So, the SnakePitette has moved out again. That's the third time this has happened, and one wonders whether it will last longer than the previous two. The problem seems to be that she always moves in with her BFF...and within four weeks, they're no longer her BFF, following more menstrual drama than can be found than during a MySpace meet-and-greet over at GLB. ;-) SnakePit Jr, meanwhile, just had three wisdom teeth removed, and 'enjoyed' dinner tonight of thoroughly-blended chicken-noodle soup. I was somewhat amused by the instructions received from the dentist, which included a straight-faced recommendation not to probe the operation site with sharp objects. Dammit, there goes this evening's entertainment...
Nick P covers the bullpen. He thinks AZ are leaning towards Lyon as the closer, based on his greater major-league experience in the role. However, the piece also has some news that I appear to have missed: Doug Slaten had microfracture surgery on his knee at the end of last season. Hang on, wasn't that Chad Tracy? First I'd heard of that, and it seems Slaten might not be ready for Opening Day either. That would leave us without a readily-apparent lefty: the article also mentions we're taking a look at Keith Foulke, but he is an RHP, so would seem to be intended for a different role in the 'pen. Diaries on both Slaten and Foulke have already been opened on the right.
Congratulations to Todd Stottlemyre, who I think became the first ever player who appeared for the D-backs to receive any Hall of Fame votes, in the results of the 2007 balloting which were announced yesterday. Okay: "voteS" might be a bit optimistic, but his one selection puts him one up on previous D-back candidates Devon White and Bobby Witt, both of whom recieved nul points from the 2006 election. I am a little curious how Stottlemyre was thought, by one Baseball Writers Association of America member, as being appropriately qualified for the HoF. However, with a career ERA+ of 100, and zero All-Star appearances or Cy Young votes, when the Hall of Absolutely Average opens up, however, Todd will be in the first set of inductees.
Obviously, the five-year waiting period after retirement rule does mean there have not been that many Diamondbacks eligible for the ballot, and the three mentioned above are the only ones to have been chosen. Poor Armando Reynoso and Greg Swindell were both eligible this season, but were 'inexplicably' left off. That should significantly change this year and beyond. Jay Bell, Mark Grace, Dan Plesac and Matt Williams are all possible candidates on the December ballot for the Class of 2009, with Roberto Alomar the leading Arizona player in the 2010 selection, while 2011 sees Raul Mondesi and Carlos Baerga.
Now, they might not go in as D-backs; only 38 of Alomar's 2,379 career games were with us, for example, while Williams and Grace are both more strongly associated with other teams, despite their World Series success coming here. But I think it's an interesting question: who will be the first man in the Hall of Fame to have pulled on an Arizona jersey at some point in his career? Five years after Randy Johnson retires - December 2013, if this is his last season - he seems a sure-fire first-ballot choice, of course (and will, I suspect, enter in an AZ cap), but will anyone make it in before him? Hence, this week's poll question.
This is a little odd. At work today, I was discussing D-backs jerseys with a colleague, and he was saying he wanted to get a Webb one. I pulled up diamondbacks.com, and was startled to see...well, this. Notice something a little odd? No jerseys of our ace, Cy Young runner-up and SnakePit MVP. Indeed, the only three you can get are Tracy, Johnson and Byrnes: two players who missed most or all of the second-half through injury, and a third who lost over 100 OPS after the break. I know that after Christmas is probably slow, but this is still somewhat disappointing. Interestingly, I note elsewhere on the site, a reduced price on Conor Jackson autographed bats and balls. Surely this can't be some kind of portent of a trade, can it?
Good article on the Reno Sidewinders [or whatever they end up being called] and the issue of whether they'll still be a Diamondbacks affiliate. Director of player development for us, A.J.Hinch, seems optimistic: "It's not to our advantage to look around. We need to get to know these guys and work from the inside out... We would be excited to go to a city that is thirsty for baseball. It's got the makings for a great baseball city." However, he does play down wanting to stay close to Phoenix, pointing out that "Once you get out of Arizona the plane flights are pretty much all the same." The paper also mentions that there is a large Giants fan base locally, and San Francisco's contract with their current Triple-A affiliate in Fresno expires after 2008 as well, and the Dodgers team in Las Vegas, the 51's, are under new ownership too.
The Hardball Times analyzes outfield arms. No-one in RF for us qualified, but Chris Young and Eric Byrnes both scored almost exactly at the average - what, all those flips didn't make EB the bestest fielder in the National League? :-) In Young's case, his fabulous average-ocity contrasts with TangoTiger's fan scouting report, where he was rated a great deal higher - albeit as part of an entirely subjective process. However, age is likely more in his favor than Eric's for 2008; Byrnes dropped from a +1.5 in 2006 to a -0.4 last year, though his position shift may have played a part, so we should check back in a year. One possibly hopeful note for 2008: Justin Upton's brother, B.J, came out top-rated among all center-fielders - hopefully, it's genetic. To no-one surprise, Gonzo was 28th of 29 in LF - behind Barry Bonds, but ahead, perhaps surprisingly, of Shannon Stewart.
Something we needn't worry about here in Arizona any longer, but the LA Times discusses bonuses in baseball contracts. Some of the most amusing examples: the Padres promising career reliever Alan Embree a $50,000 bonus if he were named starting pitcher in the All-Star game, and the Cards agreeing to pay Cesar Izturis the same amount, if he wins the entirely non-existent MVP award for the NLDS. Mind you, we are mentioned - specifically, the $1m we offered to, er, 'pony' up for Mrs. Troy Glaus's equestrian hobby.
Couple of quick links to finish with. More stuff over at Purple Row, where Rox Girl breaks down the 2007 performance of the NL West by position and analyzes how 2008 might go. She is fairly confident we'll be better than MLB median at C, 2B, 3B and CF; "LF's iffy, but any of 1B, SS or RF could make a big jump." Jim Callis of Baseball America discusses the AZ farm system - or what's left of it. He says, "A year ago, we rated the Diamondbacks system as the third-best in the game. With all the changes, it will sit somewhere around No. 20 when we release our updated rankings in the spring." That's because 13 of the top 15 prospects from then no longer qualify or are no longer with AZ. Good job we shouldn't need any prospects for a little bit...