by user Timothy Moreland

Brandon Webb is a stud. The rest of the pitching staff are duds. Last year, Webb fell into the top 20 pitchers in the league. He will produce relatively the same this year as last. In all three of his big league seasons, he has gotten 2/3 of all balls hit off of him to be grounders. That is a very effective recipe for success. I guess I have to talk about the rest of the pitchers now. Hmmm...Orlando Hernandez is 40. That's not too old. He walks a lot of people and he might get his ERA under 5.00, but I doubt it. Let's try Brad Halsey. He doesn't strike people out and he lets up a lot of hits. He actually let up 31 more hits than innings pitched last year(191 Hits vs. 160 innings). Miguel Batista will do what he does every year. He will pitch mediocore but his ERA won't be nearly as bad as it should be. Hopefully, this isn't the year Batista's low K/high BB style catches up with him. Last year, Russ Ortiz could have been outpitched by a random guy on the street. He had a 6.89 ERA in 115 innings. He actually walked more people than he struck out(65 BB to 46 Ks). Think about that one. Here's another guy in this rotation who will have to dodge an ERA of 5.00. Valverde is a great pitcher with huge strikeout ability who finally cut down on his walks. He could be one of the top closers out there. I just don't see him getting an abundance of save opportunities. Their setup man Brandon Medders could be the best asset in the pen(1.78 ERA in 30.3 IP last year). Luis Vizcaino could help out as well. Overall, the bullpen isn't terrible but the starters won't be handing over a lot of leads for them to protect.

Projected Rotation

SP Brandon Webb

<stats> Player=Brandon Webb Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>

SP Orlando Hernandez

<stats> Player=Orlando Hernandez Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>

SP Brad Halsey

<stats> Player=Brad Halsey Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>

SP Miguel Batista

<stats> Player=Miguel Batista Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>

SP Russ Ortiz

<stats> Player=Russ Ortiz Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>

On the bright side, this lineup is balanced. Unfortunately, it is balanced in mediocrity. Counsell is actually a valuable player but almost all of that value lies in his defense. He would be better suited to hit in the #7 spot instead of hurting the team at leadoff. Byrnes is interesting. He had back to back good years in Oakland in 2004 and 2005; however, part way through 2005 he was traded to Colorado and then to Baltimore. In both new environments, Byrnes played like he did not belong in the majors. His bat would be a bright spot in this lineup if he hits like he did back in Oakland, rather than the late-2005 version. Luis Gonzalez is no longer a superstar. His power has diminished and he no longer walks as much becoming just a borderline star at best. Couple that with below average defense and Luis is just a regular corner outfielder. Ditto for Shawn Green. I thought Shawn Green would rediscover his power in Arizona but no luck there. He's only 33 but hasn't hit a significant amount of HRs since 2002. Chad Tracy was the bright spot in the lineup last year and has the best chance to be that again. His numbers will drop but he is younger(26) than any of the other potential impact hitters. Conor Jackson was nothing short of a disappointment in his first year last year; although, it was only 99 at bats. Still, a line of .200/.303/.306 should not make anyone all that optimistic. He had success in the minors, especially AAA, so hope still lives for this kid. Hudson and Counsell represent possibly the best double play duo in the majors. Like Counsell, Hudson won't help with the bat but he fields like Mazeroski. Yeah, I said it, like Mazeroski. Estrada was great in 2004 for Atlanta, then he stunk it up in 2005. Which one will show up in Arizona? My money is on the one that stunk it up. He is 30 years old and 2004 is the only year in which he showed that kind of skill with the bat. As far as the bench goes, there are actually some valuable commodities. Tony Clark brings good power from a switch-hitter. Plus, Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew, and especially Chris Young are prospects with potential that might contribute as soon as this year. As a whole, the offense could actually place in the top half of the league, maybe higher considering they play in one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks. Unfortunately, the pitchers have to play as well...

Projected Batting Order

SS Craig Counsell

<stats> Player=Craig Counsell Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

CF Eric Byrnes

<stats> Player=Eric Byrnes Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

LF Luis Gonzalez

<stats> Player=Luis Gonzalez Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

RF Shawn Green

<stats> Player=Shawn Green Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

3B Chad Tracy

<stats> Player=Chad Tracy Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

1B Conor Jackson

<stats> Player=Conor Jackson Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

2B Orlando Hudson

<stats> Player=Orlando Hudson Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

C Johnny Estrada

<stats> Player=Johnny Estrada Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>

Projection: 75-87 4th in the NL West...While the offense could be in the upper half of the league in Runs Scored, the pitching will be near the bottom of the pack.

Other Moreland Previews
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NL Central Brewers Preview Pirates Preview
NL West Diamondbacks Preview Rockies Preview
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Sun 03/12/06, 5:02 pm EST

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