General partner and CEO Jeff Moorad answered questions from fans Tuesday during the D-backs monthly Web chat. He talked extensively about the club signings, next year's team and the players that fans would like to keep seeing in a D-backs uniform.
Moorad: Welcome D-back fans. I'm Jeff Moorad and I look forward to spending the next hour with you. I see we already have a number of questions stacked up; I better get busy -- if you haven't sent yours yet, feel free to fire away.....
scout01: What's the hardest part of your job as a CEO of a Major League club?
Moorad: Our commitment to our fans is to put the most competitive team we can on the field each year -- balancing that commitment with the financial realities of running the business is an ongoing challenge.
BigDave44: Why did you decide signing Eric Byrnes for three years and $30 million was a good idea after one good contract year when Orlando Hudson was clearly the better investment?
Moorad: I think it's too early to judge Eric Byrnes -- we have great faith in his abilities and I know he has been working diligently on his re-hab getting ready for the coming season. I think the world of O-Dog, but couldn't get him to engage on a contract for most of the past year. We wish him the best.
azgamer: With two catchers already on the roster, why did the D-backs go after another one in the Rule 5 Draft?
Moorad: Difficult position to fill, yet alone find capable back-ups. You can't have enough good players at the position (especially ones who can hit, like all three of ours at this point).
azgamer: Any progress toward resigning Brandon Webb for a longer deal?
Moorad: Brandon, his agents, and we tried hard to get something done last year and couldn't. I won't rule it out in the future, but it isn't a priority for this off-season. We think the world of Brandon and believe that he will continue having Cy Young-caliber performances.
Brenly2001: Would you consider opening the books to educate increasingly skeptical fans about actual budget constraints?
Moorad: We have always been open about the fact that we are running the business to break even; there has never been a dollar taken out of this organization for ownership. I'm happy to meet with anyone who would like to talk about the subject. MLB rules don't allow us to technically open our books, however.
dieguiton: Do you trade Miguel Montero to sign Gregg Zaun, and trade, Jon Rauch, Eric Byrnes, or Conor Jackson in this offseason to make the team better?
Moorad: I have great faith in Josh Byrnes and his staff. I know they deal with a host of offers and proposals each day during the off-season. At this point, it's not a priority to make a deal - that said, if one makes sense for the club long-term, we will always listen - thanks for the question.
leeowen: Why not offer Randy Johnson stock for his deferred compensation and use that money to resign him?
Moorad: Players aren't allowed to own parts of teams (even if they are playing for the team), but we understand that baseball is big business and that decisions aren't always easy for management or players. At the end of the day, Randy doesn't have any bigger fans than all of us here in Arizona.
finley8897: After the Felipe Lopez signing, do you have more or less $10 million?
Moorad: I wish we had $10 million to spend. Each year, as players drop off as free agents, the built-in raises of players still on the roster eat up a chunk of the open payroll. This year was no exception. At this point, Josh has some additional money to spend and I'm confident he'll spend it wisely.
dieguiton: Is the team interest in Prince Fielder or Jake Peavy?
Moorad: Unfortunately, we can't comment about players from other organizations. Needless to say, both are fine players.
arnie04: I feel sometimes you have to bite the bullet and do something you don't want to do and we want Randy to finish his career here. It will be sick to see him get 300 in a Giants uniform. Please give him a call today and see if a deal can be reached.
Moorad: We told Randy's agents that we wanted to meet with him in-person. They told us that they would get back to us after he filed for free agency. We haven't heard another word on the subject. We offered to pay Randy what we felt was fair and respect the fact that he chose to explore the market - he will always have a place here in Arizona.
diablofan: Lorenzo Bundy ... great first-base coach, or greatest first-base coach ever?
Moorad: I'm excited about Lo Bundy. We'll miss Lee Tinsley, but, as I told him last week when he was in the office, he'll do great in Seattle. Bob Melvin has a great staff and we have a high level of confidence that they will work well with our maturing team.
lilronin: Wouldn't the potential of ticket sales from Johnson's pursuit of 300 offset some of the difference of resigning him?
