Today your author is AK-47.
I knew they were committed to the youth movement in AZ, but are they serious with these new alternate jerseys?!
2008 Record: 82-80, 2nd in the N.L. West
Last Season as an Allegory: You're a 12-year-old kid with a shiny new bike. You've been practicing riding for a while, around your block and around your neighborhood, and you're getting pretty good. You begin to practice some tricks and are starting to get the elusive "wheely" down. You practice all summer, day-in and day-out, and your hard work is paying off with some nice results. Then, at that critical moment when you're going to pull off your first public "wheely" of your life, in front of all your friends and that one really hot older girl that seems to be more developed than any of the other girls in your neighborhood, you crash into the back of your mom's new Hyundai, then cry. Bummer, dude.
Offseason Moves: Lost Brandon Lyon, Juan Cruz, Randy Johnson, Adam Dunn and Orlando "O-Dogg" Hudson. Wow, that's a lot more than I thought. When you list them in a row, all that averageness-to-above-averageness actually seems like it could hurt. Added Felipe Lopez, Scott Schoeneweis and Jon Garland
State of the Union
The youth movement took hold in Arizona two years ago with favorable results. They were a team who magically won 92 games in 2007, while allowing more runs than runs scored. While that year's success seemed a bit tenuous, the silver lining was that the offense was very young with a high ceiling and the pitching was strong. Unfortunately, they took a small step backward in 2008. Despite strong, to quite-strong seasons from 1B Conor Jackson, SS Stephen Drew and CF Chris Young (average age: 25) the D-Backs meteoric start fizzled in August, and was snuffed out by September. Eventually they were overtaken by the hard-charging-6-games-over-.500 LA Dodgers.
Bright. Even though they lost all those players/spare parts, theteam's young core remains unchanged. They are relying on these young'ns becoming another year older and another year better, as well as some key players returning to form from injuries (Eric Byrnes). I think they gave C Chris Snyder a big contract extension, which I don't fully understand. He's not that young (about to turn 28) and doesn't hit for average (.238 career mark). I guess he showed decent power potential last year (16 homers in 334 ABs) and who knows, maybe he's good at that other thing that players do during games that seems to be invisible during the offseason...PLAY DEFENSE!
The Dodgers are really the only team standing in their way of being N.L. West Champs in '09. But that title can mean very different things from year to year. The West is funny, either all five teams are above .500, or below .500. Only time will tell if "NL WEST CHAMPS" will be something to proudly display like a diploma, or something to really, really, proudly display like the 7th place medal at the soap box derby in cub scouts.