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How close are the D'backs to being contenders?

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After a disastrous 2014 season, can the D'backs really be a contender by this time in 2015?

Ralph Freso

2014 was simply a terrible year for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  From all the injuries, to Reed's blown saves, to the Cahill outings, it all equaled to a 64-98 season, the second worst in franchise history.

Yet, I believe we can be competitive in 2015.

Now trust me, I'm not saying we're 2015 World Series favorites. But I don't possibly see us finishing with the worst record in baseball again. Healthy, our team is just too good to be that bad, and that's the first and foremost thing we need in 2015, a healthy ball club. Of course every team will have their fair share of injuries, but we bordered on Texas Rangers territory this season. A team with a full season Owings, Pollock, Trumbo, and Goldy in their lineup, along with Corbin and Arroyo contributing in the starting rotation, does not lose 98 games.

Of course, that also means players like Daivd Peralta and Chase Anderson aren't a pleasant surprise like they ended up being in 2014. So in 2015, let's add it all up.

Lineup

Don't look now, but the D'backs could quietly feature one of the best offenses in baseball come 2015. A big question mark comes in the outfield, as once again the D'backs deal with four outfielders in Inciarte, Trumbo, Peralta, and Pollock, who are all good hitters. It'll be interesting to see if Dave Stewart's first big move is trading one of them to get some pitching. This could also be the case with one of our young infielders if Trumbo moves to 3rd base. Here's the lineup I expect to see:

  1. Pollock CF
  2. Peralta RF
  3. Goldy 1B
  4. Trumbo LF
  5. Montero C
  6. Owings SS
  7. Hill 2B
  8. Lamb 3B

As exciting as Inciarte is, we acquired Trumbo for a reason, even if that means a horror show in left field. It could be even better if we could move Trumbo to third and put the three youngsters in the outfield - but playing left is clearly hard enough for Trumbo, much less a move to third base. Still, having Aaron Hill the #7 hitter isn't too shabby.

Rotation

Here would be my guess for the starting rotation:

  1. Corbin
  2. Anderson
  3. Hudson
  4. Miley
  5. Bradley/Collmenter/Nuno

On paper, that starting rotation is much better than 2014, but the results most likely will be decided with the comebacks of Daniel Hudson and Patrick Corbin from Tommy John. I'm not big on the theory that Tommy John surgery makes your arm feel brand new, which adds velocity, but I also don't think Corbin or Hudson will suffer from it. Honestly, as the case with mostly everyone in the rotation, I expect an ERA around the mid 3's.

Another big question mark in the rotation is if this will be the year Archie Bradley makes his debut in 2015. Overall, the rotation looks much better, but it needs to remain healthy.

Bullpen

There's no question Reed wasn't exactly a joy to watch in 2014. I still believe he has potential, and we saw flashes of that with Reed striking out over a batter per inning, and at one point converting over ten straight saves. The simple thing is that he needs to work on that slider and locating his fastball. 93 mph fastballs right down the middle won't work in the bigs.

With the return of David Hernandez, he and Brad Ziegler brings a nice 7th and 8th inning role, along with the rise of Evan Marshall and Matt Stites. It'll be fun to watch the rise of all our young bullpen arms - one of our biggest assets in the farm system.

  • Reed - Closer
  • Hernandez/Ziegler Set-up
  • Stites/Marshall - key situational relief/Set-up
  • Lefty FA
  • Collmenter/Bolsinger - Long relief

So are we contenders next year?

This whole article is probably near-worthless to write, given a whole off season to look forward to, with trades and free agent signings to be made. But for the most part, this is your 2015 D'backs.

It supplies a nice group of exciting young players, along with solid veterans. Pitching should keep us in games, which is all you need with a very good offense. The additions of previously injured players coming back into 2015 could be the most joyful part of 2015.

Overall, the team looks a lot better in 2015. Of course, how could it get any worse? I'm not saying we'll be getting drunk over playoff baseball by this time next year, but I am ready to see a healthy, competitive team in 2015.

D'backs games begin April 6th!