Key Additions---Melvin Mora, Zack Duke, Armando Galarraga, JJ Putz, Xavier Nady
Key Losses---Mark Reynolds, Adam LaRoche
Lineup---This team lost 2 of its big power guys in Reynolds and LaRoche, so they are going to need to have guys step up if they are going to hit the ball out of the park. But the good news is they have players that have the ability to do so. I like their outfield, if Xavier Nady can get healthy, he will be a nice compliment to Chris Young and Justin Upton. If nothing else, those 2 in Center and Right will provide great defense. Melvin Mora is being asked to replace Reynolds, and he should do a pretty good job at that. Stephen Drew is a very capable hitting shortstop, and should provide some pop from that position. I do have some concern with the right side of the infield, as I don’t believe that Juan Miranda or Kelly Johnson will provide much for the offense. At catcher, Miguel Montero has shown flashes of being an above average catcher, but needs to stay healthy if he is going to do it. I like the path this offense is on, and I think that they have a chance to be pretty productive.
Rotation---There is not a headliner in this rotation, but I do think they have the ability to be a pretty good young staff, as they have guys who are still growing. Joe Saunders was the centerpiece of the Dan Haren deal, but has really struggled since coming over to Arizona. He needs to get back on track and be the leader of this rotation. They have a few young arms in Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy who have pitched well in the past, but are now being thrown into roles that they may not be ready for. How these guys perform will take some pressure off of Saunders. The back end of the rotation, as with most teams, is a crapshoot. Barry Enright and Zack Duke should man the final 2 spots, but they have yet to be consistent at the big league level. And don’t count out Armando Galarraga. The kid has the talent, just needs to put it together. I do like how the D-Backs are building their rotation through deals, but unless one of the young guys steps up to be a stopper, they are going to go through some growing pains.
Bullpen---The D-Backs signed JJ Putz to once again be a closer, and he is back in the NL. I believe he will be pretty effective at the back end of the rotation when given the chances, but the question will be how many chances he will get. I don’t think he will have much help from the rest of the pen, as there are no arms that I would be confident in throwing out there. With young pitchers in the rotation who will prove to be inconsistent, and a shaky pen, I expect this to be a real problem area for the D-Backs.
Impact Rookie---Jarrod Parker, RHP. Having missed the 2010 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Parker entered 2011 with an outside shot to break camp with an MLB job. An unrealistic goal, but the battle will serve him well when he does arrive. Parker will start the season in the minor leagues and will have an innings limit leash but 60-70 of those innings could come in a big league uniform.
Outlook---There is some good young talent on this team, however I don’t think this is a year they will be able to compete with the San Francisco’s of the division. It will be very interesting to see how this team handles the Justin Upton situation. There were rumors he was available in the offseason. If this team falters, will he be available again? As for the division, I am afraid the D-Backs will be staring up from the bottom.
Brad Koesters, MLB Correspondent
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