Skip to content

2014 Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks

Mar 17, 2014, 6:02 PM EDT

Towers Gibson AP AP

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2014 season. Next up: The Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Big Question: Can the Diamondbacks withstand the injury to Patrick Corbin and get over the .500 mark?

The Diamondbacks won 94 games in 2011, the first year that general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson were paired together, but the team has underperformed expectations since. Towers attempted to remake the team in the (gritty) image of his manager last offseason, most notably by dealing Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to the Braves for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, and a trio of prospects. However, his bold moves didn’t make much of a difference in the standings, as the club finished at 81-81 for a second straight year.

While Towers attempted to make a splash on the free agent market this winter, most of his moves were once again made through significant trades. The big one was a three-team deal that brought Mark Trumbo to Arizona and sent Tyler Skaggs to the Angels and Adam Eaton to the White Sox. He later made another deal with Chicago, this time dealing third base prospect Matt Davidson in exchange for closer Addison Reed. After trying to acquire a frontline starting pitcher for most of the winter, the club added Bronson Arroyo on a two-year, $19 million contract last month.

Will these moves be enough to challenge the rival Dodgers for the NL West crown? Realistically, no. And let’s face it, they probably wouldn’t have been favored even if they did land Masahiro Tanaka, David Price, or Jeff Samardzija. However, Towers’ inability to acquire a frontline starter this offseason stands out even more now that Patrick Corbin has a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, setting up the possibility of season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Without Corbin, the Diamondbacks project to begin the year with a rotation of Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Brandon McCarthy, Bronson Arroyo, and Randall Delgado. Decent, but it doesn’t exactly scream playoffs. As for the lineup, Trumbo and last year’s NL MVP runner-up Paul Goldschmidt should provide plenty of thump in the middle of the order. Trumbo still has his flaws, as he doesn’t get on base often and figures to be a poor defender in the outfield. Fortunately for Arizona’s pitchers, A.J. Pollock and Gerardo Parra can cover a lot of ground. Martin Prado continues to fly under the radar on both sides of the ball while Aaron Hill should be an asset if he’s healthy and Miguel Montero should be a pretty good bet for a rebound. This is an interesting team, but make no mistake, the Corbin injury takes some wind out of their sails.

What else is going on?

  • Top pitching prospect Archie Bradley has been the talk of camp this spring and Corbin’s injury makes it more likely that he’ll see significant time in the majors this year. The 21-year-old right-hander posted a 1.84 ERA and 162 strikeouts over 152 innings last season between High-A Visalia and Double-A Mobile and was recently ranked as the No. 9 prospect in the game by Baseball America. His command is said to be a work in progress, but it might not be long before we see him in the majors. My guess is it could happen as soon as the end of April.
  • The Diamondbacks are currently holding a competition between Didi Gregorius and prospect Chris Owings for the starting shortstop job. Gregorius, who was acquired from the Reds last winter in a three-team trade, hit .252/.332/.373 with seven home runs and 28 RBI in 103 games as a rookie last year and provided solid defense at shortstop. Owings, who is more known for his bat, is reportedly the favorite at this time. Whoever loses the battle could begin the season in the minors, though it’s possible one of them could be traded. The Mets and Tigers are among the teams who could inquire.
  • Arizona’s bullpen was in a state of flux for much of last season, as they used three different pitchers (J.J. Putz, Heath Bell, and Brad Ziegler) out of the closer role and their relievers tied for the major league lead with 29 blown saves. Ziegler actually enjoyed success as the closer despite a low strikeout rate, but Towers acquired a more traditional swing-and-miss option over the winter in Addison Reed. While some worry about Reed’s fly ball rate in the desert, he has survived in a hitter-friendly ballpark before and the Diamondbacks are better off having Ziegler available for high-leverage situations in the seventh and eighth innings when they really need a ground ball.
  • The Diamondbacks declined their 2015 options on Towers and Gibson after last season, which effectively set them up for lame duck status this year. Team brass apparently wasn’t comfortable with the perception and possible distractions involved, as they had a change of heart and extended the contracts for both of them. Exact terms weren’t announced, but we’ll likely hear more speculation about their job status if they miss the playoffs or take a step back this year.

Prediction: The offense should be there, but the rotation isn’t anything special and you can’t count on Bradley to be a savior. Fourth place, NL West.

Latest Posts
  1. Rockies take John Axford out of the closer’s role

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:55 PM EDT

    John Axford John Axford

    John Axford has allowed runs in five consecutive appearances, blowing four saves. He’s out as the Rockies’ closer for now.

