1. Last year's ace is out for the season.
Patrick Corbin has now been removed from our rotation, his spot taken most likely by Randall Delgado, and it could end up being that way for the entire season. In 2013, Corbin had an ERA+ of 112 and was worth 2.8 bWAR in 32 starts; Delgado had an ERA+ of 90 and was worth 0.2 bWAR in 19 starts. But you don't have to be a math wiz to work out that replacing the Patrick with Randall is a bad thing for our chances.
2. Aaron Hill is now 32
Even if healthy, we can't realistically expect him to put up a five WAR season like he did in 2012: 32-year-old second basemen don't generally do that. You'll never guess who was the last such in the NL with five bWAR: Craig Counsell, all the way back in 2005. Hill likely won't suck, but considering he's also costing double what he was paid last season, he'll have his work cut out to provide much in the way of surplus value for the team in 2014.
3. Cody Ross: hip to be square
We are dealing with basically uncharted territory here. Pro sports athletes do not generally break their hip when they fall over (unless there's a pro shuffleboard league?), so figuring out what Ross might give us when he comes back is difficult to impossible. Even before that, his power was already down - Cody's eight HR last year was his first time in single digits since 2005. Hey, we only owe him another $20 million!
The above is an acronym coined by Baseball Prospectus's Gary Huckabay, inspired somewhat by Robert Heinlein's TANSTAAFL, and stands for "There is no such thing as a pitching prospect." It's a warning not to rely too much on young pitchers, because the attrition rate among them is brutal. You know who I mean by this. Anyone remember when the arrival of Trevor Bauer (he of the 10.29 spring ERA) was eagerly anticipated?
5. Paul Goldschmidt has a ceiling
After you've come second in MVP voting, there's not much room for improvement. Indeed, a drop-off is much more likely. Look at his predecessors, and how their bWAR numbers compared the next season. Over the past four years, seven of eight MVP runners-up have regressed the following year. The average drop? 3.3 wins.
- 2012: NL Ryan Braun, 6.9 to 1.9; AL Mike Trout, 10.8 to 8.9
- 2011: Matt Kemp, 8.2 to 2.4; AL Jacoby Ellsbury, 8.1 to 1.0
- 2010: Albert Pujols, 7.5 to 5.3; AL Miguel Cabrera, 6.4 to 7.5
- 2009: Hanley Ramirez, 7.3 to 2.8; AL Mark Teixeira, 5.3 to 4.1
6. Brandon McCarthy shoulder's the blame
We got lucky last year, with McCarthy "only" missing two months of the season. The resulting 135 innings was the second-highest in his career. More likely for 2014? Well, over the past six seasons, McCarthy has averaged 14.5 appearances per year and 89 innings - as a comparison, Heath Bell has averaged 68.2. Whoever is our #6 starter this season had better have a suitcase packed.
7. Miggy continues to like tacos more than hits
Well, he's not Henry Blanco, but Miguel Montero will turn 31 before the All-Star break. After a couple of "iron man" years, he dropped back to fifth in the league for innings behind the plate, and they weren't very good innings at that. He didn't hit worth a damn and 59 balls got past him, the most in the major leagues. It's almost like he gave up as soon as his big contract kicked in.
8. Your Arizona Banana Splits
We have a lot of hitters with monstrous gaps between the numbers when facing left- and right-handed pitchers. That's particularly true vs. LHP, where last year we had Montero (OPS .492), Didi Gregorius (.512) and Gerardo Parra (.501). But vs. RHP we also had Ross (.603), A.J. Pollock (.678) and Martin Prado (.716). Both sets are ripe for late-inning exploitation of match-ups by a savvy opposing manager.
9. This just isn't a very good starting rotation
Line us up against the Dodgers, one through five, and face it, it's almost embarrassing. Not that our pitchers are bad, but can you honestly say anyone provokes - not even fear, I'd settle for mild concern, when opposing hitters realize who they're facing. We don't have a Kershaw or a Cain, and Kevin Towers knew it: that's why he was seeking a "top of the rotation" starter. Somehow, we ended up with Bronson Arroyo.
10. Operation Trumbo Drop
I'm tempted just to include The GIF and leave it at that. But to expand. There's a real risk that his defense will more than counter whatever he brings with the bat - and if his OBP stays at last season's miserable .294, that's going to be less than you think. But shiny home-runs! By the end of the year, we may be looking wistfully and sighing deeply, at Adam Eaton and Tyler Skaggs,