There are few teams in baseball with as much variance in their potential 2010 outcomes as the Diamondbacks. They have a roster full of questions, but for each one, they also have a potential answer. Is Brandon Webb going to be healthy? Isn’t Chris Young too talented to be that terrible? Can Kelly Johnson bounce back? Is Conor Jackson okay? Was Edwin Jackson’s first half of 2009 a fluke, or will he consolidate some of his gains? Is it too early for Justin Upton to carry a team on his back?
Each of these could go either way, and have a pretty large impact on whether or not Arizona contends in the NL West this year. If a few of those questions get answered in a positive way, the D’Backs have enough talent to keep up with the Dodgers and Rockies in the NL West. Dan Haren and a healthy Webb forms a dynamic front of the rotation, and the offense could be pretty good, especially if Jackson rebounds or Young remembers how to hit.
Of course, things could go the other way as well. Webb may start the year on the DL, and his status is up in the air. C. Jackson’s moving back to the outfield after missing most of 2009, so how well he’ll play is anyone’s guess. E. Jackson is a perennial enigma who has had more bad years than good. If either Haren or Upton go down for any length of time, the parties over, because those two are critical pieces that can’t really be replaced.
The Diamondbacks could win anywhere between 65 and 95 games. I know, that’s the kind of hard hitting analysis you come to FanGraphs for. But it’s true – they may project out as a .500 club, but there are a lot of variables that could push them either direction.
Going forward, there are some really good pieces in place. Upton is one of the most valuable pieces in all of baseball. Haren is a true ace. Reynolds is a good player making a lot less than he’s worth. The core may be wide, but it is strong, and it is surrounded by guys who aren’t terrible. There are no bad long term contracts sitting on the books, and the team should have the financial flexibility to add a piece or two to help put them over the top in the future.
There is more right than wrong in Arizona. It may not manifest itself in a playoff berth this year, but if you’re an Arizona fan, I think you have to be pleased in general with what the organization has put together.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.