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Behind Enemy Lines: Checkin’ on the D-Backs


Unless you have been living under a rock, than you are most likely aware that the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks are in the midst of a pennant race. So, to get a take on the LA’s divisional rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks, we have once again brought in Vince Marotta of AZ Sports Hub.com to answer some questions about the N.L. West race.

Did the D-Backs make the right move by not trading for Mark Teixeira?

Vince: Yes and no. The Diamondbacks obviously needed a bat, but Atlanta was insisting on receiving Conor Jackson, among others as compensations for Teixeira. It wouldn’t make any sense for the Diamondbacks to do that for a couple of reasons. First, Jackson has been the D-Backs best hitter this season, and teams in the hunt for the postseason don’t trade their best and most consistent offensive weapon. Secondly, with the injuries to Eric Byrnes and Justin Upton, the Diamondbacks have zero depth in the outfield, even after converting Jackson to their every day left fielder. At the time Conor Jackson was completely untouchable for those reasons, so it made sense for Josh Byrnes and the Diamondbacks not to make the deal.

With Manny Ramirez now in LA, are you the slightest bit concerned?

Vince: Absolutely. His presence obviously makes the Dodgers a better offensive team. He’s hitting .565 in his first 6 games, with 4 home runs. Its entirely possible that Manny will be the Dodgers leading home run hitter this season (he’s only 9 behind Matt Kemp right now!) But its also entirely possible that Manny stops playing hard. He dogged his way through his last few weeks in Boston, and if that happens, the Dodgers are done. Boston had enough great veteran players around him to compensate for his mood swings, the Dodgers aren’t built the same way. And for as hot as he is right now, the Dodgers are only 3-3 with him.

The Diamondbacks had a nice start to the season but have been headed down hill ever since. What happened?

Vince: Everyone cooled off. It’s no secret the Diamondbacks aren’t a great offensive team. In fact, they’re way below average. When you don’t score runs, you don’t win games, and that’s been the case for Arizona. The Eric Byrnes injury didn’t help either. He was the D-Backs heart and soul last season, and this year, even while he was out there, he wasn’t effective at all.

Which player, besides Manny, is most crucial to the Dodgers playoff hopes and detrimental to Arizona’s.

Vince: Rafael Furcal. He was awesome in the early part of the season, and really adds an element to that team when he’s healthy. If he can come back in September, like he’s planning on, he can really give the Dodgers a boost. And I guess you can throw Andruw Jones in to that mix. Joe Torre is almost forced to play him because of the contract he signed, although his time has dropped significantly in the last week. If he remembers how to play baseball, he can be a big factor. I don’t see that happening. This will go down as one of the worst free agent signings ever.

In the end, which team wins the N.L. West?

Vince: I’ll say the Diamondbacks. Only because their starting pitching is very good. Webb and Haren are the best 1-2 punch in baseball, and Randy Johnson looks rejuvenated. Doug Davis has been solid for most of the season. Their starting pitching is a distinct advantage. The Dodgers get the edge on bullpen and offense, but I think the starting pitching advantage will be enough for the Diamondbacks to hold off L.A.
Or, maybe Colorado will get hot for the last two weeks of the season again and steal the division.