2010 Arizona Diamondbacks Preview

Brandon Webb, RHP
Dan Haren, RHP
Edwin Jackson, RHP
Ian Kennedy, RHP
Billy Buckner, RHP

Closers and Setup
Chad Qualls, RHP
Juan Gutierrez, RHP

Starting Lineup
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Stephen Drew, SS
Justin Upton, RF
Mark Reynolds, 3B
Adam LaRoche, 1B
Conor Jackson, LF
Chris Young, CF
Miguel Montero, C

Player in Decline

It’s hard to think of Conor Jackson in decline at the age of 27, but it’s more his role that’s in decline than anything else. With the presence of Parra in the fourth outfielder’s role, Jackson is likely to see a reduction in his playing time in left field.

Player on the Rise

As mentioned, the move from the AL East to the NL West should certainly do Ian Kennedy some good. His durability is in question to some degree but he should prove a good WHIP, respectable ERA and a modest K-rate.

Top 5 Fantasy Players
Justin Upton – Elite
Dan Haren – Elite
Mark Reynolds – Elite
Brandon Webb – Average
Edwin Jackson – Average

Top 10 Prospects
1. Jarrod Parker, RHP
2. Brandon Allen, 1B
3. Bobby Borchering, 3B
4. Mike Belfiore, LHP
5. A.J. Pollock, OF
6. Chris Owings, SS
7. Marc Krauss, OF
8. Matthew Davidson, 3B
9. Cole Gillespie, OF
10. Collin Cowgill, OF

Team Outlook: The return of its ace will certainly help the club, and the team has a shot at the NL West title based on the starting rotation. However, the offense is nothing to write home about. On the plus side, though, none of the teams in the division are overly improved, and the Dodgers organization has never been more vulnerable, thanks to the ongoing storyline away from the diamond.

The Rotation: A healthy Brandon Webb, returning from shoulder surgery, will help anchor a rotation that sees some new, youthful faces join the fray. Webb is expected to be at full strength in April, but it remains to be seen how durable he’ll be over the course of the season. Dan Haren is one of the best No. 2 starters in all of baseball. He’s also one of the safest bets for both 200+ innings and strikeouts. Edwin Jackson comes over from Detroit and he should find the National League more to his liking. You can’t argue with his pure stuff, but Jackson is still searching for consistency and command of his heater. Ian Kennedy is a perfect sleeper for 2010, as his stuff will play much better in the NL and he appears to be over his health issues. The fifth spot is still open, but Billy Buckner is the favorite for the spot.

The Bullpen: After saving 24 games with a 3.14 FIP in ’09, Chad Qualls enters 2010 as the early favorite for saves if he’s recovered from knee surgery. He has a good chance of saving 30+ games. If he falters, the club’s options are limited after trading prospect Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers. Juan Gutierrez filled in for Qualls when he hurt his knee (nine saves in 10 tries), so the right-hander is probably first in line. Veteran right-handers Bob Howry (66 career saves) and Aaron Heilman were both brought in during the offseason to help solidify the relief corps. Clay Zavada, a second-year player, should be the go-to southpaw.

The Starting Lineup: The club lacks a true leadoff hitter at this point. Both Chris Young and Stephen Drew could hit near the top of the order, but neither is well-suited to the role due to their poor on-base numbers. Young also strikes out far too much to be an effective leadoff hitter, but he does have some speed. The club might try Kelly Johnson near the top of the order, too, although he’d probably benefit from hitting in the No. 8 hole. The heart of the order will consist of Justin Upton, Mark Reynolds and Adam LaRoche, a free-agent acquisition. It remains to be seen where Conor Jackson fits in to the lineup. Both LaRoche and Jackson should provide a little more protection for Reynolds than he received in ’09. The club should receive above-average offense from the catching tandem of Miguel Montero and Chris Snyder. However, it’s also possible that, if Snyder can prove himself healthy in the spring, he’ll be traded, which will clear the way for John Hester to assume the back-up role. Reynolds and Upton provide the bulk of both speed and power in the lineup; a rejuvenated Young could also be tossed into that group.

The Bench: As mentioned, Montero and Snyder should split the catching chores, with Montero receiving the bulk of the work. Ryan Roberts was earmarked for the second-base job before the club brought in Johnson, so the former Jays prospect should now serve as an offensive-minded utility player. Veteran Augie Ojeda was also retained and should have the other infielder job, but he’ll be pushed by both Tony Abreu and Rusty Ryal. In the outfield, Jackson’s return will likely shift Gerardo Parra to a fourth outfielder’s role, but he should play all over the outfield and receive significant playing time.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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