Much as I am tempted to do another wildly off-topic post - perhaps reviewing the Bruce Campbell flick, Alien Apocalypse, which we watched last night - I sense this might cause the formation of a mob with torches, muttering something about baseball and the Diamondbacks. Hence, I bring you a special, Seinfeld-inspired edition of the SnakePit: because, just as that was a show about nothing, so this promises to be a column about nothing. Well, almost nothing. The amount of actual, hard news on the Diamondbacks front over the past week, could be scrawled, in fairly large print, on a Post-It note - and then affixed to one of those speed cameras on the 101, probably.
At least I don't have to do this kind of thing for a living. I can only pity poor Steve Gilbert, reduced to writing stories with headlines like, "Meetings could be quiet for D-backs: Club likely won't pull off any blockbuster deals in Las Vegas." Though the lack of news isn't Steve's fault at all, this surely must rank up there alongside, "Small earthquake in Chile. Not many dead," as the least attention-grabbing title ever. Nick Piecoro is similarly challenged. He hasn't updated his blog since November 23rd, and his latest piece is the hardly stunning revelation, Payroll to dictate D-Backs' dealings at the winter meetings. We're looking for a second baseman and some relief pitching. Film at 11.
Still, we make of the situation what we can. We should start with a couple of nuggets from the minor-leagues. Firstly, the team sorted out their coaching staff for the coming season. The Sidewinders are moving to Tucson, where Brett Butler will get the chance to manage the team now known as the Reno Aces. He previously worked at both the A and Double-A affiliates, and is returning to management after a stroke in mid-2007. Mike Parrott remains the pitching coach, his eighth year in the position, and Rick Burleson is the hitting coach.
Down the chain, everyone returns to their positions in Mobile, where the Double-A Baybears will be under manager Hector De La Cruz; pitching coach Jeff Pico and hitting coach Turner Ward come back as well. Indeed, this pattern of stability is largely repeated throughout the organization: about the only change is Alan Zinter moving as hitting coach from Rookie League Missoula to the Diamondbacks High-A affiliate in Visalia. [If that name sounds familiar, it's because he had 34 at-bats for the franchise in 2004. He's also the only AZ player ever, whose name started with the letter Z] Mel Stottlemyre Jr. remains as roving pitching coordinator.
In Venezuela, Juan Gutierrez tossed a complete-game one-hitter for Caracas, as they beat Caribes 3-0 yesterday, allowing just a single, with three walks and six strikeouts. It should be pointed out that games only go seven innings there, so it's perhaps a little less impressive than it seems initially. Still, he is unbeaten in his nine starts for the team, having posted a 1.74 ERA, and with a K:BB ratio of 40:15 in his 46.2 innings of work. He came across from Houston as part of the Valverde trade last winter, but struggled in Tucson, going 5-11 with a 6.09 ERA. Be nice if this winter performance was the shape of things to come: at age 25, he's a little old to be called a 'prospect' for much longer.
Moving on to the rumor mill, Detroit appear to have some interest in Miguel Montero, "but it does not appear that the teams have compatible rosters from a trade standpoint." This appears to mean they aren't able to offer us the second-baseman we presumably seek. Brandon Lyon is considering accepting arbitration, his agent Barry Meister saying, "He would have a documentable value in arbitration. It is certainly an option he would have to consider." Meister also represents the Big Unit, and there appears to be no shortage of suitors for his services. "We've had about 10 teams contact us," says Meister. The Giants, A's and Dodgers are all among the candidates, though given his expressed desire for another World Series, I'm not certain how well those would fit the criteria.
The Diamondbacks are expanding their all-you-can-eat buffet next season. This was tried as an experiment on the upper-deck late last year, with purchasers getting all the hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and sodas they could eat. It was, presumably, a success and so they're ripping out half a dozen suites down the third-base line, to make a new "family lounge," where about $25 gets the all-you-can-eat deal, with around 500 tickets available for each game. They may also set this up, for groups, in the outfield picnic area. Said Derrick Hall, "It's a supply and demand issue. Having close to 70 suites was too many. We are looking at this economically, and the business plan shows it will be more profitable.”
Finally, I'm leaving the Diamondbacks' MVP vote open for another week. At the moment, there is only one ballot separating Webb and Jackson, so I'm encouraging both sides to get the vote out in the coming days. I will close it next Sunday, at 1pm. And that's all I got. I even met up with a bunch of folks this afternoon, including TAP and Tmar, but in terms of solid info, there's basically nothing, except an appreciation for the waitresses at The Tilted Kilt. I think [and certainly, hope] we may well see some more activity during the winter meetings, but I doubt it'll be anything on the level of magnitude of the Haren trade from last season. That said, Josh Byrnes has shown previously that he is very capable of playing his cards extremely close to his chest, and than any move, when it comes, is quite possibly going to be entirely unexpected. We'll see what happens.