Hall explains D-backs' keys for success
Keys include community, fan experience
Arizona's president Derrick Hall focuses on five key areas for the D-backs' success: team performance, community, financial efficiency, culture and fan experience. Hall answered fans' questions Thursday afternoon in an online chat. Besides success, Hall also talked about the D-backs catchers, middle relief and the team's core of young players.
Derrick Hall Starting a few minutes early today. Thank you for joining me and for sending questions. I will try to get to as many as possible within the half hour.
azphanxx: Congratulations on the new duties. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the team? What is the team's primary mission statement?
Hall: We obviously want to bring a consistent winner to the field year after year for the fans. That is actually a part of our mission statement as well. Each year we must contribute positively to our community and provide a competitive team for the fans. I have focused on five key areas through what I call our Circle of Success: team performance, community, financial efficiency, culture and fan experience.
scout01: What is a typical day like for you during the offseason?
Hall: We are all swamped as we prepare for the upcoming season. It depends where the areas of focus lie on any given day, be it on customer service training and evaluation, stadium refreshing, team marketing and campaigns, ticket pricing, sales, community outreach, ownership interaction, board interaction, etc. I try to juggle and balance my time so that I spend enough with fans and boards that I serve as well.
redsndbackphan19: Derrick, why hasn't the team addressed the bullpen this offseason?
Hall: With starting pitchers that are traditionally inning eaters, we like the way our bullpen has shaped up. We have a talented staff with Jose Valverde, Brandon Lyon, Brandon Medders, Doug Slaten, Jorge Julio, Juan Cruz - not to mention whoever doesn't make the rotation out of Edgar Gonzalez, Enrique Gonzalez, Dana Eveland, Micah Owings and Dustin Nippert. We actually had the sixth best ERA in the league last season.
jennrose: Hi, do you know if Mel Stottlemyre will be participating in Spring Training this year?
Hall: You bet. We are thrilled to have him around. We can't wait to have him work with Bryan Price and all of the pitchers on the staff.
jennrose: Hi, how was Fantasy Camp this year? Did you get a chance to interact with a lot of fans?
Hall: Year two was a huge success -- and the first time our new uniforms were worn. I enjoyed my time I spent in Tucson with the campers. Our staff really had a blast teaching and joking with the players. We had guys like Mike Fedders, Mark Grace, Matt Williams, Matt Mantei, Greg Colbrunn, Chip Hale, Jack Howell and Bill Plummer working with the guys. It is a week of big-league treatment.
doplgangr: Hi, Derrick -- looking forward to a great year for the D-backs. Just wondering if you could address rumors about a 50% drop in the fan base. Can this be true?
Hall: Actually, our renewals are between 80 and 90% for season tickets which is normal, yet above last year's total. We are doing well in the sales category, but could do better in my opinion. I think there is still a "wait and see" attitude out there, which I completely understand. We have not had much of an identity over the past few seasons. I think our fans will be able to latch on to these young and talented kids. We need to come out of the gates strong, then we will see an increase.
BradL: Mr. Hall, how does some someone go about getting to a position like yours? How can I get your job?
Hall: I received my Masters in Sports Administration with the hope of spending a career in professional baseball. I encourage everyone to chase his/her dreams and if sports is where you want to be, go for it. A little luck and hard work definitely help.
LeslieC: You mention community in your Circle of Success, in what ways are you involved in the community?
Hall: Personally and as a company -- we encourage our management team to be involved in local organizations. I serve on several boards, as do most in our organization. As for the team, we contribute close to $2 million annually to the community. We also build three or four fields each year as part of our "Diamonds Back" field building program and give worthy charities large donations through our Grand Slam awards and program grants.
DHallRules: Did the Diamondbacks look at signing Randy Johnson as an answer to the Giants signing Barry Zito?
Hall: We traded for Randy Johnson because we feel like he can help improve this ball club. Interesting that you should bring up Zito, because we acquired Doug Davis in the offseason through a trade with Milwaukee, and his numbers are almost identical to Zito's over the last three seasons.
tswinders: Which players will be at FanFest?
Hall: We hope to have 15-20 players at FanFest this season. We have a lot planned with them including autograph and Q&A sessions. We are taking the majority of the event outside this year, so that we can utilize all of the space around the ballpark for live music, entertainment and whiffle ball fields. It will be a fun-filled day. It is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 24 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. All information is online.
tswinders: Our catching looks thin, is there any plan to sign another backup catcher? I do not think Miguel Montero is ready yet.
