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Mulholland Drive

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Happy New Year to everyone! When the biggest news of the week is the signing of Terry Mulholland to a minor-league contract... No further explanation is probably necessary for the silence that descended over this blog in the past few days. It's a striking contrast to the storm of debate and discussion over the Glaus move, that kept the hot stove burning over the Christmas period - but some kind of break was probably necessary after that.

Hope 2006 is being kind to you so far, and that you had a good New Year's Eve. Mine was certainly the most sober in a long time - since I was driving, my alcoholic consumption was limited to a single glass of champagne at midnight. Still an interesting evening: from this blog's angle, the highlight was meeting Jay Zucker, President of the Tucson Sidewinders. Nice guy, though not sure what first impression I made on him, seeing I was chewing down on a large ham sandwich at the moment we were introduced!

So, Mulholland gets a chance to be our LOOGY, and Byrnes continues his apparent policy of going after cheap veterans of indeterminate quality:

  • Damion Easley: age at start of next season 36, career OPS+ 91
  • Jason Grimsley: 38, career ERA+ 98
  • Kevin Jarvis: 36, career ERA+ 74
  • Terry Mulholland: 43, career ERA+ 94

At least the last two named are only guaranteed spring-training contracts, though according to the Banana, "Mulholland likely will open the season with the club," and if he does, it'll get him $800K. Whatever happened to Randy Choate, who is already getting paid $750K for 2006? God, to think we traded away John Patterson - he of the 3.13 ERA, in 31 starts for Washington last year - for Choate, straight up. In hindsight, not Joe Jr's finest move, though I confess, at the time it seemed no great loss to most people. At least we know it won't be Kerry Ligtenberg - he of the 13.97 ERA here last year. He's been signed with the Marlins to a spring-training deal, similar to Mulholland's. Our other 2005 LOOGY's, Buddy Groom, Javier Lopez and Armando Almanza, have still to find any takers for their services.

When Mulholland made his MLB debut (June 8, 1986), Stephen Drew was aged three and Conor Jackson four. But focusing on the past three years, he's been okay against lefties - a .251 average, facing just under 400 of them. He should be kept well away from righties, however who, over 2003-2005, have enjoyed Mulholland at a .331 clip.

It would fill another piece in the jigsaw however, which seems to be coming towards completion. Josh Byrnes said, "I really don't anticipate any large changes to our roster from here on out. But you never know." On the basis of that, here's how I'm thinking the Opening Day 25-man roster will shake out:

Starters
C. Estrada
1B. Jackson
2B. Hudson
SS. Counsell
3B. Tracy
LF. Gonzalez
CF. Byrnes
RF. S.Green

Bench
C. Snyder
IF. Clark, Easley
IF/OF. A.Green
OF. Terrero

Rotation
1. Webb
2. Batista
3. Ortiz
4. Hernandez
5. Halsey

Bullpen
Long relief. Vargas
Middle relief. Grimsley, Koplove
LOOGY. Mulholland
Set-up. Medders
Closer. Valverde

About the only issue would seem to be regarding a couple of the bullpen slots: I've gone for Grimsley and Koplove, largely because they're already signed contracts totalling $2m to play this year. So instinct says management will probably try to get them in, and avoid the 2005 situation, where (thanks to Koplove and Choate) the Tucson bullpen was earning more than the D'backs one. Bruney, Aquino and Lyon could still make the final cut though.

Looks like Brandon Webb will be the Opening Day starter, Bob Melvin giving him a vote of confidence: "Certainly as it stands right now, Webby looks like our Opening Day guy." Though the best line in the piece may be, "Hernandez, whom the D-Backs believe is 40 years old..." Well, I laughed, anyway.

You'll also notice the lack of Cintron on the roster. There just doesn't seem to be a place for him at the moment: he bring nothing to the table with the bat or glove, that Andy Green doesn't, and Green a) is cheaper, and b) can also play the outfield. So I expect Cintron to be gone between now and Opening Day, though it's difficult to see us getting much for him in return.

And a quick plug for John Sickels' Baseball Prospect Book 2006, as advertised on the right. If you've ever checked our his SportBlogs site, Minor League Ball, you'll know his mix of insight and analysis is second to none (and easy to read, too). If you're interested in finding out about the stars of tomorrow (other than Drew, Quentin and Jackson!), go get his book, as a late Christmas present to yourself.