Every day of Newsmakers Week, the major decision makers of our community answer our questions. It takes an incredible time commitment from our teams and event hosts to come to our studios but it makes the interviews much more conversational. I think conversations give you, the listener, more content and, hopefully, more entertainment.
The questions don’t end with us. We’re reading your questions from twitter to the major players sitting in our studio. Every day, I’ll give you a quick run down of my highlights from the day. These are quick snapshots of our conversations as I remember them and not direct quotes. Feel free to give me your highlights @doug987FM.
Here’s what happened Friday:
Since I’m an ASU fan, my first reaction to the Arizona athletic director is, thank goodness ASU has Ray Anderson to keep up. Greg Byrne is so good at his job. For a few years there, it was Byrne versus Lisa Love. ASU struggled to finish in second place in that matchup. With Steve Patterson, he could keep up with Byrne as an AD but you never knew if ASU was a final destination or stepping stone. Byrne seems tremendously happy as the UA AD. Since it appears he’ll be there for years, ASU can’t have the revolving door of weak or forward-looking — versus forward-thinking — athletic directors. Anderson has eliminated those feelings.
The biggest note for UA fans was Byrne did not set the bar too high for Sean Miller. I’ve heard — from fans, NOT sources — that there’s frustration with Miller not advancing as far as they had hoped in recent years in the NCAA tournament, notwithstanding the frustration over the team’s performance at Wells Fargo Arena in recent years. Byrne said that Miller puts enough pressure on himself that Miller doesn’t need him to get in the way.
Hall admitted that the Padres won the offseason but compared the “success” of the 2014 Diamondbacks offseason. Although the splash wasn’t nearly as big, the D-backs went all-in last year. The highest payroll in team history led to last place for Arizona. Hall didn’t predict the Padres would be terrible; he just explained how tough it is to fit so many different pieces together in one spring training.
Strictly looking at the Diamondbacks season, Hall was brutally honest saying he doesn’t know how he feels about this season. He feels great about the direction of the organization under La Russa and Hale but accepts there are a ton of question marks about starting pitching.
Great guy. Great tournament. Great charity.
Callihan is the tournament chairman for the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. After this year’s donation, the Open will bust through $100 million given to charity since the tournament began. He gave us the most amazing stat of the entire Newsmakers Week: there are 11 people on the staff of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. All that money, all that work, and it’s done by 11 people.
The guy is never ill-prepared. Keim corrected the numbers given by national reports on Larry Fitzgerald. The huge takeaway was him saying Fitzgerald’s contract is the number one aspect of his offseason, but he’s not tied to a deadline.
March 10 is the start of the new league year, which basically means the 2015 season officially starts in less than a month. Whenever you read the “Cards are X amount of dollars over the cap,” that’s a projected number. The Cardinals, right now, are operating under the 2014 salary cap and are not over that cap. Unlike the NBA, an NFL team is never allowed to be over the cap. What the phrase means is looking at all the contracts in play for 2015 versus the projections the league has given the teams for the 2015 cap. Every team is spending this month restructuring their current contracts for the upcoming season to create cap room for free agency which starts next month.
Keim let it be known that they are not handcuffed by the March 10 date. Keim said they don’t have to cut Larry Fitzgerald just because his 2015 salary will kick in and the over $25 million cap hit starts. With full attention being paid by Keim to get a deal done with Fitzgerald, it appears clear that the decision is simple: does Fitz want to play for Arizona? Although he’ll be nowhere near what the contract now reads for 2015, I think Arizona would still outbid all suitors.
The Mercury GM massaged all fears of their fans by saying he thinks Taurasi’s decision to stay in Russia will be a one-year decision. Obviously he could be wrong, but he said he expects the best female player in the world to return to the Mercury next season. He said they’re not taking the year off and still expect to compete for a championship. The growth of Brittney Griner has to be the biggest determining factor on whether or not that becomes a reality.