The 2013 Arizona DiamondBacks went 81-81, spending a lot of time clearing water out of the boat after General Manager Kevin Towers traded Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves declaring he wasn’t a ‘winning player’.
Paul Goldschmidt went out and became one of the best all around hitters in the game by earning a 7.1 WAR with 36 home runs, 125 RBI, and a shiny .302/.401/.551 slash-line that led to a .952 OPS that led the National League. It seemed every time we turned on the television that Goldschmidt was knocking a ball off the fence.
Kevin Towers is going to need to find a lot more ‘winning players’ if the Diamondbacks are going to make some hay in 2014 and beyond. They’re not there yet.
Major Off-season Moves:
I’m not as sweet on the DBacks as many – as I think they’re in for another year mired in mediocrity. They do have some really nice pieces, and any time you can go to battle with one of the best all around players in the game day in and day out, you’ve got a reason to be at least moderately excited.
There are some pieces here we like. Let’s start with the good. Paul Goldschmidt had a .952 OPS last season and quietly stole 15 bases on his way to posting a 7.1 WAR season. We said he would be a right-handed version of 2010 Joey Votto, and that’s pretty much what he was, perhaps even a little better. We have him as the 2014 MVP, and think he has an excellent shot at leading the National League in home runs.
Martin Prado is a steady offensive player that can play second base, third base and outfield. He’s a professional hitter who always seems to find himself with a solid average and is a steady enough run producer that you can hit him comfortably in the middle of the order.
Didi Gregorius had a couple flashes last year where he displayed some unexpected power in his bat. He’ll be just 24 this season and we think the bat has a little more upside than just the .704 OPS he had in his rookie season. It’s being reported that Chris Owings will probably be the starting shortstop to open the season, but should he flounder we really do like Didi’s upside.
Mark Trumbo brings a lot of power to the order over from Anaheim, hitting 32 home runs in 2012 and 34 last season. He and Goldschmidt could easily combine for 80 home runs between them.
Now the question marks.
The starting catcher Montero hit .230 lasts season. If he does that again, there will be a whole score of people who wonder why they were ever high on his bat.
A.J. Pollock hit .269 in 443 at-bats with limited pop. As the lead off man they would probably like to see him get on base at better than a .322 clip. He did steal 12 in 15 attempts which indicates his underrated base stealing ability.
Gerardo Parra is a nice little player – but nothing spectacular. A .270/10/10 line is about what you get with him. Aaron Hill is a good bat at second base that struggles to stay healthy for a full year. He hit .291 last season with 11 homers in 87 games, but for some reason we see him taking a step back in 2014.
The lineup just doesn’t feel ‘loaded’ to us. But the Diamondbacks teams that were great in their short history (2001, 2007, 2011) weren’t either.
Projected Pitching Rotation:
We’re too lazy to update the graphic, but projected ace Patrick Corbin will miss 2014 with a partial tear in his UCL. That slides every guy up one slot and probably inserts highly-touted prospect Archie Bradley into the rotation which might not be a bad thing. Corbin is a monumental loss. He went 14-8 last season as a rookie with 178 strikeouts. Perhaps all those filthy sliders he tossed took a toll on his young arm. We hope he makes a full recovery, because he was fun to watch and knew how to pitch beyond his 23 years of age.
We can all be honest here: other than Bradley with his immense upside and mid-90’s fastball, the rotation is mediocre. Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Bronson Arroyo, and Brandon McCarthy are at best; innings eaters. We thought Miley had some great promise following his rookie season, and while he wasn’t terrible last year, he went 10-10 with a 3.55 ERA and doesn’t display any qualities that are above average.
Randall Delgado figures to float from AAA to the big league club from time to time if he impresses in the minors, but he struggled mightily as a rookie.
Make sure you set your DVR for when Bradley is on the hill and hope for the best from the rest. In that ballpark, Bronson Arroyo is going to keep giving up home runs at an alarming pace.
The closer role was a revolving door last year of Heath Bell, David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler, and J.J. Putz. Even Matt Reynolds logged two saves. Perhaps that is why Arizona paid a hefty price in shipping a nice player in Adam Eaton to the White Sox to get a shutdown closer by the name of Addison Reed. Even if Reed were to struggle, he’ll have a long leash. Reed joined the 40-save club for the first time last season and should boast a K/9 of over nine. He allowed six home runs in 71 innings last year, which should serve him well in Arizona. We look for Reed to take the next step of progression in his career and be a solid piece of this nucleus.
There are arms we like in this pen. Hernandez, Oliver Perez, Tony Sipp, and Josh Collmenter are dependable arms.
Projected Record & Finish:
80-82, Second in NL West
We don’t love the DiamondBacks as a whole, but they aren’t going to be a bad squad. The biggest detractor is the injury to Patrick Corbin who figured to be a staff ace and the fact that they share the same division as the mighty Dodgers. We figure that 2015 is probably going to be the year for the DiamondBacks to make a push. For now, enjoy the show Goldschmidt puts on, and the optimism at points that baseball creates for every organization.