Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions: Arizona Diamondbacks
How will the lineup cover the loss of Justin Upton?
Sure, Upton had his slump periods and they still finished ninth in runs and OPS last year, but it'll take a lot for them to keep that up.
Placing more on the shoulders of Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero could prove underwhelming, at least for 2013. Godly boasts an alluring long-term profile, but his infrequent contact puts pressure on him to make the most of his hits. Stolen bases (smarts, not necessarily swiftness) will pad his output, but he'll simply hope to match an over-the-top investment.
Montero still hates facing southpaws, and a lot of his security has been based on majority work; if Arizona limits his at-bats, his returns will dwindle.
They're probably relying a tad too much on two other big pieces from last year (more on that after the jump), but in exchange for Upton, they snared a safety net. Martin Prado could hit second or fifth, but either way, moving to Chase Field will probably add a few homers to his stellar batting average pedigree. It still won't vault him to ideal 3B territory, but his additional outfield eligibility augments his appeal.
A late-season stint teased power crammed into 5-foot-8, 185-pound Adam Eaton, but it won't come in droves this year, especially if his rehab from a broken right hand hits a snag. Buy this pest for relatively cheap steals and runs, if you're confident in his chances to stay at leadoff, but don't expect leaps-and-bounds blossoming.
Cody Ross, who enjoyed a 2012 renaissance, should sustain his power at this park, which has preserved righty Snakes' venom. Gerardo Parra, however, will steal outfield time at all three spots, with Ross seemingly the most vulnerable to capitulate PAs due to his plate flaws.
Cliff Pennington ... whatever.
With many fresh faces, this is a lineup that could break through in 2014, not this year, at least in terms of bankability in the team-oriented runs and RBI columns.
Now, circling back. ...
Hard to say up, but the downfall won't be drastic for their respective prices. Each recaptured owned skills at an inflated level.
Hill showed signs of life while donning D-backs threads post-deadline in the summer of 2011; steals came through more prominently to close out that year - thanks, Kirk Gibson - but Hill's bat woke up thanks to some mechanical changes. Power followed through last year when health and approach lined up as he matched his 2010 homer output (26).
He hits too many fly balls to warrant confidence for back-to-back .300 seasons, but a tempered bid will account for the clip dip. Considering the make-or-break nature of the second base class this year, if you don't land one of the top three, Hill seems like a desirable target. That's true, to a degree; history reminds us of his post-2009 overvaluation.
Optimal return would come from a middle-rounds mixed snag or moderate NL-only bid as his risk drips away. Under those circumstances, all systems go; he should contribute similarly in some form across the board, give or take a few homers and steals off his 2012 line.
Kubel remains a bane in the BA column, thanks to issues versus southpaws and his dropping rate of connections. These hang-ups strip some allure from his homer column. For a single-category player, basically, that might be at the mercy of an outfield rotation, don't make him a priority; in the late mixed rounds, where doubt will probably push him, plenty of profit-offering alternatives stare you in the face.
What's the state of the rotation?
Even with some danger looming, this looks like one of the league's most underrated groups.
What was the difference between Ian Kennedy's 2011 and 2012? Peripherally, not much, but that ERA ballooning of 1.14 runs masked the statistical repeat elsewhere. This is a deceptively stable profile that, despite homer problems, could offer the line of a fringe ace.
Trevor Cahill looks like the real steal here. He's getting more batters to chase his secondary offerings, including a budding slide piece. On the heels of a 9.3 swinging-strike rate, 2012 marked the third straight year Cahill bumped his K/9 - talk about quiet growth. Not that the 7.02 he generated last year is elite, but there's probably a bit more left in his soon-to-be 25-year-old arm. Even if that's his ceiling, many of your league mates will forget how Cahill has at least solidified the more alluring half of his grounder-strikeout pair.
Wade Miley, one of fantasy's biggest waiver dynamos, boasts a foundation that can sustain success with the right breaks. Still, he relies on his defense, and though it's improved with Prado now in tow, the lefty needs to get ahead in the count to "overpower" hitters. If more liners from his above-average rates start to carry, he could be in trouble. Someone will call his name before you should to have the honor of testing his validity. That should not upset you, given Miley's abundance of cheap peers with a lower tightrope.
Brandon McCarthy's K/9 remains a tenuous stat, but he pounds the zone so often that he elicits fine results, and even with his less friendly park, he's in the more favorable league for his methods. How will he bounce back - physically and mentally - after his gruesome injury last year and ongoing shoulder trials? For what it'll cost to call his name, you shouldn't hesitate to find out if he'll keep up his floor of quality mixed depth and his ceiling of ace-like runs.
Randall Delgado and Tyler Skaggs represent the most alluring options for the fifth spot if they stay within the organization, and with a job, either would deserve at least mixed watch-list attention. Another piece of the Upton haul, Delgado needs his control to catch up to his dominance upside; his steady walk reduction last year, with the help of a two-seamer, shows he could take a significant step. Skaggs, 21, relies a bit too much on contact (notably fly balls) to make a dual-universe dent this year; he'll probably need more Triple-A time.
Daniel Hudson's return from Tommy John surgery should come late in the year; even if you stash him for all that time, though, his innings will merely be a tune-up for 2014, so you shouldn't target them.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous publications, and recognized as a finalist in FSWA's awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he's on The Reality Check with Glenn Clark every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. He hits the airwaves every Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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