Jim Tracy is the favorite to win the NL manager of the year award today, so says MLB.com and the Denver Post among other places and despite some argument for other candidates such as Joe Torre, it will be an upset if the voting is even close.
Patrick Saunders writes about Tracy here. At times, I actually try and avoid reading articles like this because my skeptic's mind always wonders what's being left unsaid about the person that's not getting mentioned, and I know a lot of Purple Row readers do this too given our catcher debates, for instance. But today I'd be careful not to do that "as compared to..." exercise, as it could get us in trouble and my guess is that we'd be incorrect and reading too much into the article. Of course, for some of you that don't have that hitch in your brain that I do, I've now put the thought in your mind and you'll do it anyway, so sorry about that.
A week or two ago I suggested that the Diamondbacks seemed to be angling to cut salary for 2010, which very well may have been my well notated anti-Snake bias talking because their front office in recent days has made it clear that the team will raise the opening day payroll to around $75 million from the $73.5 million level it was at the start of 2009. After the salaries of departing players are taken into account, the Arizona front office suggests that it will have $10 million or more to spend. CEO Derrick Hall and others have been indicating that the team will look for at least one free agent starter, a late inning reliever, and the same kind of right handed corner infielder that the Rockies are targeting. They have hinted that there may be more money available, which would almost certainly come from trading catcher Chris Snyder and his $4.75 million 2010 obligation, as I don't believe any of their other contracts are movable (either because Arizona wants to keep the player, or because it's Eric Byrnes).
Trying to assess where the D-backs will end up after 2010 is a little tricky, and let me lay out why:
We know an opening day 2009 to opening day 2010 comparison will probably reveal less on paper talent in the coming season as Doug Davis, John Garland and Felipe Lopez are going to have their roster spots replaced by lesser parts.
Not only that, projections for several important players like Chris Young, Stephen Drew and Conor Jackson will take large dips from what they were prior to the 2009 season because this past year was so disappointing. CHONE is projecting a lineup of Miguel Montero, Brandon Allen, Tony Abreu, Mark Reynolds, Drew, Jackson, Young and Justin Upton to be an aggregate -16/R150, meaning the team's lineup is already projected to be worse than San Francisco's next year, and that's before the Giants add anything.
However, the Diamondbacks two big health return wild cards, Brandon Webb and Conor Jackson, are substantial.
Chris Young and Stephen Drew are likely what they appear to be at this point in their careers, but until non-star players actually turn 30, I'm generally hesitant to write their chances of putting up elite, All-Star worthy seasons off completely, particularly those with the kind of talent hype that these two had at one point and the glimpses of that talent that they have shown in the past. As a fan of an opponent, the nightmare scenario is picturing what surprise career years by several of these D-back players at once would look like. Given the team's youth, it's not as unlikely a scenario as I would want.
I guess in all, I still think the Rockies and Dodgers finish ahead of Arizona, but they're not a typical fifth place team, and I admit that I'm still paying attention to what they do in the off season more as it pertains to 2010 than to future seasons as I am say with the Padres. They do worry me, and I won't really be satisfied on this until there's an out of contention x next to their team in the standings.