Well we've got 30 days left until Opening Day, which means it's time to start up on the season previews. We'll be running it down team by team, with an added new wrinkle this time around: the beer of choice for fans of the team to enjoy whilst watching their team take the field! Nothing like that to help get you through a baseball season, especially if you're from Pittsburgh. Up first: the Arizona Diamondbacks
Lineup: Pretty punchless not too long ago, they've now got a couple of bashers in the middle of the order in RF Justin Upton and 3B Mark Reynolds. SS Stephen Drew and 2B Kelly Johnson both had disappointing seasons last year, but for Drew it was because of injury and Johnson suffered from bad BABIP luck, so we can expect a rebound from them. Miguel Montero brings a big bat to the catcher spot, and Adam LaRoche isn't a bad first baseman to have around. If CF Chris B. Young reverts back to his rookie year form, when he was close to 30-30, the outfield could be a real strength, as LFs Conor Jackson and Gerardo Parra should at least be around league average.
Rotation: When Brandon Webb is healthy, the D-Backs have a 1-2 that rivals any other in baseball. Unfortunately, only Dan Haren is healthy at this point, and the team has been saying that Webb may begin 2010 the way he ended 2009: on the DL. They'll be leaning heavily on Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy to live up to their respective potentials, as those two are slated for the 3-4 spots, and because there's very little behind them. Billy Buckner has a nice arm, but he's struggled with command and hittability despite a good K rate, and there's not much to expect from the likes of Kevin Mulvey or Rodrigo Lopez, who are also competing for the back end.
Bullpen: Chad Qualls has long been underrated as a good closer, but he's got the late game secured. Beyond him, though, there's trouble...Bobby Howry, Aaron Heilman, Blaine Boyer, Zack Kroenke, T.J. Beam et al are not the sort of guys you want handling major innings. There's some promise to be had in Juan Gutierrez and Clay Zavada, though, so it's not all bad news beyond the closer spot. Just...mostly bad news.
Overall: We think the Diamondbacks can be a real sleeper this year. They only won 70 games last year, but if Brandon Webb is healthy, .500 should be well within reach. If Justin Upton takes another step forward - which he's a good bet to do, at only 23 years of age - then the lineup should be good enough to put them in playoff contention in a competitive NL West.
Predicted Record: 83-79, 3rd Place
Beer: PBR. The Pabst brewery went up for sale in November, right around when the baseball season was ending. If someone shills out $300MM, it can be all theirs, and a classic (we use the word lightly around here) American brewery can rise again. That, of course, is an analog to Brandon Webb returning and helping restore a team that was down and out last season to greater heights this year. So drink up, hipster Arizonians.