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Hangin' wi' da Twins...

Russ Ortiz pitched a complete-game three-hitter yesterday. Now, before there is a rash of cardiac arrests in Maricopa County, I should mention this was on the baseball game I have on my mobile phone, which I was playing during an idle moment at last night's Ying Yang Twins concert. That, incidentally, was...mediocre. We are not living in a van down by the river, but if it hadn't been for Scion (of all people) coming on board as title sponsors, it would have been pretty bad. I think we've decided that national acts are too much of a crapshoot to bother with - the return certainly doesn't justify the effort. Oh, well.

Anyway, I do have the day off today - I got that officially confirmed late yesterday afternoon. So I watched the Diamondbacks game which we’d Tivo’d - or, at least, except the chunk of it which was blacked-out by a power outage. Grrrr... Not a great game for Arizona, as we went down 8-3 against the Angels. Here are my notes, in no particular order:

  • Why have they got two center-fielders listed in the lineup? Is this how they're going to ensure Eric Byrnes stays out of trouble?
  • Number of batters into the season before Mark Grace's first off-color remark: one. Daron Sutton asks him, "Do you speak Californian?". Grace's reply: "Si."
  • Nice two-out hitting by the bottom of the order in the second. It really looks like our entire lineup will be tough outs.
  • Not so good call by Chip Hale to send Montero from second: he was toast at the plate by a long way. Young nearly got thrown out over-running second base as well, so I think we need to work on that whole "aggressive running" thing a bit.
  • Speaking of Montero, whoever’s covering second may need a butterfly net to track down some of his throws. [I read that one down in Tucson last year, was so wild Chris Young caught it on the fly in center...] He did catch a guy stealing in the fourth, but that was during the blackout. Does it count if no-one sees it?
  • EnGon really fell apart after Molina’s bunt single, and lost control totally the rest of the inning. I wonder if he has the mental toughness to cope in the big leagues?
  • Chad Tracy can’t hit lefties [Yeah, I know: Film at 11], going 0-for-4 with 3 K’s. Maybe we should have established this before signing him long-term?
  • Daron Sutton. Good: he’s enthusiastic about the young players. Bad: he went on about clutch hitting. All told, less irritating than Brennaman, so that’s a start, though he still won’t say the word, "Damn." If I meet him, I may ‘accidentally’ stand on his toe...
  • Very much enjoyed the interviews with the players during the game. Boy, O-Dawg can talk - I had to check my Tivo hadn’t gone into fast-forward mode. But did he really call his double-play partner J.D.Drew?
  • Tony Clark’s batting stance is very weird, all pigeon-toed and bent-kneed, looks extremely uncomfortable. I tried to reproduce it in our bedroom, but fear I may now have a tear in my labrum. 8-O
  • Back-to-back gaffes in the outfield by Krynzel [lost the ball in the sun] and Hammock [who just clunked it off his glove]. Not pretty, and Melvin's post-game comments made it clear they were unacceptable, but credit Daigle for not buckling thereafter.
  • Had forgotten that Justin Upton also had a tear in his labrum, which slowed him last season. Comforting that he now seems to have made a full recovery.
  • Jorge Julio didn’t make a good impression on me. He did, however, make an impression on the trash-can he was shown punting in the dugout after his three earned runs inning of work...

Next televised game will be on Sunday afternoon, against the Rockies from Tucson, so I think we’ll probably run our first official GameDay Thread of the year for that one. I’ll have to blow the dust off the HTML header for that one - it may need some adjustment, since I think it’s still in purple. Of course, that will also coincide with our fantasy draft, so I may need to borrow Mrs. SnakePit’s laptop, so I can blog, draft and watch the game all at the same time. Ah, the joys of multi-tasking!

Speaking of that, just started looking at players, in preparation for the draft, though I’m not going to get to spend nearly as much time on it as I’d like [Deadspin and the Hardball Times both contacted me for pre-season pieces this week, which is great, but it’s killing my leisure time!] With 20 teams each picking 25 players, it's going to end up being very deep: unless they’re careful, some team will end up with the likes of Casey Daigle, ranked #349 on Yahoo's default list. That doesn't make much sense, being well above Julio (#459), Cruz (#501) or even 3/5 of our starting rotation (Davis = #516; Hernandez = #548 and EdGon = #576). Chris Young is even lower, #700, but I'm sure that won't last... Just hope the rankings for other teams, which I know less about, are better considered.

We're #1! We're #1! Well, that's the projections from a couple of places, both of which expect the Diamondbacks to win the NL West. The Hardball Times projections goes one step further, giving us the best record in the NL. That's probably a bit more optimistic than even most fans would be prepared to go. And I have to say, I think the Giants prediction (83 wins) is perhaps even more on the high side: I'm anticipating near-implosion over in the retirement community of Sun City by the Bay. PECOTA concurs in the NL West, though you need to subscribe for the full stats.

Seems like we’re still trying to trade Julio, though his lacklustre performance yesterday won’t have won him any new admirers. Apparently, the main reason he’s still here is, we don’t want to pay of his salary - which seems fair enough to me. The real problem is, he’s getting paid like a closer, but we’ll just be using him, at least initially, as middle-relief. Though I do like the idea of using Julio, Cruz and Valverde as the 7-8-9 men, with the reliable Medders perhaps thrown into the mix, and Slaten too, should we need a leftie. But Julio, for what he does, is overpaid, and we have no shortage of right-handers who could fill a fairly journeyman role.

Brandon Webb pitched in Scottsdale today against the Giants - which is kinda weird, given Melvin’s previous comments about not letting divisional rivals see too much of our starters. Still, doesn’t seem to have made much difference, since we beat them 6-0, in a game which ended in the seventh inning because of rain [it’s been rumbling and thundering here all day, and we’re less than ten miles from the stadium, so I imagine that was the cause, anyway. Looks like more to come tonight]. Webb four-hit the Gnats, pitching six innings with no walks and three K’s, bringing his spring ERA down to 1.64. Tracy had two hits and three RBIs, with Hudson and Krynzel also having two hits each. Eveland came in to pitch the seventh, but only got one out before it was called off.

That game was totally sold out, with the secondary ticket market reported as charging $40-50 for a bleacher seat. Attendance overall in the Cactus League has been significantly up: 17.5% thus far, though still off 2005’s record. The Diamondbacks only rank fifth on the list, behind the Giants, Cubs, Mariners and Angels, but that’s perhaps because of the Tucson factor, making it a more challenging sell than teams in the Phoenix area. Be interesting to compare attendance for the Phoenix teams in the contests where they play other franchises, against games where they play the Diamondbacks.