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News » Arizona Diamondbacks Inside Pitch 2008-09-29

Arizona Diamondbacks Inside Pitch 2008-09-29

Arizona Diamondbacks Inside Pitch 2008-09-29
It was a disappointing season for a team that for five months looked primed to take their second consecutive National League West title.

The Diamondbacks led the division for exactly five months, from April 6 to Sept. 6, and seemed to have everything in order after taking a 4 1/2-game lead over the Dodgers on Aug. 30. But Arizona faded down the stretch.

The top two starters, Brandon Webb and Dan Haren, combined for 36 victories, and Randy Johnson added another 11, but when the rotation went into two-week funk late in the year, the young hitters could not bail the team out.

The D-backs were thin after the injury losses of outfielder Eric Byrnes (July) and second baseman Orlando Hudson (early August) and even the addition of outfielder/first baseman Adam Dunn on Aug. 11 could not help an offense that finished 10th in runs despite playing in one of the best hitters' parks in the NL.

It became apparent that the D-backs may have expected too much out of 20-year-old outfielder Justin Upton, who hit .325 with five home runs in April but batted only .195 in the next two months before being sidelined by a strained left oblique muscle. Third baseman Mark Reynolds also may have been pushed, too. He led the D-backs with 28 homers and 97 RBIs but became the second player in major league history to lead both leagues in strikeouts (204) and errors (35) the same year. He set a major league record for strikeouts.

Stephen Drew became the player many envisioned, joining Robin Yount and Nomar Garciaparra as the only major leaguer shortstops to amass at least 40 doubles, 10 triples and 20 homers in the same year. Outfielder/first baseman Conor Jackson had his first .300 season, joining Drew, outfielder Chris Young, Upton and catcher Chris Snyder as a lineup fixture.

The D-backs have Webb and Haren for at least the next two years (Haren is signed through 2013). Add in left-hander Doug Davis and right-hander Max Scherzer, and Arizona has a solid rotation, more so if free agent Johnson returns, although he must fit into the team's small-market salary structure.

Right-hander Chad Qualls was the closer the final 16 days and will take that job into spring training, but it is clear the team needs a left-handed specialist and at least one more bullpen arm to go with returning right-hander Tony Pena, probably two.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: September 29, 2008

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