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Radio on...

Check out this interview with Carlos Quentin (the link is near the top of the page), sent to me by Ed Barnes over at The Writers Radio. [It works even on a five-year old computer with a slow Internet connection like mine, which runs like week-old guacamole] He doesn't seem to care much for the "top prospects" lists; hasn't had a chance to speak to Josh Byrnes; is a big advocate for kids to go to college before becoming pro players; and feels he could improve his pitch recognition and plate discipline.

Most interestingly, seems "New Q" - to avoid confusion with "Old Q", Mr. McCracken - was, disappointed not to have got a September call-up, but understands why that was the case. Wonder what'll happen if he ends up languishing in Tucson for most of 2006 too? Not that there's much he can actually do, since I don't think he can demand a trade or anything. Truth is, as the podcast points out, all the outfielders are currently under contract for 2006, so it'd take a trade or something to clear some space for him - I doubt they'd move a "proven veteran" to make way for a promising rookie.

Speaking of which, Josh Byrnes was interviewed on ESPN 860 yesterday. Among the usual platitudes, avoiding any real mention of the logjam in RF and at 1B, it became fairly clear that Drew will probably not make it to the majors on 2006, in his first full professional season. Also, on the catching front, he does not want to block Montero, which would seem to put the kibosh on the "expensive free agent" currently favoured by most poll respondents to date. And looks like we won't be picking up many, if any, free agent relievers, as the market for them is overpriced this year. Trades are more possible.

More general baseball stuff. The player's association has agreed to tougher penalties for steroid use: up from 10 to 50 games for a first offense, though that's still short of the two year ban which is standard in the Olympic movement. I guess it's an improvement of sorts, and should hopefully have some impact, as opposed to the slap on the wrist that the previous ten-game suspension really was. Whether this will stop legislation being passed has yet to be seen, but it'll probably prove enough of a sop to keep the Senate at bay.

Congratulation to Pujols for being NL MVP, and particularly for not being named "Bonds" - the first time that's been the case since I came to America. Which is kinda scary. And, I guess, congratulations to A-Rod in the AL, though when you're being paid $25m per year, you should be a lock for that trophy, every single season. [As an aside, I gagged at the discovery the other day that Howard Stern will be getting $20m a year from satellite radio to do the same schtick he's done for two decades. We all know what lesbians are, Howard, Now, move on. Baseball players don't seem quite so overpaid any more... Though I did like Private Parts. :-)]

As with all the other awards, no D'backs merited a single vote. That's a startling achievement when, as for MVP, you've got 32 writers, each nominating fifteen different players. Indeed, not a great deal to crow about in the entire NL West: of the thirty-two who received votes, only four came from the division. Neither Colorado nor Arizona were represented, and the Giants had only one player, Scott Eyre, who got on by the narrowest possible margin, receiving 15th place on a single ballot. You'd think Clark or Tracy might have merited at least a nod...somewhere...from someone...!

The Arizona Fall League finished, with Phoenix Desert Dogs rolling their way to the championship, behind the best hitting (.309) and pitching (4.68) in the league. Stephen Drew hit a somewhat lucky double - the fielder lost the ball in the sun - in the championship game but ended up with a .337 average. As noted in the comments, if you can hit like that, by all means hack at the first pitch you see. He just beat out Jarred Ball (.321), while Dan Uggla (.304) had 7 homers and 22 RBIs for Peoria. Daigle was the best of our pitchers, posting a 3.46 ERA in 13 games; Murphy (6.26) and Slaten (6.28) suffered a little, though the former did lead the team in K's, with 36.

And you might think that wraps up the baseball season, tying a bow around the loose ends. But here in Arizona, the season meanders on, even as we hit the second half of November. While there may be Christmas trees in the stores, there's still the trifling matter of the CONCEBE Regional Olympic Qualifying Tournament to get through, which runs until Saturday. This isn't the qualifiers as such...just the qualifiers for the qualifiers, but the USA seems intent on not repeating its painful elimination last time out.

That was before the Games themselves, at the hands of Mexico (and the arm of Brian Bruney, as I recall), whipped Guatemala 23-0 before the contest was stopped in the seventh. They had a rematch against Mexico today: given Mexico got trashed 17-4 by a country known more for canals, hats and cigars than baseball (Panama, in case you're not a fan of Jeopardy) it looked like they weren't exactly trying their hardest at the moment. But it still took America until the bottom of the ninth to squeeze out a 5-4 victory.

Finally, not baseball-related, but I was saddened to hear of the death of WWE superstar and wrestling legend Eddie Guerrero at the age of...ulp, younger than me. I've been a fan ever since seeing his last match for ECW, back in 1995. Since then, both he and his career have been through ups and downs, but I'd hoped for a happier ending. The funeral is tomorrow, here in Scottsdale; we've sent flowers, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.