The Diamondbacks might be young, but their youth is top-notch and
the team is anchored by a solid starting rotation that measures up just
fine against an overall improved National League West. There isn't a ton
of power on the team, but the Diamondbacks believe there will be
strength in numbers. Manager Bob Melvin improved his staff with the offseason
hiring of bench coach Kirk Gibson and batting coach Kevin Seitzer.
1. RHP Brandon Webb
2. LHP Randy Johnson
3. RHP Livan Hernandez
4. LHP Doug Davis
5. RHP Edgar Gonzalez
Webb is coming off a Cy Young Award season in which he finally has
emerged as a legitimate star. His sinkerball is the best in baseball,
and even though hitters know it's coming, they don't have much success.
Now he's added a changeup that he's throwing more often in counts,
further stymieing batters.
Johnson is coming off back surgery, but he has made steady strides
in spring training during a rehab program that saw no setbacks of any
kind. The 43-year-old will start the season on the disabled list, but
he'll be ready at some point in April and could provide a solid season if
he stays healthy.
Hernandez and Davis are durable, 200-plus-innings pitchers, but
there are questions at the back end. Edgar Gonzalez has been named as the
#4 starter after a terrific spring, but is unproven. Other
youngsters such as RHP Enrique Gonzalez and LHP Dana Eveland could get
serious looks as interim #5 starters, along with the likes of top prospects Dustin Nippert and Micah Owings at
RHP Jose Valverde (closer)
RHP Brandon Lyon
RHP Tony Pena
RHP Brandon Medders
LHP Doug Slaten
RHP Juan Cruz
LHP Dana Eveland
Valverde gets another chance to nail down the closer's role, which
he hasn't been able to do in the past due to inconsistency. This will be
his last chance, however. The team has faith in him, but it won't be
overly patient with him and would turn to Lyon or Pena, who is likely to
be groomed for the position, if Valverde endures a meltdown of any
Behind them, there is depth in hard-throwing right-handers such as
Cruz and Medders. Slaten offers a luxury manager Bob Melvin didn't have
last season, a left-handed specialist, and Eveland, if he doesn't make
the rotation, gives Melvin a lefty in long relief. That's where Edgar
Gonzalez can also offer help, if he doesn't crack the rotation. He is
out of minor league options, which could make things interesting as camp
1. SS Stephen Drew
2. 2B Orlando Hudson
3. 3B Chad Tracy
4. LF Eric Byrnes
5. RF Carlos Quentin
6. 1B Conor Jackson
7. CF Chris Young
8. C Chris Snyder
Manager Bob Melvin has so many available options, he likely will mix
and match his batting order on a daily basis. That might spell trouble
on some teams, but the Diamondbacks are young enough that it shouldn't
be a problem. The players say they don't care where they hit, and
they're believable in their words.
SS Stephen Drew has impressed manager Bob
Melvin in the leadoff spot, and although a handful of players may be used there
from time to time, including CF Chris Young, LF Eric Byrnes and 2B Orlando
Hudson, Drew could hit there a lot after not being viewed as a potential
candidate early in spring by Melvin.
"The only thing I've found is he can acclimate to any spot in the
order," Melvin said. "Originally, I was a little apprehensive about using
him in the leadoff spot, but I've come to grips that he can be a horse
there as well."
There isn't a big bopper in the bunch, but there could be a handful
of players who hit 20 to 25 homers, and there's more speed in the
lineup than ever before, with Drew, Byrnes, Young and Hudson offering prime
threats. Quentin has a small labrum tear in his left, non-throwing
shoulder which could force him to open the year on the disabled list.
Should that occur, Byrnes would move to right field and Scott Hairston would
be the club's new left fielder. Hairston is out of minor league
options, but he is big-league-ready at the plate and has been waiting for a
chance to prove himself.
Young might be the player to watch out of the entire group. He's a
five-tool player who could take the game by storm if he performs up to
expectations. The ceiling is endless. Drew has already settled in as a
slick defender and confident pro. He'll just need to stay healthy to
have a long and productive career.
1B Tony Clark
C Miguel Montero
INF Alberto Callaspo
OF Scott Hairston
OF Dave Krynzel
Clark had a disappointing 2006 season after a superb 2005, although
a shoulder injury might have been to blame. Montero will be molded into
an everyday starter at some point, though he will split time with
Snyder. Callaspo was coveted by dozens of teams in the offseason and
probably could start for many other clubs, but here, he's behind the likes of
Orlando Hudson, Stephen Drew and Chad Tracy. He'll get plenty of
at-bats this season, however, and can play anywhere, including the outfield.
A switch hitter who rarely strikes out, he could have a breakout season
in a non-starting role.
OF Jeff DaVanon will start the year on the disabled list, as he was
slow to recovery from left ankle and right shoulder surgeries in the
fall. But at some point, the switch hitter will be back on the bench as
the club's primary extra outfielder. Like Hairston, Krynzel is out of
minor league options, and when DaVanon returns, the team may try to slip
him through waivers.
ROOKIE WATCH: LHP Doug Slaten seemed like a lock to make the 25-man
roster as the club's left-handed specialist out of the bullpen, but he
had an up-and-down spring training for the most part and will have to
be near flawless to stay. C Miguel Montero is a top-notch prospect who
has a big fan in manager Bob Melvin. He'll get his starts and his share
of at-bats, but it could be another year before he becomes established
in the lineup. OF Justin Upton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005
draft, made his second major league spring camp and continued to impress
management and the coaching staff. Though only 19, he's hoping he can
reach the majors this season. It will be at least another year, however,
until he's realistically close to challenging for a spot.
LHP Randy Johnson (back surgery in October to repair a herniated
disk) has met every timetable in his ongoing rehab program and looked good
in his first "B" game on March 24. He is expected to make his season
debut sometime in April and eventually will be slotted behind RHP Brandon
Webb in the rotation.
OF Jeff DaVanon (left ankle, right shoulder surgery) was slowed
during spring training, unable to effectively run or hit from the left side
of the plate. He will start the season on the disabled list.
Eventually, he will get the at-bats he missed in spring training during a rehab
assignment with Triple-A Tucson.
RF Carlos Quentin (slight labrum tear in his left, non-throwing
shoulder) might start the season on the disabled list. Surgery is not being
considered, and a strengthening program should allow him to get back in
time and not miss too much action. He was crushing the ball in Cactus
League games, carrying a .357 batting average through 11 games before taking an
awkward swing in a March 16 game against Oakland. His slugging percentage was
.821, and his 10 RBIs were tied for the team lead at the time. If Quentin
isn't ready for Opening Day, LF Eric Byrnes would start in right and Scott
Hairston would start for Byrnes in left, manager Bob Melvin said.