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Weekend (D-backs) Update

Really just a bunch of bits and pieces, more or less tangentially related to the team, that I want to get out of the way before tomorrow - for reasons that'll become obvious then, the next week is already pretty much fully-booked on the SnakePit. However, since the Opening Day roster now appears to be 24/25ths complete, with only the last spot on the bullpen to fill, I'm not expecting too much activity before - and I'm smiling as I type this - pitchers and catchers report next Sunday.

The 24th man is veteran Tom Gordon, who signed a contract which could be worth anywhere from $500K to $2.5 million. That will depend entirely on how many days he spends on the active roster: his first day gets him an extra hundred grand, and there are milestones, mostly every fifteen days, up until he gets $300K more if he's on the roster for a full 180 days. The franchise has a well-known rule against incentive-based contracts, due to their cost uncertainty amongst other things, but has done this kind of deal in the past, with Jeff Salazar for example. They don't seem to have quite the same prohibition against health-related deals, as against those based on numbers of games, etc.

Gordon is a prime candidate for the former, having been shut down in early July, due to problems with the ulnar never in his elbow. He managed to avoid surgery, and says he is close to being 100%. Still, he is now 41, even if he was an All-Star as recently as 2006. From what I've read on various Phillies phorums, the fans there don't seem too sad to be seeing him go, despite an overall ERA+ of 110 during his three seasons there. You are, inevitably, only as good as your last season with a team, though for a $5.5m salary, I'd probably want something more than under 30 innings with an ERA of 5.16. Seems like a classic buy-low acquisition.

Steve Gilbert points out that Gordon played with Bob Melvin, and says this was one of the things which drew Gordon to Arizona. He says, "I had a great time with him in Kansas City. For me to get an opportunity to play for him as well as being able to be part of this organization is a thrill for me." One suspects some degree of hyperbole is involved, since Melvin caught him on exactly four occasions [Bob was the third-string catcher for the Royals, Mike McFarlane and another future D-back, Brent Mayne, getting most time behind the plate], but it gives you some idea how long Gordon has been about; that 1992 season was already his fifth in the majors.

The piece also says, "When asked if he had played with any of his new teammates, he said no." That surprised me, given the length of his career, so I checked up; and I hope Gordon's elbow is better than his memory, which is very faulty there. He was on the 2003 White Sox with some guy called Jon Garland - and also Scott Schoeneweis, after the latter got traded from Anaheim. The two relievers even pitched in the same game six times: you'd think Tom might recall, for example, the first such occasion on July 31st, where he blew the save in the ninth, but Scott then relieved him and got the win in the eleventh. He also played with Tony Clark on the 2004 Yankees: then again, I think everyone in the majors has now played with Tony Clark...

Well, that took longer than expected. Just time for a quick sweep round some other stuff, since Mrs. SnakePit has now returned from the weekly visit with her mother [postponed from yesterday, due to the Fanfest]. It's the NBA All-Star bash this week in Phoenix: might give us some idea of what to expect, if the rumors are true, and the Diamondbacks get the 2011 MLB All-Star game. Our colleagues over at Bright Side of the Sun have managed to score two tickets to Amare Stoudemire's All-Star parties, and are giving them away. You just have to predict his stats in tonight's game against Detroit. Fortunately, there are already some guesses up, so you won't embarrass yourself by saying things like "three points, 115 rebounds and .282 assists." Dammit, *I* entered, though I imagine Amare's is probably fervently hoping I don't win, since I am about the last person any NBA star wants to show up at his party!

Interesting piece on, of all places, a Cleveland Indians blog [it's in the third block down in the story], which seems to have a good grasp on the realities of being a Diamondbacks fan. After discussing the salary deferments - though the math on those is as fuzzy as the aftermath of a 75% Off All Plush Items sale at the Disney store - he summarizes the situation in Arizona thus: "What the fans see is an ownership unwilling to shell out money to Randy Johnson and Orlando Hudson this last off season. What the ownership sees is attendance of around 2.5 million on a ticket base price that is the lowest average in the league [let's take the correction from 'Hacks on this as read, shall we?]. Expenses are high, revenues are low. Anyone who has run anything more complicated than a paper route can understand that math."

If anyone is looking for a creative outlet, our friends over at Fanster are looking for people to help cover the D-backs in the upcoming season. I occasionally write bits and pieces for them, but obviously, my energy is largely devoted to the 'Pit, so I can't really help much more directly. If you're interested, Greg Esposito is the man to contact and his email address [hidden somewhat to avoid it getting harvested by spammers!] would be greg.esposito ('at' symbol)

Still no sign of Manny signing with anyone, even as Ryan Howard avoids arbitration with the Phillies, by signing a three-year $54m contract. Over the past three years, their OPS is very similar - Howard is .980, Ramirez .990 - but the latter appears still to be holding out for something huge. $45m for two years is apparently not it, but I think Ramirez and his agent Scott 'The Antichrist' Boras have badly misjudged the market. Part of me still would hate to see him sign with LA, but as Boston found out, a disgruntled Manny can be a disruptive influence indeed. I think having an unhappy and - in his opinion - underpaid Ramirez in Los Angeles, could work in favor of the Diamondbacks.

Here's a name from the past: Kevin Seitzer. Remember him? Fired as the hitting coach half-way though the 2006 season by the Diamondbacks, he has now been resurrected in the same role for the Kansas City Royals. He says of his time in Arizona, “I had to ask God to forgive me I don't know how many times, because I was so upset and the whole ordeal was such a bad deal.” I'm pretty sure we can all come up with our own responses to that one. Let's just say, if I was in Kansas City, I wouldn't be blocking off October in the expectations of that 23-season playoff-less streak being broken in 2009.

Right. That'll do. More tomorrow. Trust me on that. ;-)