Tuesday, March 5, 2013

2013 Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks
(2012: 81-81, 3rd Place NL West)
(2013: FC Prediction: 3rd Place NL West)

While we have the Diamondbacks finishing third in the West this year, it was by a very narrow margin, mostly due to the fact that I picked them to win the division.  I am a huge fan of the D'Backs and my bias will be shown in this post.  

The D'Backs have probably the deepest starting rotation in all of baseball, as well as a very good bullpen.  Even after trading Justin Upton, Arizona still has a well balanced and very talented lineup, especially with the addition of Cody Ross and Martin Prado.  

Arizona has been very active this off-season, trading Justin Upton to Atlanta as well as trading top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer to Cleveland.  The new Diamondback faces include Prado and Ross, as well as pitchers Randall Delgado, Brandon McCarthy, and Heath Bell.  Shortstop Cliff Pennington is also a newcomer.  

Let's take a look at this drastically different Diamondbacks roster:

PITCHING:
The D'Backs starting rotation could probably go 8 deep when healthy, so it will be tough for manager Kirk Gibson to choose a starting 5.  Ian Kennedy, Brandon McCarthy, and Trevor Cahill will all be there.  It is good to see McCarthy back on the mound after taking a line drive to the head and fracturing his skull late last year.  The rotation will most likely be rounded out by young lefties Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin.  Miley was great last year in his freshman campaign and looks to repeat his success while Corbin has the makings of a quality left hander.  Knocking on the door will be prospect Tyler Skaggs and former Brave prospect Randall Delgado.  Daniel Hudson also looks to regain a rotation spot when he is healthy.

The D'Backs have a lot of talent in the bullpen as well.  JJ Putz will handle the closing duties, but David Hernandez and Heath Bell are also capable.  After a miserable first season in Miami, Bell looks to rebound in a new city.  Sidewinder Brad Ziegler is also extremely effective out of the pen.  Recently acquired Tony Sipp gives the D'Backs a quality lefty to go along with their right heavy pen.

As far as prospects go, the D'Backs have the aforementioned Delgado and Skaggs.  Both are very quality guys and Skaggs should be a front of the rotation guy when all is said and done.  A little further away, Arizona has 2011 first round pick Archie Bradley.  He sits in the low to mid nineties with a lot of movement and has a sharp breaking power curve.  Look for Bradley to be ready by 2015.

LINEUP:
At third, the D'Backs have Martin Prado, who is a lock to hit for a high average.  At short, Cliff Pennington is much known for his bet, but his glove is among the best in the league.  With some of the other boppers in this lineup, Pennington should be ok not being much of a hitter.  Aaron Hill at second might be the games best hitting second baseman not named Cano.  Hill had a phenomenal season in 2012 and looks to repeat it this year.  First baseman Paul Goldschmidt can do it all.  He can hit for average, hit for power, and run.  In 2012, despite an awful start, Goldschmidt ended up with a .286 average with 20 home runs and 18 steals.  Behind the plate, Miguel Montero bring a lot of pop from the left side of the plate, although it might come at the expense of his glove.  

Across the outfield the D'Backs have Jason Kubel in left, rookie Adam Eaton in center, and newly acquired Cody Ross in right.  Ross and Kubel are both quality bats who will hit for power and also hit for a decent average.  Eaton is the question mark, but he has hit .300 at every level he's been at.  He is an absolute spark plug.  The odd man out is Gerardo Parra.  I for one, am a huge fan of Parra.  Over the last 2 seasons, the guy has average a .280 average with 10 home runs and 20 steals, all while winning a gold glove in 2011.  He did this all as a 4th outfielder.

When it comes to prospects, the D'Backs have shortstop Didi Gregorious and third baseman Matt Davidson.  Arizona loves Gregorious, trading Trevor Bauer for him, but I am not a huge fan.  Didi is great with the glove, but he doesn't hit for any power what-so-ever and he doesn't hit for much of an average either.  He is extremely quick, but he is an awful base runner.  Is he an upgrade over Pennington in the long run, sure, but I would have pushed for Asdrubal Cabrera in a trade if I was moving Bauer for a shortstop.  

NON-ROSTER INVITEE TO WATCH:
Mark Teahen is an interesting name here, as is Kila Ka'aihue, but I have to go with former Marlin and LSU quarterback Josh Booty.  He is not gonna make this team, but after winning MLB Network's "The Next Knuckler," Booty will return as a knuckleball pitcher and get a chance to throw an inning in a Spring Training game.


PROGNOSIS:
Behind an extremely strong pitching staff and a well balanced lineup, the D'Backs will definitely be in the hunt in a very difficult NL West.  The Dodgers have spent a ton of money to get a good team and the Giants are always there, so it will be tough, but the Diamondbacks will definitely hold their own.  If their young stars continue to progress and their pitching staff pitches how it should, this team could definitely win the West.  For now, with the Dodgers and Giants as strong as they are, we have the D'Backs finishing third, but look for them to make some noise in September and early October.

TWITTER ACCOUNT OF THE DAY:
Seriously guys, pay attention, we've said it like 100 times.  Go follow Brandon McCarthy @BMcCarthy32 and while you're add it, give his wife Amanda a follow, @Mrs_McCarthy32