Team preview: Arizona Diamondbacks
1. 2B: Kelly Johnson
2. SS Stephen Drew
3. RF: Justin Upton
4. CF: Chris Young
5. C: Miguel Montero
6. 1B: Juan Miranda
7. LF: Xavier Nady
8. 3B: Melvin Mora
1. SP: Joe Saunders
2. SP: Daniel Hudson
3. SP: Ian Kennedy
4. SP: Armando Galarraga
5. SP: Barry Enright
CL: J.J. Putz
• As of March 16, this lineup was more unsettled than most. Johnson was underrated early in his career, and then last year happened. The feeling is that 26 homers isn’t happening again. Fifteen or 18 sound more like it, and Johnson is 13th in the fantasy keystone rankings.
• Is this the year for Upton’s breakout? I’ve got him ranked seventh among the outfielders and 22nd overall, so that’s basically a "Yes!" Upton disappointed last season, thanks to a shoulder injury and an obscenely high strikeout rate. However, he’s only 23, and seems too talented not to break out against the National League. Do you know a lot of guys who had an .824 career OPS at Upton’s age?
• Montero is a top-10 fantasy catcher. He hit 16 homers while handling regular duty in 2009, and slugged nine more in 297 at bats in last year’s injury-shortened campaign. Montero will be back at full strength this year, and doesn’t carry the average-killing danger of many of the guys below him in the rankings.
• Hudson was lights-out in two months as a D-back after being traded from the White Sox, going 7-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 11 starts. As much as I like Hudson, he’s not doing that again. Nothing else in his track record suggests he will, and his .241 BABIP was really, really lucky. Hudson should be drafted as an SP4, which isn’t too bad for someone in his first major-league season. He could be a top-25 guy next year.
• Saunders is listed as the No. 1 starter on the Diamondbacks’ website? Really? Sure, he has a 57-39 career record, but his ERA is 4.29, his WHIP is 1.39, and his stuff isn’t good at all. He should be considered as a fifth starter in NL-only leagues, and that’s it. If you draft Saunders in a standard league, you’re dead to me.
• Odd man out: Brandon Allen and his power bat could get sent back to the minors if Miranda hits well in spring training. Also, Zach Duke’s battle for the fifth-starter’s slot was derailed when he got hit in the hand by a line drive on March 12. He’ll be out until at least mid-May.
• Top prospects: Jarrod Parker missed 2010 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and will probably start the season in Double A. Parker had dominant stuff before getting hurt. If he returns, he could push for a late-season audition in Arizona. Beyond Parker and the aforementioned Allen, nobody good is close to making the big-league roster.
• Backup closer: Juan Gutierrez will be J.J. Putz’s primary setup man, and appears to be first in line behind him for saves. However, former Orioles reliever David Hernandez throws hard, and could become a factor if the oft-injured Putz goes down.