Tagged: Arizona Diamondbacks

2010 Arizona Diamondback Preview

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arizona_diamondback_logo.gif2009 Record: 70-92, 5th NL West

2009 Prediction: 93-69, 1st NL West (NL
Champs)

2010 Prediction: 3rd NL West

 

Impact Player: Justin Upton

Impact Pitcher: Dan Haren

Top Prospect Player:
3B Bobby Borchering

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Jarrod Parker

 

Manager: A.J. Hinch, 2nd Season
(58-75, .436)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: 1B Adam LaRoche,
2B Kelly Johnson, RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Bob Howry,
RHP Aaron Heilman, RHP Rodrigo Lopez

Significant Losses: UTIL Chad Tracy, OF Eric Byrnes,
1B Tony Clark, LHP Doug Davis, RHP Max Scherzer, RHP Yusmeiro
Petit
, LHP Doug Slaten

 

So I might have been a little off the mark last season when
I predicted that the D’Backs would win the NL pennant.  In my defense, a healthy Brandon Webb would have made them significantly better, but I was a
little excited about the young core of players this team has and perhaps I was
off by a couple seasons for their big post-season run.  Well, Webb is healthy in 2010 and the lineup
has some of the best young talent in the game, but do they have what it takes
to compete in a suddenly competitive division? 
Their soon-to-be 36-year-old manager thinks so and he’s hoping he can
better relate to his players than regimes in the past simply because he’s more “their
age.”

 

Pitching

danharen.jpg

Webb was one of the best pitchers in baseball before shoulder
surgery knocked him out for all but one start last season.  If he’s healthy and back to form, the D’Backs
have a 1-2 that rivals anyone’s in baseball. 
From 2006-08, Webb finished in the top 2 in Cy Young voting in each year
and won the award in 2006.  His record in
those three years was 56-25 and he never had an ERA higher than 3.30.  Dan
Haren
is the number two guy, although he’d be an ace on most teams.  Haren was 14-10 with a 3.14 ERA on a bad team
last season and is certainly capable of 17-20 wins.  Realizing some depth was needed, the
Diamondbacks gave up talented young hurlers Max Scherzer and Daniel
Schlereth
in the three-way Curtis
Granderson
deal.  The Diamondbacks
received pitchers Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy in the deal and they
believe those two have as high a ceiling as Scherzer and Schlereth, but are
further along in their development.  It’s
hard to believe with all of the talent Jackson possesses that he’s on his 4th
Major League team.  Kennedy on the other
hand should slide into the fourth spot in the rotation if he proves he belongs
there in the Spring.  The D’Backs believe
he’s about to have a breakout season away from the pressures of New York.  The fifth spot will be a competition between Billy Buckner (who had a strong finish,
unlike another baseball player with his name), Kevin Mulvey, Rodrigo Lopez,
and Bryan Augenstein.  Buckner likely has the best chance.

 

Chad Qualls is
being given another chance to close out ballgames for the Diamondbacks after 24
saves last season.  He’s not the most
consistent of relievers, but he seems to get the job done.  Bob
Howry
was signed in the offseason and figures to be the setup man, a spot
he struggled in at times in 2009 with San Francisco and with Chicago in 2008.  Juan
Gutierrez
was okay last season but finished strong and could be a late
innings option if Howry and Qualls struggle. 
Aaron Heilman was brought in
from the Cubs where he struggled last season and really hasn’t been good since
2007 with the Mets.  He’ll be joined on
the right side by Blaine Boyer who
has great stuff but can’t seem to keep it together in pressure situations, and
lefthander Clay Zavada who was solid
in 2009.  The long-man job will go to one
of the starting candidates.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Brandon
Webb

30/1

R/R

Dan
Haren

29

R/R

Edwin
Jackson*

26

R/R

Ian
Kennedy*

25

R/R

Billy
Buckner

26/7

R/R

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Chad
Qualls

31/2

R/R

Bob
Howry*

36/7

L/R

Juan
Gutierrez

26/7

R/R

Aaron
Heilman*

31

R/R

Clay
Zavada

25/6

L/L

Blaine
Boyer

28/9

R/R

Rodrigo
Lopez*

34

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Bryan
Augenstein

23/4

R/R

Kevin
Mulvey

24/5

R/R

Esmerling
Vasquez

26

R/R

Leo
Rosales

28/9

R/R

Zach
Kroenke

25

R/L

T.J.
Beam*

29/0

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

Lineup

Justin_Upton_Icon.jpg

The D’Backs have one of the most talented outfielders in the
game in rightfielder Justin Upton.  B.J.’s brother was fantastic last season with
a .300/.366/.532 line and 26 homeruns and is only 22.  Upton could have a huge year in 2010 and is
an MVP in waiting.  Centerfield will
likely be the territory of Chris Young
who has plus power and speed and is a terrific defender, but suffers from a
long swing and hits for an extremely low average.  If the holes in his swing can be fixed, he
could be a perennial 30/30 man.  If he
struggles again in 2010, look for young Gerardo
Parra
to step in.  Parra hit .290
with 60 RBI in 2009 and needs to be in the lineup somewhere.  Conor
Jackson
will likely start the year in leftfield where he is more
comfortable, but he could be moved back to first base if offseason acquisition Adam LaRoche struggles and prospect Brandon Allen isn’t ready.

