I tallied up all the predictions for how well the regular AZ players are going to do this year, and they're listed below. In a vague effort to achieve some sort of consistency, I've arbitrarily enforced a minimum of three "prophets" per player to be included below, so a number of the fringe ones are left out. Hopefully nobody spent too much time working on their predictions for Alex Cintron.
BA OBP SLG OPS HR RBI Johnny Estrada .276 .334 .407 .741 8 57 Chris Snyder .227 .308 .363 .671 6 21 Conor Jackson .271 .362 .423 .786 9 55 Tony Clark .260 .327 .516 .843 16 58 Orlando Hudson .276 .336 .415 .761 11 59 Craig Counsell .243 .330 .362 .692 4 22 Chad Tracy .309 .368 .506 .874 31 92 Luis Gonzalez .261 .354 .436 .790 20 72 Eric Byrnes .264 .332 .435 .767 14 50 Shawn Green .279 .358 .472 .830 22 76 Jeff Davanon .265 .349 .378 .727 2 13
Looks like Chad Tracy is pretty much a shoo-in for MVP, leading the team in BA, OBP, OPS, HR and RBI. Tony Clark just beats him out in slugging percentage, and it's probably safe to say those are a tad more optimistic than he'd have received last season. After Tracy, there's a long fall-off in average, down to .279 for Shawn Green, and the rest followed in behind. Not a lot of love for Counsell and Snyder, though the latter at least could benefit from careful platooning.
Speaking of Counsell, according to Melvin, "He'll be ready, I have no doubts he'll be ready." I'd be more optimistic about this, were that quote not preceded by, "If our doctors are telling us if we stay on schedule that..." Seems a bit, well, iffy to me. However, if not, then Drew has been anointed as the replacement, arbitration clock be damned: "He'll either be here as a starter or go back to the Minors," says Melvin. Though if Counsell was only slightly delayed, it seems that Easley would probably start, rather than running Drew out for a couple of games.
In the 5-1 victory over Kansas City, Brandon Webb came within two outs of compiling a spring training "no hitter". He went 8 1/3 innings, split over three starts, before giving up his first hit of the year, but still pitched four shutout innings, striking out five Royals. Said Webb, "I have been using more changeups and curveballs early in the count. The past few years I've stayed with my sinker. I'm seeing so much success that I might have to look at that more for this season." Sounds good to me - as if his sinker wasn't enough. Adding another pitch anywhere close to that quality could make him near-Cy Young quality.
Choate allowed the sole KC run, and is still stuck in mediocrity. Can't believe we'll be paying this guy 750K to play for the Sidewinders this year. Pena and Slaten pitched hitless innings, before Daigle struck out four Royals in his two innings, winning praise from Melvin. "He's just a new guy in a new role and has a different look and a different demeanor... He is much better in this role, confidence-wise, stuff-wise, the whole bit. He's in the mix here. He's worked his way up. If we have to DL [Brandon] Medders, which I hope we don't, Casey has opened some eyes. We're considering him for whatever role it is." Those who remember Daigle's woeful performance as a starter may blanche, and one memorable fan report still called his fastball "straighter than a moose's dick in mating season." So, we'll see...
As well as restricting Kansas to three hits, we racked up double-digits in that category for the 12th straight game, though we only managed two walks this time. Hudson and Shawn Green both went 2-for-3, while Chris Carter became the first Diamondback to reach 10 RBIs. Byrnes and Gil hit home runs, and Robby Hammock tripled and scored.
Just been watching a bit of the Dominican Republic-Cuba game: the DR are 5-0 up already, so the most interesting thing has been the fans in the stands, a significant number of whom are keeping security busy with their anti-Castro signs. The code of conduct specifically prohibits "political" signs, so they've been getting creative, for example, each holding up a different letter to spell ABATO FIDEL - down with Fidel. While I generally favour keeping such things out of sport, I'm uncertain this is fair: the Cuban team is, in itself, pretty much a political, pro-Castro statement.
As noted, America squeaked out a...well, let's just say "somewhat fortunate" win over Japan yesterday, assisted by some questionable umpiring. This is something that should be addressed: even if a legitimate error was made, it could easily be perceived as bias. Certainly, if you compare the World Cup in football, for example, there's no way FIFA (the governing body) would allow a game involving Brazil to be officiated by Brazillians. I think even cricket now uses neutral umpires too, and I don't know of any sport where the home team provides the referees for international games at the highest level.