  2. There IS crying in baseball. Wilmer Flores hit a walk-off home run!

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:27 PM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJ Getty Images

    Wilmer Flores: your feel-good story of the year.

  3. The Orioles designated Bud Norris for assignment

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:20 PM EDT

    Bud Norris Bud Norris

    The Orioles designated struggling Orioles pitcher Bud Norris for assignment to make room for new outfielder Gerardo Parra on Friday.

  4. Mark Melancon owes Starling Marte a nice steak dinner

    Jul 31, 2015, 10:52 PM EDT

    Starling Marte Starling Marte

    Starling Marte’s defense prevented Mark Melancon from blowing a save and potentially taking a loss.

  5. Angels place C.J. Wilson on the disabled list with elbow inflammation

    Jul 31, 2015, 10:35 PM EDT

    C.J. Wilson Getty Images

    The Angels lose C.J. Wilson to an injury but are expected to get Jered Weaver back.

  6. The benches cleared in Friday’s Giants-Rangers game

    Jul 31, 2015, 9:53 PM EDT

    Madison Bumgarner Madison Bumgarner

    Madison Bumgarner was upset Delino DeShields was upset.

  7. Giants place Tim Hudson on the disabled list with a shoulder strain

    Jul 31, 2015, 9:35 PM EDT

    Tim Hudson Getty Images

    The Giants placed Tim Hudson on the disabled list, which created room on the roster for incoming pitcher Mike Leake.

  8. Pirates place A.J. Burnett on the disabled list with elbow inflammation

    Jul 31, 2015, 8:55 PM EDT

    A.J. Burnett A.J. Burnett

    A.J. Burnett hits the DL with an elbow issue. Recently-acquired pitcher J.A. Happ will take his spot in the rotation.

  9. Report: Padres asked Diamondbacks for Paul Goldschmidt in a Craig Kimbrel trade

    Jul 31, 2015, 8:28 PM EDT

    Paul Goldschmidt Paul Goldschmidt

    Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart laughed when he recalled the Padres asking for Paul Goldschmidt in return in a potential trade involving Craig Kimbrel.

  10. Video: Kendrys Morales avoids tag at the plate with a nifty slide

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT

    Kendrys Morales Kendrys Morales

    Kendrys Morales is more nimble than we give him credit for being.

  11. Yankees prospect Luis Severino’s next start will be his major league debut

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT

    Luis Severino Getty Images

    Yankees pitching prospect Luis Severino will make his major league debut within the next week.

  12. Clayton Kershaw scratched from Friday’s start against the Angels

    Jul 31, 2015, 6:14 PM EDT

    Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw

    Clayton Kershaw has been scratched from a start yet again due to a hip problem.

  13. The Winners and Losers at the Trade Deadline

    Jul 31, 2015, 5:37 PM EDT

    Cole Hamels Getty Images

    Yes, I realize it’s silly to do this an hour after the trade deadline, as time is required to see how this stuff truly shakes out. But what is the Internet for if not kneejerk reactions?

  14. Pirates acquire left-hander J.A. Happ from Mariners

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:33 PM EDT

    J.A. Happ AP

    J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton, reunited.

  15. Pirates pick up Michael Morse from the Dodgers for Jose Tabata

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Michael Morse Marlins Getty Images

    He was DFA’d by the Dodgers as soon as they got him but he may platoon at 1B for Pittsburgh.

  16. So, the Padres sure did a whole lot of nothin’, eh?

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:20 PM EDT

    San Diego Padres Logo

    People thought they’d make four or five trades. They ended up doing nothing.

  17. 2015 MLB Trade Deadline Tracker

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Detroit Tigers v Seattle Mariners Detroit Tigers v Seattle Mariners

    We’re recapping all of the deals as they come down.

  18. Report: Yoenis Cespedes heading to the New York Mets

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:59 PM EDT

    cespedes getty Getty Images

    The Mets add a big bat to their anemic offense. And they don’t have to part with Zack Wheeler to do it.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. C. Hamels (5432)
  2. C. Gomez (5007)
  3. T. Tulowitzki (4188)
  4. M. Trout (3875)
  5. J. Cueto (3834)
  1. D. Price (3438)
  2. A. Rodriguez (3400)
  3. Y. Cespedes (3279)
  4. T. Clippard (3206)
  5. J. Bruce (3192)