NL West First Look – AZ DBacks

Pundits can spin it anyway they want, but the DBacks suffered huge losses this offseason. Patrick Corbin signed a big 6 year $140MM contract with the Nationals, AJ Pollock signed a 5 year $60MM contract with LAD, and all-world 1B Paul Goldschmidt was traded to the Cards. So three teams that figured to be in contention anyway picked up the DBacks top 3 players. How does a team that won 82 games and lost their top 3 players figure to improve? Oh well…tough to be a Snakes fan much?

The rotation will have a good top three, but the next two???? Zach Greinke (R), Robbie Ray (L), and Zack Godley (R) figure to keep the DBacks relevant for awhile. But #4 and #5 figure to be Luke Weaver (R) who came over in the Goldschmidt trade, and perhaps Merrill Kelly (R) who pitched in the KBO last year. Can Greinke hold on for another year? Can Ray come back from an off year? When will Taijuan Walker actually make it back? If Weaver and/or Kelly do not work as planned, who else can be considered? Their top two prospects, Jon Duplantier (R) and Taylor Widener (R) do not figure to be ready until next year.. That leaves Matt Koch (R), Braden Shipley (R), and perhaps prospect Taylor Clarke (R) or even journeyman Ricky Nolasco (R). It is hard to understand why the DBacks did not re-sign Clay Buchholz. After Ray, the DBacks do not have any other LHSP in the roster or in the immediate top minor league prospects.

Archie Bradley figures to start the season as the closer for AZ with perhaps Greg Holland and/or Yoshihisa Hirano as potential late inning candidates. Andrew Chafin (L) who will be back for his 6th season with AZ and T. J. Mcfarland (L) back for his 3rd year figure to be the pair of LHRP for the Snakes. Rule 5 Nick Green (R) will get every opportunity to make the team as will Silvio Bracho (R). Long reliever could be Shipley unless they want to keep him starting. Other relief candidates Marc Rzepczynski (L), Rubby De La Rosa (R), Jimmy Sherfy (R), Matt Andriese (R), Robby Scott (L), and Joey Krehbiel (R). Sleeper candidate is prospect Yoan Lopez (R).

Jeff Mathis is now a Texas Ranger, but two of the three DBack catchers are back for another season, John Ryan Murphy and Alex Avila. Carson Kelly, who also came to AZ in the Goldschmidt trade, figures to get the first opportunity to become the regular catcher with Murphy and Avila in reserve. My dark horse catcher candidate is Caleb Joseph. Carson Kelly has a chance to make a name for himself in AZ.

The infield figures to be Jake Lamb (1B), Wilmer Flores (2B), Eduardo Escobar (3B), and Nick Ahmed (SS). Gone from last year are Daniel Descalso (Cubs) and Chris Owings (Royals) with last year’s 2B, Ketel Marte, moving to CF. Jake Lamb now in his 6th year with AZ is moving to 1B from 3B. Christian Walker is just not considered a plausible everyday 1B candidate, but could make the team as the RH pinch hitter. After playing his entire professional career with the Mets, Wilmer Flores was non-tendered by NYM and the DBacks quickly picked him up. Flores figures to be the regular 3B. Eduardo Escobar, who the DBacks acquired last year from the Twins at the trade deadline, was re-signed to a three year FA contract this past winter, and is scheduled to be the regular 2B. Strong defensive SS, Nick Ahmed, will be entering his 6th season with the DBacks, and if he learns how to really handle the bat, could become an AS SS. Former SFG infielder, Kelby Tomlinson, will battle for a roster spot with Christian Walker.

