After a fantastic season in 2011, the 2012 campaign proved to be quite the letdown for the Arizona Diamondbacks. They were middle-of-the-road as far as their offense goes, in nearly every statistical category. Same goes for their pitching, where they hovered around the middle of the league in every category there as well. Which is a pretty good indicator of why they finished right at .500 last season. Heading into 2013, this is a team with a bit of a new look. They've added some new faces all over the diamond, both in the field and in the rotation, in hopes of competing with the likes of the Dodgers and the Giants for the National League West crown.
Depth Chart (as of 3/20)
C: Miguel Montero
1B: Paul Goldschmidt
2B: Aaron Hill
SS: Cliff Pennington
3B: Martin Prado
LF: Jason Kubel
CF: Adam Eaton
RF: Cody Ross
SP: Ian Kennedy
SP: Trevor Cahill
SP: Wade Miley
SP: Brandon McCarthy
SP: Patrick Corbin
CL: J.J. Putz
This is a team that brought in quite a few new names over the course of the winter, both through free agency and through trades. In free agency, the Diamondbacks brought in Cody Ross, which surprised folks and pretty much officially punched Justin Upton's ticket out of town. They also added Brandon McCarthy. As far as the trading game goes, the big addition was Martin Prado, who was part of the Upton trade (as well as Randall Delgado). They also added Cliff Pennington, Heath Bell, and Didi Gregorius, the latter of which was part of the Trevor Bauer deal.
Two-thirds of the starting outfield from last year are gone. Chris Young was shipped up to Oakland and Justin Upton joined his brother with the Atlanta Braves. Chris Johnson was also part of the Upton deal, after playing a pretty solid third base for the D-Backs last season. The Diamondbacks decided that whatever was going on in Trevor Bauer's head was just too much to handle and shipped him off to Cleveland.
The big name here to watch is going to be Adam Eaton, who is already a fan favorite as the Diamondbacks' starting centerfielder. Eaton appeared in 22 games towards the end of last season and really pushed the guys out there for playing time. He's fast and he gets on base. He's the type of guy that will drive the other team nuts. He's not expected to be any sort of Rookie of the Year candidate, as of right now at least, but he'll bring some excitement to this lineup for sure in 2013.
The fifth spot in the starting rotation is up for grabs, at least until Daniel Hudson returns from his recovery from Tommy John. Tyler Skaggs was recently sent down, which leaves the battle between Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado. Neither one has extensive MLB experience, but Corbin may have a slight edge over Delgado due to their performances this spring. Corbin has a 3.68 ERA in 14+ innings this spring, while Delgado has an ERA over five in just 12 innings of work. The edge now goes to Corbin, but the spring isn't over quite yet.
Wade Miley had an issue with a dead arm already in spring training. Cody Ross has a leg strain that could keep him out for Opening Day and could end up nagging him for quite a bit. Brandon McCarthy is a walking injury concern. Luckily for the Diamondbacks, though, they have a pretty solid team overall, as far as their health is concerned.
Can the Diamondbacks' new-look outfield effectively replace Chris Young & Justin Upton?
Paul Goldschmidt becomes an MVP candidate. Ian Kennedy returns to form and the rotation goes on to become one of the best in baseball, backed by an incredibly solid bullpen. Adam Eaton makes a run at the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Goldschmidt, Aaron Hill, and Miguel Montero are all All Stars. Regardless of how well things work out, it's still tough to put them over Los Angeles or San Francisco. Wild card lock, though.
Paul Goldschmidt and Aaron Hill take steps back. The rotation continues to display the same inconsistency that plagued them last season. Trading Young and Upton proves to be a massive dent in their power numbers that the Diamondbacks are unable to make up. A combination of all of these factors leads to the Diamondbacks finishing in fourth in the NL West.
The Diamondbacks are in a really tough division. They have the largest payroll in baseball and the defending World Champions in front of them. Contending won't be easy. Assuming they stay healthy, the rotation is more consistent, and key guys take steps forward, this is a team that can absolutely challenge for a wild card spot. Once they're in the playoffs, you never know what can happen.