All the Diamondbacks have now arrived at camp, with the first full workouts taking place today: the last couple to show up were Shawn Green and Tony Pena. The latter was apparently having his traditional spring training "visa problems". Which is probably a polite way of saying that the Department of Homeland Security has been asking the player formerly known as Adriano Rosario trick questions - like, "Quick, what's your name?" BZZZT! Wrong answer, go back home...
Today also saw 'State of the Nation' addresses from head honchos Josh Byrnes, Jeff Moorad, and Ken Kendrick. According to Byrnes, "We've had two losing seasons here. I think we're out of it. I think expectations are that we should compete this year and that we shouldn't have losing seasons here." To quote the great prophet Keanu, "Whoa". I know we were only four games below .500 last year, but I'm a little stretched as to how those extra wins are going to materialize: I'm still at low-70's as a more realistic figure. Kendrick doesn't doubt the task: "I think it's a better division. I think every single club in our division is likely to be a better team than it was. As a result of that, [a team] is maybe not going to do as well as they did [last year]. I hope it isn't us."
At least there is some wiggle room should we find ourselves in the hunt midseason [that largely depends on the Dodgers cracking, which is not impossible, I'd say]. The official figure for payroll this year is $62m: surprisingly, that's actually up about $2.5m on last year, despite unloading the contracts of Glaus and Vazquez. The main reason is that in 2005, offset payments, as a result of trades from the Yankees and Dodgers brought in $11.5m; this year, it's only #3m. Discounting those, our payroll has dropped from $71m to $65m.
More on Gonzo. Steve Gilbert reports, "Sporting a bulked up physique and determined attitude, Luis Gonzalez reported to Diamondbacks camp on Wednesday with the rest of the club's position players." Anyone notice Russ Ortiz going on a strict diet to address his size issues? Thought not. Gilbert continues, "Not limited by elbow or shoulder concerns and looking to make a statement with his performance this year, Gonzalez attacked his offseason workout regimen with a vengeance, adding an hour-long boxing session twice a week. The results were evident by the size of his biceps and forearms." Well, if we get into any brawls, looks like Gonzo is the go-to guy. :-)
Finally, Chad Tracy has started contract negotiations. Hang on, isn't he under our control through 2009? Yep, but we're locking him in early, in order to avoid the messiness of arbitration, which will be the case from after this season. It's always a bit of a gamble, signing any players to long-term contracts based on just a couple of years of production. But as with Brandon Webb, I'm fairly optimistic this will turn out well - though I'll hold fire on definite approval until I see the exact numbers. I'd expect a three or four year deal, totalling somewhere around $13m for a three-year deal, or $20m if we get a fourth as well (possibly a team option).