The OF looks to be David Peralta in left, Ketel Marte in center, and Steven Souza Jr. in right. It could be a decent offensive OF, but defensively they seem to be lacking in strong defensive skills all around. The sleeper could be how quick Marte takes to CF. Jarrod Dyson, Socrates Brito, Tim Locastro, and Matt Szczur will battle for the 4th and 5th OF. The wild card is the perennial hope of Yasmany Tomas, who has a ton of talent, but has disappointed so many times. Dyson could be the defensive late inning OF. Locastro has the options remaining, but he has more diversification than any other bench player and should get strong consideration. He can play all over the field. Locastro was one of my favorite Dodger farm hands, and I will be pulling strong for him to gain a roster spot.

The problem the DBacks have is that there is very little help in the minors to help with the rebuild process. Not one of their top prospects is ready for MLB, and some are several years away. Included in their top 10 are 3 SS, 2 catchers, 2 RHSP, and 3 OF. There are a couple of very high ceiling but low floor candidates in SS Jazz Chisholm (MLB Pipeline #60), and OF Kristian Robinson. Their two RHP candidates should begin the season at AA. Jon Duplantier (#73) who has been a top rated pitching prospect for awhile, but many are now beginning to get concerned whether he is an injury risk. Taylor Widener (#83) could hit AAA this year, but looks to be headed to the bullpen in a non high leverage role. I am going to watch two of their OF prospects taken in the 2018 draft very close to where the Dodgers swung and missed with JT Ginn. Alek Thomas (2nd round) and Jake McCarthy (1st supp) should start the season in the Midwest League, so DC should be able to get a good scouting report on both of them.

Interesting to note that one of the projected Dodger draftees in the 2017 draft was Pavin Smith. However, he seems to be taking the same downward spiral tumble that fellow 2017 1st round draftee, Jeren Kendall, seems to be on.

The DBacks are definitely not deep in either pitching, catching, infield, or outfield. They have enough ML and enough SP to make them think they can compete, but there just not nearly enough. I look for them to beat out the Giants for 4th in the NL West.

This article has 53 Comments

  1. If I were a D-Bag fan, I would be looking for a tall building to jump from. I am not a hater, but it’s nice to see the D-Bags and Midgets sucking!

    OK, here’s one for you:

    If you could make a “Deal with the Devil” (no, not Scott Borass) would you take a Wold Series win in 2019 in exchange for sucking the next 10 years?

    Think about that!

  2. I am happy to have a sane GM in AF. Hopefully we extend him. The long term future for the Dodgers is definitely great with him in charge.

    Any update on Jesen Therrien? I haven’t seen him pitch all spring training.

  3. Nice Hypothetical question Timmonson, Flags fly forever and participation/second place trophies are for losers, where do I sign?

    1. Timmonski might have a couple questions as well. Drop two letters from either and you get Timmons…….Mark Timmons.

  4. That depends on what you mean by “sucking the next 10 years” You mean being like SF, with VARIOUS BAD CONTRACTS? Dodgers was already in that situation, in fact I think there’s still something left. And still they have continued winning!

    Dodgers has a lot of talent in minor leagues, not just one or two players, so in theory, I think they could do some trade and even then there would still be a lot of talent …

  5. Regarding your question Mark, count me in the “no” group. Ten years of sucking amounts to having to watch (or ignore) the team for 1,620 games of lousy baseball. I’d rather get to the playoffs every year after watching good baseball and then miss the final prize.
    Now that I think of it, as a Laker fan, I might just be experiencing what you asked about. It looks like we may very well have ten years of sucking!

  6. I had to think long and hard to answer that question. Neither is an ideal outcome. I want to win a Championship now, last year, the year before and not suck going forward. We have the market and financial resources to accommodate that.

    I will answer no to sucking for the next 10 years, but I think we have a good shot at winning the WS this year regardless. But, AF has to do something to get us over the top. He’s smarter than I am, so I will trust he can pull off the ultimate feat. JT and Clayton aren’t going to be around forever, so there’s going to be some tough decisions to make. They’ll get tougher without a Championship.

    Spring Training has been fun so far. Pretty good results considering that Seager hasn’t played at all, same with Kershaw and Bueller. Nothing close to an Opening Day lineup.

