Rebounding from a truly disastrous 111 loss season in 2004, the Arizona Diamondbacks improved their 2005 season record to 77-85 including a final 8-2 record to finish the last 10 games of the year. Led by a balanced offense, the team was able to improve on their 2004 record thanks to the surprise performances supplied by 1st baseman Tony Clark (.304 30 87) and Chad Tracy (.308 27 72). The Diamondbacks also received much needed help from Troy Glaus (.258 37 97), Luis Gonzalez (.271 24 79) and outfielder Shawn Greene (.286 22 73).
Arizona’s starting pitching was spotty for much of the season with starters Brandon Webb (14-12 3.54), Javier Vazquez (11-15 4.42) and Brad Halsey (8-12 4.61) providing the majority of the quality starts in 2005. Relievers Brandon Medders (4-1 1.78) and Lance Cormier (7-3 5.11) joined Brandon Lyon (0-2 6.44 14 saves), Brian Burney (1-3 7.43 12 saves) and Jose Val Verde (3-4 2.44 15 saves) who combined to save 41 games in total.
Off Season Moves:
Arizona moved aggressively in the off season by shipping Javier Vazquez to the White Sox for Orlando Hernandez (9-9 5.12), and also trading power hitter Troy Glaus to the Blue Jays for closer Miguel Batista (5-8 4.10 31 saves) as well as Gold Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson (.271 10 63). The Diamondbacks also picked up catcher Johnny Estrada (.261 4 39) in a off season trade with the Atlanta Braves. The team signed free agent center fielder Eric Byrnes (.226 10 40) to help improve the as well.
The Diamondbacks addressed their need for a legitimate closer by dealing Glaus in an aggressive off season move. Although Glaus’ hitting will be greatly missed, the Diamondbacks will get far more reliability with Batista then any of the options they used last year. The team is relying on youngsters like Chad Trady and first baseman Conor Jackson to pick up the slack left by Glaus.
Arizona also extended Webb’s deal for another 4 years which was a smart move. Webb is a solid workhorse type pitcher and is the ace of the staff. In 2005 he led the team in both ERA (3.54) and Wins (14 ). The pickup of Orlando Hernandez will at a minimum eat up more innings in 2006. But fans shouldn’t expect many wins from him or this rotation. Eric Byrnes is another nice addition but offense really isn’t nor ever was this team’s problem. The lineup is solid and Luis Gonzalez and outfielder Shawn Greene should project to similar numbers in 2006 even without Glaus in the lineup.
The biggest problem for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006 will be their pitching. The team did very little to improve their starting rotation and in fact may have actually weakened it in order to improve their bullpen. Aside from Webb the starting pitching needs much more help. The team shouldn’t be considered as serious contenders for the NL West until the pitching receives a significant upgrade.