Hall fields questions about 2007 team
D-backs' president is pleased with this season's club
Club president Derrick Hall answered a variety of questions regarding the 2007 D-backs Tuesday afternoon during a recent online chat. Hall shared his opinions about the rotation, bullpen, the outfield, offseason trades and batting order.
Derrick Hall: Welcome to our chat. It is great that you could join us. What a game yesterday! Great way to start. I will begin to answer questions right now.
molly: With such a young team, did you offer the players any advice before Opening Day?
Hall: Absolutely, we do. In fact, in the first workout of the spring, we address the team. My message this year was for all of our players to respect the game and the fans and to interact well throughout the season. I asked for them to remain active members of the community and to give back as much as possible. We need for them to be respectful of each other and to be accountable after games, win or lose, with the media at their lockers. We are hammering home fan experience, and it really begins and ends with the players.
JoshG: Do you think we could have gotten more from trading Johnny Estrada?
Hall: I am real pleased with our trade. Josh Byrnes and his staff determined that we needed to improve and focus on pitching, which is where we ended up after the trade. Adding Doug Davis to our starting rotation and having the versatility of Dana Eveland has been tremendous. Davis has identical numbers to Barry Zito over the last three seasons. We also acquired Dave Krynzel, who is a promising outfielder.
molly: Do you foresee the rotation changing anytime soon?
Hall: We will see changes in about two weeks when Randy Johnson returns. Randy is scheduled to pitch a few more Minor League games before joining the rotation mid-April. That will be a real boost to the staff.
TSRedd: Yesterday was the first D-backs game without Luis Gonzalez, but you could hardly tell with all the young players hitting well. What is the feel around the organization with a Gonzo-less season?
Hall: It is definitely strange not seeing Gonzo in our uniform -- perhaps even stranger seeing him in a Dodger uniform yesterday. But again, we needed to make room for these young players that have proven they are ready. We saw that again in spring and in yesterday's opener.
john_cabin: The Dodgers weren't exactly the Yankees of the West. What is the difference in your tool package (as compared to L.A.) to make the fans believe we can get back to the World Series?
Hall: We have a nice blend of talent from both our everyday players and our pitching staff. We are the only team to have four starters that were all Opening Day starters last season, and we have young talent that has been touted at every level. We have improved with speed, defense and consistency on offense. We think we will compete and have as good a chance as any team to make it to the postseason. We need to stay healthy, and every team can use a little luck as well.
Weeman: Why was Brandon Webb's performance sloppy yesterday -- nervousness or a problem with his pitching?
Hall: I am not a pitching expert, but Colorado is not an easy place in which to pitch. The ball does not break or sink as much there. We are certainly not worried about Brandon -- he'll be fine. The beauty is that he battles throughout and did not want to come out of the game. He is a true star and leader.
BMacK: Why is Justin Upton only in [Class A] ball? Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez went straight to the Majors and did well. I know there is a ton of talent in front of him, but why not Double-A or Triple-A?
Hall: We love Justin Upton and believe he has a tremendous future ahead of him. Double-A and Triple-A are likely in the stars for him this year. Remember, he was just 18 and 19, and changing positions from the infield to the outfield. It will not be long before we see the route he ran against San Diego Thursday, or the grand slam he hit Sunday, every day at the Major League level.
jkph_2: What an experience it could be for such a young team to visit Yankee Stadium in June, in first place playing the first place Yanks. It would make a great story for your fans.
Hall: We can only hope. That will be a great trip, and what an experience for these youngsters. Yankee Stadium is a special place. I certainly plan on being there.
jkph_2: It looks like the D-backs can no longer fly under the radar screen. Rob Neyer of ESPN Insider has them in the World Series against the Indians and three others pick you to win the West. Must be great to be young, talented and hungry. Any new plans this year for Baxter?
Hall: The only change to Baxter is the jersey he is wearing. He is so good with kids, especially during hospital and school visits. As for flying below the radar screen, I wish we still were. I agree that everyone has taken note. I just don't want added pressure or expectations on this group. They need to have fun, be aggressive, and be unaware of any hype.
Weeman: Who can we expect to see in the No. 4 spot this year?
Hall: The luxury is seeing so many different guys that can hit there. I like the fact that we have so many options for Bob Melvin. It will come down to match-ups, which is not a bad thing.
mikeyhag: How do we answer D-backs' rival fans about our new uniform look?
