30 Clubs in 30 Days: Arizona Diamondbacks

Posted: March 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

Image2012 was a transition year for the Arizona Diamondbacks. After manager Kirk Gibson brought a 97 loss team in 2010 to the brink of the NLCS in 2011, offensive inconsistency and injuries to key players dropped the D-Backs down to .500 in 2012.

Ian Kennedy (15-12, 4.02), who emerged as a Cy Young candidate in 2011, toiled through some command problems. The right-hander hit a league leading 14 batters and lost a career high five consecutive starts in May. Behind him, the rotation relied heavily on new acquisition Trevor Cahill (13-12, 3.78) and rookie Wade Miley (16-11, 3.33), who represented Arizona in the All Star game. Veteran southpaw Joe Saunders (6-10, 4.22) left for Seattle this offseason.

The offense suffered due to down years from past key contributors. Justin Upton (.280-17-67), once considered the face of the franchise, continued to prove that he is not consistent enough to be a bona fide MLB superstar. His trials and tribulations, coupled with a large contract, were key contributors to the D-Backs’ decision to ship the 25-year old to Atlanta in a package that included Martin Prado and pitching prospect Randall Delgado.

Upton was not the only long-time Diamondbacks outfielder that departed this offseason. Chris Young (.231-14-41), a starter since 2007, saw the team’s patience finally run out. He was shipped to Oakland during the postseason in a three team deal that saw INF Cliff Pennington (.215-6-28) and RHP Heath Bell (4-5, 5.09) come to Arizona. The latter was an All-Star with San Diego before an ill-fated move to Miami left him on the chopping block. He will couple with veteran J.J. Putz (1-5, 2.82, 32 SV) to give the Diamondbacks the late game punch that they desired.

Arizona is not without impact performers offensively. C Miguel Montero (.286-15-88), 2B Aaron Hill (.302-26-85), and OF Jason Kubel (.253-30-90) are all veterans who played at an All-Star level in 2012. Expect free agent acquisition Cody Ross (.267-22-81) to also make a big impact this season. The Diamondbacks will couple these reliable stars with youngsters 1B Paul Goldschmidt (.286-20-82) and CF Adam Eaton (.259-2-5) to complete an intriguing lineup.

Five Year Review

2012: 81-81
Lost NLDS to Brewers, 3-2

2012 Team MVP: OF Jason Kubel: Considering how disappointing Chris Young and Justin Upton were in the outfield, the Diamondbacks had to be thanking their lucky stars that they went out and signed Kubel last winter. The 30-year old had spent much of his career as a DH in Minnesota, and always had good success against right handers (career .841 OPS). In 2012, the outfielder raised the bar, hitting 23 homers off right handers whilst maintaining a respectable .736 OPS vs. southpaws. His 30 home runs were a career high and, if the Diamondbacks had anyone at the top of the order with on-base skills, he likely would have set a career high in RBIs as well. Kubel is signed through 2013 with a team option for 2014 that, if he continues to perform like he did last year, will undoubtedly be exercised.

2012 Team LVP: SS Stephen Drew: A first round pick in 2004 and the brother of Tim and J.D., Stephen Drew’s career has gone a lot like his two brother’s did. He came into the league with Scott Boras at his side and rampant hype abound. Ten years later, he is known mostly as a disappointment whose career has been hamstrung by injuries. The 15th overall pick in 2004, Drew’s stock dropped precipitously due to the belief that he and Boras would be asking for top-dollar compensation. After being selected by Arizona, Drew made his MLB debut just two years later in 2006.

That year, the SS hit .316-5-23 in just 59 G. Over the next four years, Drew would play an average 147 games per year, hitting .268-15-63 per season. Not too shabby, but, certainly nothing to write home about. In 2011, the infielder suffered a gruesome ankle-injury that kept him out for 11 months. There were murmurs from the media and Arizona front office that Drew, a free agent to be after 2012, was not trying his hardest to return and help the Diamondbacks. Finally, he did return. In 40 games with Arizona, Drew looked terrible, hitting .193-2-12 in 135 at bats. Sick of the attitude and poor production, Arizona dealt Drew to Oakland in August. The 30-year old hit .250-5-16 in nearly the same amount of games before signing with the Red Sox in the offseason.

Key Acquisitions

C Rod Barajas (Pittsburgh Pirates)
1B Eric Hinske (Atlanta Braves)
SS Didi Gregorius (Cincinnati Reds)
3B Eric Chavez (New York Yankees)
3B Cliff Pennington (Oakland Athletics)
OF Cody Ross (Boston Red Sox)
OF Tony Campagna (Chicago Cubs)
OF/2B Martin Prado (Atlanta Braves)
RHP Heath Bell (Miami Marlins)
RHP Randall Delgado (Atlanta Braves)
RHP Brandon McCarthy (Oakland Athletics)
LHP Matt Reynolds (Colorado Rockies)
LHP Tony Sipp (Cleveland Indians)

Key Departures

C Henry Blanco (Toronto Blue Jays)
SS John McDonald (Pittsburgh Pirates)
3B Cody Ransom (San Diego Padres)
3B Ryan Wheeler (Colorado Rockies)
3B Chris Johnson (Atlanta Braves)
CF Chris Young (Oakland Athletics)
RF Justin Upton (Atlanta Braves)
RHP Brad Bergesen (unsigned)
RHP Matt Lindstrom (Chicago White Sox)
RHP Takashi Saito (Japan)
RHP Matt Albers (Cleveland Indians)
RHP Trevor Bauer (Cleveland Indians)
RHP Bryan Shaw (Cleveland Indians)

Projected Lineup/Rotation (w/composite 2013 projections):

CF Adam Eaton – .290-7-44, 24 SB
3B Martin Prado – .292-12-69
2B Aaron Hill – .268-19-72, 11 SB
C Miguel Montero – .267-14-68
1B Paul Goldschmidt – .271-25-87, 12 SB
RF Jason Kubel – .259-22-73
LF Cody Ross – .258-18-65
SS Cliff Pennington – .256-6-42, 15 SB

RHP Ian Kennedy – 13-9, 3.75
RHP Trevor Cahill – 13-11, 3.86
LHP Wade Miley – 11-11, 4.14
RHP Brandon McCarthy – 9-8, 3.84
LHP Tyler Skaggs – 8-9, 4.41

RHP J.J. Putz – 3-2, 2.85, 30 SV
RHP Heath Bell – 3-2, 3.57, 3 SV

2013 Outlook

The Diamondbacks went through a major upheaval this offseason, ditching the core that got them two playoff berths since 2007. In their stay is a young team with great potential. Adam Eaton, the team’s #3 prospect, shares a name with one of the worst Philadelphia pitchers of this era. But, he is certainly more talented. Goldschmidt is another very special youngster who is primed for a break out campaign.

The rotation is deep. Tyler Skaggs, Pat Corbin, Randall Delgado, and Zeke Spruill are all very young prospects who could make an appearance at Chase Field this year. One has to like a team’s chances in the future when they have that many young, MLB ready arms at one time. Daniel Hudson, who has pitched like an ace in the past, underwent Tommy John surgery last July and is likely to miss at least half the season. Once he returns, the Diamondbacks will likely boast the deepest starting rotation in the National League.

All in all, this was an offseason based on building for both the present and the future. This is no further exemplified than with the Upton deal, where the Diamondbacks got talented prospects like Delgado coupled with veteran pieces like Prado, who was resigned shortly after the deal. I foresee the Diamondbacks surprising some folks and winning between 82-88 games. This is still a strong ballclub who should compete for the Wild Card once again in 2013.

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