Now that we are getting close enough to spring training that we can almost smell the grass (Dodgers pitchers and catchers report to spring training in a mere 15 days), it is time for our annual look around the National League West, to see how each team spent their offseason. We begin the tour around the division with the defending division champions, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
||Lost to MIL in Division Series 3-2
|2012 at Dodger Stadium:
||May 14-15, Jul 30-Aug 1, Aug 30-Sep 2
|2012at Chase Field:||May 21-23, Jul 5-8, Sep 11-12
|SB Nation coverage:||AZ Snakepit, SB Nation Arizona|
1) Is Miguel Montero the best catcher in the division?
This might depend on the health of Buster Posey, but Montero is not a bad choice for the top spot in the NL West. Montero hit .282/.351/.469 with a .351 wOBA, a 121 OPS+ and 116 wRC+ in 2011.
In addition to hitting 36 doubles and 18 home runs, Montero threw out 40% of would-be basestealers in 2011 and made his first All-Star team.
Montero, 28, avoided arbitration with a one-year deal for 2012, and could cash in next winter with a big year in his final year before free agency.
2) Will Stephen Drew be ready for opening day?
The Diamondbacks aren't sure. The shortstop broke his ankle last July 20 and has spent his offseason rehabilitating with a non-Diamondbacks trainer.
"I'm hopeful he'll play in some games in spring training. Will he play in our opening game? I don't know. I haven't laid eyes on him other than to see him on video doing some agility drills," general manager Kevin Towers told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic last week. "We'll have a better idea probably at the end of February when the position players show up. I would imagine he may be in a little earlier than that."
Arizona re-signed both John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist during the winter, giving them depth should Drew not be ready to rejoin the team. One person hoping Drew takes his time during recovery is Chad Billingsley, as Drew has hit .364/.426/.545 off Billingsley in 61 plate appearances.
|Scary Thought About The Diamondbacks:|
|Justin Upton is not yet 25 years old|
3) Where did Josh Collmenter's control come from?
Collmenter was 25 years old last year when he made his major league debut, and after seven relief appearances he made his first start, on May 14 at Dodger Stadium. Billingsley allowed one hit to the Diamondbacks, but Arizona won 1-0 thanks to six scoreless innings from the right-hander with the tomahawk pitching motion.
Collmenter walked zero or one batter in 16 of his 24 starts, and walked 4.5% of the major league hitters he faced, after walking 8.2% of the hitters he faced in five minor league seasons.
4) Will Diamondbacks pitchers outhit Juan Uribe again?
Okay, maybe that is a stretch, but if you squint it is hard to tell them apart. Arizona hurlers hit a combined .186/.230/.250 in 2011, while the Dodgers' $21 million man hit .204/.264/.293. Uribe had 28 RBI, 17 walks, and 79 total bases in 295 plate appearances last year, while Diamondbacks pitchers had 34 RBI, 16 walks, and 78 total bases in 362 PA.
Lest you think this was all Micah Owings-driven, the new Padres pitcher had only four singles in 19 plate appearances in Arizona in 2011.
Through September 17 last year, game 151, Diamondbacks pitcher Daniel Hudson had more RBI (14) than Jamey Carroll (13), who qualified for the batting title. Carroll ended his season with 17 runs batted in.
5) Can the new owner of the Dodgers poach former team executive Derrick Hall, currently the President and CEO of the Diamondbacks?
Maybe, but for now Hall is saying all the right things, and sounds sincere. Steve Henson of Yahoo! wrote a wonderful profile of Hall, one of the most respected executives in baseball, who battled prostate cancer during the offseason. As part of the profile, Henson mentioned that a few potential Dodgers owners have reached out to Hall to join their group should they win the bid for the team.
"It's a big part of who I am. It's where I started my career and learned and cut my teeth. And I know the fans and have a good relationship with the media and former players," Hall told Piecoro of his time with the Dodgers. "It's a lot of familiarity and comfort there, but nothing beats where I'm at or what I'm doing now."
|Diamondbacks Trades, Etc. This Winter|
|Pirates||Brett Lorin rhp (Rule 5 pick from Pittsburgh)|
Collin Cowgill of
Jarrod Parker rhp
Ryan Cook rhp
Trevor Cahill rhp
Craig Breslow lhp
|Astros||Craig Tatum c (claimed off waivers from Houston)|
The big move was acquiring Cahill, a soon-to-be 24-year old durable starting pitcher signed through 2015 with option years carrying him through his age 29 season in 2017. Parker was the big prize given up in the deal.
|Diamondbacks Contracts Signed This Winter|
|Pos||Player||Type||Total Contract||2012 Salary|
|1B||Lyle Overbay||FA||1-year, $1m||$1,000,000|
|SS||John McDonald||FA||2 years, $3m||$1,500,000|
|C||Henry Blanco||FA||1-year, $1.2m + option||$1,200,000|
|IF||Willie Bloomquist||FA||2 years, $3.8m||$1,900,000*|
|2B||Aaron Hill||FA||2 years, $11m||$5,500,000*|
|RP||Takashi Saito||FA||1 year, $1.75m||$1,750,000|
|OF||Jason Kubel||FA||2 years, $16m + option||$7,500,000|
|SP||Joe Saunders||FA||1-year, $6m||$6,000,000|
|RP||Brad Ziegler||Arb||1-year, $1.795m||$1,795,000|
|C||Miguel Montero||Arb||1-year, $5.9m||$5,900,000|
|3B||Ryan Roberts||Arb||1-year, $2.0125m||$2,012,500|
|RP||Craig Breslow||Arb||Filed for arbitration: $1.5m / $2.1m
Saunders was non-tendered in December, then re-signed in January. Arizona also signed infielders Cody Ransom and Rusty Ryal, and outfielder Jason Lane to minor league deals.
|Diamondbacks Players Lost|
|RP||Kam Mickolio||Hiroshima Carp|
|1B||Xavier Nady||free agent|
|*Minor league deal|
Here's my guess as to the Diamondbacks' 25-man roster, with a few assumptions mixed in:
|2012 Diamondbacks Under Contract|
|Pos||Player||2012 Age*||2012 Salary|
|SP||Ian Kennedy||27||team control|
|SP||Dan Hudson||25||team control|
|Totals (18 players)
|*Age as of June 30, 2012
^midpoint of Breslow's arbitration filings