Why did the Diamondbacks spend a combined $78 million on pitcher Russ Ortiz and third baseman Troy Glaus this offseason? Two reasons:
1) The D'backs lost a ton of games last season, and a good fan base in Arizona won't be a good fan base with many more years like 2004.
2) The National League West is eminently winnable. Even for a team that lost 111 games last season, the West can be won.
Barry Bonds, the best hitter in baseball, plays in San Francisco on a team that may be only marginally better than last year -- and maybe not at all. He's got more protection in the lineup with Moises Alou there, but when did Bonds ever need protection? If the Giants were looking for protection, they should have bought some more starting pitching.
The Dodgers, winners of the West last season, boast one of the best pitching staffs in the game, but they let their biggest offensive force of '04 (third baseman Adrian Beltre) go to Seattle. And then they shipped Shawn Green to Arizona.
San Diego was coming on, and the Padres made a flurry of moves this offseason. But, in the end, they easily could be no better than they were last season, when they were a surprising 87-75. They could be worse.
The Rockies might start four rookies, at shortstop, third base, right field and catcher. That's asking for trouble.
And then there's the Diamondbacks, who traded lefty Randy Johnson to the Yankees and let slugger Richie Sexson get away in free agency and still might be better off. Granted, they can't be much worse.
Everything has to go right for the Diamondbacks to contend in '05. Ortiz has to have better command and be closer to the guy who won 21 games in '03 than the one who went 15-9 with a 4.13 ERA in Atlanta last season. Glaus has to rebound from a bad shoulder and outfielder Luis Gonzalez's surgically repaired elbow must be healed. Javier Vazquez, obtained from the Yanks in the trade for Johnson, and Brandon Webb, the No. 2 guy behind Johnson last year in Arizona, both must pitch well. Outfielder Green, grabbed in that trade from the Dodgers, must hit.
It's a heck of a lot to ask. But weirder things have happened in the West.
Click below for the rest of John Donovan's NL West Preview.