|2007 Team Previews: The Arizona Diamondbacks||| Print ||
Written by Sandy Hemenway (Contact & Archive) on March 11, 2007
Regular Season Record: 76-86
Home Park: Bank One Ballpark (park factor of 107/106 – very hitter friendly)
Looking For Greener Pastures Elsewhere
The Skinny: The D-backs were about the most average team imaginable in 2007, finishing 7th of 16 in both runs scored and runs allowed in the NL. The mixture of fading veterans and not-quite-ready-for-prime-time youngsters had little consistency outside of Cy Young winner Brandon Webb. This year marks the final step in building a contender through the draft and development, topped off with a couple of key acquisitions. While there are a number of question marks, (youngsters Drew, Quentin and Snyder have to prove themselves – and Randy Johnson has to prove he’s still got some gas left in his tank), all in all, the team looks much more solid in 2007. If Unit is even remotely himself this season, the rotation is vastly improved. Getting a full season from Livan will help, also. Given the general weakness of the West, the club should be a contender this season, if they can get even modest development from their youngsters and keep their rotation healthy.
Strengths: The starting rotation for Arizona has two Cy Young winners and two World Series MVP. No, Webb hasn’t been to a WS, yet – Livan Hernandez was actually the NLCS and WS MVP in 1997 with Florida. But the top 4 starts, (Webb, Unit, Livan and Doug Davis), have all thrown multiple 200-inning seasons. Livan Hernandez is actually a generally underrated starter, and since he’s only filling the #3 starter role on this team, the only real potential weakness is the #5 slot, where Enrique Gonzalez is still a work in progress. The Dodgers and Padres can each offer arguments as to why their rotation is superior, but The D-backs already have a WS title won with only two aces, and today Webb is every bit as valuable as Schilling was back in 2001.
Weaknesses: The offense has a lot of question marks, since Young, Snyder, Drew and Quentin all have resumes too short to be reliable. There is no single hitter that stands out as the guy you don’t want to beat you. In fact, the team leader in HRs in 2006 was Eric Byrnes with only 26 dingers. The team is certainly hoping for a resurgence in power from third-sacker Chad Tracy, who dipped from 27 to 20 HRs, apparently electing to have his sophomore slump during his junior year. With the Coors slosh-balls suppressing offense in Colorado, Arizona has almost become the best hitters park in the West, so the team really needs to generate more power (9th in slugging), and better patience (11th in OBP), if they want to contend in 2007.
Keys to Success: Rotation is stellar and healthy and young bats and gloves develop.Prediction: With Webb and Unit leading the way, the club stays in contention for most of the season. However, in September, the lack of any veteran stabilizing force on the offensive side of things has them falling just short of the playoffs. (A trade for a good bat at the deadline could make all the difference).