Much Work Needed In Arizona
If you have read our articles 3 Financial Keys of World Series Champions and The 20 % Solution then you already know what we are going to say about the chances of Arizona winning the World Series. The Greinke contract is roughly 42% of the team total payroll and you combine that with failing the other two qualifiers, the D’backs don’t make the cut.
So let’s look at strengths of the ball club and maybe find a way they can beat the system.
INFIELD: Everything for the D’backs starts at first base with Paul Goldschmidt. He is top of the line when it comes to first basemen both offensively and defensively and his current contract includes a club option through 2019.
Hitting in front of him is AJ Pollock who is coming back from a terrible injury that caused him to miss virtually the entire 2016 season after being an All-star center fielder in 2015.
Who will hit in the 2-hole? Jake Lamb and his 154 strikeouts? The way lineups are put together in the 2000’s possibly, unless they plop Lamb behind Goldschmidt against RHP’ers.
People like the punch 29 home runs bring in that spot but if Brandon Drury handles the second base spot expect him to hit in the two hole against lefties.
Ketel Marte, acquired from the Mariners, might be the guy that needs to be playing short stop but they seem to like Chris Owings. Other than that, Nick Ahmed will get some time but he is another guy that isn’t going to be a difference maker.
CATCHING: Can we call the catching group “experienced” and leave it at that? Chris Ianetta, Jeff Mathis, Chris Hermann, Hank Conger, and Josh Thole form a group that all seem to bring the same thing to the field. Conger and Thole are with the club as non-roster invitees.
Ianetta has one year, Mathis 2, Hermann 3 and the total cost of the three guys is under $5,000,000. That’s the way it works when your number one pitcher takes home $34,000,000 to play once every 5 days.
OUTFIELD: Pollock in center field makes the outfield so much better. Yasmany Tomas who does ok against both lefties and righties and David Peralta who swings from the left side will probably be playing the corner outfield spots. These two will hit somewhere in the middle.
The other outfielders are Socrates Brito, Gregor Blanco, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Danny Descalso, and Oswaldo Arcia. Brito and Hazelbaker have options so they might end up going down at the end of camp and Arcia is really a designated hitter with a glove.
STARTING PITCHERS: With Greinke making roughly $1,000,000 for each Arizona start there is not a great deal of money remaining to help build a staff around him and an offense around “Goldie.” To have a chance, both Goldschmidt and Greinke need to be “right.”
Starters two through five look to be Shelby Miller who made 20 starts in ’16, Taijuan Walker with 25 starts last season for the Mariners, Robbie Ray who led the D’backs with 174 innings last season, and the seriously regressed Patrick Corbin. All are between age 24 and 28 years old and should receive serious competition from two former first round selections in Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley.
The depth of starting pitching for Arizona continues with young arms like Zack Godley, Matt Koch (who I think should start in the D’backs bullpen), and Anthony Banda a southpaw that is just about ready. Veteran lefthanders Brian Matusz and Jorge De La Rosa were both signed in February and could make for a very interesting D’backs camp.
RELIEF PITCHERS: When it comes to the Arizona bullpen, improvement in strike throwing would certainly help. Those listed currently as relievers combined to walk 3.8/9 innings last season. These are relievers brought in to end opponent’s rallies not start them.
To help with this the D’backs think-tank brought in relievers Tom Wilhelmsen, Kevin Jepsen, and Fernando Rodney to close. They fit the mold as Jepsen walked 3.8/9, Wilhelmsen 3.7/9, and after a complete melt down with the Marlins in the first half of 2016 Rodney bounced back to walk, yes that’s right, 3.8/9 for the Padres in 28 appearances
I can’t do it. I cannot see how the Arizona Diamondbacks can possibly finish higher than fourth this season. For a team that finished the 2016 season 27th in run differential the addition of 4 catchers, a half dozen reserve outfielders, and a light hitting infielder doesn’t sell me on Arizona’s seriousness of contending.
Maybe the pitching staff can decrease runs allowed by 50 and getting Pollock back in the lineup can boost the offense by 50 and Arizona can at least keep people interested.
With the number of major league ready arms, backup catchers, and lefty swinging 4th and 5th outfielders, a trade can be made for a hitter to add some punch to the lineup. I like the Matusz signing and really would like to know if there was a serious attempt by Arizona to sign Wieters.
Put Matusz and De La Rosa in the bullpen with Koch and you might be able to get the ball to Rodney 60 times in 2017. If he can be 2016 second half “Rockin’ Rodney” and not first half “No Respect Rodney,” you might have some guys to trade at the All-Star break.
With around a dozen players arbitration eligible after the season expect a lot of roster movement with this team.
By Scott Hortness February 23, 2017
Brian Matusz photo by Keith Allison https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Diamondbacks Catchers photo by Dru Bloomfield https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Greinke photo by jNash Boulden https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/