Will Slipper Fit Cinderella
D-backs In 2012?
Despite Predictions, Prognostications, And The Well Intentioned Plans of Teams Everywhere, Injury And Ineffectiveness Can Ruin Any Season
Tyler Skaggs will likely be needed at some point in 2012 due to injury to someone on the 25-man roster. He will also likely have a number lower than 62.
By Bob Goodwood
Modern Times Magazine
March 31, 2012 — Last year during Spring Training, everyone was hating on the Arizona Diamondbacks. Consensus was that the team was unproven on the mound and underperforming in the field and batters box. They finished the exhibition season with the worst record in the Cactus League and the second worst in all of baseball.
Experts everywhere predicted the team could just very well be the worst team EVER. The 2009 and 2010 seasons had displayed a pattern of bad baseball that led everyone to believe that no matter how hard Kirk Gibson, Kevin Towers and their staffs tried in season one of the new regime, it was going to be a long process. After all, how can a bunch of unproven kids — Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, David Hernandez et. al — compete with the San Francisco Giants and Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner?
The world now knows that success for the Dbacks was possible with belief and execution. Everyone in the organization believed and then the players went out and executed that belief. The end result was a Cinderella season that saw the team go from worst to first and a thrilling divisional series loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
At the precipice of the 2012 season, experts are fully on the Arizona Diamondbacks bandwagon — sort of. While there are many that think the additions of Jason Kubel and Trevor Cahill and the emergence of young pitching depth that just might be ready for The Show is enough to deliver the NL West crown, others are predicting a regression.
In homage to Rodney Dangerfield, the Diamondbacks get no respect. No respect at all.
Driving most of the pessimism are the stat crunchers that see 2011 as an over-performing year, mainly based on their 28-16 record in one-run games. Everyone from Bill James on down says that just doesn’t happen every year.
Those experts may be right. Or it might just be that the 2012 Diamondbacks can score one more run a game this year and have a 10-10 record in one-run games this year and still win 94 games.
Regardless, the only thing that will determine the 2012 season for the Arizona Diamondbacks are the Arizona Diamondbacks. The fun part is playing the season along with them. Predictions at this time of the year are nothing but a bit of fun.
Soon it will be time to open up the roof at Chase Field and play ball.
Will the 2012 Diamondbacks be able to do it?
They have all of the ingredients for a pennant winning ball club.
On the mound, Kennedy and Hudson are rock-solid at the front end of the rotation. Trevor Cahill might really benefit from the move to the NL West — pre-injury Brandon Webb numbers are possible from this guy in National League ballparks. Saunders and Collmenter are dependable and sometimes ace-like — see Collmenter’s start in the NLDS. The bullpen has the potential to be dominating with veterans J.J. Putz, Brad Ziegler, Craig Breslow, Takashi Saito and young guys David Hernandez and Joe Paterson, among others.
The Diamondbacks also have four or five guys that could pitch in the big leagues right now that will probably start the season the minors. Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs, Charles Brewer, Trevor Bauer are a potential championship rotation.
Offensively, they have an MVP candidate in Justin Upton, perhaps the most feared hitting-catcher since Ivan Rodriguez in Miguel Montero, and a potential slugging machine in Paul Goldschmidt. Jason Kubel provides more pop from the left side of the roster, Chris Young has had a monster spring thanks to some swing tweaks and Aaron Hill, Ryan Roberts, Willie Bloomquist, and Gerardo Parra are all legitimate major league bats. No one on the offensive side who will play regularly is a liability.
In the field, they have the potential to be above average.
With Parra in left, Young in center and Upton in right, they arguably have the best defensive outfield in all of baseball.
Justin Upton quietly won the Fielding Bible Award for 2011. Ichiro Suzuki was the winner the past three years, but Upton won it for 2011 — big time validation of Upton’s progress as a defender. He beat out Jason Heyward, who got two first place votes, followed by Mike Stanton, Torii Hunter, Andre Ethier, Jay Bruce and Nate Schierholtz.
Gerardo Parra came in third among left fielders with 72 points — Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees won it for second year in row, followed by Tony Gwynn, Jr. Chris Young came in second place as the best defensive center fielder (lost out to Austin Jackson) in all of baseball, receiving three first-place votes.
They have no great defenders in the infield — like Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki — just a bunch of guys who can make the plays they are supposed to make.
More importantly, everyone within the organization from ownership to the minor league locker room attendants expect success this season. Belief is more than half of the battle.
So the potential is there. That much is obvious.
The big question will most likely come down to what it does every season — who can stay healthy.
The Giants didn’t put up much of a fight last year thanks to injuries to Buster Posey and others. Besides the injury to Stephen Drew, the 2011 Diamondbacks were able to stay healthy.
Injuries happen and depth can mitigate that to some extent. Although there will be no replacing Justin Upton if he misses most of the year with a major injury, for example, the sting might be less painful thanks to the Kubel signing and that Parra can play an above-average right field if necessary.
The same goes for the rotation. If injury or ineffectiveness infects the staff, there are enough arms waiting in the wings to fill in.
No team, though, can sustain several injuries. Not even depth will be able to help the Diamondbacks at the top of the standings if Kennedy, Hudson and Putz miss significant time. Although if any team is deep enough to lose both their two front-line starters and closer yet still win the division, it might just be the depth-laden Diamondbacks
But right now, as far we know, everyone is healthy and every team has a chance to win the World Series.
That is especially true for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Don’t you just love the spring?
Bob Goodwood lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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