Players start to arrive this week for spring training. Who will you be watching most closely?
DBacksEurope: It is just Spring Training, like they always say, and that is true, of course. I once tried to find out if there was some kind of a relationship between the D-Backs performance in ST and the season, but couldn’t find anything trustworthy. Considering that, I always try to keep an eye on the pitching. Every year in ST in the Greinke era we would be worried about loss in velocity, stuff, etc. and I was always hoping for just a “normal” ST. Now there is another big fat contract with worries and I hope we don’t see our anxieties solidified by terrible Bumgarner pitching. So, with that I have already answered the next question as well. Wait…the Diamondbacks just re-signed Chafin. I’m all pumped up to see The Sheriff again.
Wesley: Pretty much what DBE said. I do try to keep an eye on prospects though, but he only player I’m really keeping an eye on is Kristian Robinson. For his own sake I hope he can finally play this season, and hopefully breeze through the farm system. (I’m not going to hold my breath though)
Spencer: It’s just Spring Training. As someone who doesn’t live close enough to attend games, it’s not that interesting anymore. But, I’d like to see how Ahmed looks in the field. His health and defense could be the biggest boon in the early going this season.
Makakilo: Quick note: Sunday morning my desktop PC’s monitor died. Yay for my phone!
I will look for clues about which bullpen pitchers are showing breakthrough/lights-out performance. The specific bullpen pitchers that I am most excited about are listed in A Different Offseason Report Card, which is scheduled to post on Tuesday!
James: Mostly, I will be watching to see what roster competitions emerge. There are a handful of players who need to step up and prove they deserve to be there. Does Pfaadt even have a chance to crack the OD roster?
ISH95: I’m going to be watching the combo of Pfaadt/Jameson/Nelson/Henry to see who gets that last starter spot. Other than that, the rest of the roster is more or less set, and the battles that are left aren’t particularly interesting.
What are your biggest concerns for the team going into spring?
DBacksEurope: To see how the rotation holds up. Take all results with a pinch of salt, but if Bumgarner and our rookie starters are starting to give up bombs, I’ll be one of the skeptical voices on this site despite Spring Training.
Wesley: I’m really hoping we see an intelligently constructed roster that balances giving our young players opportunities to succeed, while keeping the team competitive. Let’s not waste starts on Madbum if he’s awful this year. Give those starts to someone who actually has the potential to improve and has a long term future with the team, ie Pfaadt, Jameson, Nelson, Henry, etc. If Nick Ahmed looks toast defensively and offensively, give someone like Blaze Alexander a shot.
Spencer: I’ve got zero worries about Spring Training. Injuries will happen, but we have depth now (I remain skeptical Longo and Pavin count as depth, but I’m prepared to be proven wrong). Tough roster decisions will be made and by May it’ll look (hopefully only) slightly different. My biggest “worry” is how much regression we get from Merrill Kelly in the second half of the season. He’s coming off a career year, high innings count and now he’s going to throw competitive innings before the season starts. If anyone can outlast that, it’ll be Mainstay Merrill, but a rough end to his season isn’t outlandish.
Makakilo: My view is similar to Spencer’s that the Diamondbacks have depth this season, providing time for an injured player to recover without tanking the season.
Nevertheless, my biggest concern is the rotation. Either injuries or slumps in performance could really tank the season. And as an optimist, I hope two things:
- The young starters are stars.
- Madison Bumgarner has a great season.
James: Despite the winter spending, I am still wondering about team depth. I tend to believe the depth is still going to have to come from rookies, but I am not convinced the front office will let that happen before the deadline.
ISH95: I will continue to be worried about the bullpen until further notice. It’s been the biggest problem the team has for years now, and Hazen hasn’t/hasn’t been able to do much about it
Are you sad that David Peralta is now a Dodger?
DBacksEurope: Man, isn’t that terrible news. He is such a fun dude and was one of the bigger faces of this franchise and now he’ll wear that white and blue, horrible! But, he was a free agent and if the Dodgers were the only ones to give him a nice one-year contract, you can’t blame the guy. I am not resentful either, I always hope the best for players after their time in Arizona and I think David Peralta will not be like AJ Pollock and piss on the Diamondbacks’ fans. However, I’d have thought he would have been a nice fit in Miami.
Wesley: Not at all. Getting upset over a player signing with a division rival is a waste of time and energy.
Spencer: No. he wanted to keep playing. He’s never really been on a truly competitive team. Chase that ring David. Chase it, but don’t earn it (sorry). And so long as he doesn’t suddenly develop an AJ Pollock level ego, he’s always going to be one of my favorites.
I’d have been angry if he took a coaching or special assistant position elsewhere. If he’s going to do that, I want him back in Arizona. He’s the type of Veteran Presence I’d like our new young core to have.
Makakilo: Corbin Carroll will be a joy to watch in the outfield. My expectation is that the Diamondbacks’ outfield will be outstanding thereby leaving little room for regrets about David Peralta moving on to another team.
James: I wish it wasn’t the Dodgers, but the Rays and Yankees both walked away late in the off-season, so it isn’t like he picked the Dodgers from a long list of stores. Long may he play well against any team not playing home games in AZ.
ISH95: Wesley is right, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sad/pissed/whatever.
Fangraphs projected Arizona at 81 wins with a 26% playoff chance. Too high, too low or about right?
