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March 4, 2009
Team Health Reports
Head Trainer: Ken Crenshaw
Trend: Neutral. Believe it or not, 533 days is the worst showing that the Diamondbacks have put up since bringing Ken Crenshaw over from the Rays. Even so, they were only one less major injury away from being in the running for Crenshaw's second Dick Martin Award. Going from 400 days to 533 days is hardly a negative; the Diamondbacks effectively hid a few injuries at the Triple-A level with Micah Owings and Max Scherzer, and I'd rather credit that sort of creative handling than penalize it. Arizona is in contention every year in the NL West, due in large part to their having done a great job of keeping their talent on the field.
The Shape of the Season:
The Big Question: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic asks, "If Eric Byrnes' hamstring still isn't 100 percent, that leaves them with little outfield depth. Can a hamstrung Byrnes be better than the likes of Alex Romero, or do D'backs fans have to hope Gerardo Parra is ready soon?"
To answer that, I need you to order some hot wings. Ever bite off a piece of that spicy goodness, only to have that one little bit hang on to the bone, forcing you to tug just a little before it finally gives way? That's basically what happened to Byrnes, minus the cayenne. I know that might seem too graphic, but it tells you what he's facing. There have been some surgical successes, but Byrnes opted to stay away from the knife. Given his early issues, it's likely that he'll need extra rest to avoid overtaxing the muscles. The difference between Byrnes and Romero, or even Parra, is still great enough that 80 percent of Byrnes 80 percent of the time is the preferable option. It's up to Ken Crenshaw to keep him out there.
Fantasy Tip: Justin Upton was a disappointment last season, but he was also just 20 years old; at that age, brother B.J. was still fighting with his glove and with the shuttle from Durham to Tampa Bay. He's still got downside, but few players have such significant upside. With the team turning over its closer role again, Jon Rauch has the first shot, but many think that Max Scherzer will end up with the job. He's a good value play at either the back end of the rotation or as the closer in waiting, and considering Rauch's health, he may not be waiting long. Finally, while you don't get fired for buying IBM, pitchers are far more of a risk. Just because Brandon Webb or any other ace has done it for a number of years doesn't mean that all of the risk is gone.
1B Chad Tracy: Tracy's slow comeback after microfracture surgery seemed normal at the time, but the operation has become so routine that it now appears as if Tracy's recovery might have taken longer than expected. I gave him a half measure there, but he's still solidly in the red. We don't know much about how long this will hold up.
OF Eric Byrnes: See today's Big Question.
SP Max Scherzer: Scherzer's mechanics have been an issue since he was drafted, especially since they appear to the naked eye to be more violent than they really are. It's his "head snap" that throws people off, but like those of Hideki Okajima or Fernando Valenzuela it's more of a noticeable and unusual focal point than a real flaw. The real question involves his stamina, which is pointing him toward the pen.
RP Jon Rauch: Rauch came back from a torn labrum a couple of years ago and surprised everyone by doing well in the closing role. He wasn't so good after coming to Arizona in a trade, though he's cryptically said that the problems were off the field, not in his arm. If he's healthy and effective, he's likely to have another season similar to last year's, but for a much better team.
RF Justin Upton: Upton's home/road splits were as much of a problem as the severe oblique strain that wiped out two months of his season. It should surprise no one that one of Upton's top comps is his brother, since their stat lines and their talent level are very similar.
SP Doug Davis: There was a rumor going around at the time Davis was traded to Arizona that he had been heard in a Wisconsin bar telling Brewers fans that he was glad they'd dealt him since his arm was done. If this is true, then Davis isn't very self-aware. He's been a very consistent pitcher since he was given a second chance by Gord Ash. While his age puts him well into the yellow, the fact is that the system is hitting him pretty hard for the cancer he had to overcome, and I'm proud to say that it's rare enough that I didn't build it in.
CL Chad Qualls: Qualls is that rarest of birds-the dependable relief pitcher who stays at this level for more than three years. It's in large part due to so many relievers always being at maximum effort. Qualls isn't one of them, so this is likely a high yellow.
2B Felipe Lopez: One of the great mysteries of last season is why Lopez stopped running. I have some ideas, and think that he'll get an easy 25 steals, and more if he sticks in the leadoff slot.
SS Stephen Drew
3B Mark Reynolds: Reynolds stays green since he's still listed at third base. If they do ever decide on the option of moving him to second base, it would move him just inside the red. Yes, it's that big of an adjustment.
CF Chris Young
SP Brandon Webb
SP Dan Haren: Haren finished just on the green side of the green/yellow line. His having worn down at the end of the past two seasons is the big knock against him.
SP Jon Garland