The Sporting News ranked the NL outfields. Here's what the paper had to say about us: "Byrnes succeeds Luis Gonzalez in left. Young and Quentin have big-time potential but must blossom quickly." The Diamondbacks came a laughable 14th, ahead only of the Marlins and Nationals, and placed behind the prehistoric platoon at 3ComPacSBCAT&ThisSpaceForRent Park, which is such total BS, it's sickening. What are they measuring? Geritol consumption? Mind you, the NL West doesn't get much love at all, with only the Rockies (3rd? Shurely shome mishtake?) ranked better than eleventh.
The TV schedule for the upcoming year has been announced: 151 of the regular-season games will be televised, as well as three of the spring training games [including one of the "tail-end" contests at Chase against the Padres] The split of the "real" games is 50/50 between 3TV and Fox Sports AZ, each covering 75 - there's one game being shown nationally by Fox, when the Braves comes to Phoenix on July 28. The first chance to see our team will be March 21st on FSAZ, when the game against the Angels from Tempe will be shown; four days later, we can also see the D-backs vs. the Rockies from Tucson.
As last year, Friday night's games will be shown in HD - looking forward to checking those out this season, for the first time. FSAZ is also having a number of "All Day With the Diamondbacks" events, where they replay the previous day's game, show the afternoon contest, with pre- and post-game shows, then re-air it during prime time in the evening. All the regular-season games, and eleven of the spring training ones, will be broadcast on the radio, and the team also announced Greg Schulte has signed a four-year extension, which will keep him with the team through 2011.
Team president Derrick Hall had his monthly chat on Thursday. Some interesting points came up there: season ticket renewals are currently running at 80-90%, which is better than last year, so it seems that the "boycotteers" are losing the battle on that front, I'm pleased to say. Mind you, Hall said that on Opening Day, they're planning to "give every fan a new Sedona Red t-shirt," which will obviously help get the new colors out there.
Hall also provided a "mission statement", which I think is worth reprinting in full: "We obviously want to bring a consistent winner to the field year after year for the fans. That is actually a part of our mission statement as well. Each year we must contribute positively to our community and provide a competitive team for the fans. I have focused on five key areas through what I call our Circle of Success: team performance, community, financial efficiency, culture and fan experience." The cynic in me snorts that this is nothing more than management doublespeak, which means nothing at all (anyone who has worked for a large company has no doubt read similar memos), but it would be nice to think it's genuine policy, which will be worked on, going forward. I'm all in favor of improving the "fan experience", and can certainly see how that's tied to team performance. Not quite sure what's meant by "culture", which is undeniably vague: maybe they're going to start selling yoghurt at Chase Field? :-)
Jon Weisman analyzes the Dodgers offense over at Sports Illustrated, and finds it on somewhat shaky ground, which is encouraging for us. He points out that one of the main reasons they did so well last year, was because they topped the NL in hitting with runners in scoring position, a very difficult, if not impossible, skill to maintain consistently. They've improved in some areas, but taken steps backward in others (hello, new LA left-fielder!), but Weisman reckons they may end up needing to trade pitching for power at some point. That shouldn't be an issue for Arizona: we may not have anyone who hits 30 home-runs, but I could conceive five of our starters hitting 20 (Tracy, Jackson, Byrnes, Quentin and Young), with the other three reaching the teens.
Over at McCovey Chronicles, Grant sees the Diamondbacks as others see us (and also tells an amusing story, which may be the first one ever to link Charles Bronson and Joe Garagiola Jr.): "They're going to be an offensive force for a while.. They will likely have an above-average offense this year, with the potential to dominate in future seasons. They don't have that one slugger who can be penciled in for a .600 SLG, but there aren't too many gaping holes at all." Despite his admitted hatred of our franchise, it seems a remarkably fair assessment of our prospects, with more questions about the pitching staff than the position players, which I think we'd probably admit is reasonable. I'll be a lot happier once I see a few starts from members #2-5 of our rotation, shall we say.
Speaking of our former GM, seems that he has been laying down the law on the storage of baseballs: "The specifications that Rawlings recommends are a 70 degree temperature and 50 percent humidity. We have contacted all 30 of the clubs, and they have all confirmed to us that they will all be storing their baseballs in a temperature-controlled facility. We're not going to have humidors everyplace, but every place will be temperature controlled, and so I think there will be a very high degree of uniformity." This is probably a direct result of the controversy over Coors Field and their storage facilties, which saw scoring there drop to 10.7 runs per game last season, compared to fifteen in 1996. However, according to Garagiola, "the vast majority of teams were already doing this," so it may not make much difference. Could perhaps make Chase slightly less hitter-friendly though?
Okay, starting pitching projections to follow later today, all being well. Though Mrs. SnakePit amd I actually have a whole day off, together, for the first time in what seems like years, so I want to take full advantage of that as well! Oh, and I'm also being interviewed over the phone tomorrow for View From The Bleachers' podcast, which is a first for me, and should be a lot of fun. I'll be sure to let you know when that gets posted.