D-backs should favor prospects over pitching

Jul 15, 2011, 3:37 AM | Updated: 4:39 am

For the first time in years the Arizona Diamondbacks will be buyers, not sellers, at the trade deadline. But let the buyer beware in this case, because while the Diamondbacks are clearly in contention in the National League West, they are by no means a lock to make the postseason. Arizona has a stocked minor league system with a number of quality young players destined to be a part of their bright future. While many fans may say the future is now, the D-backs still have to be careful not to make a bad trade, a trade that see’s them swap a young star for a rent-a-player. One such player is the Padres Heath Bell.

Bell will be the most sought after reliever in the game at the trade deadline and he will fetch a big price in prospects to obtain him. Plus, he is a free agent after this season and at 34 years old he will be looking to cash in on what will likely be his last chance to hit the jackpot. Bell’s numbers are good, very good. He has converted 26 of 27 saves with a 2.43 ERA in San Diego this year. And with J.J. Putz a little banged up, Bell could give Arizona insurance at the position plus, combined with Putz and David Hernandez, to give the Diamondbacks a potent 7-8-9 combination to close out games.

But there are major reasons to say no to Bell. One is that he will cost Arizona one of their top-5 prospects plus other solid prospects in the minor leagues. Arizona has several “untouchable” prospects in the organization such as Jarrod Parker, Tyler Skaggs, Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Owings, David Holmberg and Patrick Corbin. And trading one of them for Bell just makes no sense.

The reality is that Arizona doesn’t need a closer, especially if Putz is healthy. What they need is a 7th inning guy, someone like Kerry Wood of Chicago or Jason Isringhausen of the Mets. Isringhausen makes a lot of sense because he is 38, having a very good year in New York with a 3.14 ERA in 35 games and has 293 career saves. He has experience closing should he be needed in that role. But more than likely Isringhausen-to-Hernandez-to-Putz is close enough to Hernandez-to-Bell-to-Putz and will come at a much cheaper cost.

Obtaining Isringhausen won’t cost Arizona any of their top prospects. More than likely, it will cost them a good prospect or two but not a top-10 prospect in the organization. And if you are renting a player for a few months that is a much better option than mortgaging the farm with no assurance of a playoff spot. Arizona is also talking to Toronto about pitching help and they have several options for starting pitching including Wandy Rodriguez of Houston, Jeremy Guthrie of Baltimore, Ricky Nolasco of Florida and possibly James Shields of Tampa Bay — should the Rays decide to be sellers.

Getting help at starter and reliever is the priority but not overpaying for that help will ultimately determine if the risk is worth the reward. While being three games out definitely means you are in a position to go for it, it certainly doesn’t mean you do so at all costs. So beware, Arizona, because your minor league system is stacked, your future is bright and if you don’t make the playoffs this year there is always next year. And I mean that in a good way.

Penguin Air

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D-backs should favor prospects over pitching