    I’m rooting hard for Verdugo, but he certainly isn’t off to the start of someone knocking down the door.

    Kyle Garlick and Matt Beaty have been the biggest surprises so far.

    Yimi Garcia looks completely unhittable. He’s throwing darts, hitting spots and has great life on everything. He looks completely impossible to square up in the early going.

    Lux and Ruiz look like they need more seasoning, but have shown flashes of extreme athleticism.

    So many young arms in the pen and as future rotation pieces. It looks like Santana added a third pitch. It looks to be a power curve with downward movement. I sure hope Ferguson develops that 3rd pitch so our rotation of the future has at least 2 lefties. There certainly isn’t enough spots for all of them, so there will be trades coming.

    Errol Robinson looks great in limited action, so does Omar Estevez. Ayala and Downs, lot’s of middle infielders with little power.

    Peter, Peters, Peterson, Pederson. That’s a lot to work with if you’re a comedian.

  7. Dodgers does not need another batter, what is needed is a real ace, Kershaw is not anymore and I do not think it will be, Buehler and Urias are not yet, although I’m sure they will be …

  8. The Snakes have better hitters left than the Giants who may have the worst OF in the recent history of MLB. The Giants have better relievers; the D-Backs better starters (probably). It will be close to see who is worse between the two. At least the ‘Backs have actual major league players at most positions.

    I’m not sure that the Pads are ready to pass the other 2 bottom dwellers of the NL Worst this year – look at their starting pitching. Sure – lots of talent on the farm and several good young hitters now, but no one like Greinke, Ray or Bumgarner in the Friars’ rotation.

    The Dodgers should beat up on these 3 teams and pile up wins in their division which will help out their W – L record. The real test will be how they stack up with the teams outside the division.

    1. The reason I like the Pads to beat both the DBacks and Giants is because they play 81 games in Petco. They do not need CY type pitchers to compete in that park. I still do not understand why they do not look to sign Dallas Keuchel or at least Gio Gonzalez. If you are going to spend $300MM on Machado spend a little more for a pitcher.

      1. I read an article that says Preller expects to be in the red for a couple of years. That and the fact that they have so many arms coming up, it doesn’t make sense to spend any money on a pitcher when there’s no way they’re going to the playoffs anyways. They’re happy to have Manny sell tickets and build around and wait on those pitchers for a couple of years.

        1. Makes sense. With the pitching “potential” they have, they can be a little patient.

  9. To Mark’s question – What is your definition of suck? It’s not 31 years without a WS championship? It’s not 29 years without getting to a WS? What have we fans been experiencing? Some of the definitions of not sucking seem to be just to make the playoffs. That means that the Dodgers are in the top third of the NL. So being in the top third of the NL means not sucking? That is enough for you? Not for me.

    I grew up a Vince Lombardi fan. I grew up believing that “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

    Bobby Knight said …“The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

    And for all your Fighting Irish fans, the great Knute Rockne once said…“Show me a gracious loser and I’ll show you a failure.”

    I hate the Giants. One of my lifelong closest friends is a die hard Giants fan, and if you were to ask him if it is worth what they are experiencing now after winning 3 WS championships, he would answer…without a doubt. Consider since the 1988 WS championship the Dodgers have been to the playoffs 12 times and advanced to the WS only twice and lost both times. In comparison, since that same WS, the Giants have gone to the playoffs 9 times, gone to the WS 5 times, and won it 3 times. How long will they have to experience “sucking”? But until the Dodgers win the WS, Giant fans will be pointing to their WS shirts, jerseys, sweatshirts, jackets, hats…and ask where is my Dodgers WS champions gear and laugh. Pac Bell, AT&T, sold out in good years and bad. Oracle will still sell out this year. Because they are in a dismal state does not distract from their love of their team. They know they will be back. But what is now happening is that today’s Dodger fans and Giants fans have switched. It used to be that when the Dodgers really sucked (1967-1973) and (1989-1994), that Giants fans would laugh at us Dodger fans and all we had to say was, and how many WS have the Giants won? Even after the 1989 and 2002 WS losses by the Giants, we still had bragging rights. Not anymore.

