The Diamondbacks completed a miraculous transformation from 2010 to 2011, going from last in the division to first. Their attack was led by a good, young starting rotation, and a potent offense led by MVP candidate Justin Upton. GM Kevin Towers tinkered with his team this offseason, and manager Kirk Gibson has an extremely talented young squad that is looking to repeat as NL West champions.
Depth Chart (as of 3/26)
C: Miguel Montero
1B: Paul Goldschmidt
2B: Aaron Hill
SS: Willie Bloomquist
3B: Ryan Roberts
LF: Jason Kubel
CF: Chris Young
RF: Justin Upton
SP: Ian Kennedy
SP: Trevor Cahill
SP: Daniel Hudson
SP: Joe Saunders
SP: Josh Collmenter
CL: JJ Putz
Jason Kubel is the team’s new left fielder, a move that many (myself included) criticized with the presence of the fabulous defensive stylings (and adequate bat) of Gerardo Parra in left last season. Arizona also picked up a new stud starting pitcher in former A’s hurler Trevor Cahill, for a package highlighted by potential ace Jarrod Parker. Arizona also strengthened their bullpen by bringing in veteran Takashi Saito.
Parker was the highlight of the Cahill deal, but fourth outfielder Collin Cowgill was also included in the deal. Arizona didn’t lose any starters from their team this offseason, with just quasi-utility man Xavier Nady and failed fifth starter candidates Jason Marquis, Zach Duke, and Micah Owings leaving town.
With a pair of soft tossers at the back-end of the Diamondbacks rotation in Joe Saunders and Josh Collmenter, there’s a reasonable chance that those two will lose their jobs, with stud prospect Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer waiting in the wings. If Arizona decides that those two are still a little raw, Pat Corbin and Wade Miley could get the first shot at rotation jobs.
Nothing overly exciting here. Willie Bloomquist is a placeholder at shortstop until Stephen Drew is fully healed from a broken ankle suffered last year, but Bloomquist could lose playing time to the defensive-minded John McDonald until Drew is ready to roll. I still think Parra could eat playing time from Kubel (especially when Arizona is playing in AL parks during interleague play), but Kubel’s contract will likely prevent that from happening.
Drew’s broken ankle will probably necessitate him missing some time, but he’s clearly the starting shortstop, and won’t lose any playing time when he’s healthy. Arizona has had a healthy spring outside of Drew.
Who is a better comparison for Paul Goldschmidt: Ryan Howard, or Mark Reynoldsr?
Arizona pretty much does what it does last year, and suffocates the rest of the NL West with its youth and talent. Justin Upton wins the MVP award, Goldschmidt hits 40 homers, and the Kennedy-Cahill-Hudson trio wins 55 games at the top of the rotation.
Cahill struggles in his transition to the National League, Goldschmidt looks like Mark Reynolds (part two), Kubel is a disaster defensively in left, Drew misses half the season with his ankle, and Aaron Hill looks like the guy he’s been for the past couple of seasons with the Blue Jays (which is not good). The Diamondbacks are involved in a dogfight in the NL West with teams much less talented than they are.
I really think this is the best team in the division, and it’s not even close. If everything goes according to plan, the Diamondbacks will cruise to a division title. But you know how baseball goes sometimes…not everything happens the way it’s supposed to.