ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (NL West)
2013 record: 80-82 (2nd, 11 back)
Projected 2014: 80 wins
World Series odds: 50/1
Key additions: OF Mark Trumbo (Angels); CL Addison Reed (White Sox)
X factor: OF Cody Ross
Projected starting lineup: Infield: C – Mike Montero; 1B – Paul Goldschmidt; 2B – Aaron Hill; 3B – Martin Prado; SS – Didi Gregorius. Outfield: LF – Mark Trumbo; CF – A.J. Pollock; RF – Geraldo Parra.
Starting rotation: Patrick Corbin, Bronson Arroyo, Brandon McCarthy, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill.
Closer: Addison Reed
The Diamondbacks seem to be making their 2-game opening series in Australia against the LA Dodgers a much bigger deal than are their opponents.
The team website was all about promoting Australia and trying to convert the country into Diamondback fans. Clearly fan support will certainly be welcomed in a division the Dodgers will be heavily favored to win.
Manager Kirk Gibson, a former Dodger, knows that the D’backs were closer to the Giants, Padres and Rockies than they were to the Dodgers. To improve upon 80-82, both first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and ace Patrick Corbin must play a full season and either match or exceed 2013.
Goldy had a breakthrough season, leading the club in homers (36), RBI (125) and second in batting average (.302). Arizona tried in the offseason to give him some protection, picking up Angels slugger Mark Trumbo.
Patrick Corbin is the clear No. 1 in the starting rotation, leading the team in wins (14), ERA (3.41) and strikeouts (178) a year ago. The D’backs signed White Sox closer Addison Reed (40 saves) and added longtime Cincinnati Reds starter Bronson Arroyo.
Outfielder Cody Ross (fractured hip) didn’t really figure into the 2014 plans, but has made such a speedy progress that he will be making the trip to Australia.
Other than Goldschmidt, the D’backs don’t have the marquee name but this is a solid club across the board that takes on the Gibson trait of fighting to the very end.
Bottom line: The NL is noted for last to first and first to last turnarounds the following season. But as of March it looks like everyone will be battling for second this year.
On deck: Atlanta Braves
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].