Cleat Geeks

Pre-Season Preview; Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks finished last season starting in Australia and ending in last place. They started making moves at last years trade deadline and they continued to do so through the off-season, since opening day of last season to today there have been ?? personnel changes to the 25 man roster. Not to mention the fact that they also overhauled their front office and their on-field management staff. One of the most successful managers in Tony LaRussa is now calling the shots as the teams Chief Baseball Officer, De Jon Watson was also hired from the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as senior vice president/baseball operations. And together they brought in former pitcher who played under LaRussa in Oakland, Dave Stewart to be the General Manager. Then together they hired the 7th manager in the short history of the organization, Chip Hale. The 49-year-old managed in Arizona’s minor league system for six seasons and was with the Diamondbacks from 2007-09 in the first of eight consecutive seasons as a big league third base coach. He had a 12-year MLB playing career and also played at the University of Arizona and still lives in Tucson.

From left to right; General Manager Dave Stewart, Manager Chip Hale, and Chief Officer of Baseball Operations Tony LaRussa.

From left to right; General Manager Dave Stewart, Manager Chip Hale, and Chief Baseball Officer Tony LaRussa.

Diamondback Infield

Let’s start behind the plate, which is where the biggest question mark is in the infield for the 2015 season. Tuffy Gosewisch more than likely will get the majority of the playing time behind the dish despite the fact that he has 55 games of major league experience. His jersey number is 9 and he has 10 career major league RBI’s. The Diamondbacks say that they are going for more of a defensive catcher this season. But honestly, Tuffy is just crouching behind the plate waiting on the hidden dragon who is Peter O’Brien.

Diamondback 2nd baseman Aaron Hill.

Diamondback 2nd baseman Aaron Hill.

As we go around the rest of the infield, it looks pretty good. One that almost any other team would take. At 1st base you have the man with the biggest rattles on the Diamondbacks in Paul Goldschmidt. In the last 2 years he has been an All-Star twice, runner-up for NL MVP plus a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner. At 2nd you have Aaron Hill. He has been in the big leagues for 10 years with an above average career.  For that career he has a .270 batting average with 18 home runs and 37 doubles and 77 RBI’s. Now that they have traded Didi  away the full time shortstop gig will now be given to Chris Owings. The bad thing is that he has played only 111 games in 2 years with the big league club, but the good news is that in those 111 games he does have 97 hits and only 12 errors. So he both makes contact and fields his position well. Plus, he can adequately play either short or 2nd and should fit nicely into the 2 ole in the batting order. Then there is 3rd base. We have 2 possibilities here, Yasmany Tomas or Jake Lamb. Lamb had a small 37 game sample size last year in Arizona. He only had 1 error, yet only batted .230, but he only 23. Tomas he did well in Cuba, and Cubans have done well in MLB. But, you also hold your breath and say there has to be 1 bust sometime, and you just hope he is not it.

Diamondback Outfield

Arizona Diamondback center fielder saving a run timing his leap perfectly.

Arizona Diamondback center fielder saving a run timing his leap perfectly.

Center field is going to be manned by A.J. Pollock. He broke out last year batting .302, a .353 on base percentage and had more hits (80) than games played (75). In his 213 total games of major league experience he has a .994 fielding percentage and a 7.3 WAR. If he can get on base and then Chris Owings puts the bat on the ball, that should set things up well for the meat of their line-up. In left field lumbering around in the grass will be Mark Trumbo while his defense is questionable, his hard to find right-handed power is not. In his 5 years in the big leagues he has averaged 32 home runs and 102 RBI’s. He and Goldschmidt should make for a good 1-2 punch in the middle of the line-up. Right field is a toss up between the a fore mentioned Tomas and Ender Inciarte. In 118 games last year Inciarte 116 hits, 19 stolen bases, and 150 total bases.

Diamondback Starting Rotation

This is the glaring weak spot of the Diamondbacks. First and foremost the Diamondbacks need Patrick Corbin to regain his 2013 All-Star form. He went 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA with 3 complete games 208.1 innings pitched and a better than 3/1 strikeout to walk ratio with 178/54. If he can be the ace, then Jeremy Hellickson can then slot in as the #2. In his 5 year career he has had a ERA under 3.50 3 times. He has 2 complete games and an above 2/1 strikeout to walk rate of 463/210. After that it gets dicey. Josh Collmenter is the definition of an average pitcher.

Arizona starter Patrick Corbin.

Arizona starter Patrick Corbin.

His 162 game averages look like this, 10 wins 9 losses, 3.42 ERA with 172 innings. Although he does have a good 3/1 strikeout to walk ratio at 127/41. Then you have Trevor Cahill who the diamondbacks have paid $16.7 million dollars in 3 years and received 24 wins and 34 losses and is owed $12 million dollars this season. They do have 2 wild cards in Archie Bradley and Bronson Arroyo. The Diamondbacks have taken it slow with Bradley over the last couple seasons. But if he can take the #3 spot and Arroyo comes back healthy around mid-season the rotation has a chance to be above average. But, quite a lot has to fall correctly into place.

Diamondback Bullpen

The Diamondbacks traded for Addison Reed last off-season and he he had career worsts in almost every category. In his 3 years in the A.L. he averaged under a home run per 9 innings. With the Diamondbacks he gave up almost 2 home runs per 9 innings. They traded for some bullpen arms and had a decent bullpen last year as a whole, so this group and where they slot in will be interesting to watch unfold as spring training nears a close.

Diamondback bench

Their bench is also a good strength. They have veteran leadership in Cody Ross (but his contract is terrible at $9.5 million for a back-up outfielder) and Cliff Pennington with some talented youth sprinkled with Nick Ahmed and David Peralta.yasmanythomas

The Key

To me the key is Yasmany Tomas playing 3rd base. If he can do that Pennington can back him up. Lamb can get more seasoning in the minors and most importantly Inciarte can play right field. Inciarte is one of the few lefties they have and could split Goldschmidt and Trumbo. Plus from June til seasons end last year, Inciarte batted .292 with a 3.6 WAR. Both were better than Trumbo.

My Opinion

In a super tough Western division I so not think they will finish first. But they are improving and moving in the right direction with smart moves. They will not finish last and will hang around for the majority of the year.

One Comment

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    March 20, 2015 at 8:25 am

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