Five burning questions for the Diamondbacks this spring
The Diamondbacks have proudly used that hashtag ever since their uniform unveiling early winter. The vibe truly has been fresh and exciting as offseason comes to an end, with arguably as many stars coming to Salt River Fields as the 2001 team. As the Diamondbacks get ready to fulfill their promises starting with the Spring Training, we take a look at five questions that surround the team.
1. Who Will Be Their Double-Play Combo?
Incumbent tandem of Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings provided stellar defense up the middle last season while struggling to stay above Mendoza line for majority of the campaign. It was somewhat expected and acceptable considering Ahmed has always been regarded as light-hitting shortstop who provided Gold Glove-caliber defense and Owings was coming off of shoulder surgery. Now with Jean Segura on board, the Diamondbacks have three candidates for two middle infield spots. As things stand right now, it seems like Segura has inside track on winning the shortstop job with Owings benefiting from playing second all last season. But this is one position battle that’s going to go down to the wire.
2. Yasmany Tomas, Yasmany Tomas, Yasmany Tomas
The big Cuban-signee from last season who was recently displaced as record deal-holder by Diamondbacks is now the starting right fielder. There has been a talk of position switch between he and David Peralta so he can play easier position of the two, but he will start come Opening Day somewhere. He largely disappointed last season, batting only .273/.305/.707, but that came with irregular playing time while getting adjusted to life in the states. With one full season behind him and no Ender Inciarte in front of him, it’s his turn to show the Diamondbacks that their $68.5 million investment was a shrewd one.
3. Who Makes Up the Bench?
Honestly, the Diamondbacks’ roster is full of ‘locks,’ this season. Although there will be competition this spring as always, most of their starting position players, rotation, and bullpen have been solidified coming in to camp. One area that seems unclear and in some ways, inexperienced, is the bench. A solid bench who can come off cold for a pinch hit or be a defensive replacement for fielding liability such as Tomas could be vital for success. As it stands, utility man Phil Gosselin and outfielder Socrates Brito are the closest thing to being locks on the bench. A backup catcher, whether it be recovering Tuffy Gosewisch or newly acquired Chris Herrmann, will surely grab one spot. The loser of the aforementioned middle-infield battle will likely get the other. Last remaining spot could easily go to prospect such as Brandon Drury or Peter O’Brien, but that could halt their development sitting on the bench all season. They could always sign another player during spring or carry an extra pitcher, but the bench definitely seem to lack a veteran presence.
4. Is This the Year Archie Bradley Breaks Out?
Archie Bradley seems to have been their top prospect for years and that’s because he has been. He broke out in stellar fashion last season going 2-0 with 1.80 ERA over 4 April starts before tailing off including that gruesome head injury. He still has amazing stuff and could be that top of the rotation pitcher that had him ranked 7th on Baseball America’s Top Prospect list even few years ago, but he needs to step up this season if he wants to fully realize his potential. He will get the chance to make the rotation out of camp, but with Robbie Ray and Rubby de la Rosa having inside track, he’ll have to out pitch both of them by sizable margin or he’ll be the first back up option during the season at the least.
5. Are They Ready to Contend?
This is what it comes down to. After the past few seasons of finishing behind the Giants and Dodgers as well as making bold, yet controversial moves, the Diamondbacks seem primed to contend for the NL West title. Many experts and analysts have looked at many of the moves made by Diamondbacks with scrutiny, but Tony La Russa, Dave Stewart and co. have maintained that they are making the sacrifices in order for them to be legitimate title contender. On paper they certainly seem to have what it takes to compete for the throne, but how they come out and perform will all depend on believing in themselves while actually putting up the numbers many of expect them to put up.