* Justin Upton talks heated up in the GM meetings, with conculded yesterday. The team we heard the most were the Boston Red Sox, but according to Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman, the Arizona Diamondbacks are looking for Daniel Bard and Jacoby Ellsbury. The Red Sox are unlikely to part with those two, when they can sign Jayson Werth for just money.
Other teams interested are the Yankees, Rockies, Padres, Dodgers and Rays.
* Derek Jeter was reportedly offered a 3 year $42 mm contract by the Yankees. If I were him, I would jump on that. But according to sources, Jeter is looking for at least a four year deal, and maybe up to six.
* The Tigers began talks with Adam Dunn yesterday, and even thought reports origanlly indicated they were deep into talks, they were just preliminary. The Tigers are also known to be targeting Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez and Manny Rameriz. It is possible they could sign Martinez and Dunn
The Rockies are interested in both Upton and Gavin Floyd and Kevin Millwood
Jonathan Papelbon is unlikely to be traded
Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rays interested in Miguel Olivo
Orioles interested in De La Rosa
Josh Willingham getting trade interest
Pirates and Mariners; Check. No it’s on to Arizona…..
The Diamondbacks weren’t expected to be good; They projected to be what they were. And that is a last place team. Arizona was one of the worst teams in baseball, period. So, how is it possible to fix a team this bad? It may not be, but they can’t be worse.
The pitching always seems to be the issue with bad teams, and the Diamondbacks are no exceptions. I mean, Ian Kennedy is their ace! He put in an ok season, with a 3.80 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, but he is not an ace on any other staff in baseball. Joe Saunders, who was acquired midseason (For their real ace, Dan Haren) had an ERA of 4.47 and a WHIP of 1.46. Rodrigo Lopez had an ERA of exactly five, but is anyone really surprised about that? They do have two young promising pitchers in Barry Enright and Daniel Hudson. Hudson, acquired from Chicago for Edwin Jackson, was the White Sox top prospect. In his time with Arizona he went 8-2 with an ERA of 2.45. Enright, who was drafted by the Diamondbacks, had a 3.91 ERA in 17 starts.
The rotation does not look too terrible. Their real pitching issue was the bullpen. Their closer, Juan Guteirez, posted an ERA north of 5 with only 15 saves. Aaron Heilman, their long man, had an ERA of 4.50. Sam Demel, an Arizona prospect, had an ERA of 5.35. Blaine Boyer had one of 4.26. Esmerling Vasquez had another ERA over five. Their only bright spot in the pen was DJ Carrasco, also acquired by Chicago.
So it’s pretty obvious that was the problem. The worst bullpen ERA in the National League. But how about the offense? How did that do this season?
The infield had a pretty good season, Adam LaRouche hit .265 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. Mark Reynolds, the third baseman, led the world in strikeouts but hit 32 home runs, despite his .198 batting average. Kelly Johnson had a huge bounce back year, hitting .284 with 26 home runs. Stephen Drew hit .278 with 15 home runs and an OBP of .352. So that infield had some power. It almost reminds me of Toronto a bit this season with all the homeruns. If Arizona had any pitching, maybe they could be that kind of team.
Now onto the outfielders. They have a very promising player in centerfield of Chris Young. He was the lone Representative of Arizona in the all-star game, and participated in the home run derby. Young hit 27 home runs on the season, with 91 RBIs. The rest of their outfield is very promising too with Brandon Allen (.267, 1 HR, 22 gms) and Justin Upton (.273, 17 HRs), along with prospects Gerado Parra and Cole Gillespie.
After trading Chris Snyder to Pittsburgh, that left all the catching duties on Muguel Montero. Montero was the subject of many trade talks in the offseason, particularly in a rumor to be traded for Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox. Arizona kept him, and made him their starting backstop. Montero hit .266 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs in 85 games, after missing a lot of the beginning of the season.
What is Arizona going to have to do this offseason? Adam LaRouche is a free agent. With Upton returning to the outfield after an injury, Brandon Allen is going to be a first baseman again, so I can see LaRouche walking and getting money elsewhere. Johnson and Drew will man the middle infield, and there is a chance Reynolds will be nontendered. The outfield looks set, in Upton, Young and Parra.
They may want to work on some pitching help. Kennedy, Enright, and Hudson are locked up. Sauders could be nontendered, and Lopez is a free agent. And they have Brandon Webb returning next season. So their real issue now is bullpen. Who can they pickup to improve it? They have been linked to Rafeal Sorinao and Francisco Rodriguez.
So there you have it. Your preview of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
I made my before-Spring Training predictions, here are my Opening Day Season predictions. Plus, check out the player to watch feature which gives you a player to watch on each team during the reaguler season.
AL East Player to watch:
Boston Red Sox (Jacoby Ellsbury)
New York Yankees (Marcus Thames)
Tampa Bay Rays (Ben Zobrist)
Baltimore Orioles (Nolan Reimold)
Toronto Blue Jays (Adam Lind)
Minnesota Twins (Orlando Hudson)
Chicago White Sox (Jake Peavy)
Kansas City Royals (Rick Ankeil)
Detroit Tigers (Austin Jackson)
Cleveland Indians (Micheal Brantly)
Seattle Mariners (Chone Figgins)
Anaheim Angels (Kendry Morales)
Texas Rangers (Neftali Feliz)
Oakland Athletics (Brett Anderson)
Philadelphia Phillies (Jayson Werth)
Atlanta Braves (Jason Heyward)
Florida Marlins (Mike Stanton)
Washington Nationals (Nyjer Morgan)
New York Mets (Kiko Calero)
St.Louis Cardinals (Colby Rasmus)
Chicago Cubs (Randy Wells)
Cincinatti Reds (Aroldis Chapman)
Milwakee Brewers (Alcades Escobar)
Houston Astros (Hunter Pence)
Pittsburgh Pirates (Garrett Jones)
Colorado Rockies (Jason Hammel)
Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw)
San Fransisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner)
Arizona D-backs (Justin Upton)
San Diego Padres (Clayton Richard)
1. Evan Longoria
2. Joe Mauer
3. Kendry Morales
1. Albert Pujols
2. Chase Utley
3. Ryan Braun
AL Cy Young
1. Jon Lester
2. Cliff Lee
3. Zack Greinke
NL Cy Young
1. Roy Halladay
2. Chris Carpenter
3. Tim Lincecum
1. Brain Matusz
2. Austin Jackson
3. Desmond Jennings
1. Jason Heyward
2. Mike Stanton
3. Madison Bumgarner
1. Don Wakamtsu
2. Ron Gardenhire
3. Joe Maddon
1. Bobby Cox
2. Tony LaRusa
3. Freddi Gonzalez
AL Comeback Player
NL Comeback Player
Those are my predicitions. My Internationl League predictions will be sometime next week.