Encouraged by the response to yesterday - delighted to see people willing to stick their necks out like me. :-) Here are the second batch of prognostications. "Prognostication". What a fine word: one I feel deserving of more frequent use. Though, technically, it's supposed to be "the probable course and/or outcome of a disease": I guess time will tell whether this is an appropriate metaphor for the 2006 Diamondbacks season... The ongoing concern about Brandon Medders [see Ben's diary] suggests Will Carroll's red-light warning regarding him may be ominously accurate. Looks like our marriage compact with the team could once again have the words "in sickness and in health" heavily underlined. In Sharpie.
On the plus side, Tracy has been working on his footwork, which was a major source of grief the last time he played third, in 2004. He says, "I'm taking a smaller stride when I throw. Before, when I would stride too long, my arm would get out behind me...I've had a year to reflect on third base now and what my mistakes were, and now you look back on it and you say, 'How do I make that mistake over and over and over again?'" He'll be working with Matt Williams this spring, which should help. However, looks like the negotiations on a multi-year contract for him will go on hold, albeit amicably enough.
Interesting quote from Josh Byrnes, on the intangible benefits of a good atmosphere: "The time I spent with Oakland, we probably won more games than we should have, just because it was a close-knit group. It seems like a bunch of neat guys in [the D-Backs clubhouse]. I think that's vital." [emphasis added] Given his reputation usually has him pegged as a sabermetric acolyte, surprised - and, I admit, pleased - to hear what sounds like an defense of "team chemistry".
Okay, to the Project-mobile, Robin! :-)
BA OBP SLG OPS HR RBI Orlando Hudson .274 .333 .416 .749 11 61
Hudson has been signed more for his glove than his bat, but the projection above is almost exactly in line with the 2005 average for NL second basemen: (.276/.338/.414/.752). Given what he's expected to bring to the defense, I think we'll be happy if he is around this level. Moving to Chase Field should help a little, though in 2005, the Rogers Centre had a park factor of 102, so also favoured hitters slightly [BOB was 104]. I'm really looking forward to seeing Hudson in action: I think it'll be a lot of fun, to see our first reigning Gold Glove infielder Update er, since I came to the States - as Stephen pointed out, Matt Williams was the reigning GG at 3B during the inaugural season.
BA OBP SLG OPS HR RBI Craig Counsell .247 .333 .345 .678 6 30
Counsell's switch from second base will hopefully not pose too many problems: he's already got a full season under his belt there, with the Brewers in 2004, and was above-average at the position. He'll likely be leading off for us, so the key will be keeping his on-base percentage at or above the predicted level - if so, I'd expect steals in the mid-teens. Last season, Counsell shows distinct signs of wearing down as the year progressed, with the OBP dropping 30 points after the All-Star break, and I'm inclined to expect that as a more realistic level of output. He will turn 36 this season, and needs to stay healthy and productive; otherwise, he'll find his lineup spot going to Easley, Cintron, or whoever happens to be around.
BA OBP SLG OPS HR RBI Chad Tracy .297 .353 .507 .860 24 92
If there was an award for Sophomore of the Year, Chad Tracy would probably have won it, for his sterling breakout performance that saw his home-runs triple, adding almost 150 points to his slugging percentage. Will it continue? I perhaps lean to the slightly pessimistic view here: this way, I either get to say, "told you," or be pleasantlu surprised. Win all round, really. :-) Much like Counsell, he's shifting position defensively, and I hope any problems there do not rub off on his hitting. I expect another solid year, just a notch down on his phenomenal 2005: and if he can keep his K/BB down below 2:1, that'll be a big plus.