Hall: The response on the uniforms has been great. You can explain that there was already purple in our division, but no red. The red better identifies with our state. The purple was difficult to match up from a vendor standpoint and always televised or photographed blue. This red will stand the test of time.
Brenly2001: Hi, Derrick. You've indicated a season ticket base of 14,000 accounts, which sounds high considering recent actual game attendance. Are partial packages included? Is it fourteen thousand accounts or seats? Thanks for the clarification.
Hall: You are correct. We have 14,000 total, not accounts. The crowds are typically smaller for the exhibition games, particularly when they fall during spring break. We are close to sold out for Opening Day, by the way, so hurry and get your tickets if you haven't already.
qudjy1: How are merchandise/ticket sales progressing since your last update (87 percent renewal)?
Hall: That percentage refers to renewals. Our focus shifts away from renewals after the relocation process takes place. We then look to additional season sales and individual sales. Our single-game tickets are way up, but I think we need to do much better with season sales. I am a bit disappointed with the numbers. I do understand, however, that there is still a wait-and-see attitude. But this place provides great entertainment win or lose. Merchandise sales are off the charts. It will be nice to see our fans sporting the new look.
Weeman: With Jorge Julio gone, will our bullpen be affected?
Hall: No, we do not believe so. We had a situation where we had so many guys who all filled that same role -- Tony Pena, Jose Valverde, Brandon Medders, Brandon Lyon, Juan Cruz and Doug Slaten provide us with great balance and different options.
signer: Hello, Derrick. Do you still have ties with Fernando Valenzuela?
Hall: I hired him while in L.A. I still speak with him once or twice a month. He is a great person.
Brenly2001: I just tried to buy some of your new $5 seats online, but they were $8.75 and up. Is $5 a typo?
Hall: They are $5. It sounds like you had some other fees tacked on. Perhaps some online fees that we don't control. We have 5,000 seats priced at $5. We are constantly challenging ourselves to provide affordability. In fact, we have introduced new Family Value Pricing on merchandise, and have caps for just $7 and T-shirts for just $8.
diamondbil: How fast will the products that I saw at the team store when I visited a couple weeks ago, be available on the MLB shop -- and are new products coming in?
Hall: Glad you noticed all of the new merchandise here in our team shops. The team shops look incredible. We have no control over what MLB sells. We just stock and sell here. We constantly introduce new products. I am pleased with the expanded variety this year and hope our fans will be too.
rich44: Do you think that Eric Byrnes will be a prominent player this year?
Hall: Eric Byrnes is a ball of fire and so much fun to watch. He brings a great deal of energy to our team. He will definitely be prominent -- just look at his contributions yesterday. It will be nice to get him back into left field when Carlos Quentin is ready. We are a stronger team with Byrnes in left and Quentin in right.
mikeyhag: I received two tickets for the home opener from last year's fan incentive program. Is there any program in the works to take its place?
Hall: We will definitely put a loyalty program back in place, but it is not ready at this time. Our last one was not great in my opinion, so we need to take our time to make certain that we create one that will be beneficial to all. We made sure that those of you who were involved could redeem your points for tickets. I am glad to hear that you received yours. When we are ready to introduce a new one -- it will be the perfect program.
Brenly2001: Isn't adding yet another huge ballpark bar contradictory to the idea of building a family atmosphere? Other teams feature non-alcoholic seating areas -- why don't we?
Hall: Great point, and believe me, we thought about that. It works in our ballpark because it is an isolated destination. Our seats will not be impacted by the club and remain as family-friendly as any in the game. We are also adding more elements for families, such as a wiffle ball field that we will have installed on the upper concourse for kids to hit off of our Training Center staff during games.
qudjy1: Why do you think we are stronger with Byrnes instead of Scott Hairston in left field?
Hall: I am a big Scott Hairston fan, as well. He will see playing time, as he should. With those three and Chris Young, we have a great outfield.
Hall: Unfortunately, that is all of the time we have. I can't wait for our home opener. In the meantime, we have planned for fans to join us at watch parties this week. All of the info is available online. I truly appreciate you joining me and always look forward to this interaction. Have a great day and enjoy tonight's game. Go D-backs.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.