Hall: Our baseball staff is confident that Montero is ready. He showed great signs at the end of last season and the pitching staff really liked his tools. We are real pleased with the progress and leadership displayed by Chris Snyder. He is a true pitcher's catcher and brings a veteran mentality behind the plate. With him back there, and Orlando Hudson, Stephen Drew and Chris Young up the middle, we are much better defensively.
doplgangr: Derrick, I wasn't so sure about the new colors, but they have really started to grow on me and now I'm very happy with them. Have you noticed that people are starting to come around on the new color scheme?
Hall: Great to hear that. Thank you for sharing. We have found this to be the case with most. Even our fantasy campers, who are die-hard fans like yourselves, had issues with them until they put them on and saw them in-person. I am real happy with the response.
tswinders: What kind of promotions are we going to have this year?
Hall: We have five bobbleheads planned for this season, along with four Todd McFarlane figurines. These are amazing and extremely life-like, but for kids only. These are a collector's dream. We have increased our giveaway numbers to the first 35,000 and are focusing on most Saturdays. We will try to have at least one substantial giveaway per Saturday. Sundays will be kids' giveaways for items such as replica jersey shirts. Don't forget Opening Day, when we plan to give every fan a new Sedona Red t-shirt.
goaheadrun: Hi, Derrick. Let me start out by saying I am very excited by the direction this franchise is taking. I also dig the Sedona Red. Please settle an argument I'm having with some naysayers: did the Arizona front office do any sort of fan poll/survey regarding the color change?
Hall: Yes, we did and I hope you won. We had several season-ticket holders in for some focus groups and had Matt Williams model the uniforms each time. Thanks for the positive feedback.
redsndbackphan19: Is there any new food stand additions this year?
Hall: We are excited about some of the new food options. For example, we are doing away with a few older stands on the Club Level and replacing them with a gourmet burger stand, a Mexican food stand, a cheesesteak stand and a comfort food stand. We will continue offering affordable choices throughout, such as our $1.50 kids menu which includes hot dog, corn dog, popcorn, soda or milk, and our 14 oz. $4 beer. We will continue to offer our Kids Eat Free promotion for Wednesday home games.
azjazzyj: Which of the four new jerseys is selling the best?
Hall: They are all selling well. It is amazing how split fans are on the four. My favorite was the white, followed by the red. I have now come to really like the black. I will always like the grey because Arizona is represented on the road.
azjazzyj: Is room still available for the March 3 game and bus trip to Tucson for season-ticket holders?
Hall: We are actually at capacity right now but you can call the Season Ticket Services number (602-514-4444) and they can add you to the wait list.
goorange: Derrick, how important was it to the organization to have Randy Johnson finish his career as a Diamondback?
Hall: Most importantly was the thought that he can still help us win. However, it will certainly be nice to have him finish here and hopefully get to 300 wins, before becoming the first Diamondback in the Hall of Fame.
goaheadrun: Are there new Spring Training uniforms as well? I'll be in Tucson.
Hall: Yes, there are. For the most part, they will wear the batting practice uniforms, which they do each spring. That is a Sedona Red jersey and a black cap with the red "D."
rereit: The new colors look great and the web site is fantastic. How has general fan response been at events like the recent Hometown Tour?
Hall: We experienced our largest crowds yet and had a great turnout in every city. Fans seem to really like the colors. At each stop, fans showed up in the new colors and thanked us for the change. Our players were great at all of the visits and book readings. This is a great group of guys we have.
rereit: Of all the young players on the team, who should we be keeping our eyes on this year?
Hall: I am so excited, I can't isolate just one. I naturally hope they all perform to their abilities -- that includes Young, Carlos Quentin, Drew, Conor Jackson, Hudson, Chad Tracy, Brandon Webb, Doug Davis, etc. This should be a fun season.
LeslieC: Thanks for the information about your community involvement. I Googled your name and an online auction site came up, Lunch With A Leader, which starts tomorrow. What exactly is that?
Hall: I agreed to help out a school program by volunteering myself for lunch with a guest through an auction. I feel sorry for the winner of that one!
Hall: Time is up. Thank you again to all of you. I look forward to next month's chat. We are announcing our 6-Pack deal today, which includes six premium games for $222 in the lower level. They will go on sale online at dbacks.com this Monday. Single game tickets go on sale Feb. 24 during FanFest and suites and groups can be purchased now. Have a great day!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.