The 2014 off-season was not too eventful for the one team in the National League West that will have the hardest time competing in the upcoming season: the 2015 Arizona Diamondbacks. Major upgrades at third base and in the rotation are the only two moves the Diamondbacks made in the off-season, in addition to bringing in new manager Chip Hale, whose previous experience as a Diamondbacks, New York Mets, and Oakland Athletics coach made him a respectable candidate for the position. With all the other upgrading that the other National League West teams went through in after the season ended, Arizona fell behind, and lacked quality in key areas, such as catcher and starting pitching. Arizona, though, trusts their prospects and minor league system enough to have confidence in the future of their team.
Team Overview: 2015 Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks did not go out and find major upgrades to their rotation, and this will severely limit their options for the rotation, as two former All-Stars in Patrick Corbin and Bronson Arroyo (the projected 1-2 in the rotation) are recovering from Tommy John surgery and will be out until at least mid-2015. That leaves a gaping hole in the front of the rotation for Arizona, where Josh Collmenter was recently chosen to start Opening Day for the Diamondbacks. Behind Collmenter will likely be one of Arizona’s only major acquisitions this offseason: starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays. Hellickson figures to be healthy and ready to make an impact on a team in need of young arms. Beyond these two, the rotation is something of an unknown; multiple candidates are battling for the remaining spots. Daniel Hudson is returning from Tommy John surgery. Allen Webster and Rubby de la Rosa were both acquired in the off-season for All-Star starter Wade Miley. Trevor Cahill returns for a chance at redemption. Chase Anderson looks to make an impact. Vidal Nuno enters his first full season in Diamondback maroon. Multiple options mean multiple decisions by the Arizona coaching staff, including pitching coach Mike Harkey.
Facing the prospect of losing him in free agency, the D-Backs chose to trade All-Star catcher Miguel Monter to the Cubs, leaving only Tuffy Gosewisch, Montero’s former back-up, behind the plate. Prospect and current Double-A catcher Peter O’Brien, acquired from the New York Yankees in 2013, needs a little more minor league seasoning before he can seriously be considered as a potential solution to catcher.
He’s Here: Manager Chip Hale, P Jeremy Hellickson, P Robbie Ray, 3B/OF Yasmany Tomas
Non-Roster Invitees with chance to make roster: P Blake Beavan, OF Ben Francisco, C Gerald Laird, 1B/C Jordan Pacheco
He’s Gone: P Mike Bolsinger, P Charles Brewer, P Eury de la Rosa, Manager Kirk Gibson, SS Didi Gregorius, P Will Harris, P Wade Miley, C Miguel Montero, P Joe Paterson, OF Nolan Reimold, P Bo Schultz, P Zeke Spruill
The Diamondbacks line-up includes three big power hitters: first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, right fielder Mark Trumbo, and third baseman and Cuban newbie Yasmany Tomas. Goldschmidt was having a Goldschmidt-type year in 2014 before a broken hand ended his season, and he still managed a .300 batting average with 19 homers and 69 RBIs. This year, he enters the season with fifth best odds to win the National League MVP. If he wants to make that a reality, Goldschmidt must stay healthy and produce the way he has in the past. Following him, Mark Trumbo must have a redemption season, as inconsistency and injuries have limited his production since he arrived in Arizona. Trumbo’s hitting and power have to return in order to protect Goldschmidt in the order and produce runs for the Diamondbacks. He will be aided by Tomas, who was signed as an outfielder out of Cuba but is projected as and has been working at third base in Spring Training. If his power and hitting ability can transfer into the Majors, he and Goldschmidt will provide quite the punch for the upcoming season.
(Red indicates a new acquisition)
C: Tuffy Gosewisch
1B: Paul Goldschmidt
2B: Aaron Hill
3B: Yasmany Tomas
SS: Chris Owings
LF: Cody Ross
CF: A.J. Pollock
RF: Mark Trumbo
Aaron Hill has been one of the most reliable second baseman in recent memory, performing very well in his tenure as a Diamondback. After the trade of shortstop Didi Gregorius to the Yankees, Chris Owings takes full ownership of the position, with utility man Chris Pennington behind both Hill and Owings.
1. Josh Collmenter
2. Jeremy Hellickson
3. Daniel Hudson
4. Allen Webster
5. Trevor Cahill
*Patrick Corbin out with Tommy John surgery
*Bronson Arroyo out with Tommy John surgery
The Diamondbacks have the talent to compete in the future, but 2015 will not be the year to look for them to make much of an impact in the National League standings. In a perfect situation, the starters Chip Hale settles on find success beyond expectations, and a combination of Goldschmidt-Trumbo-Tomas overachieves. Things should improve for the D-Backs when proven starters Patrick Corbin and Bronson Arroyo (first major injry of his career) return from Tommy John surgery. Until then, the Diamondbacks lack what it takes to compete. A reasonable expectation for Arizona is a fifth place finish, with somewhere around 66-72 wins.
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