This is somewhat odd. The number of visitors to the site has basically doubled over the past few days. Normally, this is triggered by either a) big D'back news, or b) a link from another (more reputable) site. I'm not aware of a), and unfortunately, our SiteMeter referrals, where I check such things, is stuck showing visitors as of March 3rd, so I've no idea about b). Oh, well: wherever you came from, greeting. If you're a "n00b", as I believe the youth of today say, and want to leave a comment telling us how you heard about the SnakePit, that'd be nice. It'd make me less nervous our URL has been pinned to the board in the Tucson clubhouse...probably by Hairston. 8-)
Melvin has been addressing the lineup issue again, though as Nick Piecoro points out, more by saying how it won't look. Tracy won't hit fourth, and now, Drew won't bat leadoff. It's becoming more like a game of Clue than anything. The news it isn't Drew [in the library, with a candlestick...] will disappoint the 31% of SnakePit readers who voted him, at time of writing, as the best choice, just ahead of Chris Young. Piecoro reckons Hudson (third, on 26%, in our poll) is the most likely to fill the spot. Eric Byrnes, meanwhile, languishes in joint-last place with just 6% of the vote.
Shoewizard drew my attention to this article on Hardball Times, reviewing the lineup construction rules in The Book, which read, "Your three best hitters should bat somewhere in the #1, #2 and #4 slots. Your fourth- and fifth-best hitters should occupy the #3 and #5 slots. The #1 and #2 slots will have players with more walks than those in the #4 and #5 slots. From slot #6 through #9, put the players in descending order of quality."
Okay, so it's been shown that lineup construction is not enormously significant: the difference in results from an optimal order and the very worst is only about one more run every six games. Still, using those rules, and the average OPS stats from yesterday's entry, what do we see? Three best hitters would be Quentin, Young and Tracy, in that order, going by OPS, with Jackson and Drew behind them, then it's Byrnes, Hudson and Snyder. I would have to say Quentin and Tracy are more likely to get on-base than Young - though in Q's case, a good number of the "walks" may leave bruises. That gives us the potential following lineup:
- RF - Quentin, R
- 3B - Tracy, L
- SS - Drew, L
- CF - Young, R
- 1B - Jackson, R
- LF - Byrnes, R
- 2B - Hudson, S
- C - Snyder, R
Looks not bad; maybe we should swap Jackson and Drew around, to break up the three right-handers in a row? Though the 'serving suggestion' above does somewhat echo Melvin's thoughts about Drew: "He can hit anywhere in the lineup and down the road he could be a (#3 hitter). So whether down the road is a year, a month, a week..." Of course, the lineup doesn't take into account batter RHP/LHP splits, which are worth taking into account, or batter-pitcher matchups - beloved by Melvin, but rarely are there enough recent plate-appearances to make those significant. I've a feeling we will see about the same 112 different lineups used by Melvin last year.
Certainly, if Byrnes was auditioning for the #1 spot today, it did not exactly go well: 0-for-2 with a pair of K's. He did get a walk though, and came round to score; I also note, interestingly, he was playing CF today, Young getting the day off. A good comeback from AZ: we were 4-0 down by the middle of the third, but used a seven-run fifth to turn things around, and added two more in the eighth after the Angels had made it a one-run game again. Final score, 10-7 to Arizona: Hammock went 2-for-2 with a three-run homer, and Montero went 2-for-3.
Scary moment in the third, when starter Doug Davis was hit on the left arm by a sharp comebacker, leading off the third. He left the game, but is expected to make his next scheduled start. He had given up three hits and a walk by that point, and ended up allowing three earned runs. Elliott relieved him for the rest of the third, and Nippert then got the win for two perfect innings of work. Daigle, Slaten, Peguero and Peña followed, with varying effectiveness, but again, I was pleased to note the healthy K:BB ratio of 9:1 put up by our pitchers.
Another step forward for Randy Johnson, after a 55-pitch bullpen session Wednesday. "I'm not worried about my back any more. Not that I ever was, but when I go out there now and get the ball I try to do what I've done throughout my career, throw strikes and get batters out. Tonight it will get a little stiff, and it works its way out. It's building tolerance." Next step, probably at least two sessions of batting practice, before he'll be ready to take the hill in an actual game.
Interesting wrinkle in the lineup, with the news that Callaspo may do some time in the outfield, once the roster becomes a more manageable size. The aim here is, apparently, to use the switch-hitting Alberto, to give us a few more options in the outfield. At the moment, DaVanon (injured) and Krynzel (out of options) are the only outfielders capable of batting left-handed, if the need arises. I'm thinking we may see many more situational moves this year, making use of the positional flexibility provided by Hammock, Callaspo, etc.
It seems like FoxSports.com has become the Diamondbacks' version of Pravda, pumping out glowing reports with almost-suspicious frequency. johngordonma drew our attention to this one, which says our prospects "are the talk of the Cactus League", calls Carlos Gonzalez "a bigger, stronger, left-handed hitting version of Carlos Beltran," (!) and quotes Josh Byrnes as saying Hairston's chances of appearing on the waiver wire are "zero percent." That's the kind of thing it's a pleasure to read [especially when I left my coffee in the car...which Mrs. SnakePit has just driven off in!]
It also says Dave Krynzel, "looks stronger than he did with the Brewers," and hints at a possible trade with the Marlins. Florida also need relief help, so rumblings are circulating about something like Krynzel, Julio and cash to them. Word at DBBP is we'd be looking for a couple of high-ceiling rotation prospects, an area in which the Marlins are loaded. Be nice if we could parlay Krynzel, basically a throw-in for the Estrada trade, into anything significant.
Finally, we have a runner-up in the contest for Nausea-Inducing Story of Spring-Training: the winner there, of course, being "Huge Manatee pitches three perfect innings for Gnats". Nick Piecoro tells us that, "Players and staff pooled together $5,000 for rookie catcher Josh Ford if he could eat 40 hardboiled eggs in an hour before the game against the Rangers. Ford came close. He put down 38 1/2 of them before he, uh, had to stop. It sounded like most of his teammates were going to pay up anyway." Presumably by sliding the cash under the firmly-closed door of the locker-room. All together now: "What we've got here, is failure to communicate..."