Ten D-back questions at Spring Training: Part 2
Over the next four weeks, I will examine what the biggest question marks are surrounding the Arizona Diamondbacks as they head into the regular season.
Check out the questions that were asked last week.
3. Can the veterans bring some valuable experience and grit?
There’s no doubt that the D-backs front office mismanaged the young talent the team had back in 2007-2008.
The team was loaded with great minor league talent that should have carried the team going forward for the next decade.
Unfortunately, the front office fell so in love with their youngsters that they were rushed to the Majors without any veterans around (Eric Brynes doesn’t count) to show them how to succeed.
The organization didn’t surround its younger players like Justin Upton, Conor Jackson or Chris Young with the veteran guidance that can be so crucial to a players’ development whether it was advice how to hit big league pitching or just the behind the scenes stuff like how to carry yourself as a Major Leaguer.
As a result, we saw some of the younger players struggle. Maybe a veteran wouldn’t have allowed Upton to take mental lapses at times, or help struggling hitters like Young or Mark Reynolds to deal with striking out so often.
The D-backs don’t have much young talent on the roster this year, but they have a number of high quality prospects on the horizon such as Jarrod Parker, Wade Miley, Chris Owings, Paul Goldschmidt, Matthew Davidson and A.J. Pollack that could see action in the Majors this season or next.
Plus, the team still has Upton, Young and Montero who could still improve and gain more knowledge of the game.
As a result, in the offseason, the D-backs took steps to insure they don’t repeat their mistakes of a few years ago.
They signed Melvin Mora to replace Reynolds, Henry Blanco to help Montero behind the plate, and added Geoff Blum and Willie Bloomquist to add experience and grit to the team.
We’ll see if an attitude change in the D-backs clubhouse begins to take shape and leads to improvement on the field.
4. Does Xavier Nady have anything left to bring to the table?
Nady represents one of the more interesting additions to the club this season after signing as a free agent.
He has really struggled with injuries the past few years. He missed almost all of 2009 before playing for the Cubs last season with mediocre results.
The D-backs are penciling Nady in as their starting left fielder, but will also give him a look at first base if nobody else in camp can win the job.
The team is hoping he can recapture some of the magic of a couple years ago when he batted .305 with 25 home runs and 97 RBI’s in 2008 for three different teams.
Some people believe that he’s all washed up, but a healthy and productive Nady would help to replace some of the pop vacated by the trade of Reynolds and the departure of LaRoche.
5. Is Jarrod Parker ready for “The Show”?
Since becoming the Diamondbacks first round pick (ninth overall) in 2007, we have heard about this kid as the future ace for the team.
Parker has been rated by Baseball America as one of the top 100 prospects for the past three seasons.
He has overpowering type stuff and it’s only a matter of time before we see him in the sedona red and sonoran sand uniform. The only question is when?
Parker’s development was pushed back due to Tommy John surgery in 2009, but he seems fully recovered now and has been throwing 100 percent at Spring Training.
The D-backs organization has stated that it isn’t inconceivable that Parker break camp with the big league club, but most likely the young fireballer will be going down to Triple A to start the season.
Barring an injury, Parker will make his Major League debut at some point this season. The team is counting on him to be one of the anchors to their starting rotation for years to come. We just don’t know if it will be this year.