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Arizona Diamondbacks 2013 Preview

Justin Upton

Despite a busy offseason last year, the Diamondbacks fell from first in the NL West with 94 wins in 2011 to 13 games back of first with just 81 wins. They are in the midst of another busy offseason and are still likely to move Justin Upton or Jason Kubel. With plenty of reshuffling going on, the DBacks will have a very different look in 2013, let’s take a look at what we can expect as Arizona chases stiff NL West competition in the Dodgers and the Giants.

2012 Team Rankings:

Wins: 81

Runs: 8th Overall

Batting Average: 13th Overall

ERA: 15th Overall

WHIP: 15th Overall

Catchers: Miguel Montero, Wil NievesGrade: B+

Montero has managed to stay healthy the last two seasons and despite some inconsistency is a proven .285 hitter who will drive in 85+ RBI per year. It’s hard to find a better catcher than him.

Nieves is now on his sixth team in nine seasons and is a serviceable backup.

First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, Eric HinskeGrade: B

In his first full year, Goldschmidt batted .286 with 20 HR, 82 RBI, 82 R and 18 SB. He is well on his way to being an All-Star first baseman who excels in just about every offensive category except for strikeouts.

Hinske was picked up this offseason after spending the last three seasons with the Braves. He can play many positions but is coming off a miserable 2012 in which he batted .197 with just 13 RBI in 147 at-bats.

Second Base: Aaron Hill, Willie BloomquistGrade: B+

After a tough 2011 season, Hill bounced back in a big way and is once again a top second baseman. In 2012 he batted .302 with 26 HR, 85 RBI, 93 R, and 14 SB and while the average is a career high he should be able to repeat the other production if he stays healthy.

Bloomquist is 34-years-old but still batted .302 and scored 47 runs off the bench last season and remains a solid utility man.

Shortstop: Cliff Pennington, Bloomquist – Grade: C-

The Diamondbacks acquired Pennington in the deal that sent Chris Young to Oakland this offseason. Young is no prized hitter but replacing Stephen Drew with a shortstop who missed 40 games last season and batted just .215 (his career BA is .249) is a bit of a head scratcher.

Third Base: Chris Johnson, Eric ChavezGrade: C+

Arizona acquired Johnson last season from the Astros in return for a pair of minor leaguers. Between the two teams he batted .281 with 15 HR and 76 RBI. With a ton of strikeouts, that is likely close to his ceiling but he is solid nonetheless.

Chavez was signed away from the Yankees this offseason. He did a great job playing third behind Alex Rodriguez batting .281 with 16 homers. At 35, he still has a great glove and will be a great guy to have on the bench.

Outfield: Upton, Kubel, Cody Ross, Adam Eaton, Gerardo ParraGrade: B

The DBacks already moved Young and brought in Ross with a three-year, $26 million deal. They are stacked at outfield and are likely to move Kubel—though they have unsuccessfully been shopping Upton for nearly a year.

At 24, Upton took a bit of a step back from his 31 homer 2011 campaign as he batted .280 with 17 HR, 67 RBI, 107 R and 18 SB. He is a top outfielder who should continue to develop, even if it’s elsewhere.

Kubel, 30, makes much more sense for a move though he played well in his first season in the NL last year. He batted just .253 but hit a career-high 30 HR with 90 RBI and 75 R.

This will be the seventh team for the 31-year-old Ross. He spent all of 2012 with the Red Sox where he batted .267 with 22 HR, 81 RBI and 70 R. He is an upgrade from Young but still far from a game changer.

The 24-year-old Eaton played just 22 games last season but has put up monstrous numbers in the minors batting .355 with a .456 OBP, .966 OPS, 98 SB and 123 XBH in 319 minor league games.

The 25-year-old Parra is a hidden gem in the stacked Arizona outfield. Though he has played largely as a fourth-outfielder he can do a bit of everything and might be the fastest guy on the team.

Starting Rotation: Ian Kennedy, Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Patrick Corbin, Daniel Hudson, Tyler SkaggsGrade: B 

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Ian Kennedy

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Ian Kennedy pitches during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Though he took a bit of a step back last season, Kennedy has done a great job for Arizona over the last three years. Since 2010 he has gone 45-26 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. I’d expect him to return to a 14-plus game winner with a mid-3.00s ERA in 2013.

The Diamondbacks signed McCarthy away from the As this offseason. McCarthy has the potential to be a very good pitcher but can’t stay on the field. He missed all of 2010 and started just 43 games over the past two seasons but he did put up a 3.29 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in those games.

Cahill came over from Oakland in a trade last offseason and got off to a very solid start. He went 13-12 with a 3.78 ERA and 1.29 WHIP but at 24 he has plenty of potential to improve.

In his first full season, Miley came up in a huge way leading the rotation with 16 wins, a 3.33 ERA and 1.18 WHIP – not to mention a 4:1 strikeout:walk ratio. Expect to hear a lot about this kid for the foreseeable future.

Hudson may or may not make the rotation if he recovers from the Tommy John surgery that limited him to just nine starts in 2012. He was miserable in those games putting up a 7.35 ERA and 1.63 WHIP but went 16-12 with a 3.49 ERA and 1.20 WHIP just a season ago.

Corbin (6-8, 4.54 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) and Skaggs (1-3, 5.83 ERA, 1.47 WHIP) both got limited starts in their first forays in the majors and have a shot at the rotation in spring training. Corbin is older and more seasoned but the 20-year-old Skaggs is a top-15 prospect.

Bullpen: JJ Putz, David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler, Heath Bell, Tony Sipp, Josh Collmenter, Matt ReynoldsGrade: B+

At 35, Putz is a proven closer who owns a combined 2.60 ERA over the last three seasons. In 2012 he saved 32 games (45 in 2011) and blew five and should continue to be a very reliable closer going forward.

Ziegler (2.49 ERA, 1.09 WHIP), Hernandez (2.50 ERA, 1.02 WHIP), and Collmenter (3.69 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) make up a young but exceptionally good bridge from the rotation to Putz.

Bell came over from the Marlins in the deal that sent Young to Oakland. He had a miserable year with just 19 saves, a 5.09 ERA, 1.56 WHIP and eight blown saves. He will have a lot less pressure here but the DBacks owe him a lot of money.

Sipp came over from Cleveland in a multi-player trade that was centered around Shin-Soo Choo. He is a solid middle reliever but nothing to write home about. Reynolds came over from the Rockies in return for Ryan Wheeler but is another average middle reliever.

Team Grade: B

Fearless Prediction: 88-74, 3rd in NL East

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