Friday, February 04, 2005

Don't Trust Anyone Over 30 

The Republic's FanBoy takes a shot at the jettisoning of youth by the D-Backs. It's an interesting point, how the D-Backs are stifling their youth movement. Except, of course, if the "youth movement" was a mere figment of our imagination.

Which it was.

Let's take a look at Opening Day lineups, last year and this year, along with their respective ages:

1B: Sexson (29) / Tracy (24)
2B: Alomar (36) / Counsell (34)
SS: Cintron (25) / Clayton (35)
3B: Hillenbrand (28) / Glaus (28)
LF: Gonzalez (36) / Gonzalez (37)
RF: Bautista (31) / Green (32)
CF: Finley (39) / Terrero (24)
C: Mayne (35) / Snyder/Hill (25 avg.)
P: Johnson (40) / Vazquez (28)

We're clearly older at shortstop and…. that's it. Yeah, Gonzo and Green are a year older, but Counsell's a couple years younger than Alomar. The D-Backs are younger at first base, catcher (even if you bring in Hammock as a platoon with Mayne last year), and our #1 pitcher. And even if we trade for someone else, our centerfielder will still be younger. Let's not forget our closer; he's, uh, younger, too. And I'm guessing that last year's initial rotation (Johnson, Webb, Dessens, Sparks, and Daigle) was older than this year's (Vazquez, Ortiz, Webb, Estes, and whoever).

So the D-Backs are younger in four spots, older in one. Some reversion to an old team, huh?

Opening Day lineups reflect management's best opening season guess. It bears reminding that last year's "youth movement" was one made mid-season of necessity, not choice. Some parts of the movement -- Chad Tracy -- paid off. Others -- Hairston -- didn't. But haven't us fans always realized the D-Backs' affinity for older players? So why should the demotion of young players who didn't play well last year (Cintron, Hairston) surprise us? You can argue about the merits of removing young players from the starting lineup, but the real argument (as FanBoy touches on in the Terrero discussion) is whether or not the team is blocking the rise of young players in the future. Should Alex Cintron return to his 2003 form, he'll get playing time in 2005 and his starting job back in 2006 (since Clayton just has a one-year contract). Trading for a centerfielder with additional years on his contract would be much more worrisome given the probable readiness of Quentin and Jackson...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Random Site News 

Two things:

1. I hear there's this thing called e-mail. It sounds like a cool idea... Er... anyway, I've added a permanent e-mail link in the upper right-hand corner. Feel free to drop me a line any time (after modifying the anti-spaminated address), though at this point I'm not really sure why...
2. I reorganized the links sidebar. As a small guppy in the baseball blogosphere, I've decided there's not much point in doing link exchanges with random sites (not that I've been asked for many). If I like your site on a regular basis, I'll link to it. If not (probably because I don't care about your team on a regular basis), don't worry, your Technorati rating might take a hit, but your site meter won't.

Thanks to all those who continue reading.

State of the Union 

Friends, a year ago I would have stood in front of you and said that the state of the Diamondbacks union was strong. Leaders always say the state of the union is strong, even if there's considerable debate on that point. One very difficult and challenging year later, I'll get up and say it -- the state of the D-Back union is not strong, but neither should it be said that it's entirely hopeless, either.

A 51-win season will cause most fans to fall asleep faster than an exhausted narcoleptic, especially in a region stuffed with many other sporting diversions. But I have reason for hope in 2005. For example, with the exception of centerfield, I expect overall offensive and defensive production to be better (or at least no worse) at every position in 2005 than in 2004. I am hopeful that the presence of multiple offensive threats will make it easier for the heart of the lineup to get on base and drive in runs. As for the pitching staff, it hurts (in more ways than one) to lose future Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson, likely the first person to enter the Hall of Fame with a Diamondbacks uniform. But I think we can plausibly say that the starting rotation as a whole will be better in 2005, which will hopefully also allow the relief staff to be better deployed.

Now, if this were a standard state of the union, I would continue in this semi-hopeful vein. I really don't think I'm being wildly optimistic in that above paragraph, but I do feel compelled to mention all the caveats a President (of either party, let me make that clear) would just skim over, such as the signing of some questionable contracts. The signing of Troy Glaus to the 4-year contract was a risky one, but I was comfortable with it in hopes that he's past his injury and will be worth the production. The Shawn Green contract, well, for a team as obsessed with signing Green as the D-Backs were, they came out not entirely fleeced (if you count the cash we got from the Dodgers). The Russ Ortiz contract was too much, of course, and everything else was comparatively meaningless. In management's defense, they did not offer ridiculous (or, to be honest, any) contracts to a bunch of players from last year. Re-signing Bautista, Hillenbrand, Colbrunn, or any of the others they let walk for the prices they were looking for would have been foolish. (Note: an entire, though brief, discussion on bad GMs and the Diamondbacks aren't even mentioned.)

Of course, what would a state of the union be without the citation of an example to prove a wildly outlandish point, so here you go -- the D-Backs are still looking at trading for a centerfielder. Note to the Republic: Please, please, please don't mention players teams are interested in -- Webb, Tracy, Jackson, Quentin, Santos, and Pena -- because it's just stupid. OF COURSE THEY'RE LOOKING AT THOSE PLAYERS! Let's see… good, cheap, and, as Hubie Brown (or the Sports Guy) might say, "huuuuuge upside." If I were an opposing GM seeking to dump a large contract of a player with declining skills, I'd ask for them, too. There's no indication in the article, however, as to whether the D-Backs are actually listening to these requests. We shall see whether we head into Spring Training with a bad taste in our mouths.

Before I finish this state of the union, I wanted to comment briefly on the state of D-Back blogging, which unfortunately is not quite as strong as it was a few months back.

Robert gave up the ghost with an immortal final post; MVN's D-Back outlet has been lost since Levski left; Roses and Rattlers never got off the ground.
In Limbo
Ryan promised to be back by Spring Training, so we'll see. The Baby Backs site will hopefully be up and running again soon.
Never Left
Only Jim has been constant in his postings.
I've just noticed that 2003 blogger Wil is making his return. And the Diamondbacks Bullpen is definitely the best place to go to for a D-Back discussion (and Levski and Robert are also BTF regulars).

But for a group who I compared to the Scooby gang back in July, our group is now looking more like the gang from Assault on Precinct 13 (though you'll probably have to go to Jim's other site for a review of that movie). Here's hoping that the new season will bring fresh blood into the community.

Thank you.