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A look at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ NL West rivals

Much has been made of what the Arizona Diamondbacks did over the offseason.

An ESPN poll of various front office executives had them ranked as the National League’s most improved team, and it’s easy to see why.

The free agent addition of pitcher Zack Greinke on a six-year, $206.5 million contract along with the acquisition of former Atlanta Braves hurler Shelby Miller helped fortify the starting rotation, which was a weakness last season.

Add those pieces to a team that scored the second-most runs in the NL last season with All-Stars Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock leading the way, and it’s understandable that many see the Diamondbacks as a team that could make some serious noise in 2016.

Yet, if they are going to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011 the D-backs, who won 79 games last season, will first have to have success against their NL West foes.

Below is a quick look at the Diamondbacks as well as each of four division opponents through the eyes of the men who constructed the rosters as well as the guys who will be managing them.


Dodgers____

Los Angeles Dodgers

GM: Farhan Zaidi

Manager: Dave Roberts (1st year)

2015: 92-70, 1st in NL West

Thoughts on the D-backs

“I think the group over there is known to be an aggressive group and I think they kind of lived up to that this offseason. Seeing how things develop, they have a good group position players and they had some young pitching, but they acquired a couple of veteran guys. It all makes perfect sense in the context of what their broader plan seems to be.” – Zaidi

“I think the first thing I see is what Chip and his staff, they’ve done and they’ve created this mindset and culture that these guys compete, they play the game the right way. And I think that really stands out and that plays at all levels, and now when you acquire Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, they’re even better. I’ve always respected the way the Diamondbacks play, but the style that they really impose on their group, it’s admirable. It really is.” – Roberts

Thoughts on the Dodgers

Zaidi on constructing the roster with an eye on getting younger while competing for a championship

 “I think it’s trying to find where your real levers are in terms of what you’re willing to do to acquire talent. At the end of the day you’re either competing in the free agent market or you have to be willing to give up some of your young talent in trades. In a situation where you’re trying to get more long-term flexibility but also trying to compete, neither of those options seems ideal. But definitely we’ve won the division the last three years, we have the same aspirations this year so you certainly want to feel like you put yourself in position to do that. But I do think it’s making the talent flexibility trade off, is probably the toughest part.”

Roberts on taking over a successful team as a first-year manager

“I think that it’s a pleasant challenge in the sense that it’s always good to be around good players. But this is a group of players that had an expectation to win the World Series the last three years, so in their eyes they’ve come up short. So the way that the staff and myself look at things is it’s an opportunity. It’s not where they’ve come off winning a championship and they’ve reached the pinnacle — this is a group that’s hungry and that’s open to getting better.”


cpqj6up5bvgpoedg5fwsk20veSan Francisco Giants

GM: Bobby Evans

Manager: Bruce Bochy (10th year with SF, 751-707, 3 WS titles)

2015: 84-78, 2nd in NL West

Thoughts on the D-backs:

“They’ve got a very talented club already, so this really reinforced already a very talented group of players. So give them credit for their aggressiveness and the improvements that they made.” – Evans

“I knew how much he would improve their club. When you get a guy like Greinke, a No. 1 guy that’s just a tremendous pitcher, how much stronger they would be. But other than that, you know there’s going to be moves made, you know, who’s going to get who. But I didn’t have a reaction more than that except that, ‘Well we’ve got some holes to fill here’ and I think we did a pretty good job of filling our holes.” – Bochy

Thoughts on the Giants:

Evans on their free agent additions of pitchers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija 

“We’re proud of the guys we have, and we feel like that they can help impact, really, an area where we were struggling last year. There was a weakness for us in terms of getting deeper into games and staying in the game so that our offense could help us finish a win, but in this case these two guys are workhorses and really should add a lot to our rotation with (Matt) Cain, (Jake) Peavy and (Madison) Bumgarner.”

