Life begins again for the Diamondbacks today. With the thwack of horsehide hitting leather - ever so gently, initially - the first rays of the 2006 season peek over the horizon, breaking the inky darkness of the last four months.
Which means it's also time to open the doors on the AZ Snakepit Fantasy League for 2006. This year, I've gone for head-to-head, which might add a little extra spark to proceedings, and rosters need only be changed once a week, taking effect on Monday. All MLB players are available for choice, and at the moment, I've set the league size at 16, though can adjust that if there's some kind of tidal-wave of interest. The link below will take you to the sign-up page.
Important note. At the current time, membership will only be open to registered posters here, so when you've created your team, claim it by posting a comment here. This way, I'll know it's legitimate, and not someone trying to create multiple teams - we had that problem last year, though they might have had a better chance of getting away with it, if they hadn't picked effectively the same name for both teams! If you don't claim your team here, it'll likely get deleted. You have been warned. :-)
So down in Tucson, things will start getting into gear once more, though today is more likely to be settling in, having physicals, etc. rather than any actual work - that'll get under way tomorrow. And, of course, the rest of the squad, outside pitchers and catchers, won't be there until next Wednesday or thereabouts. But the basic principle is there, and we're now less than twelve days away from hearing the sweetest two words in the English language (well, next to "More dessert?"): play ball!
Here are the main issues to be sorted out over the comimg six weeks:
Bench Press. Barring injuries, the Diamondbacks roster of position players looks fairly well settled, but questionmarks remain over the bench. Part of the issue is whether we go with 11 pitchers or 12. It's possible we'll start of with eleven for the first couple of weeks, then add an extra one to help us get through a spell of sixteen games in sixteen days.
If so, at some point we'll have to work out which five players make up the bench. Clark, Snyder, DaVanon and Easley seem locks: Green, Cintron and Terrero will fight it out for the 25th spot. Green might lose, simply because I think he still has a minor-league option left, but that'd still leave something to be done with Cintron or Terrero. I would not be surprised to see one or other traded between now and Opening Day.
Who's Number 5?. Webb, Ortiz, Batista and Hernandez look to be assured of places in the rotation for Opening Day, but the fifth spot could go to any one of a number of players. While the departure of Gosling has reduced the options by one, we still have Halsey, Vargas and Nippert as contenders, as well as non-roster invitees such as Kevin Jarvis.
Halsey, being a lefty, is probably the leading contender for the spot at the moment, but good spring performances could see others overtake him. Just hopefully not Jarvis. And there could even be dark horses in the form of the two E.Gonzalez - Edgar and Enrique - as well as Tony Pena (or whatever name he's going by this year). This is no bad thing, since I would be astonished if we can use the same five starters all year: the over/under on El Duque's starts is probably around fifteen.
Relief Workers. The bullpen is likely the area that's most wide-open: closer Jose Valverde seems like the only guy definitely assured of his spot. Brandon Medders was one of the bright spots from last season, so is probably in there, and it would seem likely that Jason Grimsley and Luis Vizcaino will be given slots too. If not, then signing and trading for them seems somewhat pointless.
Terry Mulholland is a likely candidate for long relief, and we may or may not go with another lefty in addition to him. Randy Choate and Felix 'Run Fairy' Heredia will battle that one out, which reminds me of the tagline for Alien vs. Predator: whoever wins, we lose. We also have the returning Aquino, Bruney and Koplove, though all three will have to show that they have put their 2005 problems behind them.