Tuesday, March 21

Arizona Diamondbacks: At Least the Rockies Can Blame the Altitude

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Starting Pitching:

Brandon Webb is their ace, and rightfully so; he's better than people think (he was the up-and-comer when it was the Schilling & RJ show back in 2001), and after a horrible season in 2004, look for him to bounce back. However, the biggest problem with him isn't his own fault; he might lack for wins and not because of the way he pitches. It's just that the rest of the team is that bad. If you're comfortable accepting that fact, then we're okay. If not, then you're probably not going to like the rest of this entry. Consider that your warning to bail out now.

Moving right along, the rest of this rotation approaches abysmal. When your best potential pitcher was a closer in another country last year, that's a problem. Granted, that country was Canada, so it's not like Miguel Batista was facing Little Leaguers in Italy, but it could still be a recipe for disaster. However, Diamondbacks management was at least smart enough to realize this wouldn't be your ideal second-pitcher candidate, so they put him behind the personification of the 5-run rally himself, Russ Ortiz. At least if he has an ERA below 6 it's a good year for him.

Orlando Hernandez holds a distinction few have: they actually got worse once they left the Yankees. Normally it's the other way around, but his ERA jumped by a run and a half while pitching for the (World Champion) White Sox. I wouldn't trust the D-Backs to win a series with South Africa, so there you go.

Halsey, at least, should be a decent 5th starter - at least compared to the rest of these guys. Shockingly (or not), he's got the lowest ERA out of any of them, not counting Batista. Not that 4.61 is really low, but you get the idea.

Rough Rotation Guess:
Ace: Brandon Webb
2nd: Russ Ortiz
3rd: Miguel Batista
4th: Orlando Hernandez
5th: Brad Halsey

More information:
Brandon Webb

Closer / Bullpen:

Their ideal closer is the third starter. Failing that, they'll fall back on Jose Valverde, who seems to keep on coming down with injuries. Seriously, the closer situation has been up in the air in Arizona for the last 3 years due to injury and ineffectiveness; it's where closers go to die. However, Brandon Lyon is the only real challenger to his throne at the moment (as their best reliever, Brandon Medders, is down due to injury), which means Valverde should be safe through the end of April at least. That's a start.

As for the rest of the bullpen, it's a shame that Medders went down, as he was the best they had to offer. Everyone else is more or less horrible. Lyon at least doesn't habitually allow people on base.

Rough Bullpen Guess:
Closer: Jose Valverde
8th: Brandon Lyon
7th: Luis Vizcaino
Sit. Right: Jason Grimsley
Sit. Lefty: hmmmm... this could be a problem....
Mop-up: Claudio Vargas


At least some of these guys are young. They should provide some good defense, too. Tony Clark will siphon at-bats from Conor Jackson until Jackson is ready to handle day-to-day duties. Clark was a pleasant surprise last year; it remains to be seen if he can duplicate that success this year, although don't be surprised if he still manages to hit 15-20 HR.

Chad Tracy was the closest thing the D-Backs had to a true everyday offensive stalwart; he's been developing power at the major league level over the last few years (8 HR in 2004, 27 in 2005), so don't look for a jump of 19 HR again this year, but 30's not out of the question.

Orlando Hudson is a better defensive option than they had previously; although his bat's nothing special, they don't need it to be. His basestealing (defensive) counterpart will be Johnny Estrada, who came over this offseason from the Braves to make room for Brian McCann (who might be replaced by Salty), even though Estrada isn't horrible; not a lot of power, but has a decent average.

Shortstop is quite intruiging with this team. As of now, Craig Counsell should open the season at short; however, how long can they keep Steven Drew down for? Quite possibly just as important, how long can Drew and Counsell keep Justin Upton down for? Worlds of possibilities right now for these guys.

Projected Infield:
C: Johnny Estrada
1B: Tony Clark / Conor Jackson
2B: Orlando Hudson
SS: Craig Counsell
3B: Chad Tracy


These guys are starting to get old - at least the corner outfielders are. Luis Gonzalez isn't the 50-HR guy he was a couple of seasons ago, and he's now closer to his performance level from before then, which isn't horrible, just not spectacular. Shawn Green is much the same way - expect in the mid-20 HR range from both of them and approximately similar averages and you'll be okay.

As for Eric Byrnes, he's a shade below both Luis and Shawn at this point; however, he has something that neither of them have, and that's speed. Not a whole lot of speed, but any speed is welcome in this lineup, as they're all pretty slow.

Projected Outfield:
RF: Shawn Green
CF: Eric Byrnes
LF: Luis Gonzalez

More information:
Eric Byrnes

Extra Stuff:

Okay, I was a little harsh on these guys - they have plenty of positional excitement coming up in the next couple of years; I didn't even mention Carlos Quentin or their Chris Young, and both of them are Top 25 prospects. However, this pitching is nothing short of hideous, and they're going to have to do something about that soon.

However, they probably can't address that until Gonzalez and Green are gone, so don't look for a marked improvement over the next few years. However, one important thing to keep in mind is that the NL West isn't exactly the toughest division in baseball, so as long as they don't horribly suck, they might still be in it come late August.