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On Why Agents are not Necessarily a Good Thing

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After the playoffs, Tony Clark was offered a two-year, $3m deal by Arizona. He turned it down. On Monday, Clark instead signed a one-year deal for less than a million dollars, with the San Diego Padres. There, he will be playing in one of the worst hitters' parks in the majors, in a league where the DH only appears during a few games per year, and will be backing up a first-baseman who had more plate-appearances than any other 1B [720]. Know how many at-bats the reserves at the position got in 2007? That would be ten. Between three players. If Clark manages a hundred at-bats this season, I'll be surprised.

This all goes counter to what his agent, John Boggs, was saying. "A lot of clubs would love to have him," he commented. Just not very much, it would appear; certainly, less than a million bucks for someone who hit 17 homers in only 221 at-bats last season would seem on the cheap side. On the other hand, Tony Clark went to high school in San Diego and played at San Diego State - staying in the NL West would also give him the chance to stick it to Arizona, though we saw just how well that worked out for Luis Gonzalez with the Dodgers in 2007 [You! At the back! Stop sniggering!] On the other hand, he won't get to face Evil Chris Young, off whom Clark has four homers [only Jorge Sosa has surrendered more to him], in just nine at-bats.

I like Tony Clark, and have no doubt he was a steadying force in the young clubhouse last season. However, by rejecting the club's [more than fair, it would now appear] offer, it would appear that the openly Christian Clark had forgotten the moral of Proverbs 16:18. "Pride goeth before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." He could have played a valuable role on the reigning NL West Champions, especially with Tracy's health questionable, with a good chance of another stab at the post-season. Instead, an over-inflated sense of his own value - I suspect, due in no small part to the whisperings of Mr. Boggs in his client's ear - has left Clark now looking at a season spent riding the pine in the cavernous confines of Petco.

Stepping away from the schadenfreude punch-bowl, there was a good Q+A with Bob Melvin in the Republic on Sunday. It addresses questions such as the impact of Dan Haren, what they'll do to keep the Big Unit healthy [much less batting practice and "we'll do everything we can to take some pressure off the back."] and what role Micah Owings might have, outside of starting every fifth day - which appears to be 'limited', mostly because of concerns about him injuring himself pinch-hitting. The paragraph about the line-up perhaps bears repeating in full:

Your lineup last year was in a state of flux a lot of the time. Is that something we should expect again this year?

"It just depends. We still have to kind of settle on a leadoff guy. Chris really did a great job. The overall numbers would suggest he did a little better in the leadoff spot. We have a number of other guys who can potentially do it. Solidifying that spot makes it a little easier down the line to forecast the rest of the lineup. So I get a lot of questions - do you like to do it that way? I like to play everybody and get everybody involved, but I would like to run a set lineup out there that we felt like would be conducive to guys knowing where they're going to be on a day-to-day basis."

"I would like to run a set lineup out there"? Where is Bob Melvin and what have you done with him? Because this is the man who ran out 158 different batting orders, including pitchers, in 2007, and 146 each of the two previous years before that. Fifteen different players started games in the #7 spot last year [Today's trivia: how many can you name?] We'll see how long it takes Melvin in 2008 before he runs out a lineup we've seen previously; if it's much before the All-Star break, I'll be impressed. Though Young did better at the top of the order than elsewhere, that may simply be because he gained experience as the season went on. We all remember the welter of homers with no-one aboard - he had two separate streaks of eight consecutive solo blasts - and would rather see them coming down the order, with men on base.

Another one of the 2007 D-backs has signed with a different team. Buffet restaurants in the Minnesota area will be hanging out the bunting, with the news that Livan Hernandez will be pitching for the Twins this year. It's a a $5 million, one-year contract, with up to an additional $2 million in performance bonuses. No word on whether these are tied to restricting his calorific intake in any way. The (now appropriately-named) Twins blog, Twinkie Town discusses the signing, with the opinions there generally skeptical. Minnesota aren't expected to be serious contenders this year, but this move will let them hold off starting their service clock on some of their young pitching prospects. He'll likely suck hard in the AL Central, even though the Metrodome is considerably more pitcher-friendly than Chase.

However, Livan did well enough for us last year, that February 14th is going to be SnakePit day over at Purple Row - a result of the Rodrigo Lopez vs. Hernandez 2.0 bet going our way last season. So, basically, Rox Girl has to post my smack-talk on how we'll kick Rockies ass in 2008 on the front-page of the site - no doubt with a fixed grin, reminiscent of a PR lackey who has just found out her next client will be Britney Spears. All suggestions for material I can include in my brutal savaging of Colorado's fragile psyche, will be welcome. However, since they did sweep us in the National League Championship Series, I have - very graciously, I think it has to be said - agreed to let her have a counterpoint article here, on why the Rockies are going to be the best team in the division this year. Though perhaps that one needs to be held back until April 1st. ;-)

Finally, Fox Sports AZ are showing two of Webb's best outings from last year on Friday - the day pitchers and catchers report to Tucson. First up, at 4pm AZ time, we get his complete-game outing against the Astros from May 11. Then, after a break for some boring college sport or other [that'll be dinner for me], you can enjoy again his 10-strikeout, complete-game performance versus the Nationals from Aug. 11, which begins at 8:30 p.m. Be a nice way to warm up for the coming season, though it's a shame they aren't showing his best outing of the year, the two-hit shutout against Atlanta on August 17, which ran his scoreless streak to 42 innings. Wouldn't mind seeing that one again.

[Answer to the trivia question. The fifteen players who started a game in the #7 spot last year were: Young, Hairston, Montero, Callaspo, Drew, Quentin, Snyder, Hammock, Smith, Reynolds, Salazar, Davanon, Upton, Cirillo and Ojeda. Snyder got most starts there, with 32, just ahead of Quentin's 29]