During a live web chat with fans, D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall discussed the addition of Chris Johnson, his recent trip to Japan, the possibility of changes to the starting rotation, the broadcast booth and the D-backs' chances of winning the division.
Derrick_Hall: Welcome to today's chat everyone. Game is currently going on and we are down a run. We need to hold this hot hitting Pirates team.
darknesshates: Do the D-backs have a chance winning the division this year?
Derrick_Hall: I would certainly say so. Being within five games of the division leaders puts us in striking position. We are playing much better of late. The recently completed 7-3 homestand and this tough road trip, where we are guaranteed to finish at least .500 are good signs.
ghostgirl5: With the surprising emergence of Chris Johnson, what are your plans for Ryan Wheeler?
Derrick_Hall: Chris Johnson has surely played well and has been a great addition. Ryan has a role and he will play. It is important for us to have a guy who can play both first and third with spot starts, while providing a left-handed bat off the bench.
darknesshates: Do you think Henry Blanco will retire after this season?
Derrick_Hall: We will have to see how he does after his surgery. He has had a remarkable career and to have still been productive in his forties, my hat goes off to him. He is a leader and a mentor and will no doubt make a great coach when he finally does stop playing.
kurtaz: Thank you for chatting with us. Can you tell us why Ryan Roberts traded?
Derrick_Hall: We had our eyes on Chris Johnson for a while before that, and are thrilled with his results so far. We also needed to add some Minor League depth at second base, which we were able to do in the trade. Ryan is a great guy and I always enjoyed being around he and his family. That is the toughest part to these jobs, when we grow close to players.
darknesshates: Is there a site where I can talk to Mark Grace and Greg Schulte during the games?
Derrick_Hall: Our employees who moderate the @Dbacks Twitter account are right down the hall from the booth and can get them comments or questions for you easily.
DbacksFan12: Derrick, what was your favorite memory from the trip to Japan?
Derrick_Hall: I enjoyed it all and am still rather jet-lagged. I enjoyed visiting with several executives of teams over there, while watching games at their parks. But probably the most memorable was conducting a clinic for children in the region that was devastated by the tsunami, after having toured the area and seeing it firsthand. It was numbing. These people are strong and determined to rebuild and unite. I admire them greatly.
ghostgirl5: I always seem to receive my D-backs Insider magazine either the last series of a homestand or even after the homestand is over. Any chance DI could be mailed out a few days earlier? Thanks.
Derrick_Hall: I certainly understand and wish we could get them out sooner. We will look into it. We try to keep the print date as close as possible to the start of the homestands so that our info is as current as can be.
DbacksFan12: After the trip, is it possible we will see more D-backs prospects coming from Japan?
Derrick_Hall: We could. There are a few free agents who will be available after this season. We tried to see most of them while we were there. It is nice to see so many of our players now playing over there as well.
dback2012: I think the biggest problem with the D-backs this year has been the starting pitching. With the exception of Wade Miley, Patrick Corbin and Trevor Cahill, are you planning on making major changes to the starting rotation?
Derrick_Hall: Ian Kennedy has been very good this second half, as is usually the case with him. With the exception of last night's outing, he has looked more like himself. We are monitoring our starters in the Minor Leagues closely, and if we feel that the results would be better with them up here, we will not hesitate to do so, just as we did with Patrick Corbin recently.
Additionally, it obviously hurt to lose Daniel Hudson for the year. He was an important part of our success last season.
ghostgirl5:Not to belabor the point, but when will we see Wheeler start? I thought he would play more consistently in the Majors than he has so far.
Derrick_Hall: He will play more. It is tough to argue keeping Chris Johnson in the lineup with the road trip he has had. He has played very well defensively, too.
We received two questions about Daron Sutton's status. Rather than selecting either one, I thought I would just address both. Nothing has changed, as the organization had placed him on indefinite suspension. As you know, we are as transparent as any team in sports. It is very important to me that we always remain that way. But when it comes to a personnel matter between him and us, it would not be fair to either to discuss publicly. We have received countless compliments regarding Greg's work on TV and how he and Gracie have worked together. It is nice to have someone like Greg to fill in during this time.
darknesshates: Do you think Wade Miley will win Rookie of the Year?
Derrick_Hall: I would love to see it, and now there is some talk nationally about him competing for Cy Young. He has had a terrific season and deserves the recognition, or at least strong consideration. I am personally very proud of Wade's work this season.
imdlighted: Assuming there was the traditional gift exchange, what did the club present in Japan?
Derrick_Hall: We did indeed. We gave logo-ed golf balls, polo shirts and watches. Everything was very well received.
jack789_2: Did you expect this kind of production from Jason Kubel this year? He has been a godsend for this club with Justin Upton not having the kind of year we expected of him.
Derrick_Hall: Our general manager sure did, as he was convincing us to make the move. And by doing so, we kept one of our division rivals from getting him, despite a strong push. We had a strong feeling that his bat would play well at Chase Field, but I do not think any of us envisioned his defense being as solid as it has been.
chrisbanks: I'm ready to renew my season tickets for 2013. I am pleased to see the new incentives for early renewal. Are there any exciting changes planned at the ballpark this year? Have you worked out a deal with Light Rail yet?
Derrick_Hall: Nothing new on Light Rail. We have tried to work with them and it is troublesome that we have not been able to come to an agreement. Thanks for renewing. We know that many of you received no price increase for the third straight year. If you were in one of the areas that was minimally increased, we apologize. A great deal of thought goes into these decisions. Our ownership group has never taken a single dime out of the team for themselves. All revenues go back into the team on the field or upgrades at Chase Field.
ghostgirl5: I am looking forward to the World Baseball Classic. Will there be a set number of tickets available to the general public?
Derrick_Hall: Our season ticket holders will have first priority, then the remainder will go for sale to the general public. I am hopeful that USA and Mexico will be back here for round one. I share in your excitement and cannot wait to host it again.
We are all out of time. Thank you so much for joining us today. Let's pull this one out today and come back 6-4 before the brief homestand this weekend against the Nationals. Hope to see you out here. Go D-backs!