    I would have never thought that I would have to endure 31 years without a WS championship from my beloved Dodgers. It took 20 years from 1988 to 2008 before the Dodgers got to a chance to even win the Pennant. That doesn’t suck for you? That sucks for me. I know it is hypothetical, but I would not expect the Dodgers to out and out suck for 10 years. Would I give up 4 -5 years without the playoffs to win it this year? I say yes. Three AL teams are already considered better than the Dodgers this year, and the Phillies, Braves, Cardinals, and Nationals have closed the gap, and if by some miracle the Mets make the playoffs, do you really want to face deGrom, Thor, Wheeler, and Matz in the NLDS or NLCS? The Padres are at most 2 years from going head to head against the Dodgers in the NL West.

    Ask Clayton Kershaw if he would give up his CY and MVP for a WS Ring. I think I know the answer to that. I did ask my son once what getting a WS ring meant to him, and he said…everything. It meant spending all those years in the Minor Leagues playing for no money worth it. He looked at me and said…Dad, as great as Ted Williams was, I have something he never got. He used the greatest Boston Red Sox player of all time, but you can also add Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins…

    So as much of a Packers fan as I am, and as much as I hate the Fighting Irish, it is still Knute Rockne’s line that said it best for me “Show me a gracious loser and I’ll show you a failure.”

    1. Every Giants fan that I know looks at their team’s failures of the past few years and says (to me) “but we won the World Series 3 times in 5 years”. They don’t like their current team’s failures but would take the Series wins and their subsequent failures any time – they make it clear every time it comes up. The goal can’t be just “to get into the playoffs because if you do, any team can get hot and you can win”, which is what i hear from SABRphiles regularly. The goal has to be “this is the year that we win it all”.

      With that in mind, the question for this off-season has to be “have the Dodgers done what they needed to do to put themselves over the top and win this year?” I don’t think that they have, but that’s why they play the games.

    2. I hear you AC, but I don’t look at this the same way you do. It’s been a million years since I competed on an actual field of play. Today, I look at baseball as entertainment for myself, so I want to consider how I feel turning on the tv or radio every day of the season. When I was actually competing, winning was everything. Now that I’m looking for entertainment, pleasure or lack thereof is everything.
      Would you rather see the greatest movie of all time and then spend the next ten years watching a selection of terrible movies every day, or would you rather never see the best movie of all time and spend the next ten years watching excellent movies but just not the very best one.
      I will bet that my opinion is in the minority here and that most people would agree with you. Just thought I’d present a view from the other side.

      1. It would be an interesting poll, but I think my position would actually be in the minority. I think most take the position that it is more important to be relevant every year. I grew up a swimmer in the Mark Spitz era, and losing to him regularly did not give me satisfaction that I lost to the best before Michael Phelps. I was a good (okay probably excellent) swimmer, but I was not the best, and that bothered me. I had a lot of people come up and tell me what a great race I had or how special it was to come in right behind Spitz. Let me tell you, it never felt good to come in second, even to the great Mark Spitz.

        1. AC

          I had to look at what the Dodgers did in 1973, because I didn’t remember them sucking in that year, although I was young.

          They won 95 games, and I do remember them losing to the Reds that year too, so they placed second.

          I saw the opening day line up that year, and that had to be the year, that our infield really came together, because Cey, Garvey, and Lopes were not in that opening day line up that year.

          Those were the days when the Red’s were our biggest rivals, and we always seemed to give them a good fight, even with all the hall of famer’s they had on that team, during that time.

          And of course we went to the series in 1974 and lost to the A’s, who had a very good team that year.

