2009 Trade Deadline Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks

Buyers or sellers?

The Diamondbacks were considered contenders heading into 2009 butt they have fallen far short of expectations. The D-Backs are just 37-55 and are 21 games behind the division leading Dodgers. They are sellers, in fact they have already begun the selling process by trading away reliever Tony Pena and second baseman Felipe Lopez. With nothing to compete for it's very possible that the Diamondbacks trade away other veterans before the trading deadline.

Short-term need

The Diamondbacks biggest problem is their lack of offense. Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds are both very good hitters but there aren't many other threats in the lineup. Stephen Drew has been injured and unproductive for much of the year but he isn't going anywhere. The D-Backs don't have anyone to play second base at a high level now that they've traded Felipe Lopez for two minor leaguers. The first baseman of the future may be Brandon Allen, a 23 year-old slugging first baseman who was acquired for Tony Pena.

The outfield is also weak. Obviously Upton is going to be a fixture for awhile but Chris Young, Eric Byrnes, and Gerardo Parra haven't produced. The Diamondbacks have a lot of faith in their young players so they will probably rely on Young and Parra for 2010 as well.

The pitching has been pretty good even with Brandon Webb missing essentially the whole season. The bullpen could use some more depth especaiily after trading Pena, but young arms like Clay Zavada and Daniel Schlereth should help fill the void.

Long-term need

The pitching staff should remain strong for the long term but there are a few questions to be answered. Both Doug Davis and Jon Garland are pending free agents who may be traded before the deadline to try to bring the D-Backs some more young talent. If they stay the organization has to decide whether to bring them back for next year. Brandon Webb is also a huge question mark, his option for 2010 was once a lock to be exercised but it's possible the D-Backs will decline it and save the extra money. Even if he is brought back no one knows if he'll be able to re-gain his Cy Young caliber form.

The offense is stll riddled with holes and until the outfield gets more production outside of Upton it will be hard to score runs. Some better luck for the infielders would help as well, Stephen Drew, Conor Jackson, and Chad Tracy have all fallen way short of preseason expectations. Tracy will likely not return but Drew and Jackson will play key roles for the near future at least.

Big leaguers on the market?

Even though Pena and Lopez have already been traded, there should still be more trades for the Diamondbacks before the deadline. While Doug Davis would attract interest on the trade market, it has been suggested that the D-Backs would rather hang onto him. Jon Garland would be tougher to trade but he might be able to get the D-Backs a decent prospect to go along with salary relief. The team would like to unload Eric Byrnes' contract but that may only be possible if they take another bad contract in return, possibly the recently DFA'd Julio Lugo. Chad Qualls is the team's best reliever and could be dealt but the D-Backs would need to be bowled over because he is under contract for 2010 as well.

Minor league strength

The pitching depth supports a minor league system that is no longer what it used to be. Jarrod Parker could be an impact player as a starting pitcher and Daniel Schlereth could do the same out of the bullpen. Beyond that though there are a lot of low-upside pitchers who can reach the big leagues but are not expected to make a huge difference. With the talent already one the pitching staff, that won't be a problem for now.

The real problem is once again the hitting, where Arizona lacks any real impact prospects. The club tried to address this issue in the recent draft by using the first four selections on hitters. If those guys can develop then the D-Backs will finally have the bats to go along with their plethora of pitching.

Take on short-term money to win?

At this point the Diamondbacks are trying to get rid of expensive veterans, not add more of them.

For more coverage of the Diamondbacks, check out AZ Snakepit.

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