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The weekend starts here...

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Typical weekend = random bits and pieces to talk about. The first-base Hot Stove report will follow at some point over the next couple of days, since I've got a spot of research still to do on that.

Andrewinnewyork correctly pointed out the makeover this off-season is a lot more "internal" than last. That might be a mixed blessing, given the healthy turnaround we managed last year - I doubt 2006 will see us post another 26-game improvement! But if we can hang on to the parts from last year that worked (Tracy) and work at bettering the bits that didn't (you know who I mean there!), a continued turnaround is credible. And I think 90 victories will still take the NL West next year, so we only need to find 13 wins all told.

I think, with the right moves, that's doable, without selling the farm for 2007 and beyond. However, it comes back - once again - to that rotation. We have plenty of candidates for the 4-5 (or charitably, the 3-5) slots. It's top of the line pitching that we lack: if not a #1, then at least a #1.5 to stand alongside Brandon Webb. If we get one of those, we have as good a chance in the NL West as anyone. Otherwise...well, I needn't draw you a picture.

CBS Sportsline gives us their list of recommendations for the D'backs. Their first suggestion: "Trade Javier Vazquez, and make it a good one." Wow, what insightful journalism - who'd have ever thought of that? Making a good trade? Such original thought makes me aspire towards the days when I, too, can come up with such stunning shafts of wisdom and get paid for them. It doesn't get much better lower down, with suggestions to bring back Clayton and trade Glaus - for the latter, of course, the writer naturally doesn't come up with any specifics.

Major League Baseball has announced the stadia for next year's World Baseball Classic games in Arizona. Our pool (USA, Canada, Mexico and South Africa) will see games played at Chase and Scottsdale Stadium from March 9-11 - that's Thursday through Saturday. I imagine the games involving Team USA will take place at Chase, with the other ones at Scottsdale, since I can't see Canada vs. South Africa being a huge draw. Perversely, that's why I want to go...

These come after the first week of Spring Training, which is scheduled to being March 2nd, with the usual four-game series down in Tucson against the White Sox. Oddly, there's no game against the Giants in Scottsdale this year, so I'll have to travel a little further this year to see our boys. But so, it seems, will most people: seven of the D'backs eight weekend games are in Tucson or Surprise, the only exception being a March 26th one against the Cubs in Mesa. There's also only one evening game outside Tucson, a split-squadder against Seattle on the 23rd. Let's just hope Go Daddy don't change my shift between now and then, so I can take in some weekday games.

Perhaps they're trying to drive people to the two final games at Chase Field, against the Yankees. I don't count those as "spring training"; the whole atmosphere is different in the cavernous confines of the real ballpark, rather than the cosy and intimate atmosphere at Maryvale, Peoria or Scottsdale. Oh, and the tickets, parking, etc. are a damn sight more expensive too, that's for sure. All of the hassles of a regular season game + still without the result actually mattering = I don't plan on attending.

A sign of things to come? Scott Eyre - mentioned last time for squeaking onto the MVP results by the narrowest possible margin - has been rewarded for his 15th place vote on a single ballot, with a jawdropping $11m, three-year deal. Sure, he's decent, with a 2.63 ERA last year (albeit after 4.10 in 2004, and a career figure of 4.52 in his nine seasons). But he's a LOOGY, averaging less than 60 innings per season over the last three. It's some indication of how slim the free-agent pickings are this year, and points towards bigger overpayments to follow. Hopefully not by the Diamondbacks...