Razorbacks

True story: I was at Candlestick in 1999, and had some sweet seats for a Diamondbacks game. Sitting next to me was a man in a very nice suit who was obviously pulling for the Diamondbacks. Behind him were two drunk morons; not drunk-funny, but drunk-they-thought-they-were-funny. As the game started to go the Diamondbacks' way, the drunks started harassing Mr. Fancy Suit Diamondback Fan. They weren't funny, but they were harmless. When Jay Bell creamed a ball clear into the glove of J.T. Snow, one of the drunks put his hand on the shoulder of Mr. Fancy Suit, and gave some sort of mock sympathy line. Quoth Mr. Fancy Suit:

"Don't ever touch me again."

It was straight out of a Charles Bronson movie. What was he going to do if he was touched again? Bust out a pair of nunchucks? A katana blade? Take a napkin, mop up some Candlestick grime from under the seats and touch the drunks with it? No one knew, but the drunks toned it way down. They started saying things like, "Ooooh, don't touch that guy! Don't touch him!" to vendors as they passed, but the drunks were clearly shaken by the only five words the guy said all night.

Subsequent television appearances revealed Mr. Fancy Suit to be Joe Garagiola, Jr. And when the Diamondbacks won the game, he had the smuggest look on his face that I'd ever seen. I've hated that team ever since; the division title the team won that season was just icing. Also, I regret not pinching his cheeks. Also also, that was the night I went to a midnight showing of The Phantom Menace, so it has to be on the top-ten list of disappointing nights in my lifetime.

So, I don't like the Diamondbacks. I hate the swimming pool, I hate that they've won a championship, and I can still picture the smug look of a man watching his team win in someone else's park. The problem is they're going to be an offensive force for a while. Chad Tracy might be sub-Brenly at hot corner defense, but he can rake. So can Stephen Drew and Conor Jackson. So can Carlos Quentin and Chris Young. Justin Upton is a probably-rake, as are about twenty other prospects in the system. They will likely have an above-average offense this year, with the potential to dominate in future seasons. They don't have that one slugger who can be penciled in for a .600 SLG, but there aren't too many gaping holes at all.

I thought the same thing about the collective futures of Tagg Bozied, Xavier Nady, Jake Gautreau, and Sean Burroughs, though. Hopefully, I'm just as wrong about Arizona.

The pitching is much improved, too, at least for next year. Livan Hernandez and Randy Johnson are coming off down years, but both are excellent when they're on. Whatever you do, don't picture them naked and riding matching hobby horses. That would be an awful image, and I wouldn't want you to think of it. You can thank me for the warning later. Brandon Webb would be one of the more fun pitchers in the game to watch if he weren't a direct competitor, and Doug Davis is pleasantly mediocre in that Matt Morris kind of way.

The Diamondbacks also have some interesting arms in the bullpen, and some hard-throwing youngster from deep in their system could surprise the league. Some of the veteran arms could come through as well.

I can think of a ton of reasons why the Diamondbacks will win the West. I can think of just as many reasons why they won't. That holds true for most of the teams. I'm afeared for the short-term, and I'm physically incapable of thinking about the long-term for too long. Hopefully, they'll have one of those Texas Rangers organizational paths, where the team will consistently score 850 runs per year, but give up 900.

Arizona

Lineup rank in the NL West: 2nd
Rotation rank in the NL West: 4th
Bullpen rank in the NL West: No idea
Number of the above rankings pulled from my nether regions: All of them

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