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Just as I get settled into the routine at work...they change my shift. Not by much; just starting and finishing an hour later per day, but it's surprising how quickly you get used to something. Getting up at a certain time, leaving the house at a certain time, coming back at a certain time. Life falls into place around it. But today...ooh, boy. Chaos and carnage reined. I seem to have done very little except get up, work, come home and go to bed, while Mrs. SnakePit very nearly lost her pristine attendance record for her job too. I'm sure we'll eventually settle into this one too, but don't be surprised if updates are sporadic until then.

Today's question: is Chad Tracy on the block? So reports Steve Gilbert from the winter meetings, saying "One possibility that sources said has at least been discussed internally would be dealing third baseman Chad Tracy to the Angels for one of their surplus pitchers... Of particular interest to the D-backs is lefty Joe Saunders. The 25-year-old burst on the scene last year and went 7-3 with a 4.71 ERA in 13 starts." The article goes on to suggest that we could use Callaspo at third-base, or look to acquire a replacement for Tracy - Rotoworld reckons Morgan Ensberg could be the target of a trade to Arizona.

I can somewhat see the appeal, but I'm not sure it's a good move, on several fronts. Firstly, we don't have anyone immediately able to replace Tracy. Callaspo would count as rolling the dice, given he has had less than 50 plate-appearances in the major-leagues. Though his minor-league statistics suggest he can hit for average, batting .337 in Tucson, he doesn't seem like the typical powerful corner infielder, only hitting seven homers in 550 trips to the plate for the Sidewinders. I'd be less worried about this, if the rest of our lineup didn't look like a power outage waiting to happen. Only Tracy and Eric Byrnes had more than 15 HR last year, and of the seven D-backs who reached double-figures, three have since left the club (S.Green, Gonzo, Estrada), while three more had career highs (Byrnes, Jackson, Hudson). And the seventh is Tracy.

So, if we trade Tracy away, we then almost "have" to sign a 20+ homer replacement, which makes things tougher. Though I will draw your attention here, once again, to the growing bandwagon which is suggesting that our best hope for power in 2007 might be to trade Eric Byrnes and put Scott Hairston in LF. Some projections are saying Hairston could be capable of blasting as many as 30 homers over a full season in the majors next year, outhitting Eric Byrnes in just about every category. And, of course, for one-tenth of the price, or even less. It's difficult to see a downside, except for Hairston's fielding, and the PR hit given Josh Byrnes' statement regarding his namesake's position as Gonzo's heir for 2007. But getting rid of another fan favorite would soon be forgotten if Hairston delivers at the level being suggested in certain circles.

Secondly, we'd be selling low on Tracy, who definitely regressed last season: BA down twenty points, slugging percentage down more than a hundred. I think while the real Chad Tracy may not be the 2005 version, nor is it the 2006 one: it's probably somewhere in the middle. He certainly showed signs of rebounding at the end of the season, posting a line of .304/.375/.582 in September, which was his best month, just as it was in 2005. Tracy also reined in those K's, which were a major cause for concern. He fanned only 11 times in 89 PA's during Sept/Oct, better than his overall rate the previous season, and only about half the pace of May and June, when he was on track to set a franchise strikeout record. If we are intent on trading him, it would make sense to see what he does at the start of 2007 - odds are it will improve his value.

And as for Saunders? Hmm. He'd be bought high, with nothing particularly outstanding as far as his minor-league numbers go to indicate him being a bank prospect for the future. 7-3 is nice, but why pick up a 25-year old on the basis of a 4.71 ERA, when we already have a 23-year old capable of posting a 4.22 ERA, in Edgar Gonzalez? [Though Saunders did throw more innings, EdGon's K:BB ratio was significantly better.] No: while I could perhaps be argued into the general principle of trading Tracy, the specifics of this case don't seem to stand up to scrutiny. It would also break Josh Byrnes' record of carrying out trades which no-one sees coming, as in the Estrada to Milwaukee deal. Therefore, the fact we're hearing rumours, indicates it won't take place. ;-)

However, there would be a nice symmetry about the deal in one aspect. The business run by Mrs. SnakePit and I, Trash City Beads, sponsors the Baseball Reference page for Chad Tracy; the page for Saunders, is currently sponsored by my SportsBlogs brothers in Anaheim, over at Halo's Heaven. So a swap would be kinda ironic: maybe we could work out a trade of sponsored pages, too?