2008 Arizona Diamondbacks Preview
Alright, I am trying not to be a homer here, but I really do think the Diamondbacks will win the National League West in 2008.
If I ignored the problems they have had this spring, I would not be a legitimate sports writer.
On paper, they've got one amazing pitching staff. Brandon Webb should secure at least 15 wins, and more likely 20, this year. His stuff is still good, and he is healthy.
What more could you ask for in a number one?
Well, you could ask him to be left handed, which is what you find with Arizona's number two starter: Randy Johnson.
Johnson is still good—questionably. He mowed batters down last season when he was healthy, and he has had good bite on his slider this spring. He may not ever throw another no-hitter, but he will win 10 if he stays healthy.
Danny Haren is possibly a bigger question mark than Johnson. It isn't a matter of health but rather a matter of adjusting to baseball in the NL.
2004 was quite a while ago, in baseball years anyway. Hitters are younger, faster, and a lot stronger.
This isn't the pop-it-up or pop-it-out American League. Keeping the ball down will just leave you with Jimmy Rollins bunting his way onto first.
Haren's a stud, though, and he should adjust well.
Doug (hourglass) Davis may not pitch the most innings, but far and away exceeds any player in history for amount of time spent standing on the mound. This guy is career .500 and lives up to it consistently.
If Brian Price could kick him around those bad 15 times, this guy would be tolerable. He will get the D-backs eight to 10 wins.
The fifth spot in the rotation seems to be up in the air. Micah has been shelled like Basra this spring and may never pull out of it.
Edgar Gonzalez is the leading man, but he is quite effective out of the bullpen, leaving Yusmeiro Petit as our fifth guy. I am okay with that. He was solid as Johnson's replacement last year and has pitched well this spring.
A lot of losses will come from the fifth spot as they work out the kinks, but eight wins would be reasonable from any of the guys who tough it out at the bottom.
The pen should be solid without Valverde. Lyon handled the closer job two years ago and is much more consistent than Papa Grande ever was.
Pena will set up nicely and Chad Qualls should bridge the seventh inning well.
Of course, guys like Brandon Medders, Dustin Nippert, Doug Slaten, Juan Gutiérrez, and Jailen Peguero need to help get there and to fill in on the days that those guys can't go. Medders and Nippert have looked rough this spring, but everyone else has looked great.
Future All-Stars are playing at center, right, third, and first on this team, and there are All-Stars at left and second.
The void behind the plate seems like the biggest weakness the D-backs have. Chris Snyder stops breaking balls as well as Kleenex, Montero is injured, and Hammock will play once a week even though he is the best equipped to handle the full time position.
Chris Young, Eric Byrnes, and Justin Upton should put up 30-30 numbers. Connor Jackson could finally reach his potential based on his stellar spring. Mark Reynolds is a stud who could hit 40 home runs if he ever made contact with 40 balls a season.
All of that being said, Stephen Drew should be traded for a top line catcher and replaced with Augie Ojeda, Chris Burke, or Emilio Bonifacio.
Drew's range is best expressed using the distance of fingers instead of arms. His bat has the power of Nancy Drew, not JD Drew.
All around, the D-backs should score more this year with sophomore production from most spots in their lineup. Orlando Hudson is in a contract year, meaning he will hit .350 with 130 RBIs and 35 HRs like every other free agent does.
What does it all mean? 91 wins, second best record in the league (behind the Mets), and a loss to the Mets in game seven of the NLCS.
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