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News » Arizona Diamondbacks Roster Report 2009-02-27


Arizona Diamondbacks Roster Report 2009-02-27


Arizona Diamondbacks Roster Report 2009-02-27
RHP Bobby Korecky was claimed off waivers from Minnesota on Feb. 18. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the D-backs released RHP Jailen Peguero. Korecky has an outside chance to make the team out of spring training as a middle-inning reliever.

Unlike in 2008, when they signed OF Trot Nixon as camp opened, the D-backs have four starters -- Eric Byrnes, Conor Jackson, Chris Young and Justin Upton -- for three outfield positions. They believe the competition will keep each fresh and focused.

ARRIVALS: 2B Felipe Lopez (free agent from Cardinals), RHP Jon Garland (free agent from Angels), LHP Scott Schoeneweis (trade with Mets), RHP Tom Gordon (free agent from Phillies), LHP Travis Blackley (free agent from Phillies), C James Skelton (Rule 5 pick from Tigers), RHP Bobby Korecky (waiver claim from Twins).

DEPARTURES: LHP Randy Johnson (free agent, signed with Giants), 2B Orlando Hudson (free agent, signed with Dodgers), 1B/OF Adam Dunn (free agent, signed with Nationals), RHP Brandon Lyon (free agent, signed with Tigers), RHP Juan Cruz (free agent, unsigned), 2B/SS David Eckstein (free agent, signed with Padres), INF/OF Chris Burke (free agent, signed minor league deal with Padres), OF Jeff Salazar (free agent, signed minor league deal with Pirates), 1B/3B Jamie D'Antona (free agent, signed with Japanese team), C Robby Hammock (free agent, signed minor league deal with Orioles), LHP Wil Ledezma (free agent, signed minor league deal with Nationals), RHP Connor Robertson (trade with Mets), RHP Edgar Gonzalez (free agent, signed minor league deal with A's).

SPRING FOCUS: The Diamondbacks sent their position players home last fall with the warning that while strikeouts happen, excessive numbers will not be tolerated after the team set a franchise record with 1,287 in 2008. Five regulars struck out at least 100 times, including 3B Mark Reynolds, whose 204 whiffs were the most in major league history.

Some players were asked to modify their two-strike approach; the D-backs made it a point of emphasis last spring, but it did not take as well as they would have wished.

On the other side of the ball, the D-backs need to sort out a bullpen that lost a pair of free agents -- RHP Brandon Lyon and RHP Juan Cruz -- who were under-publicized but very effective the last two seasons.

PROJECTED ROTATION:

1. RHP Brandon Webb

2. RHP Dan Haren

3. LHP Doug Davis

4. RHP Jon Garland

5. RHP Max Scherzer

The D-backs believe strongly in quality starting pitching, and Webb and Haren might be the top 1-2 punch in the National League. They combined for 47 quality starts last season, Haren's first in Phoenix.

Davis overcome thyroid cancer to pitch typically after his return in 2008. Garland had his worst year statistically with the Angels last year and might have trouble matching Randy Johnson's solid 2008 numbers, but a move to the DH-less NL may help. Scherzer was dominant at times last season when he could throw his breaking ball for strikes.

PROJECTED BULLPEN:

RHP Chad Qualls (closer)

RHP Tony Pena

RHP Jon Rauch

RHP Tom Gordon

LHP Scott Schoeneweis

RHP Leo Rosales

RHP Billy Buckner

Qualls enters spring as the closer after taking the job from departed free agent Brandon Lyon last September. But since he throws a lot of groundballs, Qualls also can be the ideal option to get out of runners-on situations in the seventh and eighth innings.

Because of that, it would not be a major surprise if Pena (closer's stuff) or Rauch (closer's experience, awful after being acquired by the D-backs last July) or even newcomer Gordon (if healthy) takes the closer's job for the good of the whole bullpen. Schoeneweis may be the best lefty specialist the D-backs have had in their 12 seasons, but the others in the 'pen are unproven and hardly overpowering.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

1. 2B Felipe Lopez

2. CF Chris Young

3. SS Stephen Drew

4. LF Conor Jackson

5. RF Justin Upton

6. 1B Chad Tracy

7. 3B Mark Reynolds

8. C Chris Snyder

The D-backs have not had a true leadoff hitter in GM Josh Byrnes' three years, but they believe Lopez is well-suited to the role. That will enable them to drop Young, and especially Drew, into more productive spots in the order, although manager Bob Melvin likely will continue to tinker with the lineup to find favorable matchups. Drew excelled as leadoff hitter in the second half of 2008.

Tracy, bothered the past two seasons by knee injuries, can be a very productive bat when healthy, and he also balances the lineup as one of three left-handed hitters (Drew and switch-hitter Lopez). Upton has only briefly shown his incredible tools.

PROJECTED RESERVES:

C Miguel Montero

1B Tony Clark

INF Augie Ojeda

OF Eric Byrnes

OF Alex Romero or C James Skelton

Montero was a hot commodity in the offseason, with Boston showing particular interest, but the D-backs were not about to be shortchanged in any deal since he is under control through 2010. Clark is a productive pinch hitter and a mentoring clubhouse presence.

Ojeda will be the lone infield reserve, but his glove makes him a plus defender at three positions. Byrnes could make some starts if/when OF Conor Jackson plays first base against left-handers to give Tracy a day off. Romero made the D-backs' catch of the year in San Diego, but they seldom carry five outfielders.

TOP ROOKIES: The D-backs either promoted all their top rookies or traded them in the past two seasons, but they still have several on the way up. OF Gerardo Parra, 21, is their best position player prospect and had a great winter season in Venezuela, although it would take an injury to get him to the majors. RHP Cesar Valdez (13-8 at Class A and Class AA) is a four-pitch strike thrower. He has positioned himself as a rotation candidate in the near future.

MEDICAL WATCH:

OF Eric Byrnes (right hamstring) opted against surgery to repair a 3-millimeter tear in his right hamstring and spent the offseason on a strict rehab regimen in Phoenix.

RHP Tom Gordon (right elbow surgery in July 2008) missed the second half of last season. He is throwing from 130 feet and expects to throw off a mound Feb. 9, but it is uncertain if he will join the team's pitchers in their initial workout Feb. 15.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 27, 2009

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