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News » Arizona Diamondbacks Inside Pitch 2009-02-27

Arizona Diamondbacks Inside Pitch 2009-02-27

Arizona Diamondbacks Inside Pitch 2009-02-27
The Diamondbacks still have not been to an arbitration hearing in general manager Josh Byrnes' four seasons, although they took it to the deadline this year.

Outfielder/first baseman Conor Jackson, 26, accepted a one-year contract worth $3.05 million Feb. 17, a day before the case was to go before an arbitrator in Phoenix.

The figure was the midpoint between the D-backs' $2.45 million offer and Jackson's $3.65 million request.

"I'm just glad it's over with," said Jackson, eligible for arbitration for the first time. "It was a little stressful. It's just good to avoid a hearing."

Jackson, who opens this spring as the starting left fielder, set career highs in virtually every offensive category in 2008, his third season as a starter, when he hit .300 with 31 doubles, 12 home runs and 75 RBI.

He had career bests in batting average and doubles while also setting career highs in runs (87), hits (162), triples (six), walks (59) and stolen bases (10).

The D-backs take pride in the fact they have never gone to arbitration, which by nature can be a confrontational and somewhat belittling process.

"Hearings generally happen in unusual circumstances or congested years, like this one," Byrnes said. "We work hard to negotiate and feel that we have arrived at equitable settlements."

TOP CANDIDATE TO SURPRISE: OF Eric Byrnes showed in 2006 and again in 2007 that he can be among the top power/s combo threats in the National League when healthy. If his right hamstring has recovered sufficiently from a 3-millimeter tear that caused him to miss the second half of 2008, he certainly has the tools -- and the desire -- to step back into the forefront, never mind the fact that the D-backs shopped him over the winter.

TOP CANDIDATE TO DISAPPOINT: SS Stephen Drew last year became the third shortstop in major league history to have 40 doubles, 10 triples and 20 home runs in the same season, joining Robin Yount and Nomar Garciaparra. As talented as Drew is, it would be unfair to expect that again. Then again, Yount did it twice, so maybe Drew is just beginning to show his stuff.

AUTHORITY FIGURES: Manager Bob Melvin, the NL Manager of the Year in 2007, has been ahead of the curve in his use of statistical analysis -- a reason he is such a good fit with general manager Josh Byrnes -- and he uses those numbers in an attempt to give his players their best chance to succeed. A former major league reserve, Melvin understands the importance of keeping everyone on the roster involved and is a master at it. Pitching coach Bryan Price was Baseball America's minor league coach of the year in 2007, and third base coach Chip Hale is considered one of the best young managing prospects in the game.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: February 27, 2009

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