The 2013 Arizona Diamondbacks had another ho-hum mediocre season finishing 81-81, 11 games behind the NL West Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. I had high hopes for the D-backs in 2013 but it was not to be as the Diamondbacks faded down the stretch. As we all know expectations are just that, expectations and many things need to go right for a team to be able to make it to the postseason and the Diamondbacks just had too many things go wrong for them to pull it all together and make a run deep into the postseason. This is not necessarily a comprehensive wish list for 2014, but things I feel the Diamondbacks need to have happen for them to turn things around next season especially with how little cap space they have for 2014.
The key for the starters is either avoiding a slump or recovering from one. The prime examples are Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley. Miley had a phenomenal 2012 Rookie season and almost won the NL Rookie of the Year award, finishing second to Bryce Harper. Miley’s 2012 stat line reads like this: 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA, and a 1.182 WHIP. Expectations were high this past season, but Miley struggled going 10-10, 3.55 ERA, and a 1.32 WHIP. He also had a 3.5 WAR in 2012 that fell to 1.3 this past season. Needless to say he was not the same player and the D-backs need a bounce back year from Miley.
While the team needs a recovery from Miley, they also need Corbin to avoid one. Corbin was sensational in his first full season in the big leagues. He went 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and a 2.8 WAR. Despite his great season the Diamondbacks have to hope he can avoid the sophomore slump that can plague so many young pitchers, because if he can he should have another phenomenal season.
The team also needs Daniel Hudson to come back from injury and show the promise that made the D-backs trade Edwin Jackson for him. The bullpen needs to be solidified as well. It is obvious two closers past their prime and the team blowing 29 saves out of 67 opportunities is not the answer. Heath Bell and J.J. Putz are not as effective as they once were and Brad Ziegler and David Hernandez aren’t the answers either. The D-backs will need G.M. Kevin Towers to work his magic to find a top closer through either the trade or free agent markets.
The one area the Diamondbacks need help is protecting first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt had his best season this year and is a finalist for the N.L. MVP award. He had a .302 average, a .402 OBP, a .551 SLG, 125 RBIs, 36 home runs, and 99 walks. The major improvement with Goldschmidt this year has been patience. His strikeout percentage dropped from 22.2 in 2012 to 20.4 last season. Goldschmidt was intentionally walked 19 times and walked 99 times last season, simply because there was nobody in the lineup that could protect him. The fact he put up the numbers he did without seeing decent pitches most of the season is astounding. The Diamondbacks either need to trade for someone or bring up Matt Davidson if they feel he is ready to hit at the big league level.
This is the one area I feel the team doesn’t need much improvement in. They were recently named the National League Defensive Team of the Year by Wilson, with outfielder Gerardo Parra winning the N.L. Defensive Player of the Year. The team had a fielding percentage of .988, tied for tops in the league. For more on the defensive awards of the year read my colleague Thomas Lynch’s article here.
With these changes the Diamondbacks can compete in 2014 and hopefully bring a second World Series Championship to the desert in 2014.