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We're off to see the D-backs...

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Yep, tomorrow will see us come out of fanbernation, as it were, with the FanFest at Chase Field. Looks like a fairly solid lineup of players: our entire rotation should be there, including both top competitors for the #5 spot, Owings and EdGon. All the infield save Stephen Drew will be present too, but there's a dearth of catchers. All the commentators will be helping out on KTAR 620's six hours of coverage tomorrow, so if you can't make it, tune in there, or watch the streaming live video at Keep an eye out for Mrs. SnakePit and I in our nice, new shirts - with what currently looks like the numbers of Webb and Drew on the back [last day of voting in the poll on the right!]

Here's a bit of wild speculation for you: how about Curt rejoining Randy in the Diamondbacks rotation? He's gone public, saying "If I go into this season without a contract from the Red Sox then I will go out and find a home for 2008." Seems Boston - the former home of Josh Byrnes, of course - are adopting a similar strategy to Arizona, trying to avoid direct use of the free-agent market. Of course, they're doing so with a much bigger bank-roll, so could pay $50m+ for the rights to talk to Daisuke Matsuzaka, but like us, their rotation looks to be mostly filled for the next couple of years. Theo Epstein said yesterday, "It just didn't make sense for us, from a business point of view, to enter into a guaranteed contract for 2008."

So, if not there, what about AZ, for a last hurrah alongside his old mate, Randy Johnson? It probably won't happen - not least because Schilling will want $13-15m for the year, but maybe we could trade for him mid-season, say, in exchange for Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon, Jorge de la Rosa, and Michael Goss? Oh, hang on: all we've got left from that deal is Brandon Lyon... :-( Do you think that might be enough to get the job done? [As an aside, it appears that Michael Goss, having failed to make the big-leagues, now has an alternative career. I love Google. Link kinda NSFW.]

Do you think the journalists covering the D-backs gather in a Tucson bar of an evening and work out their stories together? For today we see the following headlines in the three main outlets:

Yes, it's apparently Chad Tracy day in the media. So who are we to buck the trend. ;-)

That map shows where all his 2006 homers would have landed - we linked to it last month too, pointing out that Tracy was pulling his long balls with near-fanatical zeal last year. He says:

I got caught up in trying to hit home runs and doing too much... It was just a mental thing. When you start trying to pull the ball, hit the ball out of the park, your front shoulder will fly open, your hip will fly open. I need to stay in there. I've never relied on the long ball. I usually stay inside the ball and hit to all parts of the field... That's my main goal in Spring Training, to start using the whole field again. The home runs will come. I'm not going to worry about it. I'm not going to try to do it, I'm just going to let them take care of themselves.

Nice thinking, but I suspect that kind of thing is probably easier said than done. Melvin might be able to help the process, by keeping Tracy out of the clean-up spot, with its mental pressure to smash homers. However, last year, Tracy actually did his best work there: in 145 PA's, he hit .300 with an OPS of .853, compared to .279/.790 in the three-hole (326 PA) and .273/.788 batting fifth (72 PA). So maybe we'll see him fourth in the order again - at least against right-handed pitching, which he clobbered at an .866 OPS, compared to a mere .627 against lefties.

In other random newsbites, seems we're a couple of Venezuelans short of a full squad at the moment. Callaspo missed his flight, while Alex Romero has adopted the Peña approach, and is claiming "visa problems". Randy Johnson threw long toss and also pitched from 60 feet, albeit not from the mound. Reports there were encouraging, though Melvin still refuses to say exactly when he'll climb the hill. Jack Magruder has a nice introduction to our youngsters. And you can pop over to AZ SportsHub to read my list of ten things to watch out for during Spring Training.

Couple of comments worth repeating from the owners, who addressed the team the other day:

  • Jeff Moorad: "I don't use the term 'cautiously optimistic' anymore. We're optimistic about our chances this season, and we think we've got the players to compete and win our division. We've always been focused on the goal and the goal is to give the fans in Arizona a chance to root for a team that has a realistic chance to win season in and season out. I think we have a realistic chance to win, and we won't be satisfied if we don't."

  • Ken Kendrick: "We have several guys where this is their big year, this is a big opportunity for them. You'd like to think they'll have good years, but it won't be the best year they'll ever have, but this is the time for many of them... [On payroll] We always look at where we are going to be in the middle of the season and what might we need to do. So, yes, we'd be prepared to react if we needed to in the middle of the year."

  • Derrick Hall: "Our renewals were higher than we thought they would be. It goes back to what Jeff was saying -- that the fans are excited about the team. Overall, it's going to take some time. We've lacked a little bit of identity the past couple of seasons, but our ratings have shown that the fans still have a lot of interest in this ballclub, and we know that we have a very good and loyal fan base. So it's just a matter of getting them back to the ballpark, see this team, experience this product and see how good it is."

Perhaps more worryingly, Hall then went on to say, "It's, again, about letting the fans know that there's more to just the wins and losses on the field, it's the experience, so we're going to create that experience and enhance it a little more at the ballpark." That kind of talk actually makes me very nervous. I want us to win: that's pretty much my first, my last and my everything, and all the promotional giveaways or comfortable "experiences" won't change that. Give us fans a World Series, and we'll put up with absolutely anything else.

BoMel still Gonzo, sobbing gently into his Sedona Red hankie: "At some point, you've just got to move on. I know he has. I talked to him the day before yesterday and he's down in Vero ready to get going. I guess if I'm still talking to him I haven't moved along that much." Aargh! This is like watching a mate, pining over a once-pretty girlfriend who dumped him and is now swanning round town [the NL West] with an obnoxious BMW-driving Yuppie [the Dodgers], while ignoring the really hot chicks trying to get his attention. Er, guess that'd be Drew, Quentin and Young...

Okay, that metaphor has officially toppled over the cliff of literary license into the chasm of absurdity. And it was going so well, too. But, Melvin! Oi! Look at me! Can I just say one thing? I'm not gonna say, "There's plenty more fish in the sea", I'm not gonna say, "If you love her, let her go" and I'm not gonna bombard you with clichés. But what I will say is this: it's not the end of the world... :-)