2014 MLB PREVIEW: ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
March 4, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
The Diamondbacks will be under the microscope of ownership in 2014 and that doesn’t bode well for GM Kevin Towers and Manager Kirk Gibson. Arizona finished .500 for the second straight season, after winning 94 games in 2011. Losing or staying mediocre is not an option with owner Ken Kendrick. Kendrick wants to win he wants to win now so he didn’t offer Towers or Gibson contract extensions.
With the pressure on Towers, he made several deals in the off-season that may be considered “panic mode”. Towers shipped away some very good young talent that had plenty of upside including a potential #2 starter in Tyler Skaggs.
STARTING PITCHING: Patrick Corbin showed why he is quickly becoming one of the best in baseball. Corbin won 14 games by using his sinker and slider effectively and His 70% first strike ratio was the best in the NL. Corbin also commands the strike zone with a two-and-four seam fastball in the low-to-mid 90’s. Joining Corbin will be Right hander Trevor Cahill who suffered a hip injury last season and spent six weeks on the DL. Cahill has an excellent sinker with a groundball percentage of 71. Lefty Wade Miley loves to pitch hitters inside with his fastball and go away with his change-up. Miley went 10-10 with an ERA of 3.55 in 2013. Also joining the mix will be Randall Delgado, another young athletic pitcher with an excellent change-up and Brandon McCarthy who is coming back from a sore shoulder.
RELIEF PITCHING: Arizona acquired closer Addison Reed from the White Sox after the Diamondbacks bullpen blew 29 save opportunities. Reed had 40 saves in 2013 thanks to an above average fastball and a nasty slider. Joining Reed will be Brad Ziegler and J.J. Putz. Ziegler threw in 78 games in 2013, winning eight and saving 13. Putz is a hard-throwing right hander who will try to overpower hitters with his mid-90’s fastball and his splitter. Veteran David Hernandez held right handed hitters to a .198 average with his slider and sinker pitches. Also looking for relief innings will be Josh Collmenter and Joe Thatcher.
INFIELD: Manager Kirk Gibson will look for Catcher Miguel Montero to be healthy in 2014. Montero’s numbers were down last season trying to play through back pain. When he is healthy, Montero is the type of hitter who can drive the ball to all fields and gets on base 34.5% of the time. Arizona needs Montero behind the plate because of his “take charge” attitude and the pitching staff trusts him. Tuffy Gosewisch will be the back-up to Montero.
1B Paul Goldschmidt is becoming one of baseball’s most dangerous hitter after finishing 2nd in the NL MVP voting in 2013. Goldschmidt led the league in SLG% (.551), OPS (.952), and RBI (125). He also hit .302 with 36 HR’s. He isn’t just a great hitter after adding a Gold Glove to his resume’. 2B Aaron Hill is hoping to have an injury free season after missing 63 games last year. Hill will be penciled in as the #2 hitter because of his ability to put the ball in play and his potential to hit 20 plus HR’s and drive in 80 on a regular basis. Didi Gregorius will have a battle at SS with Chris Owings. Gregorius is an excellent defensive shortstop but hit only .252 in 2013. Owings was the MVP of the PCL last year and is a much better hitter. Martin Prado is expected to start at 3B. He isn’t flashy but he is reliable and hit 14 HR’s with 82 RBI last season.
OUTFIELD: Mark Trumbo was acquired from the Angels in the off-season and will bring much need power to the Arizona line-up. Trumbo has hit 95 HR’s over the last three seasons including 34 in 2013. Trumbo is also an RBI man after driving in 100, a career high last year. He should flourish hitting in Arizona’s ballpark. The downside for Trumbo is his batting average (.234) and strikeouts (184). CF belongs to A.J. Pollack who can spray the ball to all fields and is an excellent defensive outfielder. Gerardo Parra won his 2nd Gold Glove and set a club record with 17 assists in 2013. Parra is a quality left-handed hitter against right-handers (.297) but struggles against left-handers (.198). Cody Ross will look for playing time after hitting .278 with 8 HR’s and 38 RBI in only 317 AB’s.
PREDICTION: Some feel Arizona has enough pieces to be better than average in 2014. Ownership wants to win now but they traded away some very good young talent to get Trumbo and Reed. Only time will tell if those deals will back fire on them in the long run. The Diamondbacks can go as high as second or as low as fourth in the NL West. One thing we do know, they don’t have enough to win the division.
4TH NL West