The Arizona Diamondbacks and Bob Melvin took a major step in 2007 going from worst to first and getting to the NLCS. Unfortunately for them, they ran into a team hotter than shit and got swept, but they did win the division. Instead of being complacent and believing the young team would continue to grow and improve on their own, D'backs managment went after one of the best young pitchers in the majors and traded for Dan Haren. 15-9 3.07 ERA in the AL?!?! Holy cow! True, they gave up a lot, 6 prospects including Dana Eveland, but at this point, it looks like a good trade. Especially with the team friendly contract Haren has. However, look what happen to the big 3 pitchers out of Oakland... Billy Beane baby.
Conor Jackson,playing first base, went from a hot prospect to a potentially quality first baseman in 2007. .284, 15 home runs, and 60 RBIs is a decent line for a young player only in his second year, but CJ is going to have to improve on those numbers in '08 to be considered anything other than average. What was Toronto thinking getting rid of Orlando Hudson? He has stellar defense and if he can walk 70 times while batting nearly .300. He'll quickly rise in the rankings of quality second basemen in this game. Another 25 year old with major upside, Stephen Drew, brother of JD and former first round pick, has a ways to go in proving he is a quality SS, but don't be surprised if he has a major break out season. Rounding out the infield is yet another potential balla, Mark Reynolds. At only 24 and knockin 17 dingers and 62 RBIs (typically in the 6 hole), who knows where the ceiling is on him. He doesn't have the pedigree of Drew and Jackson, but the numbers don't lie, well unless '07 was an aberration. Oh, yeah, Chris Snyder; he is a decent catcher with average to below average stats for the National League.
Eric Byrnes, Chris Young, and Justin Upton; couldn't have built a better outfield if I tried. You have the "old man"  veteran in Eric Byrnes manning right field, getting important hits when you need him and teaching all the kids while he's at it. Chris Young, no not the pitcher, Chris B. Young, the former Chicago White Sox prospect, had a major coming out party in 2007, with 32 bombs, 68 RBIs and 27 steals. If he gets the average up, he'll be a perennial all-star and house hold name. To his right is BJ's kid brother and former #1 overall pick, Justin Upton. Scary to think he is only 20 and the sky is the limit with him. He hit .357 in only 14 at-bats in the playoffs in 2007, and is my early pick for ROY, although I'm not sure if he is actually eligible.
Former Cy Young winner Brandon Webb leads a rotation that is good but not great, yet. As long as Haren doesn't struggle moving to another league and Micah Owings improves on a modest 8-8 4.30 2007 starting pitching won't be a concern. Doug Davis had an average Doug Davis year and may be called upon to pitch in bigger games with Randy Johnson being double the age of most of the players on the roster and as healthy as a dead dog. Look for Yusmeiro Petit, former New York Mets and Florida Marlins prospect, to get into the rotation in 2008.
It will be tough for this young squad to duplicate what they did in 2007, winning the division and embarrassing the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs, but with improved pitching and the kids growing up, this team could be an absolute powerhouse. The bullpen, as with most teams, is a concern, as are the lack of lefties throughout the lineup and rotation. If Webb doesn't have to carry the entire load though, watch out for Wally Backman errrr Bob Melvin and co to be playing into October again.