Bochy on the improvements his team made perhaps flying a bit under the radar

“We think a lot of the pitchers that we got. Johnny Cueto, I mean, this guy has just been a tremendous pitcher, a No. 1-type guy, and Samardzija, we think he’s primed to come into his own. I don’t think they’ve flown under the radar screen at all. I think people look at our rotation as a very solid one that is really as good as any rotation.”


San_Diego_Padres_logo.svgSan Diego Padres

GM: A.J. Preller

Manager: Andy Green (1st year)

2015: 74-88, 4th in NL West

Thoughts on the D-backs:

“You could see it last year, they were a team that was on the rise. Good, young position players, and obviously (Patrick) Corbin coming back from the injury and (Rubby) De La Rosa taking a step up and now with (Zack) Greinke, so I think you kind of saw that progression going, you knew they were going to be a team that was to be reckoned with and then some of their additions they made in the offseason, they’re probably going to be a pretty strong club.” – Preller

“They’re aggressive. They’re looking at this as their window of opportunity in Paul Goldschmidt’s prime. They’ve got some guys there that are very accomplished baseball people at the helm and they recognize and they think the iron’s hot and they’re going to strike. So from our perspective, good for them and we’ll find everything we can to kind of thwart their plans.” – Green

Thoughts on the Padres

Preller on where he thinks San Diego fits in the NL West

“I think we’re expecting to contend. I think a lot of our success will probably start with our starting pitching with Tyson Ross, (Andrew) Cashner and (James) Shields. I think they’re three guys that, I think there can be improvement on what we saw last year — they know that, I think, and we’re expecting that. And you have a healthy Wil Myers this year and the second half that we saw from Matt Kemp we see for the whole year. You’re going to have to be good to contend and compete and I think we’re going to look to do things the right way and hopefully the chips fall well for us.”

Green on fact that no one is really talking about the Padres going into the season

“I don’t mind the anonymity. I think last year everybody was talking about the Padres. I think last year, if I was the manager of the Padres right now, it would be more than you two guys (media) talking to me at present because of what happened in the offseason. Winning the offseason doesn’t do anything for you once the season rolls around. I’m not the least bit concerned about where teams peg us — I’ll let you guys take care of that, and we’ll focus on the business of getting better every day.”


Colorado_Rockies_logo.svg Colorado Rockies

GM: Jeff Bridich

Manager: Walt Weiss (4th season, 208-278)

2015: 68-94, 5th in NL West

Thoughts on the D-backs:

“Not surprised. I think the Diamondbacks have done a nice job creating a young core there and they’ve become a tough team. They’re athletic, they run well, they defend well — for the most part. It doesn’t surprise me, necessarily, what they did. I think they surprised baseball in terms of the money that they gave Greinke, but Greinke — it’s not like only Greinke and Shelby Miller define that team. They’ve been doing a nice job collecting talent and creating that talent for a few years now.” – Bridich

“They did a great job, brought in a couple of elite guys. In Greinke’s case, probably the elite of the elite. Great acquisitions, obviously, but to an already talented club. They’ll be tough just like everybody else.” – Weiss

Thoughts on the Rockies:

Bridich on how third baseman Nolan Arenado, a three-time Gold Glove winner and 2015 NL All-Star, is such a good defender

“All those crazy plays that you see him make in the games — it’s not like we have a tarp down the line and he’s jumping over tarps and stuff like that — but all those range plays that you see him make, to both sides, he practices all those. All those plays coming in and throwing from different angles and throwing from different body positions, awkward body positions, he practices all that kind of stuff.”

Weiss on his expectations for the team this season

“You know what? We take it a day at a time. We’re going to go out and we’re going to compete very well. WE’re going to play the game hard and play the game right. We’ve got a lot of young, talented players that are growing up before our eyes and it’s been fun watching some of them develop. Yeah, we’ve got a good bunch. They show up the right way every day and we’re just trying to focus on the process and let that take care of the results.”

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