Leading up to the start of the 2009 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams. Today’s team is the Arizona Diamondbacks. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers will preview every team division by division until the start of the regular season.
Last season the Arizona Diamondbacks jumped out to a torrid start that had everyone believing they were the favorite to win the World Series, or at least represent the National League in the fall classic. They began the season 20-8 and Brandon Webb won his first 9 starts. It went downhill from there, and quickly. They ended up acquiring Adam Dunn in an attempt to push them past the Dodgers in the NL West, which failed. They ended up finishing 2 games behind the Dodgers and 2 games above .500 at 82-80.
When you take a close look at the Diamondbacks roster, you can understand why they struggled last year. They’re sprinkled with young players and ordinary players. They have few stars.
There is a chance that guys like Justin Upton, Chris Young, and Conor Jackson could soon be considered stars. We could see any one of them having a breakout year in 2009 or soon thereafter. Brandon Webb is one of the top starting pitchers in the NL and is a threat to win the Cy Young every year. Danny Haren is a pretty good #2 as well.
From there, you’ll hear Diamondback fans talk about guys like third baseman Mark Reynolds, left fielder Eric Byrnes, and shortstop Stephen Drew. Young phenom Max Scherzer isn’t all that impressive for what we’ve seen, but he will be in the rotation trying to establish himself as a big league horse.
Gone is Dunn and Randy Johnson, while additions like Tom Gordon and Jon Garland are hopeful to strengthen the pitching staff. They also had closer Brandon Lyon exit via free agency and the closer will now be Chad Qualls. We can almost guaruntee you Qualls will not last the season as the closer. He has nothing out of the ordinary, making him the perfect closer for these Dbacks.
The bullpen isn’t too shabby in addition to Qualls. Tom Gordon, Tony Pena, Jon Rauch, and Scot Schoeneweis are all solid guys who will log innings and record outs.
If the Diamondbacks get youngsters like Upton, Young, and Jackson to have big offensive years all together this season and stay healthy in the pitching department they could win around 85 ballgames, but probably not too many more. If not, they’re about where they were at last season, as they did little to improve their very ordinary roster.
Upton should be fun to watch grow up. He’s going to be a future star in this game. Nothing better then young talent, right? Also seeing manager Bob Melvin’s stoneface look when something goes wrong is worth the price of admission in itself.