This off-season The Nats Blog will be holding weekly interviews with blogs from all thirty teams. One site a week leading up to the start of the 2011 season. This week I spoke with Jim McLennan from AZ Snakepit, one of the top Arizona Diamondbacks blogs on the net, to talk about the performances from their young players and the veteran addition to the bullpen.
TNB: Do you believe Stephen Drew has lived up to the hype?
AZ Snakepit: He's been solid, reliable, and largely flown under the radar. Of all major-league SS with 1,400 ABs over the past three seasons, only two have a better OPS+ than Drew. It's easy to look at the draft class of 2004 and feel some disappointment, in terms of WAR, Drew does trail the likes of Dustin Pedroia or Jared Weaver, but as a #15 pick, we can't complain. He's certainly done better than the player picked #1 that year, Matt Bush.
TNB: Who is the real Chris Young, the 2009 or 2010 version?
AZ Snakepit: Young started to turn things around at the end of 2009, after a spell down in the minors. That's now over 700 plate-appearances since his return, over which he has posted solid numbers, so I am optimistic that the 2010 version is a lot closer to what we'll see in 2011. Worth bearing in mind that he's only 27, so is still on the right side of the aging curve for offense.
TNB: After being the focus of trade rumors this off-season, what is the mood surrounding Justin Upton?
AZ Snakepit: I don't think it'll be a problem. The word is that the trade was only going to happen if we were blown away by an offer, and Upton seemed to accept the whispers in the right spirit, at one point Tweeting to ask if anyone had heard any rumors! He seems very intent on putting up big numbers this season, and as only three members of the 2011 team will have been here longer (Drew, Chris Young and Miguel Montero), he realizes that he needs to lead by example.
TNB: Daniel Hudson came over in a trade with the Chicago White Sox last season, how impressed were you by his performance?
AZ Snakepit: Let's start with "very" and go up from there, it can hardly be otherwise, given a 1.69 ERA and 0.841 WHIP. I really think we completely hosed the Sox in the trade (geddit? Hello? Is this thing on?) Obviously, I expect a fair degree of regression for Hudson in 2011. However, an ERA below four is certainly achievable, and he shows every sign of being a valuable member of our rotation for several years to come.
TNB: Is the plan to have J.J. Putz as the teams closer? A title he hasn't had since 2008.
AZ Snakepit: Yes, Putz seems all but a lock to start off the year as our closer, and providing he can stay healthy, something he has had trouble doing over the last three seasons, he should be solid in the role. A career ERA+ of 137 is better than the likes of Bobby Jenks or Jonathan Broxton, and he has enough experience that it's not as if this is uncharted territory. It's hard to over-state how having a solid late-inning man will help the Diamondbacks, but last year, we had 16 games where we went into the ninth tied: the team record in those games was 2-14.