Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 1/4/12
With the acquisition of right-hander Trevor Cahill, the Diamondbacks are set in the first four spots of their starting rotation. And unless they go outside to find an inexpensive veteran alternative, they will pick from within for No. 5. It has worked before. Right-hander Josh Collmenter blossomed into a quality starter after being promoted last season, and he has a firm hold on the No. 4 spot entering spring training behind 21-game winner Ian Kennedy, 16-game winner Daniel Hudson and Cahill, who won 12 games with Oakland last year and 18 games the year before. With a stocked farm system that is heavy on young pitching, the D-backs have a host of in-house candidates for the fifth spot, with Wade Miley maybe a smidge ahead of the pack entering spring training after gaining major league experience the final six weeks of 2011. He was 4-2 with a 4.50 ERA in eight appearances, seven starts, and while he gave up 66 baserunners in 40 innings, he managed to work himself out of most of his trouble, a good sign for a young pitcher. The other top contenders: --Left-hander Tyler Skaggs is the best pitching prospect in the system after Jarrod Parker was packaged to Oakland in the Cahill trade. He started the Futures Game for the U.S. last July and was 9-6 with a 2.96 ERA in 27 starts between Class A Visalia and Class AA Mobile. In polls conducted by industry bible Baseball America, Skaggs was rated the No. 1 prospect in the California League and the No. 2 prospect in the Southern League. --Right-hander Trevor Bauer was the No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft after breaking Mark Prior's Pac-10 (now the Pac-12) record for strikeouts and made a quick leap from Visalia to Mobile after signing. Bauer was 1-2 with a 5.96 ERA in seven appearances, his ERA up because of one bad outing, but the stuff translated. Bauer struck out 43 in 25 23 innings with his variety of pitches, which starts with a mid-90s fastball and a changeup. --Left-hander Patrick Corbin, who, like Skaggs, was obtained from the Los Angeles Angels in the 2010 trade-deadline deal for Dan Haren, was 9-8 with a 4.21 ERA while spending the whole season at Mobile last year. He had a ratio of 3.5 strikeouts per walk in his 26 starts. --Right-hander Charles Brewer missed large parts of the season at Mobile because of a concussion and a broken right hand, but he won the only must-win game Mobile had -- Game 5 of the Southern Division semifinals -- and also won the Arizona Fall League title game with Scottsdale. NOTES, QUOTES --Breaking in a rookie starter might not prove to be much of an issue in 2012. The D-backs won the NL West by using eight first-year players last season, including Rule 5 LHP specialist Joe Paterson, RHP Josh Collmenter, 1B Paul Goldschmidt and Miley. --While the D-backs have added bullpen pieces RHP Takashi Saito and LHP Craig Breslow in the offseason, the ninth inning is well in hand, judging from the finish of 2011. RHP J.J. Putz (45 saves, a career high) and RHP David Hernandez (11 saves) converted 29 of 30 save opportunities after the All-Star break, the highest percentage in the majors. --The acquisition of LF Jason Kubel pushed OF Gerardo Parra into the role of fourth outfielder, but the D-backs also have other options in case they want to start another right-handed bat instead of lefties Kubel and Parra. INFOF Willie Bloomquist hit .266 with 20 stolen bases in 350 at-bats, and 3B Ryan Roberts also has played some left field. Both are right-handed hitters. ROSTER REPORT The D-backs are in a great position to defend their NL West title. They have no bad contracts, a youngish group of core position players and pitchers, and a minor league farm system that is deep in prospects, especially pitchers. "Most of the puzzle, we think, is in place," general manager Kevin Towers said four days after the D-backs were eliminated in Game 5 of the NLDS on Oct. 7. ARRIVALS: RHP Takashi Saito (free agent from Brewers), RHP Trevor Cahill (trade with A's), LHP Craig Breslow (trade with A's), OF Jason Kubel (free agent from Twins). DEPARTURES: RHP Jarrod Parker (traded to A's), OF Collin Cowgill (traded to A's), RHP Ryan Cook (traded to A's). FREE AGENTS: LHP Zack Duke, RHP Jason Marquis, 1BLF Xavier Nady, LHP Joe Saunders, RHP Micah Owings. ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: C Miguel Montero, 3B Ryan Roberts, RHP Brad Ziegler. The D-backs are exploring a long-term extension for Montero, who had a career year in 2011 and has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining. "We've done it before," one D-backs official said when asked about the possibility. Roberts was a valuable component after winning the third base job in early 2011. While his salary will jump as a Super-2 player eligible for arbitration, he will be back. Side-armer Ziegler added another angle to the Arizona bullpen, and he also will return. MEDICAL WATCH --SS Stephen Drew (fractured right ankle) missed the final 10 weeks of the season after suffering his injury on a play at the plate on July 20, on which the ankle was twisted at an a 180-degree ankle and he yanked it back into place. His return for the start of spring training remains uncertain.
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