During his monthly Web chat with fans, club president Derrick Hall talked about the D-backs' depth of talent, Randy Johnson's expected return to the mound and promotional giveaways for fans during the season.
Hall: Good afternoon everyone. It is great to join you today for this monthly chat.
gryphons7: Based on the games we have played already in preseason, are we as good as last season?
Hall: The guys have looked real good. Obviously, we hope we are better after a year of experience for the young kids. What has been nice to see is the depth of talent we have in the system with Emilio Bonifacio, Juan Gutierrez, Max Scherzer, Gerardo Parra, Alex Romero, etc., just to name a few. It is great to see Justin Upton swinging the bat well and Orlando Hudson picking up where he left off before the injury last season.
D-backsFAN: How is the new scoreboard coming along? I saw them working on it at the Fan Fest.
Hall: The new scoreboard is installed and we are testing it for the next few weeks. We are ahead of schedule, so will be ready for the exhibition games. We are deciding to what extent we unveil the new look prior to actual April 7 Opening Day though.
d_storm: Just want to say hi from all the D-back fans up here in the state of Utah. We appreciate you claiming Utah as D-backs territory. There are a lot of us up here with Arizona ties who enjoy watching the D-backs.
Hall: Thanks. You are an important part of our fan base. We also have many fans in Nevada, New Mexico and California as a result of our territory and proximity. We appreciate your support and encourage you to continue watching us.
odogfan1: Any hints on who might be throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day?
Hall: We are working on it and hope it will be memorable. I can tell you that it will likely be one or two individuals associated with our inaugural Opening Day.
odogfan1: We saw you at the first Spring Training game. Have you been to many others? Are you going to some others soon?
Hall: I have been to a few, wish it could be more. Most recently, I met the team in Hermosillo for the game against the White Sox. I plan on going to tomorrow's game in Tucson.
betocoyote: Hello Derrick. My family and I had a great time last Sunday in Hermosillo. Thanks to all involved. Could we have a yearly Spring Training game scheduled? If not, a players visit instead? Go D-backs!
Hall: Thank you. Our players really enjoyed it as well. I hope to play there each year. It actually takes less time to bus to the airport, fly there, play the game, fly back, and bus back to the complex than it does to travel and play in Surprise. Hermosillo is a great place to play and they showed a lot of support for our franchise. They rolled out the red carpet.
D-backsFAN: I love coming to games, but honestly, the food is a little expensive. Do you have any specials or deals on food at the park?
Hall: We are working on pricing with our concessionaire now. We have asked them to reduce the price of every item on their menus and they have agreed to do so, so should be complimented. We also have great prices for families, as kids can always get a hot dog, a corn dog, a milk, a popcorn, or a soda for just $1.50 each. We also have a $4 beer that is 14 ounces located at every beer stand or cart.
azfunfan: Are the Diamondbacks going to be staying in Tucson for 2009?
Hall: We will definitely be in Tucson in 2009. There is a great deal of speculation as to where we will be in the future, however. As much as we love Tucson and our fans there, we would prefer to have at least three teams down there to cut back on travel and repetitiveness of schedule. We will have to see how that all shakes out.
dcinaz: How do the bats look this year? Will we have a strong hitting team this season?
Hall: I like the balance within our lineup, with each of our hitters having the ability to hit 15-30 home runs with a full season. We may not have that prototypical power hitter, but we have talented players who can hit for average and display enough power when needed. Our pitching staff should definitely keep us in games.
D-backsFAN: Derrick, who are the Monterrey Sultanes the D-backs are playing on March 29?
Hall: It is a team from the Mexican League. In fact, they are defending champions. We thought it would be interesting to give our fans the opportunity to see them play here. It is a great experience for their team and hopefully for our fans. Not to mention that with all of our Hispanic marketing efforts, we hope this will attract a few new fans to try out a game at Chase.
azjohn6: Hi Derrick. Is Randy Johnson expected to pitch by May?
Hall: He certainly is. Because he hasn't pitched in a game yet, he is a bit behind the others. But he should be ready real close to Opening Day.
Jazlynsdad: Is Mark Grace still in the booth for you guys.
Hall: Yes, he is back with Daron Sutton this season. We will also use Joe Garagiola Sr., Matt Williams and Tom Candiotti for some of those games on TV. Greg Schulte, Tom Candiotti and Jeff Munn all return for the radio side. I think we have the best collective group of broadcasters in the game.
betocoyote: Derrick, is there a chance the team would be getting a, let's say, more leader oriented catcher?
Hall: We are real pleased with Chris Snyder as our starting catcher, and as a leader. He has really emerged as a clubhouse leader and works as hard as anyone on the team. The pitching staff absolutely loves him, as does the entire organization.
hrcbill: Have the D-backs explored putting the starting times of night games back to 7 p.m.? With traffic getting tougher to navigate in the Valley, the extra 20 minutes would make it less stressful getting to the park.
Hall: I appreciate the question and we will once again poll and survey our fans. You'd be surprised how overwhelmingly in favor of 6:40 p.m. starts our fans are, according to every survey throughout our history. We are not afraid to try new times. In fact, we sampled a 5 p.m. Saturday night start last season and as a result, have changed all Saturday night games to that time for this year.
D-backsFAN: How do we look for tickets on Opening Day? I want it to be a sellout for the game vs. the Dodgers.
Hall: Thanks ... I really want this place packed for Opening Day, and with D-back fans. We still have plenty of good seats, so spread the word and help fill this place.
d_storm: Curious to know how season ticket sales are going so far this year? Do you have any average attendance goals you can share?
Hall: Season ticket sales are outstanding. We had just over 12,000 total season tickets last year, and are already over 14,000. Our internal goal, which we felt was aggressive, was to hit 15,000+, but we should have no problem getting there. Ultimately, I would like us to average 37,000 fans a game to get to 3 million for the season. We are a few years away from that, but hopefully building towards it.
odogfan1: I heard McDonald's is no longer at Chase Field. What is taking its place?
Hall: We are replacing the McDonald's stands with a Fatburger and a Gordon Biersch. It should be great and will give us some new options.
kngmanbil: Derrick, are there going to be many fan giveaways this year?
Hall: We will have giveaways every Saturday night for the first 25,000 fans and every Sunday for the first 5,000 kids 12 and under. We will also have fireworks after every Friday night home game, weather permitting.
Hall: That is all the time we have today. Thank you all for participating. I look forward to chatting with you next month, when the regular season is underway! Back to the game, where we are leading 3-2 in the sixth.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.