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Spring Training Revisited

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Curse you, Nick Piecoro, for sweeping in and stealing my thunder by doing a fine job on analyzing what the Diamondbacks can take from spring-training. That piece basically covers most of the points I was going to make, though I would probably have unleashed a good deal more sarcasm. For example, on the topic of Jon Rauch, I would have mentioned his claim that last season's poor performance was caused by concern over his wife's illness. "So, Jon: what's to blame for the atrocious numbers - a 15.12 ERA! - this spring? Worried about a neighbor's sick kitten? Thrown off your game by a poorly-timed viewing of Sophie's Choice?" Basically, come Monday, excuses will no longer be accepted. You have to pitch like you mean it. Elsewhere, let's look at the spring stats and see who impressed and who didn't in the Cactus League:

Chad Qualls: 9 IP, 12 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 3.00 ERA
Billy Buckner: 16.1 IP, 14 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 10 K, 3.31 ERA
Leo Rosales: 11.2 IP, 12 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 3.86 ERA
Dan Haren: 30.2 IP, 27 H, 15 ER, 4 BB, 34 K, 4.40 ERA

Not-so Impressive
Juan Gutierrez: 11.1 IP, 15 H, 11 ER, 5 BB, 8 K, 8.74 ERA
Tony Peña: 8 IP, 19 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 9.00 ERA
Scott Schoeneweis: 8 IP, 15 H, 9 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 10.13 ERA
Jon Rauch: 8.1 IP, 15 H, 14 ER, 8 BB, 6 K, 15.12 ERA

Chris Snyder: .333/.422/.641, 6 BB, 10 K
Miguel Montero: .325/.449/.575, 6 BB, 3 K
Chad Tracy: .375/.426/.589, 5 BB, 4 K
Tony Clark: .367/.415/.571, 4 BB, 12 K

Not-so Impressive
Stephen Drew: .267/.353/.356, 6 BB, 12 K
Justin Upton: .204/.353/.352, 11 BB, 15 K
Conor Jackson: .190/.279/.241, 6 BB, 6 K

There were only three hitters whose numbers weren't solid: I couldn't bring myself to list Augie Ojeda, who would technically have been the fourth, with an OPS of .754. Hitting .310 can hardly be described as 'not-so impressive', even in spring training. Of course, difficult to gauge how meaningful these numbers are: I generally tend to feel they mean less for well-established players with solid track records. I am therefore likely a bit more concerned about J-Up than CoJack, say, and Webb's 5.82 ERA is not of the slightest significance.

I am pleased to see us get through with few health issues: Webb, Doug Davis and Max Scherzer have all had their moments, but seem to have come through and look ready for action. Chad Tracy has also looked very good, fully recovered from his knee problem, and if he continues to hit as well as he has, it'll prove very difficult for Bob Melvin to keep him out of the line-up. Eric Byrnes has at least been running full-speed, though exactly zero Cactus League walks for him, suggests that his patience has not been stretched as much as his hamstrings.

The final total attendance number for the Cactus League surged to a record level of 1.5 million, but that conceals a significant drop in the per-game number,  thanks to the arrival of two teams and the extended period of play this year. Needless to say, such factors are largely being glossed over by league and tourism officials - though I imagine they will be quick to remind us of these same factors when normal service is resumed next year. I can't quite concur with league president Robert Brinton's assessment: "It's a remarkable season in the midst of a recession. Baseball fans proved to be far more recession-resistant than regular travelers." That certainly doesn't jibe with what the hotels and restaurants have been saying.

Heard from Fox Sports that they are doing almost twelve hours of straight Diamondbacks programming on Monday. Should be fun, though that includes a repeat screening of the afternoon's contest, and two additional broadcasts of the post-game show. Here is what we have to look forward to:

        11:00 am - The Best of the Eric Byrnes Show
        11:30 am - Miller Lite Diamondbacks Live Pre-Game Show
        12:30 pm - Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies
        3:30 pm - Qwest Diamondbacks Live Post-Game Show
        4:00 pm - Hook, Line & Sinker-ball: Brandon Webb’s Fishing Tournament          
        4:30 pm – Diamondbacks 50 Greatest Moments (No. 50 – 21)
        5:00 pm – Diamondbacks 50 Greatest Moments (No. 20 – 1)
        5:30 pm -  Miller Lite Diamondbacks Live Pre-Game Show (replay)
        6:30 pm - Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies (replay)
        9:30 pm - Qwest Diamondbacks Live Post-Game Show (replay)
       10:00 pm - Qwest Diamondbacks Live Post-Game Show (replay)

I think I'll be hanging about after the game for a bit. The 4pm show is about our ace's January fishing tournament down in Cabo, Mexico, which benefited the Brandon Webb K Foundation.You can see a preview clip here. Unless your company blocks access to YouTube [hey, I'm on lunch...] I think I'll also be watching the 50 Greatest Moments show. I remember seeing some of those when they were doing the countdown last season, but I never saw the complete list. Of course, if we lose to the Rockies, I will probably be sobbing gently in my pillow for the rest of the night. That, and drinking heavily...

Random poll. asked visitors, which of the following is the greatest baseball movie of all-time? 1,406 people votes, and here are the results:

1. Field of Dreams (45%)
2. Major League (23%)
3. The Natural (16%)
4. Bull Durham (13%)
5. Eight Men Out (3%)

And the Hardball Times asked me to ask, then answer, Five Questions for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hope you find it as interesting to read, as I did to write. More tomorrow, with the report on tonight's exhibition game at Chase. Maybe we should do a Gameday Thread for tomorrow afternoon's one - anyone gonna be about?