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.)