Here's a handy link to a list of all 206 free-agency eligible players. I'd quite like to see a list organized by position - I really don't care about 1B free agents - but haven't been able to track one down yet. Print it out, pin it to the door of the refrigerator, and contemplate who the D'backs should go after, as you watch your Hungry Man meal rotate in the microwave.
Unlike last year, however, we don't have any large contracts coming off the books - pending any decision by Vazquez, at least. So it appears we won't chase any of the top-tier free agents. But here's a thought: Byung-Hyun Kim has filed for free agency, and the Rockies are making a push to resign Shawn Estes. So what about bringing Kim back to replace Estes? Obviously, not at the $6.5m he earned in 2005, but he seemed to play better here than anywhere else, and Brad Lidge has probably replaced him as the biggest closer disaster in post-season history - Kim has a ring, at least. Plus, our Kim shirts would no longer be relegated to vintage status...
Speaking of Snakes-to-Sox players, I notice Boston's former D'backs, the M-Force of Matt Mantei and Mike Myers, have both filed for free agency. Myers actually did pretty well - a 3.13 ERA in 65 games - though Mantei, with a 6.49 ERA, proved ineffective, largely because he allowed 24 walks in only 26.1 innings. But maybe Myers would be quietly worth a look? A WHIP of only 1.15 in 37 innings from a LOOGY is certainly better than anyone we tried in the role last season.
Check out this cool map, which tracks allegiances to teams geographically - within the colored area associated with each team, more fans support that team than any other. For obvious reasons, Arizona is pretty much D'backs turf, though there's an apparent enclave of Cardinals fans up towards the NE of the state. And Cubs fans in what might be Sun City, though that does make sense.
The Business of Baseball released their analysis of the marginal wins achieved by each team to see how efficiently they spent their money. It's based on the idea that a team composed of minimum-wage scrubs would win 48.6 games in a year - so given a team's salary and their W/L record, you can work out how much they "paid" for each win above this minimum.
For AZ, the figure is $1.88m per win; a big improvement over 2004, when we paid $25.6m per marginal win, largely because we were only 2.4 victories above the expected results of playing AAA players. $1.88m is 9th in the NL, and 2nd in the NL West; the best overall were the Brewers, who paid less than a million dollars, while the Dodgers were worst, at $3.3m.
This perhaps partly explains the firing of Paul DePodesta, which gives me a warm glow of satisfaction. Both because, any turmoil as our divisional rivals is a good thing, and because it does prove conclusively that the Moneyball approach is not a "magic bullet" that will guarantee success. Sure, DePo brought LA a title in 2004, but the wheels pretty much fell off last season: fourth place in the weakest division in baseball and a 22-game drop is not good, by any measure.
Certainly, injuries played their part, but I tend to feel that adversity is what sorts out the good GMs and managers from the bad ones. A trained monkey could roll out the same players every day for a season; it's when fate stuffs an I-Beam into the organizational spokes, that the tough get going. I was a bit surprised that they fired both DePodesta and manager Jim Tracy. Usually, a single sacrificial lamb is enough, but only once since 1912 has the franchise lost more games than the 2005 Dodgers, so I guess double appeasement was deemed necessary.
In the GM diary (right), Otacon wonders if DePodesta might end up in Arizona. My immediate instinct is it's unlikely, simply because an Assistant GM position would be a step down, and I imagine another team with an open position at the top (Philadelphia?) would be a more attractive prospect. But as Otacon also mentions, revenge is a powerful motivator, and I think the idea of sticking it to "the man" [and the woman, the Dodgers' owners being Frank and Jamie McCourt] would certainly appeal to me, if I was in his shoes.
But one really cool possibility emerges: the promotion of the Dodgers' assistant general manager. Which would be neat, because it's a woman, Kim Ng. A female GM? I'm not exactly what you'd call a feminist, but reckon that would be great. Though it might make things uncomfortable for Bill Singer, the D'backs scout who, while with the Mets in Arizona, got drunk, made dubious comments to Ng, then blamed the South Beach Diet. And, hey, never mind BH-K, we could then sign Jenny Finch... ;-)
Meanwhile, in Arizona, the jigsaw pieces are gradually falling into place, with minor league outfield coordinator Lee Tinsley getting promoted to first-base coach. His previous position suggests he'll be working with the outfielders, as his predecessor did. I've not exactly been impressed by the outfielders to have come up so far from the minors - though admittedly, the sample size there is largely named Terrero. And as anticipated, Josh Byrnes hired former colleague Jerry Dipoto to a new position, "director of player personnel and pro scouting".
Reality check. As in, "you're not so weird, after all." At least, not compared to this guy, who spent the season getting baseballs at games, ending up with - get this - three hundred and twenty-one of them. Only ten were game balls, the majority of the rest being flipped to him by players, courtesy of tricks like wearing the visiting team's cap to stand out. I suppose it's less damaging than, say, doing drugs, but what the hell are you going to do with 321 slightly-used baseballs?
Sadly, we announce the final demise of West Coast Bias. Any lingering hopes for Ryan's return have been dashed by their removal from blogspot.com, presumably due to continued inactivity. With Stefan having "retired", that leaves just me and Devin active in the Diamondbacks camp - or the pro-D'backs camp anyway (but more on that another day) - along with William K at the minor-league level, of course. I'd like to take it as a compliment... but think it's, sadly, more likely a symptom of fan apathy surrounding the D'backs.
Finally, the Senate has gone back to the steroids issue, with AZ's own John McCain joining HOF Senator Jim Bunning in introducing legislation to standardize drug testing across all professional sports. Athletes would be tested at least five times a year, three during the season and two in the offseason, with a two-year suspension for first offense and a lifetime ban second time round. There's also a provision urging leagues to erase records achieved with the help of performance-enhancing drugs, which would be a nightmare - how could you tell? That aside, it's something I'd support. There's no reason why the NFL, NHL, NBA and NFL should treat the same crimes differently.