Ian Kennedy will get at least 17 wins but the D'backs will fall just short of the playoffs in 2013. Image: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Improved D'backs Will Fall Short of NL West Title

These are the fun times for those of us lucky enough to blog about the Arizona Diamondbacks at venomstrikes.com.  Opening Day is oh so close and we get to write about where we think the D’backs will finish in the upcoming season.   I love the optimism of my colleague, Christian Moffet who is picking the Snakes to win the National League West this year.  You can check out his thoughts here.  I, too, would love to follow his lead and pick the Snakes to win the West as well.  However, they are in the same division as the San Francisco Giants, winners of two out of the last three World Series.  There is no reason for me to believe that they will not repeat as division champs.  As far as the Wild Card goes, well, I don’t think the D’backs will capture either one of those spots.

Even though I believe the D’backs will not make the playoffs, I do think they will improve on their 81 win total from 2012.  Despite being very much against the Justin Upton trade, I understand what Kevin Towers is trying to accomplish.  The organization is trying to implement a certain type of philosophy and certain types of players who can adhere to that philosophy.  Whether you agree or disagree with it, at least they have a plan.  I would still have Arizona falling short of the playoffs even if Upton was still with the team.  There are two reasons why I feel that way.  The first has to do with the competition.  Despite what many prognosticators feel, I feel the balance of power is with the National League.  NL teams have won four out of the last five World Series and the last three All-Star Games.  If the D’backs were in the American League, I could see them winning the East or the West.  However, the D’backs are stuck in the same division as the Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers plus have to fight it out with proven teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies and upstarts like the Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals .  The injuries that are plaguing the D’backs, particularly the outfield in Spring Training may get them off to a slow start, something they can not afford to do with all of these teams so close to each other.

My second issue is that while Arizona does a lot of things well, not one area is what you would call dominant or great.   Sure, the everyday lineup is nice and there aren’t many holes in it but from to to bottom, does it strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers?   This is where the loss of Adam Eaton for almost two months will really hurt the team.  Batting leadoff and with his speed, he could cause major headaches for the defense.   A lot was expected of him and this could make the rest of the lineup a little bit easier to work around the first six weeks of the season.  The starting pitching has the potential to be great but a lot of pieces have to fall into place.  Ian Kennedy will get to 17 or 18 wins.  After that you have the following questions:   Will Wade Miley‘s “dead arm” be an issue and can he avoid a sophomore slump?  Which Trevor Cahill shows up?  Is Brandon McCarthy mentally and physically OK after his accident last season?  Can Patrick Corbin be an adequate member of the rotation?   The bullpen is a Towers specialty but while it is pretty good, I don’t think there is any one dominant arm out there.  J.J. Putz has been tremendous since he has come to the desert but at 36 he could be due for a down year.  Fans hope they get the Heath Bell over from August through October.  David Hernandez throws gas but hopefully has gotten over his shaky WBC outing.  Don’t be surprised it Randall Delgado finds himself in the ‘pen when April hits.

The D’backs are heading in the right direction.  With a single break, they will make the playoffs in 2013.  Unfortunately, the team will start slowly because of injuries and will finish in second place with about 87 wins.  There will be a noticable improvement and the D’backs will show that they are on the verge of being playoff contenders for the next decade.

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