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Arizona Diamondbacks 2014 season preview

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

2013 quick recap

81-81, 2nd in NL West

Another year, another ho-hum result for the Diamondbacks. They caught baseball off-guard a couple of years ago, but they haven’t been able to replicate that magic since.

The bonus was they were the NL’s best defensive team overall and had an extremely viable MVP candidate. Had the D’backs threatened to gain a postseason slot, you can bet the guy they call Goldy would have won the award. Some say he should have anyway.

So what will the Arizona Diamondbacks 2014 version bring?

Additions: OF Mark Trumbo, P Addison Reed, P Bronson Arroyo, C Henry Blanco, INF/OF Matt Tuiasosopo

The bullpen received an upgrade with the acquisition of Reed. Signing Arroyo will only help Archie Bradley (not hold him back) and extend the front office a little more time for Bradley to season in the minors. That’s if Bradley needs it.

Departures: C Wil Nieves, INF/OF Matt Davidson, P Tyler Skaggs, OF Adam Eaton, P Heath Bell

I imagine D’backs fans don’t mind seeing Bell leave. Bloomquist could serve in any number of defensive positions. Manager Kirk Gibson might miss that versatility. Sending Skaggs to LA and Eaton to the Windy City was a necessary evil in order to obtain Trumbo’s bat. Well, it was in the minds of the front office.

After the deal, there was the report about Eaton being a selfish player. As suspected, he denied said report. Seriously, the guy’s not on your team anymore. Let it go already.

Payroll

With $104.7MM committed, 2014 will mark the highest payroll the Snakes have ever had and it will do so by over $20MM. Seems strange that number went up as much as it did considering the only big money signing was Arroyo. There was the extension they signed with Aaron Hill in February 2013. That doubled Hill’s 2013 salary from $5.5MM to $11MM for this season. There’s $15MM and you didn’t even blink.

Player to watch – Mark Trumbo

Will Trumbo blast his way to a 40+ HR season now that he has a home that’s a little more homer friendly? He’s cracked 32 and 34 in the last two seasons, so why shouldn’t he be able to attain that higher mark? Considering Arizona was ranked in the bottom third in home runs last season, the added pop will certainly be welcome.

Must improveMiguel Montero

Montero didn’t exactly follow up on his 2011 and 2012 campaigns as many had thought. He did deal with a lingering back injury that eventually forced him to the disabled list in early August, limiting him to 116 games for the season. A 100% healthy Montero isn’t only good at the plate, but behind it as well.

Plus, if MLB Depth Charts is on the money here, Montero is expected to be the one batting after Paul Goldschmidt in the D’backs batting order.

Regression? – Aaron Hill

Picking Paul Goldschmidt would be too easy a task. There are two main reasons I look at Hill.

First, he’s coming off a season where he played only 87 games. In four of the last six seasons, Hill has failed to play in at least 140 games. Yes, the DL was involved in all four of those seasons.

That lead me into the other reason. Hill will be 32 once the season begins. Take that he’s on the “wrong side” of 30 and he’s been nicked up more than once over the past few years. You now have a player that could see some regression simply due to the combination of age, and wear and tear on his body.

The one question for 2014

Can this team break the string of two mediocre seasons in which they finished at .500 (81-81)?

The Davenport projections say yes, and you would be hard pressed to see a team play .500 baseball in three consecutive seasons. But those projections are not on the plus side of .500 as they have the Diamondbacks finishing at 78-84 and finishing 4th within their division.

If they are to venture to the good side of .500, the pitching will need to perform at a higher level than last season. This staff permitted the third worst batting average against among all NL staffs at .257. Their starters allowed the fourth most runs (482), while the bullpen was in the middle of the pack.

The bats produced the fifth most runs in the league despite not hitting a lot of home runs (130, ties for 11th in the NL). So the club had 130 HR and Goldschmidt had 36 (27.7%) of those. I envision more than 19 IBB heading his way in 2014.

A better record within their division would certainly help as well. They fared well against their rival Dodgers (10-9, although one Dodger win still brings about bitter emotions) and the Colorado Rockies (12-7), but fell off against the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres (7-12 against both). Add those all together and you have a divisional record of 36-40.

Just for fun, I ought to say they’ll be 81-81 again. But I won’t. If the Giants are as improved as some believe. And the Rockies are improved as some believe. And the Padres are improved and considered a dark horse playoff pick. And the Dodgers didn’t take a step back, how can these guys finish above .500?

Got to lean the way of Davenport here and predict a sub-.500 season. I see 80-82.

See, had a little fun with that after all.

Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks

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