Hall: Good afternoon everyone. Thanks for joining me for today's chat. We all just got back from our Spring Training home groundbreaking at the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community location at Indian Bend and Pima Road. Outstanding event with lots of fans and corporate partners present.
During a live Web chat with fans on Monday, D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall chatted about the club's offseason interests, gave rehab updates on Brandon Webb, Chad Qualls and Conor Jackson and discussed the new Spring Training facility, which broke ground that morning.
dbacker20: How are the D-backs' finances looking for next year? Is there truth to the rumor that you will have the flexibility to be able to increase the payroll from last year and add one or more impact pitchers/hitters? Hall: We are definitely adding to the payroll, but want to create even greater flexibility to bolster the pitching staff. We will need to get creative through a few trades in order to do so. otaku007: Which free agents are the team interested in? Hall: We will look at pitching free agents for both the rotation and the bullpen, as well as a veteran for the bench. Most of what we do may have to come through trades, however. There are not many holes to fill ... we just need to get off to a better start and to hope for better health. Last season was a strange one where anything and everything that could go wrong did. mlbtimmy8: What prospects in your farm system are you thinking will make the club in 2010? Hall: Unfortunately, Jarrod Parker just went down with Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. He had a strong chance of making the rotation next season at some point due to his impressive progress. We saw a number of our top prospects come up last season and they made an impact and probably will again ... guys like [Gerardo] Parra, [Trent] Oeltjen, [Rusty] Ryal, [John] Hester, [Brandon] Allen, [Kevin] Mulvey, etc. dbacks007: Who will be the eighth-inning guy? Hall: That is a good question at this point. It depends on who we acquire to help with the back end of the 'pen. But we also have the luxury of knowing guys like [Juan] Gutierrez and [Esmerling] Vasquez developed in the second half of the season and showed comfort and success on the mound. It is nice to have guys who can pitch in the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth, depending on what the needs are for any particular game. odogfan1: I've heard Conor Jackson is doing well in winter ball. Can you give us an update? Hall: He is doing terrific. In fact, his team wants him to stay longer, even though we want to get him back here soon for other training and rehab. He is batting .425 with a couple of homers and 16 RBIs. He has nine stolen bases in just 23 games as well for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League. dbacker20: Is Eric Byrnes playing winter ball? If so, how's he doing? Hall: He has not begun playing yet, but I believe he will be spending time in the Dominican as well. This was his decision, as he made it clear to us that he wanted to get more work in during the offseason. jfielding: If Chris Young does not play well, will Parra take his place as an outfielder? Hall: We have flexibility with Conor, who can play left field as well, to shift Parra over to center. I personally believe C.Y. will get back to form. He is too talented a player not to. We also take a big step backward defensively when he is not out there. dbacks007: Will we see Parker in the big leagues this year? Hall: Unfortunately, recovery from the Tommy John surgery is a long process. We can rule 2010 out and hope he gets back in shape the following season. He is a wonderful pitcher and a great kid. GoDBacks: We've seen some press about Webb recovering. Is there any news on Qualls? Hall: Webby is feeling great and just began throwing. Qualls has been here every day working hard in rehab with our trainer Ken Crenshaw. They are both bound and determined to be in perfect shape for Spring Training. They are obviously both important pieces to our success. dbaxter74: Who is going to be in starting rotation next year? Hall: We know we have [Dan] Haren and [Max] Scherzer and anticipate Webby's return. We will look at free agents and trades to fill another spot or two, and will have competition between players like [Billy] Buckner and Mulvey during spring as well. dbacker20: Do you have a forwarding service for former D-backs players? Can I mail a letter to the D-backs front office addressed to a former player and have you forward it to them? Hall: If you get the envelope to me here at the office, I will make sure to get it to a former player, assuming we have contact info. We do have most of their info. That would be my pleasure. azvk77: Sure was great seeing you and all the D-backs brass out at the groundbreaking! It sure felt great to get back to my place within 35-40 minutes. Will there be a year-round team shop at the complex once it opens? Hall: Thanks for being there. It is exciting and will be the best in baseball. We will have a year-round team shop as well as ticket office. GoDBacks: Is there room in the budget for the D-backs to be involved in bringing in any of the marquee free agents this year? Hall: Probably enough room in the budget, but it would tie our hands from making multiple moves that we would like to. The more money we free up from existing pieces, the more money we will have to spend on new players. mlbtimmy8: The D-backs had two first-round picks in 2009 Draft (Bobby Borchering and A.J. Pollock). Which one of those two players could impact the club in the future more? Hall: Both should be. They had impressive rookie seasons in the Minors. Pollock seems to be a bit closer because he played for Notre Dame and got off to a terrific start in South Bend. He is an outstanding outfielder and very impressive and mature guy. Borchering will be a superstar who is constantly compared to Chipper Jones. He hits from both sides, plays a solid corner, and even looks just like him. odogfan1: We've seen A.J. Hinch at quite a few Arizona Fall League games this year. Have you gotten to any? Hall: I have not, unfortunately. And I love going to Fall League games. My schedule has not permitted and I have done a great deal of traveling. But I get my reports from Josh [Byrnes], A.J., Ken Kendrick, Gonzo [Luis Gonzalez], Bob Gebhardt, Roland Hemond -- anyone who has been. otaku007: Is the Stephen Drew trade just a rumor? Hall: Absolutely. That comes from other teams having interest and floating his name out there. He would be too tough to replace if we ever moved him. Strictly rumors! dbacks007: Will we see Joe Garagiola back in the booth? Hall: I believe his health is much better and he should be back. It did not feel right without Joe around this year. Our tribute at the end of the season meant a great deal to him and was well-deserved and long overdue. Time flies and is now up. Later today, go back to dbacks.com to get the full report and photo display of today's groundbreaking that was covered by Steve Gilbert. Thanks again to you all for some great questions and for giving us your time and attention. I look forward to chatting with you next month. Go D-backs!