Former Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo takes over as manager for the Diamondbacks this season. The team has a lot of needs, but does have a true ace with Zack Greinke and an All-Star power hitter in Paul Goldschmidt. Most managers don’t take over a team with those kind of cornerstones. The rest of the roster needs work, but new general manager Mike Hazen could make some moves this season.
The NL West is one of the best divisions in baseball with the Dodgers and Giants expected to battle for playoff spots. How long until Arizona is in that mix?
Will Arizona make some huge in-season trades in hopes of rebuilding or will the new general manager try to avoid a lengthy rebuild and just attempt to retool?
Here is the 2017 MLB season preview for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
2016 Win/Loss Record: 69-93
Key Additions: SP Taijuan Walker, SS Ketel Marte, RP Fernando Rodney, C Chris Iannetta, OF Jeremy Hazelbaker, SP Jorge de la Rosa, RP Tom Wilhelmsen, RP J.J. Hoover, RP Kevin Jepsen, C Jeff Mathis, 3B Daniel Descalso, OF Oswaldo Arcia, OF Gregor Blanco, C Hank Conger, SP Keyvius Sampson & C Josh Thole
Key Losses: SS Jean Segura, C Welington Castillo, 2B Phil Gosselin, 2B Rickie Weeks, SP/RP Daniel Hudson, PF Mitch Haniger, C Tuffy Gosewisch, OF Peter O’Brien & RP Dominic Leone
Interleague Schedule: AL Central
Projected Starters: Chris Iannetta, Paul Goldschmidt, Brandon Drury, Jake Lamb, Chris Owings, Yasmany Thomas, A.J. Pollock & David Peralta
Projected Starting Rotation: Zack Greinke, Taijuan Walker, Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray & Shelby Miller
Closer: Fernando Rodney
Fantasy Sleeper: SP Taijuan Walker – Walker was once one of the best prospects in all of baseball. He is two years removed from having that distinction and hasn’t been able to duplicate his early success at the highest level. He was traded this offseason from Seattle, so maybe a scenery change was needed. He can be had late in the draft and could help contribute in all areas if he can stay healthy. He has the ability to be a 9.0 K/9 pitcher, if not, maybe just a tad shy of that mark.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SP Anthony Banda – Banda had success last year at the two highest levels in the minors. He had a 2.12 ERA in 13 starts in Double-A and was then moved up to Triple-A and had a decent 3.67 ERA. He doesn’t have the lights out stuff you’d expect from a team’s top pitching prospect, but he keeps the ball over the plate. He has improved greatly since Arizona acquired him from the Brewers in the Gerardo Parra trade. He will probably start the season in Triple-A, but could crack the rotation out of Spring Training if Shelby Miller struggles again.
Team Analysis: Arizona last appeared in the postseason in 2011 and then followed that appearance with back-to-back 81-81 seasons. They then hit rock bottom with just 64 wins in 2014.
Things didn’t look too bleak after that horrible season since they drafted #1 overall and selected Dansby Swanson. They also had some nice prospects they could build around. Well, Arizona’s front office wasn’t really wanting to wait around and let their young players mature. They started trading their young prospects for umm, older prospects. They sent young pitcher Touki Toussaint to the Braves for Philip Gosselin and also traded Swanson (along with pitching prospect Aaron Blair and outfield phenom Ender Inciarte) for pitcher Shelby Miller…who is currently dying on the vine in Arizona.
The Diamondback had enough of the front office and (mostly) cleared house and hired former Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen to run the team. He then hired Torey Lovullo as the manager, who worked as the Red Sox bench coach since 2013.
Arizona has a long way to go before they can compete in the AL West. They have some awesome pieces like Zack Greinke and Paul Goldschmidt, but the rest of the lineup and the back-end of the rotation, just isn’t playoff caliber.
Arizona already traded Jean Segura to Seattle for a very nice return. It will be interesting to see if Hazen wants to put his own stamp on the team and possibly try to blow it up and rebuild fresh.
2017 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 78.5 (Prediction: UNDER)
2017 Projected Win/Loss Record: 74-88 (4th in NL West)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.