D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall conducted a live web chat from Salt River Fields on Thursday. During the chat, Hall commented on contract talks with Miguel Montero and the depth at catcher, young players competing for roster spots and the high expectations for the D-backs this season.
Derrick_Hall: Hello D-backs fans. Thanks for joining me today, one hour later than we usually chat. These are exciting times here at Salt River Fields. The team is focused and the fans are enthusiastic.
vindeaz:, Hi Derrick! Was out at SRF this morning and the boys really seem focused on their work! What is the reasoning behind breaking off with Miggy well short of the deadline he suggested? If anyone is worthy of a little extra spending, it is him!
Derrick_Hall: It is too bad, really, but best to not make it a distraction since we were a distance apart. We also let his representatives know that there are other players we would like to engage with regarding multi-year deals. This has been such a positive camp, we need to keep it that way. We love Miggy, and will look to readdress at some point, but we are just two days away from games.
tricky76: Why wasn't Archie Bradley at Spring Training?
Derrick_Hall: We drafted him as an 18 year old last year right out of high school, without a Major League deal. Trevor Bauer's contract was different and invites him to Major League camp. I cannot wait for the day when Archie is in the big league camp though. He is quite a talent.
tourman600: Will the D-backs try to take on a more aggressive baserunning game this year? Seems like it went in fits and starts last season.
Derrick_Hall: It is safe to say with [manager Kirk Gibson] at the helm, we will always be aggressive on the base paths. The message this season is to be smarter though. We did a lot well on the bases last season, but ran into too many outs. The coaching staff is focused on reducing those mistakes while still remaining as aggressive as we were.
tricky76: FanFest is growing too large (good thing for you). Any plans to make any changes for next year?
Derrick_Hall: Our D-backs Subway FanFest is getting very large. And I thank the 25,000 fans who came out this year. We will always look for ways to expand and to give casual fans more of a chance to get autographs. We are ironing through some of those details now, while it is still fresh on our staff's minds.
red_leader: The news about the shelving of Miguel Montero's contract talks brings up concerns about our depth at catcher. Can you give us your thoughts about our catching prospects beyond Henry Blanco and Craig Tatum?
Derrick_Hall: We need greater depth at catcher for sure. We are lucky to have terrific options as back-ups right now, but our preference would be to have Miggy here for many years. If that is not possible, we will find catching. And we will continue to look for depth through the Draft or trades.
yotes84: I like what the D-backs did last year for the military, teaming with Sanderson Ford. Are the D-backs thinking of doing that again this year?
Derrick_Hall: Thank you, it is a great initiative. The Sanderson Ford Seats for Soldiers program will be back. And our guests will again be introduced in-game on DBTV. It is one of our many military initiatives, including 50 percent off on Sundays.
tourman600: With the acquisition of some new pitching talent, do you see this team more flexible in the bullpen and starting rotation?
Derrick_Hall: We have definitely increased our pitching depth, which already seemed to have been a strength of this team. By trading for Trevor Cahill, bringing back Joe Saunders and adding Craig Breslow, Joe Martinez and Takashi Saito, we have some great options.
dbkrbasket: Why announce the Opening Day starter so early?
Derrick_Hall: It is the math formula that works backwards to Opening Day. Ian [Kennedy]'s start would put him on a five-day rotation that leads him to April 6. We believe most fans already assumed that Kennedy would get the nod after his 2011 campaign as well.
vindeaz: Any thoughts on what you are seeing with [Stephen] Drew? How does the actual compare to what you expected or hoped for?
Derrick_Hall: Stephen is working very hard. This is an extremely serious injury to come back from, so we need to take our time. We are thrilled with the progress though, and are impressed with how well he is responding and how hard he is working.
Nejhan: Derrick! How are you doing? Just want to wish all you guys the best of luck for this season, both on and off the field! I'm planning on flying in from Sweden this summer, just like for Opening Day last year, to catch a few games.
Derrick_Hall: That is great news. It was a pleasure meeting you and we appreciate your interest and support overseas. Look forward to again hosting our Swedish fan.
red_leader: Really liked [Daniel] Hudson's comments on KTAR about the beanball situation. While retaliation is satisfying, we can't have our pitching staff (as deep it is) getting tossed all the time. How can management help address this problem with the league?
Derrick_Hall: It should be an issue. As Gibby has said, our guys will play the right way. Daniel is an aggressive pitcher, but he is also very smart. I am proud of the way we handled ourselves last season.
tourman600: The D-backs have a fantastic farm system in place. What can we expect, talent wise, to come out of them?
Derrick_Hall: Hopefully a future starting rotation that is together for many, many years. We have so much talent right now, it is refreshing. To see the outfield and infield depth, along with these starters and relievers who are knocking on the door is refreshing.
jaredg: Thank you for your time Mr. Hall. Expectations are very high this year among us fans (I can't wait), but there are doubters on guys like Kennedy and [Ryan] Roberts having the same success this year. What are your thoughts on that?
Derrick_Hall: I have faith in those guys. Ian is too smart a pitcher and Ryan is too hard a worker to not succeed. They both had tremendous seasons that might be difficult to replicate, but I would not count on them being ineffective. They are pros and they are talented.
vindeaz: If no one surprises in a big way, either positive or negative, is this roster, especially pitching, pretty much set?
Derrick_Hall: The beauty of our situation is the competition that we have created. Though the rotation would seem to be set with Kennedy, Hudson, Saunders, Cahill and [Josh] Collmenter, it will be fun to watch youngsters like Martinez, [Tyler] Skaggs, [Patrick] Corbin, Bauer, [Wade] Miley and [Barry] Enright battle, to name a few. And believe me, none of those guys will go away easily and they each believe they belong on the 25-man roster. This is a great problem to have.
otiscor: I look at this team the way it is constructed this year and there is no doubt in my mind we could make it to the World Series. If you are able to keep this team intact for the most part for the next two years I think we could be competing for a ring.
Derrick_Hall: I certainly hope you are right. [GM] Kevin Towers has done a tremendous job putting this team together and he is never finished. We now need to go out there with the same confidence, intensity and focus as we had last year and win games. We had a lot go our way, and need that to occur again too. This year and next are nice bridge years before an influx of the future stars comes to fruition to blend with the household names we already love and cheer for.
I want to thank all of you again. This concludes our session. We look forward to seeing you at spring games and cannot wait for the 2012 season to begin at Chase Field. It is right around the corner. Thanks for being such loyal and educated fans of this team. Go D-backs!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.