As the MLB season quickly approaches, we here at Cosby Sweaters wanted to provide you with the necessary tools to go into this year confident in your 2013 baseball knowledge. Over the next 4 weeks we will supply you with a summary of all 6 divisions and 30 teams that make them up. We will assess each team’s line-ups, pitching rotations, potential downfalls and give a final outlook on what to expect from each franchise as the season plays out.
We won’t forget about all of you fantasy geeks either, as we will give you some players to target or avoid in your upcoming drafts. All of this will lead up to our staff predictions, the week before opening day, on this season’s playoff outcomes and individual awards. The smell of nacho helmets and overpriced beer is almost upon us. We hope you are as ready for Baseball to be back as we are!
Arizona Diamondbacks: This year’s Arizona Diamondbacks roster looks significantly different than it did in 2012, which is still up for debate if that’s a good thing or not. Last year’s roster was loaded with guys who had potential but never translated on the field, and in turn, in the standings either. Coming off a year in 2011 where they won the NL west, they took a few steps back in 2012 finishing the season at an even 81-81 and 3rd place in the division. With one huge trade and a few key free agent acquisitions this offseason, they look to bounce back in 2013 with a more balanced approach.
1. Adam Eaton (CF)
2. Martin Prado (3B)
3. Aaron Hill (2B)
4. Miguel Montero (C)
5. Paul Goldschmidt (1B)
6. Jason Kubel (LF)
7. Cody Ross (RF)
8. Cliff Pennington (SS)
Bench: Eric Hinske, Tony Campana, Willie Bloomquist, Will Nieves, Eric Chavez, Gerardo Parra
1. Ian Kennedy
2. Trevor Cahill
3. Brandon McCarthy
4. Wade Miley
5. Patrick Corbin/Tyler Skaggs
Bullpen: J.J. Putz (Closer), Heath Bell, David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler, Matt Reynolds, Tony Sipp.
Team Overview: General manager Kevin Towers isn’t shy about voicing his opinions and stances on the current state of his clubs. In his 16 years as a GM he has established himself as a premiere front office guy, but has also rubbed some fans and baseball personalities the wrong way in the process. After taking over the GM role for Arizona in 2010 and leading them to a 90+ win season and division title, things were looking to be on the up and up for the Diamondbacks. After faltering this past season though, questions started to arise about the make-up of their team and whether or not their budding superstar Justin Upton was truly a future centerpiece of a franchise. Towers vowed that Upton and young pitching prospect Trevor Bauer were the core of the team for years to come and were not being traded. Well, In a one month span between December and January, Towers pulled off two separate trades that sent his two young stars to Atlanta and Cleveland. They also parted ways with former all-star Center Fielder Chris Young, who had been a starter for them for 5 straight years. A tough pill to swallow for D’Backs fans as they know being in the same division with the Giants and Dodgers is an uphill climb. They at least had solace in the fact that while they may not make a run at the division title, they had two potential stars to build around and come out to watch every game.
In the Upton trade with Atlanta, Arizona got back one of the best “do-it-all” players in the majors in Martin Prado. Prado will be slotted in at 3rd base which has been a hole for the Diamondbacks for years now. Along with Prado, they added a handful of players that will fill out their roster with some depth and veteran leadership. Included in that bunch is outfielder Cody Ross (who was a major contributor in the Giants 2010 World Series win), late relief guy Heath Bell (who was in need of a change of scenery after having the worst year of his career in Miami last year), starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy (who is coming off a horrific injury where he was struck in the head by a line drive and endured brain hemorrhaging and skull fractures), and new short stop Cliff Pennington.
The D’Backs still have three young potential superstars in first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (25 years old), center fielder Adam Eaton (24 years old) and starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs (21 years old), who will all get every opportunity they can handle this year. Mix in second baseman Aaron Hill who posted a great 2012 line of .302/26/85, one of the top 10 offensive catchers in the MLB in Miguel Montero, and veteran Jason Kubel who neared his career high with 30 HR’s last year, and you have an offense that will be a player in every game this year.
For all of the bright spots on their offense, it is actually their pitching staff that will determine the success of the 2013 season. They have a collection of arms that could really be one of the most surprising staffs in baseball. With their 5 starters averaging an age of 25 years old, there is a reason to be encouraged by the potential of this group. Ian Kennedy is a former 20 game winner, and Trevor Cahill who isn’t by any means electrifying and is somewhat inconsistent is a solid #2 option. While they are listed as the respective 1 and 2 options, I think the two youngsters in Wade Miley (who made a run at rookie of year last year) and Tyler Skaggs (former first round pick of the Angels who came over in a Dan Haren trade) could end the year being the two most productive starters on this staff. Their bullpen will run like clockwork in the 8th and 9th innings with Heath Bell and veteran J.J. Putz holding down the fort.
Fantasy Spin: There are plenty of appealing sleepers on this roster, but there is not one fantasy stud. Most likely the earliest you will see a Diamondback go, will be Paul Goldschmidt and Martin Prado somewhere near the 4th/5th rounds. Goldschmidt is my 17th ranked first baseman, but is ranked a bit higher by most experts. A player to keep an eye on is Adam Eaton, as most sites have him ranked as barely cracking the top 100 OF’s, but with Upton gone, he immediately slides into an everyday role. He led Pacific Coast (AAA) league in Average, On-Base Percentage, Runs, Stolen Bases & Doubles last year. From a pitching standpoint, there is a good chance I end up with Tyler Skaggs on most of my teams, as I like taking chances on young pitchers with electric stuff. There is nothing but upside there and if he doesn’t pan out this year, you won’t have wasted a high pick on him as you can snag him towards the end of your draft.
A couple players to avoid are Jason Kubel who after 30 HR’s last year will look like an appealing pick, but 2012 was probably his ceiling. I’d also stay away from Kennedy and Cahill as well as I don’t think their value is equal to where they are being drafted. Keep in mind that just because a pitcher is labeled as an Ace, doesn’t equal out to ace like numbers. By drafting a “non-ace-ace” you are also consistently going up against other team’s Aces.
Prediction: To be honest, as I was writing this team preview out I started to convince myself that the Diamondbacks could be a surprise team this year. I really like the make-up of their offense and their immense pitching depth. But when you take a step back, there just isn’t room in that division for a surprise team. The Giants and Dodgers rosters are just too potent. I see the Diamondbacks finishing in 3rd place for a second straight year, while beginning the process of finding a new identity for a team with a lot of new faces.
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