This is one of a series of posts in which I will be breaking down every team in the National League. I am by no means a credible source—merely a casual fan who knows a little about baseball and would like to share my observations.
Today we look at the Diamondbacks, whose one-two punch of power hitters Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo are trying to bring coolness back to “the long ball” in the pitcher’s park that is Chase Field. Chicks in Phoenix should prepare to take notice.
Projected Lineup: CF A.J. Pollock, 3B Martin Prado, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, LF Mark Trumbo, 2B Aaron Hill, RF Gerardo Parra, C Miguel Montero, SS Didi Gregorius
Kirk Gibson’s D’backs are as advertised: scrappy, gritty, and not very good. They’re basically a team full of those “25th man”-type guys who you need to fill out playoff rosters—except that’s the whole team.
Paul Goldschmidt is the lone standout. He’s a beast, and probably the scariest hitter to face in the National League. What’s more, his clutch ability—whether or not you believe in such a thing as “clutch”—is indisputable. In 2013, he hit .348 with runners on base, and .480 in the ninth inning. Not to mention his three walk-off bombs.
Keep an eye on Chris Owings, the young middle infielder who broke into the majors last September after being named the Pacific Coast League MVP. He won’t initially have a position to play out of Spring Training, but if Aaron Hill comes down with an injury, or Didi Gregorius’ struggles at the plate become intolerable, Owings is next in line—and he won’t relinquish that starting spot.
But he’s got a ways to go if he wants to become the most prolific offensive player named Owings in D’backs history—Micah was a stud.
The pitching is another story. The rotation has no front-line starters. With Patrick Corbin likely out for the season with a torn UCL, the rotation appears quite underwhelming. Sure, there’s some potential. Trevor Cahill could return to greatness, being a ground ball specialist with an ever-improving defense behind him. Bronson Arroyo may very well continue the steady dominance that he’s shown the past few years, in spite of his old age. But since so many things have to go right for the D’backs, and because they have no depth to speak of, the faithful in Phoenix should not be holding their breath.
Keep an eye on the young Archie Bradley, though. He’ll begin the year in the minors, but the D’backs will need to make room for him quickly if he continues his pattern of dominating every level of the minor leagues—across High-A and Double-A last year, he posted a 14-5 record with a 1.84 ERA in 152 innings.
And if you thought the starting pitching was bad—let’s talk about the bullpen. They can’t even hold any of the leads that the starters neglect to provide for them. David Hernandez was so erratic last year, he earned a demotion to AAA Reno. Brad Ziegler was an effective closer in the second half, but even Brad himself said, “Everybody knows, in a perfect world, that’s not my role on this team.”
So in an attempt to establish some clear roles at the back end of the ‘pen, the D’backs traded for closer Addison Reed. Reed saved 40 games last year for the White Sox, and to put that into perspective, it should be noted that the White Sox won only 63 games. So Reed becoming Arizona’s closer should be a lock. This will enable Ziegler to return to his role of specialist, and put Oliver Perez nowhere near a save situation. Sounds like a pretty solid plan.
Despite making a few moves over the Winter, the D’backs are still several major pieces away from a division-clinching celebration in their own pool. If I’m General Manager Kevin Towers, my next move would be to get some frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads installed in there.
Projected Finish: 73-89, Fifth place in NL West