After finishing 81-81 last year – the definition of average – did the Arizona Diamondbacks do anything to suggest they’ll be contenders in 2014?
“I think they did a great deal, actually,” Arizona play-by-play television announcer Steve Berthiaume said on The Morning Show. “Last year was almost, in some ways, remarkable that they went 81-81 given the injuries that they had. And I know you (might) roll your eyes and say, ‘Well, that’s an excuse,’ but they had a number of key guys go down – and it wasn’t just a week here or two weeks there. It was guys who were out for two and three months at a time.”
Aaron Hill, Jason Kubel , Cody Ross, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy and J.J. Putz were among the injured.
“All those guys were out for two months or more,” Berthiaume said. “It was incredible at one point how many got hurt. They really had a lot to overcome.”
If those players can stay healthy this year, the Diamondbacks could do some damage in the National League West, especially if Paul Goldschmidt replicates what he did in 2013, when he hit .302 with 36 home runs and 125 RBIs.
Joining Goldschmidt is Los Angeles Angels transplant Mark Trumbo, whose home run totals have risen from 29 to 32 to 34 each of the last three seasons.
“The hope is that he’s there not for protection – which is a word that gets thrown around a lot – because Mark doesn’t really doesn’t make enough contact to protect anyone,” Berthiaume said of the career .250 hitter. “But he can be sort of a wing man for (Goldschmidt). There’s no reason that two of them combined, in our ball park, can’t total 80 homers and 225 RBIs.”
As for the rotation, Arizona expects even bigger things from Patrick Corbin, who last year led the Diamondbacks in wins (14), strikeouts (178) and ERA (3.41).
“Patrick Corbin, for the fist three months of last season, might have been the best pitcher in baseball,” Berthiaume said. “That slider was an absolute wipeout pitch, especially against right-handers.”
Corbin was 11-1 with a 2.35 ERA heading into the All-Star break last year, but went 3-7 with a 5.19 ERA thereafter. It was, however, his first full season in the bigs, and the 24-year-old reported to spring training a little heavier to deal with the grind of a 162-game season.
After Corbin, you’ve got Cahill, McCarthy, Wade Miley and Bronson Arroyo.
“I think top to bottom it might be better than the Dodgers in terms of depth, and I say that when you look at (the) four and five positions because you really have to do that,” Berthiaume said. “Most teams, as we know, go through eight, nine, ten starting pitchers over the course of the year. So it’s great if you have a (Clayton) Kershaw and (Zack) Greinke at the top of things, but you need a whole lot more than that. And I think the depth, especially with the addition of Bronson Arroyo, (is impressive).”
Arizona also added Addison Reed, who over the last two seasons saved 69 games for the White Sox, including 40 a year ago.
“If everyone can stay healthy,” Berthiaume said, “it’s a pretty good group.”