Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Arizona Gets Better
2007-12-14 15:53
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I wasn't at all prepared today to write a big post on the Mitchell report, although I had a lot of ideas organized for it. Now comes the news that the Arizona Diamondbacks, defending NL West champions, have added Oakland starter Danny Haren for a package of prospects. That's something I have to address, too, since the D-Backs are the Rockies' primary competition in the division next year (sorry, Dodger fans).

Is Arizona in denial about how much of a fluke last season was for their team? The Diamondbacks put fewer runners on base than any other team in the National League, and yet they advanced all the way to the NLCS. You'd think for a team that bats a platoon outfielder #3, the acquisition of a threatening hitter would be the primary offseason goal. However, I think Arizona GM Josh Byrnes has made maybe the best move that was out there for his team this offseason. Arizona has both a raftful of exciting minor leaguers and an everyday lineup already packed with homegrown, arbitration-controlled talent. There's every reason to believe that their offense will be a lot better in 2008, and while their overall pitching was very strong last season, after Brandon Webb they were awful short in dominator types. Now they're much better built for the playoffs, assuming they're lucky enough to get back. Even if their offense didn't so heavily feature young players like Chris Young and Stephen Drew who are almost guaranteed to perform better in '08, the cost to the team of adding one excellent pitcher is way lower than it would be to rehaul an entire offense. If there's one thing they've learned about baseball in Phoenix (besides how to not sell out home playoff games), it's that two ace starters and average everything else is enough to win a World Series.

2007-12-14 16:17:04
1.   MyTummyHurts
I wonder who they gave up to get Haren.
2007-12-14 16:25:28
2.   Ken Arneson
1 Check out Catfish Stew (see sidebar) for an overview of the six players that went to Oakland.
2007-12-14 16:38:42
3.   therickdaddy
AZ closer?
2007-12-14 17:29:16
4.   Eric Enders
"I have to address, too, since the D-Backs are the Rockies' primary competition in the division next year (sorry, Dodger fans)."

I may have to bookmark this thread so I can remind you of this statement on September 30.

2007-12-15 02:02:21
5.   RZG
0 Arizona's 2007 is a fluke so they're in denial getting Haren?

Colorado having one good month = Not a fluke, showing their true colors of a .900 team.

Mark's arrogance has been over the top since August. I suppose every team in the division should forfeit every game next year to spare the indignity of facing the Rockie juggernaut that's destined to be World Champs for at least the next 12-13 years.

Being a Buc fan I don't have a dog in this or any other fight but if the Pirates reach 500 some decade I hope their small group of fans don't start belittling every other team.

2007-12-15 02:25:54
6.   Mark T.R. Donohue
5 The Rockies might have had a ridiculously fluky September, but up until that point, they had been underperforming their Pythagorean record rather dramatically, and they actually ended up still finishing a little behind -- an actual record of 90-63 vs. an expected record of 92-71. Arizona's expected record was 79-83; the Dodgers', 82-80.
2007-12-16 19:58:48
7.   ralfthewiseandpowerful
Colorado's record wasn't a fluke; they had the best record in the National League from May 1st, June 1st, July 1st, August 1st and September 1st.

All that happened at the end of September was a massive market correction, so to speak.

And if you subscribe to some very basic statistical analysis, the end of the season as well as the playoffs were EXTREMELY predictable, visa vie the Rockies, the most complete team in the N.L. for a vast majority of 2007, losing to the most complete team in the A.L.

If Arizona is serious about any sort of playoff/late-season run, to say nothing of being a World Series contender, they better learn to hit and learn to hit fast. I'm not saying that it can't be done, but you won't see much statistical evidence from last year that such a thing will be done.

2007-12-17 11:19:55
8.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
4 , 6 , 7 This, friends, will be settled on the field.

One must acknowledge that the Rockies played excellent baseball in 2007: on the whole, just good enough to make the playoffs, and at the right time, more than just good enough to make it to the World Series.

I am sad they were swept in the Series because 1) I like baseball enough to prefer a 6 or 7 gamer to a four game sweep, 2) I hate this "the American League is better" crap, and 3) how can you not get sentimental about a team winning out?

That said, I believe the NL West will be richly competitive again in 2008, and I like my Dodgers' chances of finishing atop the heap. (However, I like their chances even more in 2009 and 2010.)

2007-12-17 16:42:10
9.   Ken Arneson
The DBacks improved themselves with Haren, but I think the Rockies can counter that move by coaxing Mark Ellis away from the rebuilding A's. He'd be an improvement both offensively and defensively on Matsui (and Matsui was good, but Ellis was better), and would probably give the Rockies one of the best defensive infields the game has ever seen. I'd become a Rockies fan if that happened--a Tulo-Ellis DP combo would be a truly beautiful thing to watch.
2007-12-22 16:31:08
10.   Mark T.R. Donohue
10 Yeah. Dude, yeah. That's the best idea I've heard in ages. And Ellis isn't a better hitter than Matsui, he's a WAY better hitter.

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