Couple of interesting articles over the past couple of days, which deserve mention. The main one is an interview with Ken Kendrick by Nick Piecoro, which addresses a lot of issues pertinent to the off-season. It's definitely worth a read in full, but here are the highlights, in bulletted format:
- Kendrick said the team intends to exercising the $8.5 million option on Webb unless "something very extraordinary occurs."
- Payroll likely will jump to the $75 million-$79 million range. After Webb's option, that should leave about $20m for the bullpen, a starter and perhaps a veteran position player.
- On Eric Byrnes' contract: "two years in and it looks like a mistake... Ownership isn't saying, 'We're spending that kind of money on this player so he must be on the roster,' " He added there was an element of trying to appease the fans that in hindsight was a mistake.
- "The mistakes that we made were in the choices that we made in the bullpen. We did decide to not sign a couple of guys that went to other clubs (Lyon and Cruz)... We can improve in the bullpen and we have to spend some money to do it."
More analysis and some other stuff after the jump.
The piece linked above is actually only part of the interview. Nick is posting an extended version on his blog: here's Part 1 of 3. The most interesting quote is perhaps this one: "I’ve always said and maybe I have said this to you, the difference between major-market teams and middle-market teams is more shown in the year when injuries occur. In the middle market you have a tough time competing. If you’re a larger-market team you can sometimes make decisions, even with injuries, to fill the gap, or you have backup players to fill the gap."
I tend to agree that this is one of the key things: if you have a budget, you can work around injuries or "mistakes" like the Eric Byrnes contract. Arizona really doesn't have that safety-belt to the same extent as the Dodgers, who could contract with Andruw Jones and Juan Pierre for a total of $25m, to play for Texas and be a fourth outfielder respectively, and still find $20m more for Mandy. Mind you, we should have $20 million or so of our own to spend in the off-season, and if wisely spent, that should be enough to do some solid patching. All suggestions as to where it should go are welcome.
I would probably be looking to spend up to $10 million on a starting pitcher - whether that's Doug Davis (I suspect it won't be) or someone else, maybe $5 million on a couple of reliable arms for the middle of the bullpen, and the other $5 million on... Well, I'd perhaps be thinking about shoring up first-base, which was a yawning chasm of offensive suck this year: Brandon Allen didn't do enough to show that he was ready to take over the position permanenly in 2010. Hey, what's Tony Clark doing? :-) That's just my first thoughts, and I'm sure we'll get much more into this as the winter progresses.
Almost two months left, but we appear to have a shoo-in winner of the "That is professional journalism?" category for 2009. Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star demonstrates his lack of knowledge of...well, just about everything, in a sorry little piece which feels like he did nothing but copy paragraphs from the azcentral.com forums. All credibility slunk for the door when he said the Diamondbacks "have become the Pittsburgh Pirates." Let's see... Arizona is two years removed from the NLCS. Pittsburgh just finished their seventeenth straight losing season. Hey, Greg! One of these things is not like the other, one of these things does not belong.
And it gets worse, with Hansen saying Upton "seems destined to bat third for the Yankees or Red Sox when he becomes eligible for his first big-money contract in two years." Factual accuracy? It's vastly over-rated in the Daily Star offices. Because Justin, of course, won't even be eligible for his first arbitration hearing until after 2010. Really, hard to take anything he says seriously after reading that. Can someone revoke Hansen's journalistic license? Or just give him a membership to azcentral.com instead? His ignorance would fit in well there. Not often one professional journalist openly criticizes another, but even Steve Gilbert was compelled to write a detailed rebuttal, starting "I don't want to go all firejoemorgan.com here and pick apart what a columnist writes..." Good stuff.
Finally, one thing which may have escaped your attention is that the Fry's Rewards partnership with the Diamondbacks has apparently ended. Over at Diary of a Die-Hard, Jeff Summers recounts his experiences in the program, and his quest for an autographed bat. i just hope he survives the off-season, because from the way the story ends, it sounds like his digestive and circulatory system are going to be beaten like the Nationals this winter...