Former agent D-lighted

BOB ELLIOTT

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

PHOENIX -- Diamondbacks general partner and CEO Jeff Moorad agrees to a sit-down interview in his office.

Before we meet, Moorad has his vice-president of communications, Shaun Rachau, e-mail a question my way:

"Jeff was wondering if you could make the headline 'Eddie Zosky's Agent Hits It Big' instead of 'Shawn Green's Agent Hits It Big.' "

Well, we don't write the headlines, but we get the drift.

Moorad, a former agent, represented both Green, a No. 1 draft pick and one of the best Jays to ever play right field, and Zosky, another No. 1 pick who bombed out after 26 games in Toronto.

Now it's Moorad's Diamondbacks who are making headlines. With a modest $54-million (all terms US) payroll -- the highest paid player on the post-season roster is Livan Hernandez at $7 million -- Arizona is in the NL championship.

Not bad for a club that lost 111 games in 2004.

Moorad and his ownership group have since invested an estimated $20 million in the Diamondbacks while leading the team back to respectability.

But their out-of-pocket expenses could eventually approach $70 million when you factor in salaries paid to players working elsewhere: $7.12 million to Russ Ortiz (they swallowed $22 million on his four-year, $33-million deal); $5.8 million to Green; $2.5 million to Javier Vazquez and $1 million to Jorge Julio.

Then there's that $29 million in deferred money owed to retired players Jay Bell, Bernard Gilkey and Todd Stottlemyre, along with seven other former D-Backs.

"We have four more tough years (ahead of us)," said Moorad, referring to all those millions owed players no longer in the organization.

"We have to be disciplined in our spending."

GEHRIG ON THE WALL

Moorad's office is in the left-field corner of Chase Field. On one wall is a picture of his grandfather, Frank Shaw, along with his uniform from the 1916 Modesto Reds. Then there are framed and autographed pictures of Lou Gehrig, including one with a thank-you note an ailing Gehrig sent his doctor.

On another wall are pictures of President George W. Bush, former president Ronald Reagan, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Through his office window he can see a sliver of the outfield.

"The view from my old office was nice," said Moorad, who, as an agent, worked on the eighth floor of a highrise overlooking the upscale Fashion Island Shopping Center in Newport Beach, Calif.

IN JERRY MAGUIRE

Moorad's office was used for the external shots in Jerry Maguire. Moorad also had a walk-on role in the blockbuster film.

The biggest rush for any agent is hammering a team in salary arbitration or landing a ground-breaking, multi-year deal for a free-agent like Manny Ramirez. Moorad negotiated an eight-year, $168-million contract for the Red Sox star in 2001.

So, what excites Moorad these days?

"Attending an energized, all-employee meeting, interacting with our executive committee, meeting with (general manager Josh Byrnes, a half-hour talk with A.J. Hinch about player development, watching a game with our reinvigorated fan base, looking down and seeing a see of Sedona red."

Switching colours from purple and teal to red of the Sedona rocks was a risky move. But it has caught on. The seats at Chase now look like a Nebraska Cornhuskers football game, except no one is yelling "Go Big Red!"

The Diamondbacks are showing confidence. Both at the bank and on the field.


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