A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE DIAMONDBACKS
They've got a tough road ahead of them. I'd be surprised if they finish in the top half of the division. Kirk Gibson was a questionable hire—how his fiery personality plays with this team will be the key.... A bright spot: Justin Upton hit a bump in the road last year, but he's playing harder. He's gotten bigger, and he's not moving as well defensively in rightfield, but he knows he's being paid to hit home runs, and he's driving the ball well.... Chris Young needs to make more contact, but sometimes aggressive hitters take some time to develop. I think that's the case with him and Upton.... The defense has looked terrible.... Xavier Nady, whose arm used to be a plus, is playing well below average after having Tommy John surgery. His swing looks awful long, and he isn't catching up to any velocity.... Stephen Drew is such a laid-back personality. He flashes so much talent at shortstop, but he's such a low-energy player, he'll never reach his potential.... They're definitely improved in the bullpen, and that's by design. G.M. Kevin Towers built his Padres team around his bullpens, and he's doing the same here. J.J. Putz hasn't been a closer in two years, but he's still got the stuff to do it. David Hernandez has been up to 95 in camp with a plus slider and good changeup.... The big concern is the rotation. Joe Saunders is at 86--87 mph with his fastball; he doesn't have a great feel for secondary stuff.... Until Daniel Hudson improves his slider, he's a two-pitch guy and more of a No. 3 or 4 starter.... Armando Galarraga is an enigma—we saw how good he can be with that near-perfect game last year, but he goes through stretches where he loses his control. He's a back end of the rotation guy at the end of the day.
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER KIRK GIBSON
2ND SEASON WITH DIAMONDBACKS
Strikeouts by which the 2010 Diamondbacks raised the alltime team record. Arizona fanned 1,529 times to pulverize the mark held by the '01 Brewers. Every D-Back with more than 400 plate appearances struck out at least 100 times.
Kevin Towers's first off-season as Diamondbacks' G.M. was peculiar in that he didn't turn the team in the direction of youth. Instead, Towers signed a host of mediocre veterans, including Xavier Nady, Melvin Mora and Willie Bloomquist. These players may have something to contribute to teams close to contention, but the 2011 D-Backs are the worst team in the NL West and will be challenged to reach 80 wins. Their year would be better spent playing first baseman Brandon Allen, outfielder Gerardo Parra, shortstop Tony Abreu and outfielder Cole Gillespie—second-tier prospects, admittedly, but with more potential than those thirtysomethings. Allen, in particular, is interesting for his raw power (a .514 slugging percentage in Triple A and 22 games with Arizona last year ) and steadily improving plate discipline (a 133/103 K/BB ratio in parts of two seasons at Triple A). Signed as a first baseman, he even accepted a move to the outfield last year and became an awkward, though energetic, leftfielder. One way or another, he and the other young Diamondbacks should be the focus this year, rather than the first crop of Towers's signings.
CARY EDMONDSON/US PRESSWIRE (UPTON)
MARK J. REBLIAS/US PRESSWIRE (ALLEN)