Mike Leake: Why Not Tony La Russa?
The Arizona Diamondbacks need to come up with the cash to sign Mike Leake.
Talk is cheap without any action, and I think the Arizona Diamondbacks front office made it pretty clear that this franchise is tired of waiting around and they are ready to go all in.
The D-backs have already been the talk of the off-season signing Zack Greinke in less than 330 minutes to a six-year, $206.5 million dollar deal.
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Then in the same week at the Winter Meetings in Nashville the D-backs pulled off a trade for Atlanta Braves’ RHP Shelby Miller giving up the number one overall draft pick from this year, Dansby Swanson, and star prospect pitcher Aaron Blair along with Ender Inciarte.
The D-backs’ rotation in many people’s minds is one of if not the best in the N.L. West and it’s clear that this team is ready to compete for a division title.
With that being said, as fans of the Snakes, we are stoked by the moves this team has made so far and immediately want to declare this team as the best in the West, but we can’t forget about the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Giants recently signed the free agent pitcher that the Diamondbacks were denied, Johnny Cueto to six-year, $130 million dollar deal which includes a club option for 2022. It’s an even year and the Giants want to make a run at another World Series title.
In addition San Francisco added the “Shark” RHP Jeff Samardzija to a five-year $90 million dollar deal and now the Giants’ front three has to be considered one of the best in baseball featuring Madison Bumgarner, Cueto, and Samardzija.
The Dodgers lost Greinke and it seemed like they were going to be the odd team out of the three. Then they signed former Mariner and free agent Hisashi Iwakuma to a three-year $45 million dollar deal on December 6th. Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles reported today that the Dodgers have backed away because of health concerns resulting from his physical but the team has completely closed the door.
Even if Iwakuma does eventually agree to terms with the Dodgers, that signing has to be seen as weak compared to the Diamondbacks and Giants moves to upgrade their rotations especially when you take into account how much more money the Dodgers have. This just shows you that money doesn’t always buy championships, something L.A. has proven over the past few years.
That doesn’t mean the Dodgers are done trying to make impact moves. In fact, the front office led by President and CEO Stan Kasten, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, and General Manager Farhan Zaidi might have some big tricks up their sleeves before it is all said and done.
Dodger fans are tired of waiting around and with the D-backs and Giants having made their impact moves in the rotation, in the fans’ minds it’s time for the Dodgers to add. Two names that have been thrown out as possibilities are Oakland Athletics’ ace Sonny Gray and Miami Marlins’ ace Jose Fernandez.
I’m sorry D-backs fans, but if the Dodgers are able to add one or both of them to go along with Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ rotation would be right up there and trump what the D-backs and Giants have if they can add both aces.
Knowing this, I personally believe that the D-backs should continue to be aggressive and look to add one more starter.
I can’t think of a more perfect fit than RHP Mike Leake, a collegiate standout at Arizona State University as he helped the Sun Devils win three straight Pac-10 conference titles.
As a Junior in 2009, Leake capped off one of the greatest careers in school history with one of the greatest individual seasons the baseball program has ever seen.
Leake was named the National Player of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, the Dick Howser Trophy and National Pitcher of the Year.
The list goes on. Leake was also named the Academic All-American of the Year and won his second straight Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Award. He became the first back-to-back winner of the that award, and only fourth multiple winner. He was a unanimous First Team All-American, and earned First Team Academic Pac-10 for the second straight season.
I could go on and on listing his accomplishments but his numbers for that year will tell you all you need to know. His 16 wins led the nation, to go along with a 1.71 ERA across 142 innings with 162 strike outs. Opposing hitters batted just .193 against Leake for the season which was the second lowest in the Pac-10. He threw seven complete games, two straight shutouts, and had a string of 26 consecutive scoreless innings.
Ok you get the picture: this kid was dominant in college and as a result he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds with the 8th pick in the 2009 MLB Draft.
After experiencing so much success in Arizona, Leake would love nothing more than to pitch for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and is willing to take a pay cut to do so according to a report by Fox Sports.
The D-backs have been linked to Leake since before this offseason began and the reports have been mixed, going back and forth.
This seems like the perfect fit, and would give the D-backs something they haven’t had in their starting rotation for years: a front four that they can rely on: Greinke, Miller, Corbin, and Leake.
On top of all that, Leake is a great teammate and leader in the clubhouse, and has had success at the Major League level sporting a career 3.88 ERA and always giving his team a chance to win the game.
Leake, like Miller and Greinke would also be backed up by arguably one of the best offenses in baseball.
Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa recently spoke with Fox Sports about the possibility of signing Leake and he seemed to indicate that its unlikely the team will sign him.
“It’s gone back and forth,” La Russa said. “Getting Shelby [Miller] gives us a [full] rotation. I think it’s difficult because when somebody wants to pitch for you and you really like the person, you want to try and work it out. But it’s complicated and probably unlikely.”
Based on what he said, La Russa thinks that the D-backs have a full rotation even with the counter moves that the Giants have made and the expectation around the industry that the Dodgers will add a impact ace.
Don’t get me wrong. The Diamondbacks’ rotation is already 100% better than last season’s disaster and should keep this team competitive but you can never have enough starting pitching especially when the pitcher is willing to take a pay cut to pitch for you.
La Russa seems content and that could be a grave mistake depending on what the Giants’ and Dodgers’ next moves are.
Now I will give La Russa this: the Snakes’ payroll is already approaching $100 million dollars after adding Greinke and Miller who is going into his first year of salary-arbitration eligibility. This means the team might not have enough to add Leake particularly if the D-backs want to add another bullpen arm.
On the other hand, this team wants to win now and has a clear three year window to bring a World Series trophy back to Phoenix. If this team is serious, I don’t think its a good idea to be content and I don’t mind if this team spends more than what they projected and the payroll skyrockets with the new TV deal set to take effect in the near future.
Next: Arizona Diamondbacks' Rotation with Zack Geinke and Shelby Miller is the Best in the West
The fans love that this team has gone all in, and its my personal opinion that the D-backs should take advantage of a pitcher that want’s to be in Arizona.
Disagree with me if you want, but my reasoning all comes down to this: a team can never have enough pitching if they want to win a World Series and it’s clear that is what the D-backs want to do.