be a lot more cautious heading into spring training.
In meetings with manager Bob Melvin and head athletic trainer Paul Lessard, Gonzalez resigned himself to the fact that he likely won't play in nearly as many Cactus League games in 2005 in order to lessen strain on his arm. He'll get plenty of at-bats -- his hitting wasn't nearly as affected as his throwing from left field was -- but most of his bat time will come in minor league games and on back fields as the club's spring headquarters in Tucson.
"He's learned through injuries now that he has to be honest," Melvin said. "Before, he could have a bone sticking out of his leg and 162 was always on his mind. He wanted to play 162 games, and that's because he's an accountable guy. ... We're definitely going to monitor how he feels each and every day, and if I feel it's not worth running him out there one day to make some throws because we're risking some down time, then I'm not going to do it."
Gonzalez, who played in all 162 games during the 2000 and 2001 seasons, still managed to play in 105 games in 2004 despite his ailing elbow. His rehab is slightly ahead of schedule, at least in his eyes, and he's been playing catch and throwing from short distances without any problems. He threw a football the other day and said, "I felt like Tom Brady out there," referring to the Patriots' quarterback.
The surgery hasn't affected his hitting whatsoever, and Gonzalez said he expects that he and fellow sluggers Troy Glaus and Shawn Green will put up big numbers in Arizona's quest to turn around last season's 51-111 finish.
"I'm excited. There's no doubt about it," he said. "I'm ready to get back on the field. I know I'm not going to be a full year recovered from the surgery, but I'm glad I did it when I did. I probably should have done it earlier, but looking back at it, I wanted to be out on the field. I'm just glad I got it done, and I feel good now."
As for any hindrance he might be in the outfield with his arm, Gonzalez said he guarantees his throws will be better and stronger than they were last spring. With the ligament fixed, he won't be playing mind games in his own head and can trust his arm again. He is working hard to strengthen his right shoulder, which atrophied a bit because of different throwing motions he made to compensate for the strain on his elbow.
"He was never Andre Dawson to begin with," Melvin said of Gonzalez's arm strength. "Left fielders, as long as they charge the ball and hit the cutoff man right away, guys aren't going to be going first to third in your face. They're not going to be going second to home when they're at third and you've got the ball. As long as he gets it to the infielder, we'll be able to deal with whatever limitations he has out there."
--LHP Randy Choate and RHP Brandon Lyon skipped arbitration by agreeing to new deals with the Diamondbacks. Choate signed a two-year deal worth $1.3 million, and Lyon agreed to a one-year deal worth $330,000 in base pay plus incentives that could earn him $500,000.
RHP Mike Koplove and LHP Casey Fossum, meanwhile, remain arbitration eligible and had yet to come to terms.
--RHP Jose Jimenez, who went 1-7 with eight saves and a 8.42 ERA last season for Cleveland but before that recorded 102 saves over four seasons with Colorado, signed a minor league contract with Arizona and will get a shot to make the team out of spring training.
"What interests us about him is that he has closer experience on his resume," GM Joe Garagiola Jr. said. "We don't see him as a closer ... but it's an opportunity for us to look at him for six weeks and see how our bullpen fits together."
Right-handed Greg Aquino, who set a club rookie record with 16 saves in 2004, enters spring training as the club's closer.
--The Diamondbacks planned to revisit contract negotiations this week with shortstop Stephen Drew, their first-round pick in last June's draft.
--LF Luis Gonzalez, asked how a team that lost 111 games a year ago can possibly win the NL West the following year: "Well, I don't think that team is here anymore. I mean, if you look at it, there might be a handful of those guys who are still left. You look at this year's lineup, there might be one or two guys in it from last year. The rest is new faces. They're new faces but with a lot of experience at this level."
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- The only returning player on the field to be in the Diamondbacks' Opening Day lineups in both 2003 and 2004 is LF Luis Gonzalez.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's no doubt in my mind we can come close to reversing our record." -- RHP Russ Ortiz on the Diamondbacks' chances in 2005 after finishing last in the majors with a 51-111 record in 2004.
RHP Jose Jimenez was signed to a minor league contract with a chance to make the club in spring training.
The Diamondbacks signed RHP Brandon Lyon and LHP Randy Choate, avoiding arbitration hearings with both players.
ARRIVALS: RF Shawn Green (trade with Dodgers), RHP Javier Vazquez and LHP Brad Halsey (trade with Yankees), LHP Shawn Estes (free agent from Colorado), 3B Troy Glaus (free agent from Anaheim). RHP Russ Ortiz (free agent from Atlanta), SS Royce Clayton (free agent from Colorado), INF Craig Counsell (free agent from Milwaukee), C Kelly Stinnett (free agent from Kansas City), RHP Jose Jimenez (free agent from Cleveland).
DEPARTURES: LHP Randy Johnson (traded to Yankees), 1B Shea Hillenbrand (traded to Toronto), RHP Casey Daigle (designated for assignment, moved off 40-man roster), 1B Richie Sexson (free agent, signed with Seattle), RHP Shane Reynolds (released), RHP Matt Mantei (free agent, signed with Boston), RHP Andrew Good (released, signed with Detroit), LHP Shane Nance (non-tendered).
BIGGEST NEEDS: The Diamondbacks still want a major league center fielder, and their top target is Oakland's Eric Byrnes.
FREE AGENTS: RHPs Shane Reynolds, Steve Sparks, Mike Fetters and Scott Service; INFs Greg Colbrunn and Carlos Baerga; OF Danny Bautista.
The Diamondbacks offered arbitration to 1B Richie Sexson, but he left as a free agent and signed with Seattle.
IN LIMBO: SS Alex Cintron.
Cintron spent the last six weeks of the season at second base and will compete with Counsell there now that Clayton has been signed to play short.
MEDICAL WATCH: LF Luis Gonzalez, who underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right throwing elbow, will be watched closely in spring training to make sure he has recovered.
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