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Looking forward...

Diamondbacks went down 5-3 to Seattle last night, in their first trip to the Valley. Not the best outing for Webb, who gave up three hits and three walks in three innings, resulting in two earned runs in the first. He was quite critical of his performance, saying, "I think I was rushing myself a little bit, getting on the side of the ball, working around it and getting more lateral movement instead of downward on the sinker. Walking three guys, I wasn't real happy about, but it's Spring Training. We're just trying to get our mechanics and legs... I got my work in."

Chad Harville followed with another shaky outing - three hits in his inning of work mean he is probably an early contender for the first round of cuts. But MacLane did well, and has now pitched four frames on one-hit ball. Valverde made his first game, since Papa became a Papa, giving up a slow roller that came round to score on a stolen base, wild pitch and groundout. Cruz ended the arms for us, and struck out two in his appearance. Kirk Gibson managed, in Melvin's absence, as he was attending a funeral.

Scott Hairston made a point, becoming the first D-back to hit more than one homer, a huge blast to left field in the second. That also gave him the early lead in RBI (5): while he's only 3-for-12, two of those have left the park. Arizona had just eight hits, but Quentin went 2-for-2 with an RBI. Upton drove in the third run with a ninth-inning single, and had a walk; Jackson matched him with a single and a free pass too.

An interesting note on the pitching market. Ex-Diamondback, Javier Vazquez, signed a three-year extension with the Chicago White Sox, which takes him through 2010, and for which he'll be paid $34.5m. That's $11.5m per year, for a starting pitcher whose ERA+ figures for the past three seasons have all been below-average, at 92, 99 and 96. It's not quite Gil Meche-ean in its lunacy, but it would seem to make the extension signed by Doug Davis (ERA+ of 122, 110 and 91) shine a little brighter.

Reason to hope Ortiz doesn't suck this year. If he's good, then he'll get a bigger contract for next season: we only have to pay him the difference between what he earns on the market, and what he was guaranteed from us. So if he gets a $3m deal for 2007, that will be $3m less that we'll have to shell out. Not sure if that's enough to make any significant change in my feelings regarding

Had a chance to scope out the Hardball Times projections for the D-backs this year, and there are some interesting points. If you want to see the whole set, you'll have to buy the book, but here are some highlights that stood out from the data.

  • Byrnes vs. Hairston. Chalk up another vote for Scotty:
    Byrnes: .268/.319/.459 = .778 OPS
    Hairston: .261/.331/.478 = .809 OPS

    Obviously, Byrnes has the edge in stolen bases, but both men are rated +2 for fielding, so they don't view Hairston's defense as the black mark often quoted.

  • Carlos Quentin, the human piñata. They expect 33 HBPs for Q this season. Only three players have reached that level since the nineteenth century, Craig Biggio (34 in 1997), Don Baylor (35 in 1986) and Ron Hunt, who somehow got plunked 50 times in 1971.

  • Hardball Times our starting pitching. Well, some of them, anyway: Brandon Webb (ERA 3.02), Randy Johnson (3.43) and Dana Eveland (4.35) in particular. Hernandez 2.0 (4.98) and EdGon (5.05)...less so... And our bullpen is not viewed with much favor, only Valverde (3.88) seen as coming in under 4.00 this year.

  • Small improvement for Tracy. OPS of .801, basically the same as the .794 last season: be interesting to see the LHP/RHP splits. He'll lead the team with 21 HR and 86 RBI, however. Conor Jackson's .285 will be the best average, just ahead of, surprisingly, O-Dawg at .281.

  • Snyder's the man.... They're not very keen on Montero, who's expected to bat .249 with a .727 OPS. Snyder is predicted to hit .263 and post an OPS more than 50 points higher. And he gets better from there: by 2009, his OPS will match Chad Tracy!

  • ...and Young isn't Only .238 for our new CF this season, and a .760 OPS. His defense is rated at -3, which I find hard to understand, but Stephen Drew gets the same score, and that also defies apparent expectations. I'm hoping to interview one of the authors in the next week, so will be quizzing them on how these figures are obtained.

  • Quick hits for 2009. Looking down the line to the season after the season after next, Webb posts a 2.99 ERA, but only pitches 185 innings, going 13-6. Conor Jackson leads the team, batting .290, with an .834 OPS. Valverde gets 14 saves and a 3.71 ERA, with Lyon backing him up at 3.94.

  • The Huge Manatee will continue to suck. Finally, I peeped nervously into the Giants section of the book, to see what they expect from Ortiz. They expect 5.12 for this season, and a little worse in the two years beyond that. I'd settle for that!