Arizona Diamondbacks: Five Keys (Or Is It Question Marks) To 2010 Season

Jack LondonCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2010

LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 31:  Justin Upton #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks runs to first on his game tying home run in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 31, 2009 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.    (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Those of you reading this article probably know the Arizona Diamondbacks inside and out. 

Then I shouldn't have to tell you this season is a huge opportunity for the Snakes—whether for good or for bad. 

Last season was a disappointment. No doubt about it.

But as we've seen in the NL West, things can change on a dime. I mean, just look at the Rockies last year. And there's no doubt in my mind Arizona can be that team this year.

But there are several keys to the season. Or, more specifically, players that must step up for that to happen: 


1. Justin Upton —This article kicked off with a photo of the Arizona Diamondback with the most upside. Clearly, Upton has what it takes.

Being a fantasy baseball fiend, I've heard raves about his ability.

The problem is that he hasn't reached his full potential yet.

I think that's a bit harsh, but the numbers don't lie: 26 HRs, and 86 RBIs in 2009, along with a .300 average and 20 SB. Now those numbers are pretty good for your average outfielder, better than average anyway.

I think a lot of you will agree with me that Upton has to do better than that this season. 


2. Brandon Webb —Is there more doubt of anyone else on this team?

The questions have swirled for months about Webb and whether he can come back to full strength.

Let's just say that, in my opinion, I'm not sure he has to.

Webb at 80 or 90 percent will be better than what the Snakes had last year at pitching. They've already got Dan Haren in the rotation, and now add a presumably good No. 3 in Edwin Jackson.

I'm not sure Webb has to be the ace for Arizona to get into the playoffs. However, I do think he'll have to come pretty darn close. 


3. Edwin Jackson —The aforementioned Jackson comes to Arizona as result of a questionable trade, in my mind.

Why Arizona gave up Max Scherzer, who was supposed to be the future of the franchise, is beyond me.

But what blows my mind about all this is Jackson.

Two years ago, he was having a very sub-par year with the Rays. Now, after one really good year with the Tigers, the Dbacks sell the farm to get him.

All I can say is he better be worth it. That means he better play like he did last year. If he does, Arizona will have the best rotation in the West without a doubt. 


4. Adam LaRoche —This will sound funny, so prepare yourself. But LaRoche may be the best first baseman Arizona has had in years. 


That's right, the guy everyone who has played fantasy baseball mocked for being under appreciated every year is now on our side.

That's a good thing folks. He doesn't have to be the center of the offense here. Not like in Pittsburgh. That's Justin Upton's and Mark Reynolds' departments.

He hit as many HR's and had as many RBI's as Upton last year, and that was playing for the Pirates and Braves.

Plus, Arizona has used everybody at first base from Chad Tracy to Conor Jackson to even Tony Clark over the last few years.

LaRoche will give you night in, night out solid production. This may be just what the Diamondbacks need. 


5. Middle Infield Play —And finally, the area of much angst over the last few years (or at least whenever the O-Dog, Orlando Hudson, left), the middle infield.

Stephen Drew and, I'm presuming, Kelly Johnson (although Ryan Roberts could have a say at second) are the starters.

Now, as much as I chide Drew, he has been at least solid over the last few seasons. But we all know he can be special.

I also know that Johnson can be special—I mean, the man played on the Braves for Pete's sake and did fairly well for the first part of the season.

But that's the problem with both of these guys—they don't put together consistent seasons. If they can do that, the offense for the Diamondbacks will be complete.