          1. MJ, I said ’73 because to some the team sucks if you do not make the playoffs, no matter how good you may have been. The Big Red Machine was the team to beat at the time. Even if the Dodgers won 95 games, they did not make the playoffs.

        2. Hallelujah, AC! Just like the words of the great Rickey Bobby – If you’re not first, you’re last. Second place is the first loser.

          Now I have some hypothetical questions. My answer in parentheses.

          If Clayton Kershaw chokes another WS game are you prepared to move on? Trade him? (Yes) If he keeps choking big games, he will belong in the Hall of Lame!

          If Andrew Friedman fails to get the guy that addresses your biggest need at the deadline are you prepared to move on? Not renew his contract and go with a new GM next year? (Yes) Going cheap with the bullpen last year was criminal.

          If Roberts makes head scratching moves like batting Kike in the middle of the order when he’s mired in a slump, leaving your best clutch hitter on the bench, getting out-maneuvered with over managing and predictable moves, are you ready to move on? Eat his contract and try somebody else? (Yes) – if you can’t figure it out in three years, you aren’t going to.

          I will can all three of them if they repeat what they did last year. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

    3. Clayton Kershaw could actually do something about it. He did, he handed the game to the Astros and basically the series. While everybody said he was the best pitcher on the planet he blew lead after lead and the astros scored 13 runs. He is making 33 million a year I think the Dodgers deserved better.

      Imagine the Dodgers scoring 12 runs in a kershaw start and couldn’t win. That was just one of his poor performances. I respect what he has done and how much he would like the ring. He has had his chances so I would like to see the Dodgers put their faith in someone else. The Dodgers need a playoff pitcher and if AF refuses to see that then help kershaw get his ring by starting someone else.

      1. Do you not think that bothers him? Is there anyone on this planet that is hurt more by that game than Clayton Kershaw? There are obviously those that want to win as much as Kersh, but nobody wants to win more, and to be that close and not come through…you know he feels it more than anyone else. Yes, we fans suffered, but nobody suffered more than Clayton Kershaw.

        1. I know it bothers him tremendously. That is why I say for his sake and ours let’s try someone else. Maybe with less pressure of being revered he will perform better. Remember when he didn’t open the playoffs against Atlanta I think.
          He came back with a stellar performance. Don’t put him in the position to be the guy who lost it again.He might step up if he is not hyped so much.

          1. The problem with Kershaw is that he has refused to adjust or change his strategy in these short series.

            He always wants to pitch with his strengths, instead of adjusting to the different players he is pitching to.

            Until Kershaw does that, it is going to be hard for him to pick up two wins, in these short series, when players get to see him twice in two weeks.

  10. I don’t get to make that deal with the devil. but I say, let’s just do everything we can to win it this year. I will bask in that joy for quite awhile. But then, when spring comes around, I can return to bitching and moaning about how we didn’t strengthen our team enough over the winter, how we “lost” players to other teams, etc., etc. I’m not at the level that the frustrated Cubs fans were before they won, but 31 years is a long, long, time. Much has happened in my life over those 31 years. The one thing that hasn’t happened is a Dodgers’ WS Championship. I would love for that to happen. With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the last 2 years experience of playing in the WS. I wouldn’t identify myself as a gracious loser (though I will confess to believing that we didn’t deserve to be there last year). Losing sucks. But then, there were fans of 28 other teams who would have gladly had the opportunity to change places with the Dodgers.

    In addition to the Dodgers, I root for the USC Trojan Football team. Currently, that football program is in as much disarray as it has ever been. It is a sad tale to watch. However, I do not expect that we won’t hear from them in the National Championship conversation for the next 31 years. Changes will be made and they’ll get back on the rise in the near future.

    1. We need to change the Board of Trustees to those who actually value winning sports, before we can begin to think National Championship again. I have watched the 2018 Clemson/Alabama National title game three times because I marvel at how good those players were. Our Trojans did not belong on the same field as those two teams. But I agree that at some point, USC will figure it out and compete again for the National Championship. I will forever Fight On!!

