Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Blogging the Offseason is a 30 team series in which I ask a blogging representative from each MLB team a series of ten questions about their desires and thoughts surrounding the offseason. Check out all of them here.
Today's NL team is the Arizona Diamondbacks and our guest is Jim from the Dbacks Blog, AZ SNakepit.
1. What do the Dbacks do with Webb this offseason? Do they deal him? Do they pick up his option? Do they try to extend him?
This question has already half answered itself, as the team made the (relatively-easy) decision to pick up his option. They were already on the hook for $2m if they declined it, and what would the balance left after that ($6.5m) get you in the free-agent market? I'm sure they'd love to extend Webb, and Webb is making all the right noises, but we're talking about someone who won or was runner-up in the Cy Young the past three healthy years. He may well be outside the team's budget: they'll try, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Webb dealt around the trade deadline, if the Diamondbacks are no longer in the playoff hunt.
2. Why has Chris Young been in a decline for the past two seasons? Were the DBacks wrong to sign him to a long term deal? Will he bounce back in 2010?
Wish I knew. Probably. I hope so. What? You want more than that? There was a sliver of dawn peaking over the horizon after Young's return from Triple-A in August. He hit .263/.351/.508 over his final 31 starts, and we'd all settle for that in 2010. He was basically getting under the ball, resulting in an insane number of infield flies and shallow pop-ups
Certainly, there's a good case to be made that signing him on the basis of one good season *was* a mistake, though if we'd waited and he'd followed up that year with more good ones, the cost of extending him would have increased precipitously. Unfortunately, the area of contract extensions has posed problems for Arizona, with the bad ones (Eric Byrnes, Chad Tracy, Chris Snyder and Young) outnumbering the good (Dan Haren). Hey, look: a smooth segue into...
3. I have Dan Haren on my fantasy team and was incredibly frustrated by his lack of run support, hence the post "Is Dan Haren Gonna Have to Choke a Bitch", tell Dan Haren which juicy power hitting free agent is going to be in his lineup to make him sleep easier next year.
Well, Doug Davis probably has slightly more reason to complain about a lack of run support than Haren. However, Haren just needs to incline his head towards third-base to see the power-hitting threat for 2010. Mark Reynolds hit more home-runs than all but three players and won HitTrackerOnline.com's "Golden Sledgehammer" award for the longest average distance on his blasts. Between Reynolds and Justin Upton, who hit 26 homers as a 21-year old, despite spending three weeks on the disabled list, Getting a slugger is not going to be high on Arizona's priorities this winter, not with. And besides, ask the Brewers how much Prince Fielder's homers helped them reach the playoffs this years,
4. Speaking of Haren, is there an explanation for the fact that Dan Haren 1st Half = God, Dan Haren 2nd half = Average MLB pitcher?
This was something of a known issue going into 2009, but the fall from grace this year was precipitous. I mean, first-half ERA = 2.01; second-half = 4.62? I must admit, while I was braced for impact when I saw that opponents' BABIP against Haren at the All-Star break was an unsustainable .233, the regression was still a harsh one. However, it's now become so inevitable, one wonders whether fatigue perhaps is playing an issue? It would be interesting to see whether Haren's pitch-selection differs I do note that Haren used his split-fingered fastball less this season.
5. Doug Davis bounced back from cancer last year to pitch well and has pretty much stated he wants to be with the Dbacks or Brewers. So is he still around next year?
Hard to say. He pitched pretty well, but I don't think Arizona are interested in giving Davis more than a one-year deal, and he has stated that he is looking for more than that. His ERA was good, but the peripherals like FIP suggest that he is primed for a regression in 2010. In addition, he's now 34, so on the down side of the agine curver. While not exactly a fireballer, and so his performance won't crater just because of his age, I would not want to commit to anything longer than a single season. He'll test the market, and see what offers he gets there: if no-one bites, he may return to the desert.
6. Off Topic But... Clay Zavada's mustache, is it the best thing to happen to the DBacks since the World Series Championship? Have you thought of growing one?
Facial hair is not my forte. I'm blond, so I can spend three weeks trying to grow a beard and people are, "Did you forget to shave this morning?" Besides, anything that interferes with my ability to consume pasta is not something with which I want to get involved. That said, when we had the annual SnakePitFest at Chase in August, there were about 30 of us, all wearing our fake Zavadataches, which went down well. Still, it was nice to see one Diamondbacks' player win one of the end of year awards...
7. You've gassed your owner and convinced him to spend like the Yankees, which three free agents are you bringing to Zona?
Getting another starter is our top priority, so John Lackey would be top of any list. To be honest, we might just go Randy Wolf too - one of our big problems last year was our lack of depth, and the loss of Brandon Webb cruelly exposed that. The pitchers with which he was replaced were awful, so I wouldn't mind dropping the likes of Billy Buckner down to Reno: I'd be happier with him as a sixth/spot starter than getting a turn every five days. We also could do with a good right-handed first-baserman, but looking at the free-agents list, there's not an enormous amount that leaps out of interest there. Maybe we can grab Chone Figgins and move him to the other side of the diamond? Hey, we are talking a serious dream world here, after all...
8. Which Dbacks prospect are you most looking forward to in 2010?
Justin Upton. Hey, he's only 22, so that makes him a prospect, right? I do wonder if we should have stashed him in the minors for a couple more years, since his 28-29 years are going to be monstrous - and, unfortunately, now probably after he has become a free-agent and signed for the Yankees. Of those not yet a full part of the major-league roster, the one we were looking forward to was Jarrod Parker, but he has just undergone Tommy John surgery, so we won't be seeing him in 2010. Fortunately, the team is fairly well set at most positions, and isn't too reliant on farm talent for the next couple of years. Cole Gillespie is an outfielder who we just added to the 40-man roster, and has been doing impressive things. Tony Abreu may also end up in the mix for the second-base job next season.
9. I'm giving you the option to cut players without any salary repercussions, which Diamondbacks do you part way with?
Eric Byrnes. His contract extension has been a disaster: he has had health problems, but even when 100%, he has not lived up to the $30m he has cost the team [and that's discounting that the extension was a major factor in us trading away Carlos Quentin]. It's amazing how things turn - from being a fan favorite in early 2007, he's now become a whipping boy of local talk radio and just about every fan forum. If we could find anyone prepared to take him off our hands, we'd do it, even if we had to pay the bulk of his salary in 2010. But I think we'll give him a last chance to prove he is better than replacement level, and if that doesn't happen, he'll be DFA'd by the All-Star break.
10. Final Question, you've got a crystal ball, the DBacks will win the NL West in _______.
If Brandon Webb and Conor Jackson come back healthy and productive in 2010, the team should be in the mix. A 1-2-3 of Webb, Haren and Max Scherzer can go against any team in the league, and we could get decent offensive production from just about every position on the field. However, if the team doesn't compete this season, then it might be a while: they'll probably lose Webb and I don't see anyone coming up in the farm system capable of replacing him. However, this is one of the good things about the NL West: it's an even division, without any Godzilla-esque payrolls - I can only sympathize with our expansion brothers in Tampa there - and this means that a smart team can still bridge the wealth gap. Over the past couple of seasons, that smart team has not really been Arizona, but hope still springs eternal in the desert, and we'll see what the future may bring.