Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lineup Against the Wall: Them D'backs of 'Zonatown

So, in the name of impartiality, let's pretend that the National League is as cool as the A.L. and examine these teams from the N.L. West. Arizona's always a good place to start, since, you know, we have to consider them as legitimate nowadays. A peek into their chances of improving upon their 2008 campaign, just past the creek. Or over the jump. Or something.

As I recollect, the final weeks of NL West baseball last season were somewhat of a cockfight in that the Dodgers and Diamondbacks scratched and clawed their way to the finish. Ultimately, guys like Hiroki Kuroda and Manny Ramirez gave L.A. the edge, and Arizona the trip home for October. They hope to be on the other end of things come this fall, and here're the tools they'll use to try and accomplish that:

1) CF Chris Young
2) SS Stephen Drew
3) LF Conor Jackson
4) 2B Felipe Lopez
5) 3B Mark Reynolds
6) 1B Chad Tracy
7) RF Justin Upton
8) C Chris Snyder

Not too shabby. A bit unproven in some regards, but teeming with potential. The acquisition of Lopez should give the clubhouse some of that good ol' veteran leadership, and frankly, the potential on this club could strongarm them past a semi-aging Dodger team, that is, of course, if their pitching staff can hold their own, which shouldn't pose much of a problem.

1) Brandon Webb
2) Dan Haren
3) Doug Davis
4) Jon Garland
5) Max Scherzer

B-Webb tore shit up last year with 22 wins, a 3.30 E.R.A. and nearly 200 Ks. Haren won eight fewer, averaged the same number of earned runs, and actually topped the 200-strikeout mark. Doug Davis was also impressive in his K-BB ratio, but surrendered more runs and only notched six victories. As the only southpaw in the rotation, he stands a chance of improving significantly this season. Arizona's other noteworthy acquisition is Jon Garland, who won 14 as an Angel in '08. His E.R.A. crept upwards of 5.00, but he's still got some decent innings left in him, and Max Scherzer is still looking for his first big-league victory, which I'm certain won't take him long to obtain. This rotation looks tough as nails, but what's yet to be seen is how much they might miss The Big Unit.

In the 'pen are, well, a ton of dudes. The Arizona middle relief might be a shaky point for this team, especially considering the fact that they're liable to get a lot of quality starts from their rotation. There's a bunch of guys who've yet to demonstrate significant big-league success, some newbies, and some fossils (see Tom Gordon). It looks like Jon Rauch gets the nod as the setup guy and Chad Qualls will be the closer. If the 'backs can make late-game pitching work with this crew, then they're likely to have a shot at the division, but I'm guessing that the wheels'll come off for this club around mid-August, leaving them in a disappointing third-place finish.