Very excited to see what Paul Goldschmidt and the rest of the D’backs will do in 2015. Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Opening Day is here and it couldn’t get here quickly enough. The 2015 Arizona Diamondbacks begin play tonight against the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. It doesn’t get much better than this. Although the D’backs are coming off a 98 loss season and are not expected to contend this year, there are plenty of reasons why I am excited. Number one it’s baseball and number two, there is still a lot to like about the Snakes.
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The Position Players
This is the part of the team that has me the most pumped. Paul Goldschmidt is the “old man” of the infield and while that brings some anxiety, I am really looking forward to see what a full season from Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed and Jake Lamb could bring to the table. I can’t wait to see these guys swing the bat, particularly the potential of Lamb and Owings. Defensively, this unit, with the Gold Glove at first in Goldschmidt and the potential highlight reel at short with Ahmed, could be one of the best in the game. Aaron Hill is not too shabby of a backup, either.
In the outfield, I want to see what a 600 at-bat season from A.J. Pollock looks like. His pace last year before going down with an injury could have produced one of the best for a center fielder. Likewise, we want to know if Mark Trumbo can supply the 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s that was expected of him upon his arrival. The debuts of David Peralta and Ender Inciarte in 2014 were bright spots in a dismal campaign. I look forward to the encores of both men. It is so easy to root for Tuffy Gosewisch. After all that time in the Minors, it is great to see him break camp as the starting catcher.
As much as I am enthused about the lineup, it is the group that has me equally nervous. I am thrilled to see Josh Collmenter get the ball tonight. No more going back to the bullpen for him, he is in the rotation to stay. Can Chase Anderson follow up on a solid rookie campaign? I can see Jeremy Hellickson get on every fan’s last nerve with every 5 inning, 100 pitch outing. There is a lot of pressure on Rubby De La Rosa, the main piece that sent Wade Miley to Boston. The fact that Archie Bradley is finally in the starting rotation makes his starts must-watch TV.
The bullpen has some solid arms but no one capable of dominating in the mold of Craig Kimbrel or Dellin Betances. Addison Reed desperately has to cut down on giving up home runs. Brad Ziegler’s health after microfracture surgery could be the key to the entire ‘pen. Evan Marshall can’t fall off after a nice rookie season. The remarkable return of Daniel Hudson takes another turn with his first spot on an Opening Day roster since 2012. Oliver Perez and Andrew Chafin should make a nice lefty pair for new manager Chip Hale.
The bottom line:
You have to remember this club lost 98 games last year. Although injuries played a major role in their undoing, the fact is it just wasn’t a very good team. The new regime alone might be worth five additional wins because of the negativity surrounding the deposed Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson. Although there have been numerous improvements and much youth injected into the D’backs, the pitching will hinder the won-loss record. A 17 game improvement to an 81-81 mark might be asking a lot of this squad. However, there is no reason why a double digit addition to their victory total can’t be done. I figure 75-78 wins is about right; how about a final record of 76-86? Perhaps it won’t be reflected in the final numbers but this will be a fun season to watch.