 

The right side of the infield has a new look this season
with LaRoche at first and another former Brave Kelly Johnson at second. 
Both are looking for bounce back season in the desert.  The left side of the infield looks no
different this season with returnees Stephen
Drew
and Mark Reynolds.  Drew was decent last season but has yet to
really fulfill his immense potential at shortstop; Arizona is hoping for a
.290-.300 hitter with 20-25 homerun power, right now he’s a .260 hitter with
10-15 homerun power.  Reynolds strikes
out at a rate that has never been seen before, and ‘so what?’  If he continues to hit homeruns at the level
and sheer distance he currently does, than who cares how many times he strikes
out?  There are many teams who would love
a guy who hits around .260 with a .350 OBP and 45 homerun power, people need to
stop caring so much about his strike out rate. 
Miguel Montero established
himself as the number one catcher last season after hitting .294 with 16
homeruns in 128 games.  Chris Snyder struggled so badly that
not only is he the backup, but the Diamondbacks tried very hard to trade him in
the offseason.

 

On the bench, Snyder will be joined by infielders Ryan Roberts and Tony Abreu who work well in bench roles, while young outfielders Parra
and Cole Gillespie should also make
the team.  Veteran Augie Ojeda has a shot as well but could hit the waiver wire before
the end of Spring.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

SS

Stephen
Drew

27

L/R

LF

Conor
Jackson

27/8

R/R

RF

Justin
Upton

22/3

R/R

C

Miguel
Montero

26/7

L/R

3B

Mark
Reynolds

26/7

R/R

1B

Adam
LaRoche*

30

L/L

CF

Chris
Young

26

R/R

2B

Kelly
Johnson*

28

L/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Chris
Snyder

29

R/R

INF

Ryan
Roberts
(2B, 3B, LF)

29

R/R

OF

Gerardo
Parra
(LF, CF, RF)

22/3

L/L

INF

Tony Abreu (SS, 2B)            

25

S/R

OF

Cole
Gillespie
(CF, LF, RF)

25/6

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

C

John
Hester

26

R/R

INF

Augie
Ojeda

35

S/R

INF

Rusty
Ryal

27

R/R

1B

Brandon
Allen

24

L/R

OF

Drew
Macias*

27

L/L

*=newly acquired

 

 

With Webb healthy, the acquisition of Jackson and Kennedy,
and continually developing lineup, the Diamondbacks should be a much better
team in 2010 than they were last year, but I’m not going to go out on the limb
I did last season and pick them to win the NL. 
They probably don’t have the tools to compete with the Dodgers and
Giants in the NL West, and they might not be as good as the Rockies
either.  I’m not sold on Colorado, so
there’s a good chance the D’Backs with finish up third in this division.

Final Prediction:
84-78, 3rd NL West

’09 Preview — Arizona Diamondbacks

arizonadiamondbacks2007logo.gif2008 Record: 82-80, 2nd NL West
2009 Prediction: 1st NL West

Impact Player: Stephen Drew
Impact Pitcher: Brandon Webb
Top Prospect: Jarrod Parker, RHP

Significant Acquisitions: P Jon Garland, P Tom Gordon, P Scott Schoeneweis, 2B Felipe Lopez, INF Josh Wilson
Significant Losses: 2B Orlando Hudson, OF/1B Adam Dunn, UTIL Chris Burke, INF David Eckstein, P Randy Johnson, P Brandon Lyon, P Juan Cruz, P Edgar Gonzalez, P Brandon Medders

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In the short history of the Arizona Diamondbacks, they have
accomplished some very impressive things.  In the first few years, owner
Jerry Colangelo spent a lot of money trying to win; and it worked.  The
D’Backs won the 2001 World Series in only their 4th year of existence. 
Since then, the focus has been more on player development and more conservative
free agent spending.  That seems to have worked as well, as Arizona has
posted back-to-back winning seasons and had an appearance in the 2007
NLCS.  This year, the D’Backs have one of the best pitching staffs in
baseball and a young lineup that could put it all together very, very
soon.  Don’t be at all surprised if this team becomes one of the best in the
NL in 2009

Pitching
As I said in the opening paragraph, the D’Backs have one of the best
pitching staffs in baseball.  They have two top-flight aces in Brandon
Webb and Dan Haren.  Many people think Webb was robbed of his second Cy
Young Award in ’08 after leading the NL in wins with 22 and posting a 3.30
ERA.  Either way, Webb has been easily the best pitcher in the NL since
2006 finishing 2nd or higher in Cy Young voting every year.  He is durable
and harnesses one of the best curveballs in the game.  Haren was brilliant
last season after being traded from Oakland the previous offseason.  Haren
had a career-high in wins with 16 and posted a 3.33 ERA.  He has seen an
increase in wins every year he has been in the majors, so don’t be surprised if
he finishes ’09 with 18-20 wins.  Lefthander Doug Davis battled cancer
last year which limited him to only 146 innings and a 6-8 record.  A
healthy Davis is good for 12-15 wins, and he is apparently 100% again. 
The loss of Randy Johnson to division-rival San Francisco prompted ‘Zona to
sign Jon Garland.  Garland benefited from great run support last year
going 14-8 in spite of a 4.90 ERA.  He is, however, very dependable
posting at least 32 starts every year since ’02 and hitting 200 innings 4 times.  The fifth spot will likely go to 24-year-old Max Scherzer who had a 3.05 ERA in 16 games in ’08.  If he fails to deliver on his promise, young guns Yumeiro Petit and Billy Buckner also have outside shots.

