Arizona Diamondbacks Preview
With the fourth team in the National League West, and likely the most disappointing team in all of baseball last season, the Arizona Diamondbacks. After bringing in starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to go along with a good group of position players, expectations in Arizona were the postseason, and in the rest of the country were to at least fight for a spot. However, a 69-93 record that was one game ahead of a last place finish in the conference (and division) doesn't echo those expectations, and the Diamondbacks are once again, trying to rebuild.
PROJECTED ROTATION: Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, Archie Bradley
This rotation was among the worst in baseball last year, and with names like Greinke and Miller atop the rotation, it is almost unbelievable that it was the case. Just a year prior, Greinke was among the candidates for a Cy Young award, and Miller was brought in for numerous high level prospects, and yet both struggled. Greinke calmed down and became more consistent, but Miller finished with an ERA above six, and a 3-12 record. If both bounce back, newcomer Taijuan Walker has the potential to be an ace, and could help this rotation stabilize. Robbie Ray is the second most consistent starter they kept, and Archie Bradley was once a top prospect for the Diamondbacks. They have relative rotation depth, including Braden Shipley, Steve Hathaway and number two prospect Anthony Banda. Non-roster invitee Rubby De La Rosa is also in camp.
BULLPEN: Fernando Rodney (CL), Randall Delgado, Patrick Corbin, Enrique Burgos, Josh Collmenter, Matt Koch, Andrew Chafin
If you thought the rotation was bad, this bullpen was even worse, and was left worse off now. Fernando Rodney is the closer by default, but his skill level since his dynamic seasons in Tampa Bay a few years ago has gone down a lot. When you get rid of your top three relievers, this is expected, but converted starter Randall Delgado is their most consistent arm, and his ERA was at 4.44 in 79 appearances. Corbin, Collmenter and Koch are all converted starters too, but they are no better than average middle relievers. After them, I really felt forced to put in Burgos and Chafin, but by no means are their jobs secure. Silvino Bracho and Zack Godley are the other options, along with starters who don't make the rotation.
CATCHERS: Chris Iannetta, Jeff Mathis, Chris Herrmann
Catcher has been a problem in Arizona for what seems like forever, but if they only value experience, they have it, as Iannetta and Mathis have tons of experience behind the plate. Iannetta is the hitting catcher, and Mathis is the defensive catcher, although I thought both looked washed up last season. Chris Herrmann had a nice offensive season last year prior to his injury, and he can also play first base and in the outfield. Non-roster invitee Josh Thole is also a candidate for the roster.
INFIELDERS: Paul Goldschimdt, Jake Lamb, Brandon Drury, Ketel Marte, Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed
Paul Goldschmidt is an all-world first baseman, and if he were ever to become trade bait I'm sure teams would give up half of the farm system to get him. I'm not serious, but he still has had a great career to this point. Jake Lamb is the guy at third base, but it is the middle of the infield that is unsettled. Converted outfielder Brandon Drury looks to be the favorite at second, while shortstops Chris Owings, Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed all are looking to replace Jean Segura at short. My money is on Marte, mainly due to the underachieving of Owings and Ahmed thus far. Phil Gosselin is the main contender for a roster spot, along with prospects Dawel Lugo, Domingo Leyba and Jack Reinheimer.
OUTFIELDERS: AJ Pollock, David Peralta, Yasmany Tomas, Jeremy Hazelbaker
This group is pretty set, and with the abilities of both Owings and Herrmann to play here as well, only four outfielders are really necessary. AJ Pollock and David Peralta are both good hitters, and are looking to bounce back from injury plagued 2016 seasons. Tomas led the team in home runs last year with 31, and assuming both Pollock and Peralta return to form, this outfield group should be the strength of the roster. Jeremy Hazelbaker had a nice rookie campaign in St. Louis, and has the edge for now for the fourth outfield spot. Top prospect Socrates Brito is not far away from regular playing time, and non-roster invitees Gregor Blanco and Oswaldo Arcia are both capable of making the roster.
LINEUP: Marte (SS), Pollock (CF), Goldschmidt (1B), Peralta (LF), Tomas (RF), Lamb (3B), Drury (2B), Iannetta (C)
The new additions are what can make this lineup from a decent group into a great group, assuming everybody is at full health. The key for the Diamondbacks to find any sort of contention, however, is with the rotation and the bullpen. If they pitch as a group just as bad as they did last year, even with a Cy Young caliber season from Greinke, they won't push past 75 wins. The Diamondbacks had a ton of injuries, and that played a factor, but the players who were out there weren't getting the job done. I think they will all do better, but the talent isn't there like some people think it is, and I'm going with 77 wins.