DBacksEurope: Could be about right. I haven’t seen the schedule yet and I am very disappointed in our off-season, so I am inclined to say it is too high, but if everything works out well and the youngsters are as good as we hope they are, the Diamondbacks could see themselves playing .500 ball. But expecting all young players to perform well is perhaps an utopia.
Wesley: On paper, the Diamondbacks look like a .500 team to me, without any real breakout performances from our prospects. I think this team has the potential to surprise a lot of people, especially if we see our young pitching prospects breakout. The NL West is the toughest division in the National League, The AL East is the only other division that’s more competitive, and I think the Orioles last year are a good model for the D’Backs this year.
My honest expectation though is for everything to be awful… that way I can’t be disappointed.
Spencer: I prefer to think positively (if realistically). I think 500 is manageable this year, but mostly due to playing a balanced schedule (which unlike DBE I have been scouring over in an attempt to find out just how many times I can drive to see them play in Midwest or east coast ballparks this year). However, I’m much more confident in this core for 2024 than this year. There are A LOT of weak links expected to get significant playing time (Ahmed, Longo, MadBum, Thomas). 2023 will be fun, but with some deep ruts I think. 2024 should be about bursting out.
Makakilo: Although FanGraphs’ projection of 81 wins was higher than other projections, it’s still too low. Two reasons follow:
- In the off-season the Diamondbacks improved the team while retaining their strengths. Details are in A Different Offseason Report Card, which is scheduled to post Tuesday/
- Last season the Diamondbacks underperformed compared to their capabilities. Evidence of that underperformance was that after the All-Star-Break they improved their defense (DRS) and batting (hits per PA).
My most recent projection (after Varsho was traded away) was 86.6 wins. That projection is supported by their off-season improvements, and by their higher OBP which will result in more built innings, leading to more wins than generally anticipated.
James: I think anything less than 81 wins results in a new overhaul of the entire system, starting with Hazen. I do think 81 games feels about right, especially if they cut dead weight sooner rather than later.
ISH95: I think it’s a reasonable, professional projection. The number I give in what will probably be the next round table will be higher.
13 D-backs will be in the WBC. Who are you following?
DBacksEurope: I will follow Jacob Steinmetz. He will play for Israel and his background story is remarkable so I think he is an interesting guy to watch. I am not sure if he will play though, he is rather young.
Another young kid, but with a good chance to pitch is the new Czech Boris Vecerka. The Czech Republic will be a fun team to watch: their debut at the WBC and they are basically a full home grown team. Maybe Vecerka will flash some potential in an inning or two, who knows.
But I will keep you all updated on how the Diamondbacks will fare in the tournament.
Wesley: Steinmetz now that DBE mentioned him. I actually won’t really be doing much other than checking out Rōki Sasaki on team Japan.
Spencer: Whomever I get notifications about. Thomas maybe to see if he’s tweaked anything to make himself a better hitter? But Mexico won’t be in the tournament long. Goldy and Nolan because they are Goldy and Nolan? Steinmetz is a guy I like overall, so I may keep an eye on him too.
Makakilo: Emmanuel Rivera. With the acquisition of Evan Longoria, his role on the team is unclear. As DBacksEurope wrote, whether he remains on the 40 man roster is far from assured. More so than most players, his performance in the WBC could greatly impact his future, even if that future involves being traded to another team. Emmanuel Rivera will be playing at his peak performance every moment of every game. That is worth watching!
James: I’ll be following whatever coverage I can get my eyes on. I keep waiting for the WBC to get even bigger and more important.
ISH95: I just hope both teams have fun, and everyone stays healthy.
Following up on last week, what live-action film is your “That was great. I never want to see it again” movie?
Wesley: Aside from Schindler’s List, there are a bunch I can just list off the top of my head. There’s the original South Korean version of Oldboy. (The Spike Lee remake doesn’t have nearly the impact.) We Need to Talk About Kevin, the Lobster, VVitch, Hereditary, Bone Tomahawk, the Lighthouse, and the Killing of a Sacred Deer are all on my list of movies I don’t need to see again. For all the old timers, Deliverance is still very disturbing, especially for survivors of sexual assault. American History x is up there for the same reason.
DBacksEurope: That’s an interesting question. I’d have said Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, but recently I feel the urge to watch it again, because that movie kicks ass. The first time I watched it I didn’t know a thing about it, didn’t read anything about it, and I was nailed to the couch from the beginning to the end. So, with Apocalypto disqualified I could pick The Passion from Mel Gibson because I found it impressive and disgusting and I’ll never watch it again.
Wesley: I totally forgot about The Passion. That is definitely a movie I don’t need to see a second time.
Makakilo: The Green Lantern. Although it was great, very few people wanted to see the planned sequel, which was canceled.
James: I will be keeping with the theme from last week and depression. Requiem for a Dream. The film ranks right alongside Grace of the Fireflies for me in terms of a soul-crushing experience.
ISH95: The Green Knight. It was a beautiful, weird movie, and I very much enjoyed seeing it in theaters. It was a very different take on the source material and kept me interested from beginning to end. I have zero desire to watch it again.
Jim: James took my nominee: Requiem for a Dream is the most effective “Don't do drugs” in cinema history, a relentless descent into hell. Instead, I'll go with Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark, a musical. About capital punishment. Starring Bjork.