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Thursday, March 25, 2010

2010 Arizona Diamondbacks team preview

2009 Record: 70-92   .432

Run Differential: -62

Arizona just missed the playoffs in 2008 and hoped as their young players continued to gain experience and mature that 2009 would bring the playoffs to the desert.  What the team didn't expect was a rash of injuries to some of their better players.  Once Brandon Webb went down the rotation scrambled for arms.  No one stepped up and the team really fell apart.  Conor Jackson was felled with Valley Fever and later pneumonia.  Not all was lost though.  After struggling so badly in April the team considered demoting him, Justin Upton exploded and put up a .900 OPS resulting in his name being on several MVP ballots.  Mark Reynolds also had a career year that included 44 home runs and shattered his single season strikeout record.  As well as Upton and Reynolds played last year was how disappointing Chris Young was. Long expected to be a star, Young lost his starting job.  Now the team is concerned he'll never pan out.  Rookie Gerardo Parra showed he was read for the show after receiving extended playing time and Miguel Montero finally lived upon his promise.  Clearly it was a season defined with highs and lows.

With several young players and a solid rotation there's still hops this team can compete for a playoff spot.
The offseason really kicked off when Arizona traded young stud Max Scherzer in part of a three team deal for Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy.  Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson were signed as free agents and are expected to beef up the offense on the left side of the infield.  Mark Reynolds is unlikely to repeat his exceptional performance from last season but he has established himself as a legitimate offensive even stealing 30 bases.  The team should be concerned about its defense though.  Johnson is nothing special, LaRoche is overrated, and Chris Young clearly regressed.  But the key to this team is and has always been Brandon Webb.  Dan Haren is one of the the five best NL starters but he can't do it alone.  Having a healthy Webb creates a domino effect that knocks Haren down to the second starting spot, Jackson to third, and so on.  The front end of the bullpen is nothing special but that shouldn't be a big concern.  If you're protecting leads you typically only need a good back end and Arizona has that.  In the end, this is a team that could clearly go either way.  I think betting on them to succeed is a long shot though.  They'll just have to wait another year.

Arizona knew an arm injury was likely to befell their stud pitcher 
which is why they didn't offer him a long-term contract three years ago.  
Now, though, they need him more than ever if the team is to be successful.

Likely Opening Day Roster:
My Two Cents
Miguel Montero
Last year was a break out performance for the young catcher. Top 5 at his position in the NL
Chris Snyder
Back injury has robbed him of what used to be good defense. With that contract is trade bait
Adam LaRoche
If he could hit in the 1st half like he does in the 2nd he'd be a top 5 first baseman every year
Kelly Johnson
My favorite Brave not named Chipper. Has talent but is so inconsistent it's maddening
Mark Reynolds
Last hear hit .260 with 44 HR but 223 whiffs. Either the K's come down or his homers will
Stephen Drew
I think it's time to temper our expectation on him. Not going to be a star but is a useful player
Conor Jackson
Valley Fever (seriously) ruined his season in '09 but he should be ready to go again this year
Chris Young
I've been predicting stardom for him for but it might be time to move on. Make or break season 
Justin Upton
At 21 was a star. Should continue to grow into becoming the NLs best player not named Pujols
Augie Ojeda
Minus IBB is only an owner of a .700 OPS
Tony Abreu
Only walked 12 times in a half season in AAA so probably not the best option for extended PT
Conor Gillespie
Good bench option as his .390 career minor league OBP would suggest.
Gerardo Parra
He'll give his team Juan Encarnacion syndrome: too good to sit yet not good enough to start
Dan  Haren
A lot of people called the Haren trade a coup for the A's. I think Arizona got what they wanted
Edwin Jackson
Got hit pretty hard late in the year. This is his chance to prove last year's numbers were real.
Ian Kennedy
Yankees felt he was either a AAAA guy or limited to back of rotation. I think he's better
Billy Buckner
Pitched pretty well last year. Deserving of a chance to prove that wasn't a fluke
Garrett Mock
Still too early to give up on him as a starter
Chad Qualls
Hopefully the dislocated kneecap he suffered last year won't hinder him as a top NL closer
Bob Howry
Nice season with SF. Really has turned into one of the better setup men
Clay Zavada
Rollie Fingers' protege, not for his performance but instead for his awesome moustache
Aaron Heilman
Dying to be a starter but has anyone explained to him that's the fastest way to end his career?
Juan Gutierrez
Former starter making a seamless transition to reliever
Blaine Boyer
Has a good arm but Bobby Cox may have ruined him
Esmerling Vazquez
If he ever solves control woes will blossom into one heck of a pitcher
DL: Brandon Webb - Targeting late April or early May return.  Arizona has remained quiet on the issue.

Say Hello To: Adam LaRoche, Kelly Johnson, Edwin Jackson, Bob Howry, Aaron Heilman, Ian Kennedy, Rodrigo Lopez, Jeff Bailey

Wave Goodbye: Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, Scott Maine, Chad Tracy, Eric Byrnes, Alex Romero, Josh Whitesell, Tony Clark, Doug Davis, Scott Schooenweis, Daniel Cabrera, Tom Gordon, Yusmeiro Petit

Rookies: None

Potential Breakout: Kelly Johnson - Too much talent to continue to fail

Welcome to Earth: Mark Reynolds - Since his strikeout numbers actually increased last year, I don't see his offensive superstardom continuing.  It was fun while it lasted.

Likely to Rebound: Conor Jackson - Last year was a complete waste due to his illness. Expect him to regain form atop the Dbacks order come 2010.

Top 3 players: Brandon Webb (if healthy), Justin Upton, Dan Haren

Top Prospect: Jarrod Parker - Will likely miss the entire season due to TJ surgery but if he fully recovers he'll be a top starter. Mark it ink.

Prediction: 78-84  3rd place N.L. West
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