The Arizona Diamondbacks will have plenty of new faces when they take the field for Opening Day on April 1st in Colorado against the Rockies.
Along with those faces come questions. With spring training games set to start Friday, we came up with the Top 10 things we want to learn about the Diamondbacks between now and the beginning of the season.
No. 1 – Starting at the top, what impact will the new coaching staff have on the roster?
This team has seen three managers since May 2009. Kirk Gibson was the manager for the last half of the 2010 season so he isn’t completely new, but he did overhaul the rest of his staff during the offseason.
Gibson brought in wide variety of coaches. Ranging from those with experience managing at the Major League level (Don Baylor and Alan Trammell), to others with no coaching experience in the Majors at all (Charles Nagy and Eric Young).
Glenn Sherlock, Jeff Motuzas and Matt Williams were all retained from last year’s staff.
What Baylor can do with a lineup that struck out 1,529 times last season will be closely monitored.
No. 2 – Does Gibson find an “ace”?
Going into the spring the Diamondbacks don’t have a clear cut ace they can turn to. While young pitchers like Daniel Hudson, Ian Kennedy and Barry Enright showed flashes last season, it remains to be seen if there is a true number one starter on the staff.
No. 3 – Speaking of starting pitchers, who are they? What guys will be in the starting rotation when the team breaks from camp?
Zach Duke, Barry Enright, Armando Galarraga, Aaron Heilman, Daniel Hudson, Ian Kennedy, Kevin Mulvey, Joe Saunders. Unless someone has a very impressive spring or is added to the roster late, five of those guys will make up your 2011 starting rotation when Opening Day arrives.
No. 4 – How are the bullpen roles defined? The 7th/8th inning setup guys specifically.
This group can’t get worse (we don’t think). Statistically they were historically awful last season, one of the worst in Major League history. There will be new arms for Gibson to go to but if they will be effective and which ones those are will be decided during the month of March.
No. 5 – Do they have a set lineup (leadoff hitter, cleanup)?
In 2010 the D-backs lineup had five different players hit leadoff throughout the season. In the three and four spots eight different guys saw their name on the lineup card to start a game. Whether the D-backs can have consistency in 2011 is yet to be seen.
No. 6 – Who is the starting 3rd baseman?
Mark Reynolds manned the hot corner for more than 140 games last season. He’s gone for a reason (or three) – 18 errors, 211 strikeouts and a .198 average. Early in the spring it looks like it’s Melvin Mora’s job to lose.
No. 7 – Who’s on 1st?
This will likely be a position won by a young player that impresses during spring training. Juan Miranda (acquired from the New York Yankees during the winter) and Brandon Allen will have their share of opportunities to grab and own the job. Veterans Geoff Blum, Russell Branyan and Xavier Nady could end up there too.
No. 8 – Will they have an everyday starting left fielder?
Justin Upton and Chris Young are mainstays in right and center field, respectively, but the rest of the outfielders will be vying for the starting spot in left. The D-backs would really like someone who could give them strong offensive numbers and play the position. New D-back Xavier Nady could fill that role if he returns to his 2008 form.
No. 9 – What is Micah Owings’ role on the team?
Micah Owings is a non-roster invitee. He showed up with the pitchers and catchers yet is making sure to get his hacks in the cage as well. In 2007 he was the fifth starter in the Diamondbacks rotation, and prior to that he was known more for his bat, smacking 4 home runs that season. In 2010 with the Reds he went 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA before being designated for assignment in August.
No. 10 – Can Jarrod Parker contribute to the team during the 2011 season?
The Diamondbacks first round pick in 2007 is coming off Tommy John surgery that he underwent in October of 2009. Despite the injury he is still the organization’s top prospect according to Baseball America. He is in camp with the team and hopes to make a full recovery. The team will monitor him closely and will work to bring him back and up to full speed.