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Snake Bytes, 1/10: Spring on the way

Spring training tickets went on sale this weekend, another milestone on the long, slow journey toward Opening Day. But less than five weeks left until pitchers and catchers report on February 13!

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Team news

[] D-backs GM Mike Hazen expects deals to heat up - Still on Hazen's to-do list is adding another reliever, possibly another catcher and a left-handed hitter. "We like some of our internal options," Hazen said of the bullpen. "We're trying to build out as much depth to the bullpen as possible and we're open-minded. However, we can get outs." It's possible the D-backs could shift one or more of the starters to the bullpen. That is not likely to be something the D-backs decide to do until well into Spring Training. "At some point we'll have to make that decision," Hazen said. "We have a long way to go between now and then, before we have to do that."

[BaseballAmerica] 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10 Prospects - The biggest challenge facing Hazen and company is to work within the framework of a projected payroll of around $100 million, especially since one-third of that total is due to Greinke. There’s not much help to be expected from the farm system, one of the weakest in baseball. Arizona is starting from the bottom, but Hazen and the new regime have a blank canvas to work with as they try to get the D-backs back on track.

[AZ Central] Bickley: Diamondbacks fighting losing battle over Chase Field - By all accounts, the Diamondbacks are a friendly, charitable, classy organization that never fails to impress visiting media. The current ownership group says it has never taken a penny of profit from the team, reinvesting all capital in baseball operations. Those are admirable qualities.. It would be an overstatement to say the current owners are viewed in the same way they portrayed Chase Field. But not by much. And as much as the Diamondbacks need a new home, this is a battle that is destined to fail in the court of public opinion. At least until the team on the field holds up its end of the bargain.

[Inside the 'Zona] Making a Monster: How to Turn Chris Owings Into Paul Goldschmidt - Not gonna happen. #SavedYouAClick "It’s hard to be a singles hitter who doesn’t walk much and produce like you’re a middle of the order masher who’s on track to be a Hall of Fame candidate. You already knew that, though. So while this was all in good fun, it looks like we won’t be saying hello to Chris Owingschmidt anytime soon. And if the real Owings does break out and wins the NL MVP award next year, well, I’m taking some of the credit for laying out the blueprint."

[AP] 'Hee Haw' co-creator and producer Sam Lovullo dies at age 88 - Sam Lovullo, who as producer and co-creator of "Hee Haw" brought country music and homestyle humor to millions of American homes, has died at age 88, his publicists said Thursday. Lovullo worked on TV's "The Jonathan Winters Show" from 1967 and 1969. He and two writers from the show noticed that it enjoyed a ratings spike when country music guests were on. They conceived of "Hee Haw," the variety show that ran for two years on CBS starting in 1969 and went on to a 21-year run in syndication. His son Torey Lovullo is a former Major League Baseball player who was recently named manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

[Federal Baseball] Nationals hire De Jon Watson as Special Assistant to GM Mike Rizzo - The Washington Nationals announced an addition to the front office Friday afternoon, reporting on Twitter that they had hired former Arizona Diamondbacks’ Senior Vice President of Baseball operations De Jon Watson as part of their pro scouting staff. Watson will join the Nationals as a Special Assistant to General Manager Mike Rizzo.

And, elsewhere...

[Forbes] The Definitive Look At Every Drug Suspension In Baseball For 2016 - Not all drug suspensions are for PEDs; the area that fans most think of. Of the 113 players (100 in the Minor leagues, 13 at the MLB level), 43 of them, or 38% of the total were for either failing to test, or for drug of abuse—substances such as cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, methamphetamines, marijuana, etc.

[MurrayChass] Barry and Roger, This Bud's For You - [In which he explains his blank HOF ballot] Just because the voters made a mistake and elected someone who doesn’t merit being in the Hall, voters shouldn’t use that player’s election as an excuse to elect another inferior candidate... Selig was elected not by the writers but by the so-called veterans committee. Just because the management voters who dominate that 16-man panel ignored wrongdoing like collusion and P.E.D.’s, it is not an excuse for writers.

[ESPN] Left for dead: Baseball's power outage in left field - The article is Insider-only, but last year, by the metric used, LF hit worse than 2B. The reason? Defensive shifts. "If you have three guys playing defense between first and second base, the required lateral movement for each of them is reduced; they simply have less ground to cover to their left or right, meaning that a team can get away with a slower, less athletic middle infielder than they were able to under traditional defensive alignments... In turn, it seems, teams are emphasizing defense more in the outfield, where shifting isn't as easy."

[FanGraphs] Is Home-Field Advantage Becoming Endangered? - Perhaps those pining for robot umps should pause and think about all of those implications. Do we want all fields to play neutral or closer to neutral? Perhaps no matter how many advances and adoptions in technology there are, the home team will always have a significant edge. It’s been something of a constant for more than 100 years. Or perhaps the current gap between home and road teams is more fragile than we think.

[CBSSports] Manny Ramirez, 44, will be playing indy-league baseball in Japan in 2017 - Manny Ramirez may be eligible for election to the Hall of Fame this year, but that doesn't mean he's done playing baseball. In fact, Ramirez will be playing in 2017. On Sunday, Japan's Kochi Fighting Dogs of the Shikoku Island League announced that they've agreed to terms with Ramirez. The Fighting Dogs -- possibly an unfortunate nickname -- are an independent league team in Japan and not part of NPB.