Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Arizona Diamondbacks Preview

Last year's big surprise isn't going to sneak up on anyone this year. The D-Backs were active in the off-season switching up a number of things in hopes of improving on their improbable NLCS appearance from last year. The only playoff team to get outscored during the regular season went out and bulked up on...pitching?! Yeah, that's right. The D-backs are banking on their young sluggers improving and traded for one of the biggest pitching names in all of baseball in Young Dan Haren. It appears they're not just satisfied with a 1st place finish in the NL West...they want the whole Cherry Pie.
2007 Finish: 90-72 1st in NL West

Key Additions
Dan Haren SP
Trot Nixon OF
Chad Qualls RP
Chris Burke OF
Key Losses
Jose Valverde RP
Carlos Quentin OF
Tony Clark 1B
Livan Hernandez

Projected Lineup
1) Justin Upton RF
2) Orlando Hudson 2B
3) Eric Byrnes LF
4) Chris Boo-urns Young CF
5) Connor Jackson 1B
6) Stephen Drew SS
7) Mark Reynolds 3B
8) Chris Snyder C
9) Pitcher
Offensive Grade: B-...This line-up doesn't have any All-Stars currently, but the great potential for growth is definitely there. This is one of the youngest line-ups in the majors and besides an oft-injured Carlos Quentin, they didn't lose anything. Their oldest starting hitter by far is the 32 year old Eric Byrnes, who had a career year last season. 2nd Year CF, Chris B. Young came on very strong near the end of the year, hitting more Dingers than almost any hitter in the majors over the last month. Young bucks Stephen Drew and Justin Upton are also still ripening and Jackson and Reynolds each had flashes of brilliance last year too. I think that by this time next year this grade could be much higher.

Projected Roster
1) Brandon Webb
2) Dan Haren
3) Randy Johnson
4) Doug Davis
5) Micah Owings
CL) Brandon Lyon/Tony Pena
Pitching Grade: A-...I had to add the minus because of the depth issues and closer shakiness. The top two flamethrowing duo of Webb and Haren stack up with the League's Elite and you can make an argument that they are the best 1-2 punch in baseball. Both of these ballers are potential Cy Young Candidates in the loaded NL Pitching Race. They really remind me of the Randy Johnson/Curt Schilling tagteam from the 2001 World Series winning D-Backs squad. Could these two have as much success as the '01 Studs? Speaking of Dandy Randy...his health is going to be a Gigantic X Factor for this team. Clearly, he's not going to be return to his dominance of 2001, but if he can stay healthy for 60 percent or more of the season, this rotation is going to be one of the most intimidating in baseball. Doug Davis is the king of mediocrity, but for a #4 hurler, he'll do. Micah Owings is in the same vein as Jason Marquis...mediocre pitcher, above average hitter. I Wouldn't be surprised if he gets pinch hitting duties at some points this season. Losing Valverde is a tough blow. I don't really understand why they dealt him to the 'Stros, but it shouldn't matter if Haren and Webb can go late enough into games.

2008 Season Outlook
The NL West should be a great race this year and the D-backs will be right in the thick of things. It's hard to imagine them not being near or at the top come September considering what they did last year with less. Some of the lucky breaks might not fall their way this time around, but with Dan Haren around, it should make up for the times when they don't have Lady Luck on their side. I see this team at least equalling their performance from a year ago with a possibility of flirting with the century mark in the left hand column. This squad is primed for a run to the World Series again, but they'll need to be firing on all cylinders if they want to advance farther in a much better National League this year.
Projected Finish: 94-68


Young Por 'que said...

If this team wins 94 games, there isn't a chance in hell they don't end up in 1st in the West. 94 games would get you first in about every league but the AL East, and may even do that this year.

tinoco50 said...

Last year the DBACKS batting avg was .250 How much they wll improve this year? I think will be better but not much. On pitching Webb/Haren are probably the best combo, but Johnson and the backend of the rotation is questionable. Plus, the loss of Valverde will hurt them.

So, I think the Padres have better pitching staff than Arizona especially in the bullpen. And neither club have offensive punch. SD an DBACKS were the last 2 on avg last year (and Bank One Ballpark it's a hitters park)...

And your preview is Arizona wining 94 games and San Diego 75? 19 games betwen them? explain that!!!