By: Adam Pasternak
After an incredibly eventful offseason, Spring Training is finally here! The players have all reported to their respective Spring Training facilities and the 2016 MLB season is only a month and a half away. Over the next couple of weeks we will cover all 30 MLB teams and talk about what’s in store for the coming season. Today, we talk about the Arizona Diamondbacks!
Entering this year’s Spring Training, the Arizona Diamondbacks are much improved and have people thinking that they could make a push for the postseason this year. They had a busy offseason, acquiring ace Zack Greinke and star in the making, Shelby Miller. To get those two players though, it cost them a lot, in both money and prospects, and only time will tell if it was worth it.
The D-Backs quest to knock off the defending NL West champion’s, the L.A Dodgers, all starts with ex-Dodger, and now D-Backs ace, Zack Greinke. Mr. Greinke signed an enormous 6 year, $206.5M contract with Arizona, switching alliances in the NL’s West Division. He looks to lead a much improved D-Backs starting rotation, and there is no reason for him not to perform. Sometimes in these high pressure situations after signing huge contracts, players can succumb to the pressure and ultimately fail. In Greinke’s situation it looks to be different. He’s coming into a solid clubhouse with a few established stars in the league. They all have pressure on them to bring this team out of the basement and back to glory. The pressure is spread around this Diamondbacks team, and the veteran leaders (including Greinke) should all be able to rally around one another and make a strong push against the Dodgers.
The next big acquisition the D-Backs made was the trade for starting pitcher, Shelby Miller. They were forced to part with former #1 overall pick and future star shortstop, Dansby Swanson, among other prospects in the deal. Many people in the baseball world questioned the thought process behind this deal. They also had to part with the promising LF, Ender Inciarte, who brings more value in terms of Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Yeah, your getting a star in the making in Shelby Miller, but already having spent over $200M on Greinke to improve your team – why give up the shortstop of the future and other prospects? Don’t get me wrong, Shelby Miller is going to be great for them, but I don’t think it will end up being worth giving up what they did to get him. Regardless, their rotation is now one of the best in baseball – rounded out by Patrick Corbin, Ruby De La Rosa and Robby Ray. Ex-top prospect, Archie Bradley, should eventually come back into the picture after taking a line drive to the face in a game last year against the Rockies. When he does, it will be interesting to see where he fits in.
The D-Backs bullpen is pretty much the same as last season’s, minus the addition of Tyler Clippard, who last pitched for the Mets and Nationals last year. He looks poised to be the setup man, with Brad Ziegler penciled in as the closer to start the year. The bullpen is a good mesh of young, fresh arms and veteran experience. The ageless Daniel Hudson, Matt Reynolds and the aforementioned Tyler Clippard are clearly the most experienced of the group, and when in tough situations, you can expect to see manager Chip Hale to turn to his experienced arms.
As for the position players, star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, is back again and looking to build on a very impressive year in 2015 that saw him in MVP contention. Across the infield at third base is the 25 year-old Jake Lamb, who will enter his first full year in the majors. The only way he loses the starting job is if he has a slow spring, and so it will be interesting to see how he plays as the rest of Spring Training goes on. At shortstop is newly the acquired Jean Segura, who was acquired for Aaron Hill and a few prospects. If he can find his rookie season form that he displayed two years ago, the Diamondbacks will benefit tremendously. At second base is 24 year-old Chris Owings. Taking over for Aaron Hill, Owings enters his first season in a starting role. As one would assume, second base is a position the Diamondbacks will look to improve. It is essentially their only week spot in the infield and if they want to take that next step, either Owings will have to play like an all-star, or they will have to make a move down the road. They also have veteran second baseman, Rickie Weeks, in camp this Spring and it will be interesting to see if he can make a push for a roster spot and possibly take that starting spot away from Owings. However, that is extremely unlikely.
The outfield remains essentially unchanged, as Yasmany Tomas will now get the start in left joining A.J Pollock in centre and David Peralta in right. These three players all can put up huge offensive numbers, and will be integral parts of the D-Backs success this coming season. A.J Pollock is coming off a 37 home run season last year and Peralta hit 25 homers and 125 RBI. If these two guys can produce at this level again this year, combined with Goldschmidt’s offense and the quality pitching that Greinke and Miller should bring them – the D-Backs look like yet another threat in the difficult NL West.
Things are changing in the desert and with the new jerseys and new players, D-Backs fans have every reason to be excited!
What did you think of Arizona’s offseason? Were they right to trade their future for the present? Will these moves haunt them in the end? Comment below!
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