Thursday, March 1, 2012

30 Teams in 30 Days: Arizona Diamondbacks

2011 Record: 94-68

Key Additions: Trevor Cahill (P), Jason Kubel (OF), Craig Breslow (P), Lyle Overbay (P), Takashi Saito (P)

Subtractions: Collin Cowgill (OF), Jason Marquis (P), Juan Gutierrez (P), Jarrod Parker (P)

2012 Outlook
Last year, the Diamondbacks were one of baseball’s biggest surprises, coming out of nowhere to win the NL West, behind second year manager Kirk Gibson. This year, they look to return to the playoffs again, and there is a good chance that they will if studs Ian Kennedy, Justin Upton, and Daniel Hudson play at the high level that they did last year. Upton, who is one of the best young hitters in the game, is coming off a great year in which he hit .289 with 31 long bombs. If the D-backs want to win the West again in 2012, he needs to continue to perform like a top tier player. Arizona’s offence is deep, featuring key players Miguel Montero, Chris Young, and Jason Kubel, and should be a top ten threat in the MLB. The only concern with this group is the health of Stephen Drew. Drew underwent ankle surgery this offseason, and is hoping to be ready by opening day. If his ankle does not recover fully, Arizona will have a tough job replacing him at short.

The Diamondback’s rotation looks to be above average this year. Kennedy and Hudson are joined by Trevor Cahill, Joe Saunders, and Josh Collmenter. Cahill is a great addition who should solidify the rotation, but he came at a high price, as the D-backs had to give away MLB ready prospect Jarrod Parker. His numbers may take a hit, as he moves from a pitchers park in Oakland to a hitters park in Arizona. It should also be noted that Kennedy will probably take a step back after going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA last year, but he still should be Arizona’s best pitcher. Saunders and Collementer make up the back end of the rotation. If anyone falters, top prospect Trevor Bauer is waiting in the wings, and although he will start the year in Triple-A, he should be up by midseason.

J.J. Putz and David Hernandez will anchor what looks to be an average to bellow average bullpen. If the Diamondbacks are in the playoff hunt in July, you can count on GM Kevin Towers to add another arm if necessary.

Arizona has decent bench depth. Gerardo Parra is good enough to be an everyday player, and former Jays Lyle Overbay and John MacDonald will be solid backups defensively, if not offensively.

The Final Count: 92-70, First in NL West
The Diamondbacks will win their division again. The NL West is one of baseballs weaker divisions, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have enough firepower to take it. They have a good team with a talented, young core. This, their shrewd moves this offseason, and the lack of improvement by the other teams in their division makes Arizona a shoe in to be in the playoffs at the end of the season.

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