We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2009 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2009 Diamondbacks Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of AZ Snakepit.

1) I’m pretty high on Conor Jackson for 2009, going as far to call him Derrek Lee in a white man suit.  Care to fuel my fire and give me some projections?

Though drafted as a 3B and starting as the DBacks’ 1B the past few years, CoJack’s ‘natural position’ is OF — he finished the 2008 season as the starting LF. Despite Eric Byrnes’ presumed return this year, CoJack has been handed the starting job in the OF, and Byrnes should be the 4th OF. (If everyone stays healthy, it’ll be nice to have someone to give CY a rest in CF from time to time) Chad Tracy will play 1B against right-handed starters, with CoJack in LF; vs. lefties, CoJack will move back to 1B and Byrnes will play LF. Defensively, Jackson is a complete butcher at first, but a plus in left. He’ll probably never be a big HR hitter, but he should consistently hit at a .300 clip with 80-100 RBIs and 15-20 HRs — numbers to keep in mind in a keeper league. Jackson somehow upgraded his wheels between the 2007 and 2008 seasons, and went from 2 SBs to 10. I’m expecting him to steal in double digits again this year. (More on that later) His slugging % dropped in 2008 relative to 2007, but that should bounce back up.

2) True or false, Chad Qualls is the closer for the whole year never losing the job to Jon Rauch.

True, if only for the fact that Bob Melvin believes in the somewhat obsolescent notion that each team should stick to a single reliever as closer — BoMel also has a reputation for loyalty to his players. Over the 2008 season, Qualls had an overall opposing OPS+ of just 61, but w/ RISP, that jumped to 88; with a runner on 2nd, it was 131; and with runners on 2nd and 3rd, it was a blistering 239. (Insert small sample size warning. Incidentally, Qualls’ pitching ability with runners on also prompted me to draw up the attached visual aid directed at Bob Melvin, for which I won an artistic award.)

While Rauch was stellar with the Nats, his less than impressive performance (ERA+ of 70 after the trade) during the home stretch — wherein we lost the division to the Dodgers — means he’s starting the season with a lot to prove, nor is he particularly popular in the clubhouse. I’m guessing Rauch will get more neck tattoos than saves in 2009. A more likely replacement is the homegrown Tony Peña, a.k.a. The Pitcher Formerly Known As Adriano Rosario, or Max Scherzer over the long term. (If the whole starting thing doesn’t work out. Speaking of whom…)

3)  Max Scherzer had a huge Razzball following last year.  Someone said Scherzer was one part Tim Lincecum and one part Joba Chamberlain, giving him the nickname Jobacum, which I believe was meant to intentionally sound like a Star Wars-inspired porn film.  What can we expect of Jobacum in 2009?

Scherzer is officially entering the 2009 season as the Dbacks’ 5th starter, but in terms of ability he’s almost certainly the 3rd. He’s slated into the 5 spot to cut down on innings, and it has been mentioned that he may actually start the season on the DL, not because he’s actually injured, (though he did have shoulder soreness over the winter) but to free up a roster spot. His slot in the rotation isn’t scheduled to come up until a week or two into the season. Assuming Scherzer doesn’t miss time due to injury, (which is a fairly dangerous assumption) expect him to make 20-25 starts and pitch a max of 150 innings, toss up an ERA+ around 130, (over a full season he’s unlikely to duplicate his 151 in 2008) earn up to 10 wins, and strike out approximately 2,000 batters. Okay, so maybe 150 is more realistic — he fanned 66 in 56 innings in ’08. In keeper leagues, over the long term, he’ll either move up to the 3rd starter spot or become our closer, based on how he performs this year. Eventually, he’ll replace Brandon Webb when Webby goes to the Yankees during or after the 2010 season. I really can’t give you a more solid 2009 estimate because there are just too many variables involved with Mad Max.

4) Krispie Young only stole 14 last year, leading the club.  Justin Upton, 1 steal in 108 games last year.  The Diamondbacks were 28th out of 30 clubs in 2008 for steals, trailing only Pittsburgh and San Diego.  A drop of 50 steals from 2007 to 2008.  What’s going on?  Melvin lose a bet to Billy Beane?

Steals — a strange thing happened last year. In the 2007 season, the Dbacks stole 109 bags, placing them a solid 5th in the NL, yet in 2008, they only had 58, despite getting a full season out of Justin Upton and a much better OBP from Stephen Drew. Drew has the speed to steal bases but not the will, much like the now-departed Orlando Hudson. Upton is a veritable speed demon, but even in the minors, he was only successful around 67% of the time. Part of the drop in steals has to be attributed to Eric Byrnes, whose injury-marred season dropped him from 50 in ’07 to only 4 in ’08. Byrnes’ hammies should be healed for 2009, but since he’s now platooning with CoJack and Tracy, he’ll see less playing time.

