Apparently Josh Byrnes and I actually think alike sometimes. Although I don't know if that's a good thing. And I guess we don't really think alike, I think acquiring Eck in the offseason with small amounts of change is beneficial, he seems to think making an overplay to win a race for the weakest division crown in the majors is also beneficial.
I don't know why people don't see Arizona's moves through the same scope I do (well okay, obviously I have a bias), as an unsustainable apparatus that ultimately produces more disappointment than success. Think of the early days of O'Dowd where he was willing to trade everything, sign everybody to maintain a semblance of a team that was still in contention despite the fact that it was only mediocre to begin with, and had little to no room for growth beyond that plateau. Talent is a finite resource, and you can't just expect to say "Drill here, drill now" and magically produce more where there is none (sorry, couldnt help myself). The Diamondbacks with every move of late don't increase their potential so much as they cut the length of their current window of opportunity and extend the time it will take to get to their next one. Eckstein might help them in September, he certainly couldn't be worse than their current options, but getting into a bidding war with the Angels for his services just doesn't sound like it will turn out in their best interests in the long run. What's more, Eckstein doesn't significantly increase their profile against the Cubs, Brewers, Mets or Phillies, so they would still be relying almost exclusively on luck to get that pennant they missed out on last year. The only difference between this approach and O'Dowd's sign some scrap heaps off waivers and see what works approach is that the money O'Dowd uses is more readily replaced than the talent Byrnes is using.
What if the Diamondbacks generate a quick talent fill with compensation draft picks? Won't that restock the pond and get them a closer window? This "unsustainable" stuff seems silly when you consider that they'll get two players for each one they lose to free agency.
According to fairly current projections, Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson will both be type A free agents. It can be assumed that in Brandon Lyon and Juan Cruz that they'll have a pair of free agent relievers in the compensation category as well. If both are Type A free agents (Cruz was Type A after 2007, Lyon Type B, but fewer innings for Cruz and a higher ERA for Lyon could hurt them this year) and Arizona loses all four free agents, that would mean the Diamondbacks would enter the 2009 draft with an astonishing eight compensation picks in addition to their own first rounder.
If we go back to the Giants 2007 draft, you can see how a team can use multiple picks in the first and supplemental rounds to quickly stock a system. The Giants before that draft had one of the five worst systems in baseball, now thanks in large part to those six first or supplemental round picks (Tim Alderson, Madison Bumgarner and Nick Noonan in particular) many consider their system to be one of the five best. There is a real danger that Josh Byrnes pick hording plan has a method behind its madness.
Thus far in the post Rizzo era, the D-backs draft record with picks between 16 and 75 has been rather disappointing, with only Daniel Schlereth performing well enough to be considered a solid prospect. They went from picking pitchers who can't throw in 2007 (Roemer and Enright) to throwers who can't pitch in 2008 (Schlereth and Wade Miley) and to me this seems a sign of an organization that is still searching for a direction, a cohesive plan of the type of player it wants and is going mostly by trial and error right now. While you should go with the best player available in the draft, the Diamondbacks drafts seem to indicate their team is still engaging in internal discussions as to how to define a "best player" and this could be dangerous. If they haven't come to a consensus of how to build their team by the 2009 draft, all those picks will be wasted.
The Rockies will have two compensation picks of their own from Brian Fuentes. I'm hoping that we make up in efficiency what we will lack in quantity, and since our system already has such a head start on Arizona, there shouldn't be any worry that they will catch up right away. Still, it's going to be an interesting subplot in the offseason for the division (I havent even gotten into the Dodgers, who also have a rebuild to look forward to) to not only look at who's building the best current team, but who's also building the best infrastructure for future teams.