1. Better health
Touch wood, we probably won't have four pitchers simultaneously undergoing rehab from Tommy John surgery, as we did during the second half of the season. Nor should we lose A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt - our two most productive players last year by bWAR - for a total of 141 games, to broken hands resulting from errant pitches. Only the Rangers and Padres lost more days on the DL in 2014 than the Diamondbacks, and we had about twice as many as the MLB median.
2. The Tomas effect
Yasman Tomas was signed to the biggest contract in Diamondbacks history this winter. While it would be optimistic to expect him to repeat the success of Jose Abreu, there is plenty of upside, and I'm looking forward immensely to seeing what he brings to the table in 2015.
3. Underperormers rebound #1: Cahill discovers his mojo
We're paying Trevor Cahill $12 million this season, regardless of what happens. It would be nice if he lived up to that price-tag. I'm not demanding anything miraculous, but even a simple return to the level of his first season with the Diamondbacks, when he was worth 2.6 bWAR, would all by itself be an improvement of around four wins over last season.
4. New management, new hope
Chip Hale has an excellent record as a minor-league manager: his teams had a record above .500 in all but one of the six seasons, with an overall mark of 405-317, a .561 winning percentage. Obviously, that was heavily influenced by the quality of the players he had, but I'm keen to discover if he can be as successful getting the most out of his players at the major-league level.
5. Underperformers rebound #2: Trumbo learns to fly
Okay, "Fly" might be a stretch, but I'll settle for him returning to his slugging ways: Good health may well be a factor here in well, but over his three full seasons with the Anaheim Angels, he averaged 2.6 bWAR and 32 home-runs. That kind of production in 2015 would again represent close to four wins more than last year.
6. Bradley is all he can be
Remember last spring, when he was competing for a rotation spot? If the Diamondbacks had a season to forget, their top pitching prospect, Archie Bradley, may well want to be rid of 2014 even more. Derailed by injury, he never got back to the form expected, even in the Arizona Fall League, and his stock has slipped considerably, with some (including our own John), dethroning him from their rankings.
7. Underperformers rebound #3: Running up that Hill
Like Cahill, Aaron Hill will be paid $12 million by the Diamondback this year. Unlike Cahill, he is also on the books, for the same amount, in 2016. Getting decent output from Hill, will either help the team directly, or if the team decides to move in a different direction, make it easier to shift the contract in a trade.
8. Who is the man in the iron mask?
One of the major issues remaining to be addressed between now and spring training, is the position of starting catcher. With the departure of Miguel Montero, and the lack of any obvious replacement, the team will almost certainly need to sign or deal for an everyday catcher. Getting good value from the position will help, though for long-term success, how Peter O'Brien develops in the minors is probably more important.
9. Relief from the bullpen
And it wasn't solely Addison Reed that hurt us. Arizona lost 20% of the games they were leading after six innings last year. League average was only 12%. We need, not just Reed, but also Brad Ziegler, Evan Marshall, David Hernandez and anyone else seeing high-leverage work, to be better at putting up those zeroes.
10. A smarter front-office
After a wobbly first trade, acquiring Jeremy Hellickson (who well have been another rebounder), the subsequent transaction have inspired more confidence in Dave Stewart and his team, apparently building as much for the future as the short-term. Hopefully, 2015 will see more of these kinds of trades, and less of the long-term contracts to players on the wrong side of the aging curve, which helped the previous incumbents dig the hole we saw in 2014.