Moorad: How much are you willing to guarantee in ticket sales? The point is that, in this economy, we realize that dollars are going to be limited for everyone. As a result, we are focusing on value propositions for fans and families to come to the ballpark.
azgamer: Who will be the number five starter for the D-backs?
Moorad: Max Scherzer.
msuman57: If Brandon Webb is physically OK and he agreed to the numbers that the D-backs offered, what would make a club pull an offer off of the table to what most people would consider the best pitcher in baseball?
Moorad: What? Are you an agent? Way too argumentative ... we love Brandon, but, unfortunately, the contract didn't work out last year -- we'll see what happens in the future.
Brenly2001: With the painful contraction of 31 employees, when do you anticipate the club hiring again?
Moorad: We eliminated 40 positions that had grown obsolete or weren't needed, in our opinion, anymore - we're hiring in some areas today with a watchful eye on the economy in general.
BigDave44: No knock on Rick Schu, but do you think that Gracie could take over as hitting coach at some point?
Moorad: We can't afford him.....besides, I think he's great in the TV booth.
Hagman: Are there still thoughts of putting up a fence or wall to block empty seats in the upper deck?
Moorad: We've had discussions, but we're still looking at options - no current plans (other than to fill the seats with fans....)
dieguiton: Is the team finding a closer? I read in the past that Chad Cordero was talking with other clubs, including the D-backs.
Moorad: I like Qualls in the role - Tony Pena will be a great 8th inning guy (as he was last year).
finley8897: Who will be the No. 4 starter for the D-backs?
Moorad: A player to be named.......
msuman57: Why did Brandon's contract not work out?
Moorad: Complicated process - we think the world of Brandon and believe he's well-positioned for a great 2009.
BigDave44: Why can we pay Scott Schoeneweis $2 million and Felipe Lopez $3.5 million, yet we dont have the money to pay the best player in franchise history $6.25 million?
Moorad: You may have answered your own question by including the 2 players that we WERE able to sign.....in a middle-market with a middle-market payroll, we have to make difficult decisions - definitely, not always easy.
dhtdiver: Back to Scherzer & RJ....Didn't Scherzer's experience lasr year as a reliever show more promise that as a starter?
Moorad: I believe his best, long-term value is as a starting pitcher.
Moorad: I've now been told this was only supposed to last a half-hour (despite my claim of an hour in the opening) - I'll take a couple more questions before I go.
azgamer: With the emphasis on left handed relievers, did you ever consider keeping Ledezma?
Moorad: I think the desire was to have a veteran in that role.
Hagman: The All-You-Can-Eat section seemed to work well last year. Is it coming back?
Moorad: Yes - it will now be on the Insight Diamond Level and in the Picnic Pavilion - we get a lot of positive comments about it.
BigDave44: If finances allowed, would you try to sign Manny to stick it to the Dodgers?
Moorad: Great player, but nope.
BigDave44: Why didnt you offer Dunn arbitration and get 2 draft picks because he would have said no?
Moorad: We couldn't get him to commit to saying no and didn't want to take the chance of an un-affordable 1-yr. contract.
fatherbb: It seems that we have given up on several high draft picks in the past few years. They have all gone on to success with other teams and we don't have much in the minors. Just gave up on the last of the amigos what's going on?
Moorad: Conor Jackson, Chris Snyder, Brandon Webb, Miguel Montero, Tony Pena, Mark Reynolds......an impressive list of home-grown talent - that will always be core to our business plan - using the system as currency in the trade market is part of the player development business (eg. Dan Haren)
goly: Are the Diamondback executives aware of the growing disatisfaction of the fan base?
Moorad: We appreciate the fact that we can't please everyone with every move - we have been over-whelmed by the support for the organization over the past few years - we are looking forward to many successful years with the team that is growing up right before our eyes.
Moorad: OK everyone, thank you for logging in this afternoon and thank you for your questions - hope to see each of you out at Chase Field this coming year.