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Sunday? No, Friday!

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Just finished a marathon session of Three Sheets, a rather amusing show which plays on Mojo [I think it's only available if you have HD]. In it, Zane Lamprey visits foreign lands, meets the locals, learns the customs and drinks heavily with them. It's very amusing to watch, and I think someone - that would be me and Mrs. SnakePit - should be hired to do an MLB version, where we travel round all the baseball cities, drinking with the fans of the respective teams. Though if I was to consume at the rate and volume of Mr. Lamprey, I'd need a major-league sized medical staff in tow. Anyway, it's Friday, though it doesn't feel like it. I should do this "taking a day off in the middle of the week" thing more often, because it's great to come back, work one day, and then have two more off. Nothing quite like the pleasant surprise you get from thinking, "Well, guess I'd better get ready for...hell, no! I don't have to get up at 7am tomorrow!"

Not much to report on the Diamondbacks front, as today's game didn't even get into the seventh inning managed by yesterday's contest. Tucson took a meteorological pounding and the Kansas City match-up was halted in the fourth inning, with the Royals ahead 4-1. And we were about to get back into the game too, when it was called. Scott Hairston having just driven Jackson in with a double. Livan Hernandez allowed the first six Kansas City batters to reach, on four hits and - to save time - two plunked batters. He did settle down after that, but let's really hope he's been experimenting with his sinker thus far. And that he stops on Opening Day.

That said, reports suggest that after the first inning, he wasn't bad. But he's trotting out the same, apparently wildly-inaccurate claims as before: "Everybody who knows me and everybody who knows baseball knows I have a tough spring every year." Sigh. Let's put this one to bed once and for all, shall we? It's kinda irritating to see no journalists pulling him on this BS because, courtesy of, here's Livan's spring training lines for the past four seasons. Time for a game of "One of these things, is not like the others":

       IP  H BB  K ER   ERA
2004 19.0 15  5 17  5  2.37
2005 33.0 31  3 19  8  2.18
2006 20.0 20  6 13  4  1.80
2007 14.1 30  3  5 19 11.93
[This year's stats include today's rained-out game]

But at least Brandon Webb looks to be ready for the season, after a very solid performance against the Giants yesterday, which more than doubled his innings pitched this year. He said, "This one was encouraging to get out there after 10 or 11 days off, not pitching in a game, to get out there and feel confident... I think we're good to go on that, hopefully. I'm looking forward to next time getting my pitch count up a little bit more. I'd like to go 80-85 next time and be ready for Opening Day." That final start will be Tuesday, probably in a 'B'-game as the scheduled opponent is the Rockies, whom he'll face in the first game of the season.

And Randy Johnson's first competitive action is scheduled for tomorrow, though similarly, it's going to be in a 'B' game against the White Sox. The expected pitch-count for that will be only 35; less than in his recent sessions, but obviously, the atmosphere will be somewhat different. "I'm very much interested in seeing how I do at this next point," Johnson said. "I realize I've got a long ways to go. This is only my first outing. But you can get an idea of where you're at." Figuring forward from there, April 18-23 looks like the ETA for him, all being well: that's on a road-trip where we visit San Diego and San Franciso. He'd probably prefer to pitch in Petco, though I note two of those games - 19th and 21st - are not scheduled to be televised. Imagine that'd change if the Big Unit was making his debut.

More projections today, courtesy of the Replacement Level Yankees blog, who ran the upcoming season 1,000 times, using four different predicted sets of stats: ZIPS, Chone, PECOTA and Diamond Mind. The average results are encouraging for AZ:

  • Chone: 83 wins, 2nd in div, 27.4% playoff chance
  • Diamond Mind: 78 wins, 3rd, 12.6%
  • PECOTA: 89 wins, 1st, 63% [Woot!]
  • ZIPS: 83 wins, 3rd, 25.6&
Overall, averaging those four out, the results come to 83 wins, good enough for second in the division, three games back of the Padres, and we made the playoffs about one time in three. I think we'd settle for that as a starting point, and it wouldn't seem to take much to push us over the edge. A breakout season here, a fat, untrustworthy pitcher getting diagnosed with diabetes there, and that Padres lead would be gone.

But this does seem a good point to break out the last of our pre-season polls, which will occupy the side-bar between now and Opening Day. How many wins do you think the Diamondbacks will get this year? I've posted a diary and a poll for your predictions, and explanations of how you come to this figure. Overall, I think this year is possibly harder to predict than any season since I started doing this blog thing [I forget exactly when, and my original foray, But It's a Dry Heat seems to have been erased from the Internet, so I can't tell. Sometime in 2003, I think?]. There's just too many variables to be sure, and the real value could easily be at either end of the range.

That replaces the "Career Diamondback" poll, which resulted in a runaway win for Brandon Webb, with 61% of the vote, light-years ahead of Stephen Drew on 12%. I can't say I'm too surprised: the majority decided to go with a known quantity of proven worth, rather than take a risk on a prospect with unknown upside. That outweighed, perhaps, feelings that a starter, who plays one game in five, is worth less than a position player who appears in every game - the MVP argument, if you want. Finally, now you've finished reading this, scurry over to Hardball Times, who asked me to pen a piece on the Five questions for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Happy to oblige, as ever...