|2009 Arizona Diamondbacks Preview|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on March 31, 2009
Arizona invested heavily in the draft under the deft leadership of Mike Rizzo, who has since moved to Washington, and the dividends are arriving. Players like Stephen Drew, Chris Young and Justin Upton are close to breaking out and becoming stars at the major league level.
Home stadium: Chase Field
1B Tony Clark (Re-signed)
SP Jon Garland (Signed from Angels)
RP Tom Gordon (Signed from Phillies)
SS Felipe Lopez (Signed from Cardinals)
RP Scott Schoeneweis (Acquired from Mets)
Molting the Arizona Uniform
2B Chris Burke (Signed with Padres) *
RP Juan Cruz (Signed with Royals)
OF Adam Dunn (Signed with Nationals)
2B David Eckstein (Signed with Padres)
C Robby Hammock (Signed with Orioles) *
2B Orlando Hudson (Signed with Dodgers)
SP Randy Johnson (Signed with Giants)
RP Wilfredo Ledezma (Signed with Nationals) *
RP Brandon Lyon (Signed with Tigers)
OF Jeff Salazar (Signed with Pirates) *
* - signed minor league contract
Strength – Youth
The Diamondbacks feature several talented youngsters. Brandon Webb, one of the three best NL pitchers, and Dan Haren, one of the 10 best NL pitchers, form a tremendous duo atop the rotation. Neither has celebrated his 30th birthday yet. Max Scherzer, the fifth starter, is only 24 but has had shoulder issues in the past.
Teams should be envious of Arizona’s young offense, too. Atop the lineup sit a formidable quartet of youngsters in Drew, Young, Upton and Conor Jackson. Should Mark Reynolds slow his strikeout rate, his 30 or so home run will look much better.
Weakness – Bullpen
Arizona let relievers Juan Cruz and Brandon Lyon walk after last season, and that is going to hurt them. Chad Qualls likely receives the closer’s role, while Jon Rauch and Tony Pena set him up. That trio shouldn’t strike fear into opposing hitters’ minds.
The Diamondbacks could use another quality reliever or two, even if the remainder of the division features weak bullpens. The free agent market features Will Ohman, who would be a solid signing, and someone like Huston Street will be available in the free agent market. Perhaps Arizona, with depth at catcher, would be a good trade partner for the Boston Red Sox, who have bullpen depth.
2B Felipe Lopez
CF Chris Young
SS Stephen Drew
LF Conor Jackson
RF Justin Upton
3B Mark Reynolds
1B Chad Tracy
C Chris Snyder
CL Chad Qualls
RP Jon Rauch
RP Tony Pena
Does the young offense take the needed step forward? If Young kicked his free-swinging ways, he could be a superstar in the Matt Holliday mold. Young has the speed to steal 25 bases a season, the power to club 30 and could hit .270 if he didn’t strike out as much. Upton oozes with talent, and if further develops his strike zone, he could hit 30 home runs with a nice on-base percentage. The examples go on and on.
The NL West race will be a good one. The Dodgers have a weak rotation, which their offense should help offset. Arizona, on the other hand, is a little more balanced. The guess here is that Los Angeles takes the title by one or two games over Arizona. Still, that would be a respectable finish for the Diamondbacks.