Finally, finally, FINALLY. The regular season will resume uninterrupted until the All Star Break. The Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the more intriguing teams in Major League Baseball after their offseason dealings and now have their best pitcher sidelined for all of 2014. Many questions abound for the Snakes with the first pitch now literally hours away. I have narrowed them down to three and I am sure those of you reading this have some more of your own.
- Can Paul Goldschmidt possibly repeat or better his 2013 season? The National League MVP runner-up, Goldy will now be the focus of every single pitcher his team plays against. Every team’s scouting report will now say, “Don’t let Paul Goldschmidt beat you”. You would have to assume the pitches won’t be there for him and there is no possible way he can match 2013′s gaudy numbers. After all, he led the National League in home runs, RBI’s, slugging, OPS and total bases. Yet, we can expect his walk numbers to go over the 100 mark and perhaps have his strikeouts decrease from 145. That’s an improvement, is it not? Plus, we know based on interviews with peers and coaches that Goldy has a work ethic second to none. Maybe the 125 RBI’s won’t be there as an increase in walks with runners on base takes the bat out of his hands. However, there is no reason to believe those home runs can’t inch up (think solo shots) and with an improved lineup the 103 runs scored from last season can tick up by five or seven. Maybe he won’t lead the league in all of those categories again but 2014 can certainly turn out to be a better year.
- Can Patrick Corbin be adequately replaced? If you are basing this on the number of wins he had last season, the answer is yes. The lefty had 14 of them which can be made up by improved victory totals of Wade Miley and Brandon McCarthy. However, the real answer is no. When you look at his statistics, especially the ones from the first half, you will realize that not many pitchers in baseball, let alone anyone on the Arizona staff, could possibly duplicate those numbers. His ERA through the end of July was 2.24. Even though Corbin struggled toward the end, he still managed outings like an eight inning, three run effort on September 6th. Miley will get to 220 innings but there is no indication that anyone else on the staff will get to the 208 1/3 Corbin threw in 2013, not even Bronson Arroyo. It is not easy to replace one of the top pitchers in baseball unless you have a system like the St. Louis Cardinals. The D’backs have a good one but it will not be enough to make up for the devastating loss of Corbin.
- Will the payroll increase if the team is in the playoff hunt? At $106 million dollars (or thereabouts), the D’backs payroll is the highest in franchise history. The team made a competitive offer to Masahiro Tanaka and made late bids for Carlos Beltran and Shin-Soo Choo before signing Arroyo. However, skeptics will tell you that the team was never a serious player for Beltran and Choo and there was no way the New York Yankees were not walking away without Tanaka. Those offseason free agent bids were nothing more than window dressing to placate a jaded fan base. I am not a skeptic and I do believe if the right offer came along, even it means taking on a significant salary, that the organization would follow through with it. An equal question might be what level of prospect(s) is the team willing to part with?
Please feel free to submit any other questions the D’backs are facing in 2014 in the Comments section.