The Dbacks are sick of losing. They’ve been bad for several years now and finally decided to do something about it. They hired Tony La Russa as their new chief baseball officer and former MLB pitcher/agent Dave Stewart as their general manager. Then they went to work and made a big splash this offseason with a lot of hot stove activity. The first move was the stunning and deflating signing of former Dodger co-ace Zack Greinke. We were all shocked and disgusted, but they didn’t stop there.
The next big move would come at the expense of their already depleted farm system when the Dbacks traded number one draft pick Dansby Swanson, pitching prospect Aaron Blair and everyday outfielder Ender Inciarte to the Braves for Shelby Miller. The Dbacks made more moves bringing in Tyler Clippard to help strengthen the bullpen and then traded for Jean Segura to shore up the middle infield.
After the flurry of moves many Dodgers fans are worried about the snakes this season. I think their worry may be a bit premature and Dave Cameron of Fangraphs agrees as well. Last season the Dbacks finished in third place with a 79-83 record. This season they are projected to finish with a similar record. Fangraphs is projecting them to finish in the neighborhood of 79-81 wins.
The Dbacks obviously improved their rotation with the additions of Greinke and Miller, and the acquisitions of Clippard and Segura look decent on paper as well. So why are the Dbacks projected to finish so poorly in 2016? One word answers this question….depth. Arizona has no organizational depth within their system. Their farm system is picked clean and if anyone gets hurt they’re stuck with replacement level minor leaguers to fill in.
Their pitching staff will be improved but not enough overall to make up for the lack of depth. Greinke and Miller will be good, but Patrick Corbin is only two years removed from Tommy John surgery only pitching in 16 games last season. The backend of the rotation is a huge question mark with Robbie Ray and former Dodger farmhand Rubby De La Rosa.
Things aren’t very good on the offensive side either. Three quarters of the starting infield consists of Segura, Chris Owings, and Jake Lamb. Segura had two consecutive below average seasons. Yasmany Tomas was completely underwhelming, and who knows if David Peralta can repeat his breakout performance from last season. A.J. Pollack and Dodger killer Paul Goldschmidt are great players but they’re bound to dip a little after both having career years last year. Losing Inciarte is really going to hurt them. The Snakes will miss his contact hitting, speed, and solid defense. He was worth over three wins last season.
So what happens if anyone gets hurt? As Cameron noted, there’s nobody above replacement level in their farm system. They don’t have anybody. Who do they have? Nick Ahmed? Brandon Drury? Tuffy Gosewisch? I was checking out their triple-a roster for the Reno Aces and it looks pretty bleak. The big arms down there are Tim Stauffer and Wesley Wright. When the biggest bat you can call up is former Dodger Kyle Jensen then you best pray everybody stays healthy.
This is why depth is so important to have. Major league clubs suffer so much attrition over the 162 game season. Having a dependable and productive farm system is so vital to survival. That’s why the Dodgers have such an advantage with their rich and talented system. The Dbacks won’t be terrible but I don’t think they’ll be very competitive this year. With a weak bullpen, question marks in the backend of their rotation, little production from three quarters of the infield and a barren farm system means the snakes will probably only be fringy competitive at best. Dodger fans shouldn’t be worried. I’m not concerned about the Snakes this season and neither should you.