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Plucky Diamondbacks can’t count on a repeat performance

Oct 7, 2011, 10:00 PM EDT

Justin Upton celebrates his solo home run against the Milwaukee Brewers with teammate Roberts in Milwaukee Reuters

They were the comeback kids of 2011: the Diamondbacks won a major league-high 48 games in which they were trailing on their way to the NL West crown.

Too bad that’s not the kind of thing a team can count on carrying over from year to year.

Ian Kennedy, Miguel Montero, Ryan Roberts, Josh Collmenter, Gerardo Parra all might have had career seasons for Arizona. Starting pitchers Daniel Hudson and Joe Saunders likewise exceeded expectations, and the team’s best hitter, Justin Upton, played in 159 games after missing significant time in each of his first three seasons.

It’s not that everything went right for the Diamondbacks; Stephen Drew‘s injury was a big inconvenience and the team got little from first base and second base for much of the season.

But more went right than anyone would have counted on six months ago, which is why Kirk Gibson is very likely to be named the NL’s Manager of the Year after the World Series.

It’s not going out on a limb to suggest that things won’t break so well in 2012. Kennedy could be excellent again and still not win 21 games. Roberts is a flawed player, one who will probably need to be returned to a utility role as next year goes along. Collmenter’s funky delivery and two-pitch arsenal probably won’t fool so many hitters.

So, the Diamondbacks need to be aggressive. Adding a legitimate No. 3 starter to pitch behind Kennedy and Hudson has to be the priority. Top prospect Jarrod Parker may be that pitcher as the season goes along, but it’d be for the best if he can start the year in the minors.

The Diamondbacks will also address second base, whether it’s in re-signing free agent Aaron Hill or looking elsewhere. They don’t need to do a whole lot else for the offense. Paul Goldschmidt looks like the answer at first. I’m not sure Parra will hit so well again, but he’s a nice option in left field while he’s cheap. Besides the second baseman, they really just need a solid player to pair with Roberts.

Arizona will likely enter 2012 as the favorites in the NL West, but that simply doesn’t count for much. Let’s hope owner Ken Kendrick untightens the purse strings some more in an effort to keep the Diamondbacks on top.

  1. dailyrev - Oct 8, 2011 at 12:27 AM

    Well, we’ve seen how the prognosticators fared this season. Virtually everyone had the Sawx winning it all; the Yankees were expected to be relative weaklings in their division; few saw the Brew rising (yay, a Morgan-Carpenter rematch with the pennant on the line!); and few saw the Tiggers ready to roar.

    I don’t see much hindering the Snakes from repeating. The Giants would have to find some offense and/or the Dodgers would have to right their owner-ship in time to beef up some (a Prince-type LH hitter behind Kemp and one more quality starter for the middle/back of the rotation). Those are enormous tasks, so the Snakes have comparatively little to do to take control of that div again.

    • txnative61 - Oct 8, 2011 at 7:02 AM

      Luckily prognosticators don’t often play in games. As recently as two days ago few had the Cards or Tiggers as Pennant contenders. Add the Pads to the NL West, and every game, season, and series starts at 0-0. Let’s hear it for parity!!! Why else play the games?

  2. baseballisboring - Oct 8, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    They definitely over-achieved. Further proof, if you needed any, that baseball > most other worldly things. But they have a pretty decent, pretty young core. I think they could definitely patch a few holes this offseason and stay competitive for a while. The NL West ain’t exactly the AL East.

    • txnative61 - Oct 8, 2011 at 7:21 AM

      Thank Gawwd!! The Yanks, Rays, and Bosox have earned their rest, as have we fans from the rest of country.

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