New Year, New Expectations

Yesterday I took a moment to reminisce about 2007 and how my expectations were different from reality when it came to the Arizona Diamondbacks. As a fan I was pretty laid back and quite content to watch the young players begin their development adjusting from being minor league players to making a name for themselves at the major league level. I was willing to overlook the errors of youth knowing that these kids could learn some valuable lessons by overcoming the adversity that comes from a lack of experience. The problem came when the Arizona Diamondbacks exceeded everyone’s expectations. No longer were they looked upon as an up-and-coming team who would be a force to be reckoned with in 2-3 years. By October they were the National League’s best team and the one to beat in the post season. Even their unceremonious exit from the National League Championship Series was met with thoughts of an upset rather than being bested by a better team with more experience.

This off-season has been relatively quiet for the Arizona Diamondbacks with the exception of one day very little has occurred. This was to be expected since the team is relatively young and should return intact for 2008. What is not coming back in 2008 is the lackluster expectations that accompanied the team in 2007. The young players have had a year to mature and should know what to expect from a 162-game season in the major leagues. The nerves and stress that typically accompanies a player’s rise from the minor leagues should be replaced with a level of self-confidence to know that they are capable of playing at this high level.

The Arizona Diamondbacks front office further increased the expectations of the 2008 season with the trades they pulled off on December 14. No longer content to win in 2-3 years Josh Byrnes and his staff executed trades that brought another ace to the Diamondbacks pitching staff with the arrival of Dan Haren. They also strengthened their bullpen and increased their versatility with the trading of Jose Valverde for Chad Qualls, Chris Burke, and Juan Gutierrez. Two other pitchers were added with the trade for Billy Buckner of Kansas City and the arrival of Connor Robertson from Oakland with Dan Haren. The Diamondbacks are now building depth in their pitching staff both from a starting and a relief perspective. The young Diamondbacks team will now squarely feel the pressure to live up to everyone’s expectations which are now not just to make the post season but to bring Arizona its second world championship. Last season was one designed to build confidence. This season is one that is being built for results. The players have approximately 6 weeks to begin in earnest their off-season preparation to arrive in Tucson in the shape necessary to defend their National League Western Divisional Championship and to take the next step of avenging the loss to the Colorado Rockies. My expectations is that next year as I write the first entry of the new year I will be talking about continuing the winning tradition and building what every Diamondbacks fan hopes will be a dynasty of perpetual winners.

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