Idiot. Dunce. Knucklehead.
These are just a few Molotov cocktails lobbed in Joe Garagiola Jr.’s direction after the Arizona Diamondbacks’ general manager traded Curt Schilling. Twenty-months later, he’s lost more hair, but miraculously regained his intelligence.
In the Charmin-soft National League West, the Diamondbacks are legitimate contenders after an offseason makeover that could not have been more dramatic if Ty Pennington had supervised it.
Worst to first is a realistic possibility because Garagiola didn’t flinch over the winter, shipping out future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson to acquire two-fifths of his rotation – Javier Vazquez and Brad Halsey – and slugger Shawn Green.
With baseball’s trading deadline a week away, this is when GMs distinguish themselves. It is their seventh- inning at-bat with runners in scoring position.
Four divisions – the East and West in both leagues – are wide open. The GMs who fix their flawed teams will have more impact than a player on their current roster. Boston’s Theo Epstein may be knighted if he pries away a closer, such as Philadelphia’s Billy Wagner. And the Yankees’ Brian Cashman may save his job by landing an athletic center fielder, with Randy Winn and Eric Byrnes on his wish list.
Those general managers who separate themselves rely on two principles: They dare to be great, and trust their gut (and their scouts).
This is when an honest look in the mirror is critical. Being bold makes sense when a team is one piece away, a pitcher or slugger who can bring relevance to a meandering season or elevate a club to elite status. That’s why Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams bears watching. His team has occupied first place every day this season and yet he quietly is surfing for an elite pitcher, potentially A.J. Burnett.
That’s forward thinking, knowing his reinforced rotation could cause fits in the playoffs or ultimately the World Series.
This is a seller’s market. It’s why Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd will continue to listen to offers for Byrnes. O’Dowd has leverage because he doesn’t have to move Byrnes. But given where the Rockies are in their rebuilding, O’Dowd cannot afford to pass up a deal involving legitimate prospects.
“I am not afraid of losing 100 games,” said O’Dowd, talking in general about trades. “I am more concerned with winning 100 games.”
We can safely assume that O’Dowd is speaking of the Rockies’ long-term potential to win 100 games — they’re 34-63 entering today’s action. Or perhaps he meant winning 100 over the course of two seasons.