Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Unasked Questions 

First day of spring training for the Diamondbacks -- shouldn't there be a story, preferably a big one, in the paper? Nope, not in the Republic, not in the Daily Star (they're training in Tucson) -- only the Tribune comes through with a classic "guy with something to prove" article on Russ Ortiz.

So let me ask the big questions that should've been asked in newspaper articles today as a prelude to spring training...

In rough order of importance...

1. How will the g-g-guys recover from their 2004 injuries?
No, this isn't a stuttering question, it's a question of how Gonzalez, Glaus, and Green will recover from their 2004 injuries. For a team whose 2004 debacle can be blamed in large part on constant injuries, having these three in the lineup for most of the year would be a welcome change. Injured, and the D-Backs cement their reputation (justified or not) for handing out bloated contracts. Healthy, and all of a sudden the new Glaus and Green contracts become a bargain (for 2005 at least).
2. Which Vazquez will we see?
All Star Javier? Or Post-All Star-Javier? If it's anywhere near All Star Javier, Randy Johnson would have to pitch another perfect game along with an ERA below 2.00 for the D-Backs to feel like the trade (though painful) was worthwhile.
3. Who's Batting First?
... and 2nd, and 6th through 8th? Traditional managerial thinking would put the "speedy" Clayton (is he really speedy?) in leadoff, with the "bunty" Counsell (is he really bunty? is that really a word?) behind him. Should this happen, the entire D-Back blogging/online community are liable to throw sharp objects at their LCDs. Consensus amongst that community says Cruz should bat leadoff, and I agree. I'm torn between batting Tracy 2nd or 6th, as I'm not sure which would be better for a batter in his 2nd year in the league whom the scouting reports have caught up with -- in other words, will he get better pitches at the 2-spot or the 6-spot? (Probably the 2-spot, so that's my answer.) Please bat Clayton 8th. Please.
4. Who's Pitching Fifth?
If you know who's going to get this spot, you should stop reading this blog and get yourself to Vegas. Gosling, Halsey, Gonzalez, Pena, take your pick, there are others...

Really, the only question that spring training will definitively answer is #4, but I'm sure many column inches will be killed answering those other 3.

With Glaus you can pretty much be assured of a great performance out of the gate, followed by horrible Junes:

2004: .000/.000/.000
2003: .200/.284/.333
2002: .217/.350/.301
2001: .189/.351/.467
2000: .253/.330/.540
1999: .227/.284/.432

If he doesn't do well out of the gate, I'd be very, very nervous. Similarly, Green has a history of slow starts, but I really do think he'll do better in Arizona just because of the park. Of the three G-Men, Gonzalez is most likely to return to normal -- his injury wasn't that bad (a Tommy John surgery, IIRC, which shouldn't affect his hitting).
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