In 2011, the Arizona Diamondbacks won 94 games and the National League West by eight games. Although they lost to the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round of the playoffs, the future seemed bright in Phoenix. However, after back-to-back 81-81 seasons, fans have become more skeptical of General Manager Kevin Towers, who was hired in 2010. One month into this season, the Arizona Diamondbacks have been atrocious as shown by their 8-21 record, and there are few actual signs pointing in the positive direction for the rest of the 2014 season.
The highest-profile move that the D-Backs made over the off-season was a three-team trade with the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels. Arizona effectively traded pitcher Tyler Skaggs and outfielder Adam Eaton for Mark Trumbo, the slugging outfielder who had played his entire career with the Angels. The D-Backs needed a power bat, as they finished tied for 11th in the National League with 130 homers last season, but this trade will most likely go down as a bone-headed move. Trumbo had played in 21 games with Arizona in 2014 before breaking his foot, and although he was able to hit seven home runs, he also had an on-base percentage of .264, which is well below league average. On the contrary, Skaggs has gone 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA with the Angels and Eaton has a .282/.361/.371 slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage), proving to be a quality leadoff hitter for the White Sox. It is a small sample, but Trumbo is basically just an aging home run hitter while Skaggs and Eaton are quality, young players with the potential to be great. The “win-now” move of trading for Mark Trumbo is starting to look really bad, and since Eaton and Skaggs are just getting better, this trade is in position to be seen as colossally awful in the coming years.
The Diamondbacks made this move because they contented in the NL West in 2013 until the Dodgers went 42-8 over a 50-game stretch. They believed that they were one or two moves away from contention. In spring training, the Diamondbacks suffered a huge blow when starting pitcher Patrick Corbin went down to the dreaded Tommy John surgery. All of the sudden, the D-Backs had multiple question marks in their rotation, even after they spent $23.5 million for two years of Bronson Arroyo, who is 37-years-old and has a 7.77 ERA in his first five starts. Trevor Cahill, who the D-Backs acquired from the A’s after the 2011 season for Jarrod Parker, Ryan Cook, and Colin Cowgill, has already been sent to the bullpen after losing his first four starts and posting a 9.17 ERA as a starter. Overall, the pitching has been just terrible for the D-Backs. Their 5.17 ERA ranks dead-last in the National League by 1.03 points. It does not matter how good a team’s offense is; if they have bad pitching, it is extremely unlikely that they could be able to compete in the NL West, which is a pitching-heavy division.
If the Arizona Diamondbacks had atrocious pitching and great offense, they would be somewhat respectable, but that has not actually been the case this April. Their .663 On-Base Plus Slugging percentage ranks No. 10 of 15 teams, which is not absolutely awful like their pitching but, nevertheless, is nothing to brag about. However, they have had solid individual performances from guys like Paul Goldschmidt, who was runner-up in last year’s NL MVP race, and catcher Miguel Montero, but they have been a sub-par offensive team overall. When this is coupled with God-awful pitching, the result is a terrible team, and that is exactly what Arizona’s 8-21 record implies.
The most pathetic part about the 2014 Diamondbacks is their inability to win at home. Despite posting a respectable 6-7 record on the road, which is third-best in the division, the D-Backs have gone 2-14 in home games, although two of those games were in Sydney. They could be in contention in the NL West if they played decently at home, but they have simply been horrendous in the desert.
The D-Backs will most likely lose fewer than 117 games, which is the number they would reach if they kept on the same pace, but at this point, things are not looking bright in Arizona. The pitching will have to step up if they want to have any hopes of contention this year, and with the group of arns they have going right now, that will not happen any time soon. This could be a long season for the atrocious Arizona Diamondbacks, and serious changes must be made if this team actually wants to content in such a brutal division.
Commentary by Jough Brasch