      1. No kidding. The Board of Trustees is a zoo. Too much litigation taking away precious time and resources. I agree, they are currently not a very good team. They don’t have a very good head coach, and as currently situated, they cannot compete with the top 10 teams in the nation. Like you, I will still remain a fan!

        Peterj – lay off the white horse. 🙂 Traveler is one of the best mascots in all of sports!!

      2. So AC, who wins their next championship first, the Trojans in football or UCLA in basketball (I believe they have each won 11)?
        I’m afraid I may not live long enough to witness the answer.

        1. I have no clue. It is sad to see what has happened to major college sports in LA. At least UCLA did something about their head coach.

    2. I’m with you Real10, Kershaw is dead to me if he chokes another WS game. The only reason he deserved as many chances as he has is because of how good he’s been during the regular season. That cat is on his last life as far as I’m concerned. If you want to be good every year and never win like Mark, then keep him and celebrate his HOF induction and the fact he cost you multiple championships. No more patience after this. If you’re not right, get fixed and have multiple surgeries like Corey and come back when you’re the best version of you.

  11. You and your damn white horse AC!!!
    My Irish lost to the eventual National Champion and it was distressing to watch… Abnormal depth I keep mumbling…
    The SEC might hang in on an occasional Sunday..

  12. I just noticed that Willie Calhoun is batting second in the Ranger’s line up today.

    He is suppose to have the best bat speed on that team.

    I was hoping Cody would be in the line up but there is not to many of the regular Dodgers in the line up today.

    1. Same as every game so far. It’s early, but if we come out in a hole like we did last year, I’ll loose it.

  13. OK, the deal with the Devil is this:

    Dodgers win in 2019, but have a losing record and are like KC, TB or MIAMI for the next 10 years… big time suck!

  14. Pollock is becoming a true Dodger already. That’s 5 k for him already in like 12 at bats

    1. As they say, it’s only ST, but Pollock has looked disappointing to me. He’s being outplayed by Verdugo who also had a nice throw to home plate getting the runner out the other day. Verdugo continues to make contact with the ball and IMO, should be the leadoff batter. I imagine Pollock’s position is cemented because of his FA signing, but he is losing any competition for a job in the OF in ST. So, it proves performance in ST is not the deciding factor for anyone. The FO know who they want as starters already.

  15. 1. Verdugo is in the process of taking LF

    2. Kenley Jansen must be 30 pounds lighter!

    3. Willie Calhoun still has “tree trunk” legs.

  16. And Pollock is really a Dodger now. Taking strike 3 down the plate with 2 runners in scoring position.

    1. Microcosm verses macrocosm !

      In the same position he will hit a 3-run Homer at times.

      Overall, I take the pluses so far…

  17. Gotta say, that’s what we’ve been missing. Guys that put the bat on the ball. Great job Barnes and Verdugo! That’s four runs because they weren’t trying to jack one out.

    1. 59 exactly

      Pitchers are not going to give many good pitches up when runners are on base and in scoring position, so a hitter has to take what they get, and put it in play to get the runners over, and in.

      But no one should make it about themselves either.

  18. If I ran the zoo:

    Verdugo makes the team. Can’t hand him LF job but put him in OF rotation where he plays 4-5 times a week.

    Mix and match at 2B until/unless someone runs away with job.

    Keep Urias on roster as 6th starter/piggyback option. Use Stripling as more regular swiss army knife.

    Have stock of potential starters getting steady work in AAA/AA: Santana, Ferguson, Gonsolin, May, White. Any could make big impact in pen or rotation later this year.

    Be ready to ditch Fields, Chargois, Stewart. Yimi is looking lockish. LHRPs still need to be settled. I have Jansen, Kelly, Cingrani, Baez, Floro, Alexander, Stripling, Urias. One would have to be dropped.

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