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Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on February 26, 2003
1st in NL West
Home: Bank One Ballpark aka the BOB
The Diamondbacks in recent years have been something of a two-man dynamo. Every year at this point it seems we are making our predictions that the D’backs will win the NL West, provided of course that neither Johnson nor Schilling’s arm falls off. This is completely appropriate since 47 of the teams wins last season can be attributed to this dynamic duo. This year’s offseason was about adding some depth, and perhaps making sure that this team’s fate does not rely solely on two pitchers whose combined age is 75.
That’s not to say that the D’Backs didn’t try to upgrade at offense; they surely did and they thought that they had worked out a terrific trade for Larry Walker in exchange for Matt Williams. Williams vetoed the trade, though, and the only other D’back offensive trades Arizona managed to make were not exactly overwhelming.
The big movement was in pitching. Arizona traded away Eurbial Durazo and Damian Miller and in return got only one offensive player, OF Gary Johnson, who can’t even be found in the major league player registries. They did get some potential, however, but I think Diamondback fans may be crying when Durazo starts putting up 40-50 home run numbers in a few years.
Still, this team is so solid up and down the lineup that it’s scary. So long as Womack remains solid and doesn’t fall off as a leadoff hitter, the team should score a lot of runs. Aside from a possible weakness in right field, which should get better as the players mature, this is a very healthy team.
The Diamondbacks have made some great strides in the pitching department. They acquired Elmer Dessens from Cincinnati in the hope that he can finally provide them with an effective number three pitcher. Even if he can’t the emergence of rookie John Patterson should really start this year. Down the road, the D’backs will expect great things of him.
If both fail to come through, the D’Backs have signed a ton of decent arms to minor league contracts with invites to spring training. These include Armando Reynoso, Manny Aybar, Ron Villone, Mike Jackson, and Ricky Bottalico. This gives the D’backs more depth than they’ve had in the past, and opens up some intriguing possibilities.
This is a slightly stronger version of last year’s team. Schilling is in better shape than last year and Johnson just this week said “I still don’t believe I have had my best year.” If that’s true, than the National league had best watch out, cause the D’Backs will win the division... unless Johnson or Schilling’s arm falls off.