The weakest part of this team could be their bullpen if ’08 numbers are replicated.  There is a wealth of experience in there though, and if pitchers who had bad ’08s rebound in ’09 they should be fine.  The closer job will likely be given to Chad Qualls who posted a 2.81 ERA in ’08 predominately as a setup guy, but if he faulters, Jon Rauch posted 18 saves last year.  Tony Pena also has closer-type stuff and veteran Tom Gordon was signed away from the world champion Phillies and brings with him his 158 career saves.  Lefty Doug Slaten returns and has fellow southpaw Scott Schoeneweis with him.  Schoeneweis posted a 3.34 ERA last year with the Mets, but stuggled badly in big games down the stretch.  Buckner or Petit could also be in the mix for a spot in the ‘pen.

Rotation (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • Brandon Webb (R/30)
  • Dan Haren (R/28)
  • Doug Davis (L/33)
  • Jon Garland (R/29)
  • Max Scherzer (R/24)

Bullpen

  • Chad Qualls (R/30)
  • Jon Rauch (R/30)
  • Tony Pena (R/27)
  • Tom Gordon (R/41)
  • Doug Slaten (L/29)
  • Scott Schoeneweis (L/35)
  • Billy Buckner (R/25)

Lineup
The Diamondbacks were a below-average offensive team in ’08 as their young lineup couldn’t retain the momentum it gained in the ’07 season.  Not one projected starter is older than 29 and there’s a lot of talented players that have yet to hit their stride in the majors and should do so soon.  Conor Jackson will move from First to Left Field where he can take advantage of his plus-speed and arm strength defensively.  He should continue to improve with the bat as well.  He hits well for contact and drove in 75 runs in ’08 but has yet to show much power.  Most people believe that he is a 30 HR-threat waiting to happen.  In Center Field, Chris Young returns with his gold glove-caliber defense and plus-power and baserunning ability, but needs to raise his career .243 batting average.  Right Field will belong to Justin Upton who is still only 21 years old and has tremendous upside; think brother B.J. with more pop and slightly less speed.  In the infield, Mark Reynolds returns at Third and needs to strike out less; he did hit 28 home runs last year, however.  Chad Tracy moves from Third to First where he should receive the playing time he deserves and Felipe Lopez was signed to replace Orlando Hudson at second.  If Lopez struggles, veteran Augie Ojeda is still around.  At Shortstop is Stephen Drew who is probably the best all-around hitter on the team.  Last season, Drew hit .291 with 21 home runs and also led the team with 44 doubles and 11 triples.  Catching duties will belong to Chris Snyder who hit 16 home runs and drove in 64 last season in spite of a .237 batting average.  He is solid defensively and also calls the game well.

On the bench will be Ojeda along with pinch-hitter extraordinaire Tony Clark who re-signed for one more year.  Outfielder Eric Byrnes lost his starting job last year but is still a solid fourth outfielder, especially defensively.  The D’Backs round out their bench with 25-year-old backup catcher Miguel Montero who could supersede Snyder if he lives up to his potential.  Infielder Josh Wilson signed a minor-league contract in the offseason and should also crack the team.

Lineup

  • CF  Chris Young (R/25)
  • RF  Justin Upton (R/21)
  • LF  Conor Jackson (R/27)
  • 3B  Mark Reynolds (R/25)
  • SS  Stephen Drew (L/26)
  • C    Chris Snyder (R/28)
  • 1B  Chad Tracy (L/29)
  • 2B  Felipe Lopez (S/29)

Bench

  • INF Augie Ojeda (S/34)
  • INF Josh Wilson (R/28)
  • 1B  Tony Clark (S/37)
  • OF  Eric Byrnes (R/33)
  • C    Miguel Montero (L/25)

Outlook
The Diamondbacks starting pitching will be second-to-none as long as they stay healthy and their bullpen has a lot of experienced arms that could thrive if they only have to throw 2 or 3 innings per game.  Their lineup has lofty potential and you have to expect that sooner rather than later they will be one of the tougher young lineups in the league.  I believe this is their year.  Character veterans like Clark, Byrnes, and Ojeda coming off the bench will provide the guidance this young team needs.  Although the Cubs are the best team on paper, the D’Backs pitching staff could easily go toe-to-toe with them in a post-season series should they meet there.  Expect big things this year in Arizona.  Final Prediction: 93-69, 1st NL West (NL Champions over the Cubs).