Team Name: Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Years Record: 82-80
Key Losses: Randy Johnson, Orlando Hudson, Adam Dunn, Brandon Lyon
Key Additions: Jon Garland, Felipe Lopez, Scott Schoeneweis
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
While the team let the Big Unit leave, they replaced him with Jon Garland, another in the line of proven ‘innings eaters’ loved by GM Josh Byrnes (see also Dan Haren and Doug Davis). Garland is certainly less risky than Johnson, but probably has a lower upside. Orlando Hudson was also allowed to leave as a free agent, and will be replaced at second-base by Felipe Lopez, who basically blew chunks with Washingtom – when the Nationals release you, it’s not a good sign – but totally tore it up with St. Louis. Arizona are hoping for more of the latter and less of the former.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
Top to bottom, the rotation is probably the best in the National League. Brandon Webb and Haren give the team a 1-2 punch any franchise would die for, and both Garland and Davis are extremely solid pitchers too. Likely filling in the fifth spot is young phenom Max Scherzer, who blew onto the scene last season, retiring all 13 batters faced in his major-league debut. His innings this year may be limited to around 150, but they’ll likely be pretty spectacular innings.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
The team once again doesn’t have a pure slugger, mid-season acquisition Adam Dunn having departed, but that may or may not be a serious issue. More troubling is the bullpen, where Chad Qualls had only eight career saves before replacing Lyon late last year. It was certainly a weakness last season – Arizona’s relievers had a record of 17-28 – and the late leads given up by the team basically cost them the division. The loss of Lyon and also Juan Cruz will hurt, and I’m not certain that the arrivals of Schoeneweis and Tom Gordon will be adequate replacements.
4. What are the goals for this team?
The trade for Dan Haren before last year basically gutted the farm system and shifted them into ‘win now’ mode. 2009 and 2010 are probably their best window for success, with Webb due to become a free agent after 2010, and unlikely to be re-signed [he’ll likely deserve, and get, a $20m-plus per year contract]. However, they need young players like Justin Upton, Mark Reynolds and Chris Young to develop into potent offensive threats, in order to back up an already solid rotation.
5. How does the team stack up against the rest of the West?
The NL West has a rep for being weak, but as recently as October 2007, both participants in the National League Championship series came from there. I think the Diamondbacks have the best balance between pitching and offense: the Dodgers’ lineup is great, but the loss of Derek Lowe will hurt them. Conversely, the Giants’ rotation is very solid, but catcher Molina may lead the team in homers again. The Rockies basically ran the white flag up by trading away Matt Holliday, and the Padres won’t have a direction until new owner (and former Arizona CEO) Jeff Moorad finally takes over. It’ll be between the Dodgers and D-backs for the title: who wins probably depends on whether or not Manny Ramirez lives up to his $20m salary.
Predicted Record: 88-74
From: AZ Snakepit