The SB news was not ALL dire, however. As previously noted, CoJack jumped up his steals total, and Mark Reynolds (who has deceptive speed) went from 0 in ’07 to 11 in ’08. Apparently, Bob Melvin decided last year that he only wanted his white guys to steal bases.  The club has already announced that they’re going to focus on stealing more bags in the 2009 season.  Look for Young to grab 30+.

5) The pool in Chase Field’s stands is meant to celebrate Arizona’s lifestyle.  What else should the Diamondbacks do to celebrate Arizona’s lifestyle? (Feel free to expand on why you chose a letter.)  A)  Instead of cap, pith helmet with fan.  B) After a home run, a player takes a Jell-o shot.   C) Tony Clark gets fake breasts.

D) Convert Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Conor Jackson and other Dbacks players to run on propane, and then convince the State of Arizona to pay 40% of the club’s player budget costs this year. (Go here for more info.)

  1. Eric W says:

    30+ bags for Krispie sign me up but I would be surprised to see 20+. And Eric Byrnes may be the coolest player in baseball.

  2. sean says:

    Why am I drafting 25/20/.250 (Razz 100, ADP 106) in the 8th round when I could have Mike Cameron 22/18/.250 (Razz 209, ADP 321) for free? Is the upside really worth the risk?

  3. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Eric W: You’re a fan of the hustle, huh?

    @sean: You’re getting two players that are intersecting near each other on a chart of production with one player going up and one going down. Krispie is capable of 30/30 and his average could get better. Mike Cameron may get 20/15/.250. But, if you look at their probables rather than their capables, there’s really not that big of a difference.

  4. Colin says:

    Grey what’s your projection of Upton this year? I know he’s only 21, but his talent is immense. I say he flirts with 30 homers (27 or so) this year with over 90 ribbies. Reasonable?

  5. Derrek Lee isn’t white? What?

    I love Qualls this year. He will be my #2 closer on multiple teams.

  6. Eric W says:

    @Grey: Ya but I am a bigger fan of anyone who owns a shagin wagon and wants to put a 50 Ft wave pool in his back yard.

  7. Kevin says:

    Mad Max needs to develop a consistent third pitch and then he can really take off.

  8. sean says:

    @grey: Agreed. Krispie is a tough player to project. He’s only 26 years old (27 in September). Last year he hit a ton of doubles, but his fly ball rate is already high and he plays in a homer-friendly park, so I’m not sure that the ’08 2Bs will be HRs in 2009. He’s never going to hit for average, so the real boost in his fantasy value will have to come on the basepaths. It’s just hard for me to get through my head that a four category guy is a four category guy regardless of which four they may be.

  9. Ashley says:

    Joey Votto killed the ball today… 4/5, homerun against some quality pitching. My draft is tomorrow and his performance today against USA is probably going to cause me to draft him over Chris Davis if they’re both available.

    I’m sure they’re both a coin-flip, right? Votto probably a higher average, Davis with a little more power potential?

    Do you have a preference?

    And just so that this comment isn’t completely irrelevant to the post… I hate big guys who don’t hit for power (Conor Jackson). I picked him up last year after a strong April, and he (along with the rest of the D-Backs offense) was pretty mediocre for the rest of the year. So I’m not a believer until I actually see something.

    Scherzer though, I really really really like. Hopefully I can draft him at a reasonable price.

  10. James says:

    @Ashley – I think it’s a risk/reward deal between Davis and Votto. Davis has more potential, but Votto has done well for a full season, and is less risky.

  11. Emporers Monkey says:

    @Ashley: Votto has been going 3 to 4 rounds later in most of the mock and actual drafts that I have done thus far. I think he hits at least 30HR with over 100RBI this year and an BA that hovers around .300, great value pick.

    @Grey: How much stock do you put in the CHONE projections? They all seem fairly low, as if every players stats from last year were reduced by 10% or so.

  12. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Emporers Monkey: Chone and Zips are probably my favorite ones. Fair amount of stock.

  13. Tom says:

    I always have trouble predicting anything with the D-Backs. They have so much upside all across the board, but they could just as easily be garbage. I’m staying away from some of them (Young, Drew), but Upton, Tracy, Jackson, and Lopez (love his eligibility) seem to have decent upside for their draft position. Will Tracy ever get some of that power back?

  14. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Tom: The problem is people have jumped him in the PT battle after his horrid 2008. So now I’d expect no more than 20 HRs from Tracy and maybe 400 ABs.

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