Rookie outfielder Adam Eaton will be slowed at the start of the season, but gives the D'backs reason for optimism heading into 2013. (Image Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports)

2013 MLB Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks have had a tumultuous offseason, in which some changes have been made that may have weakened the team long term depending on which perspective you follow. Others suggest the moves that were made will ultimately make the organization stronger moving forward and, if things go right in 2013, the D’backs just might find themselves in contention once again in the NL West. Last year they finished an even 81-81, 3rd place in the West. Will the changes be enough to carry this team forward?

With the start of the 2013 Regular Season upon us, it seemed like the ideal time to check in with each of our team sites here at FanSided MLB and check out what our experts have to say on the upcoming season. From Venom Strikes, let’s check in with Staff Writer J. Levi Burnfin and see what he had to say about the team’s best and worst case scenarios, as well as what’s most likely to happen.

Best Case Scenario

The bullpen performs as expected, with Heath Bell rebounding from a bad 2012 campaign and David Hernandez, JJ Putz, Brad Ziegler and company repeats their 2012 performances. Wade Miley does NOT regress from his breakout 2012 season and throws 200 rock solid innings. Brandon McCarthy comes back from the scary line drive incident last season and picks up where he left off – 1.25 WHIP and 3.24 ERA – and Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill come closer to their 2011 numbers than their 2012 performances. On offense, the outfield begins to look more like a health club than a MASH unit and Adam Eaton performs as the great leadoff hitter everybody expects him to be, setting the table for Paul Goldschmidt, who could take yet another step forward and turn some of his 43 doubles in 2012 into home runs.

Worst Case Scenario

Cody Ross, Eaton and Jason Kubel battle injuries all year long with Gerardo Parra, A.J. Pollock and Tony Campana see much more time on the field than expected. Goldschmidt’s plate discipline regresses, causing his OBP takes a dip. And Martin Prado buckles under some of the pressure placed on him after the Justin Upton trade.

Kennedy continues to give up home runs and inopportune times, Cahill’s sinker doesn’t reach its 2011 levels and Miley regresses, as some expect. It’s hard to imagine the bullpen imploding completely but Bell not rebounding and Ziegler taking a small step back is realistic, which could cause the bullpen to be just average instead of elite like expected.

Most Likely to Happen

The D’backs’ depth is their biggest strength. Like all teams, injuries will happen. Unlike many teams, the D’backs should have an answer for virtually any injury ­– though, if Goldschmidt gets hurt, that would be a big loss – as long as it’s not long term. Building a bullpen has always been Kevin Towers’ strength and, despite his methods, he’s managed to compile a highly-talented group of arms. The D’backs should be able to shorten many games by getting a lead and handing it over to their bullpen, if it lives up to expectations. Combined with a deep lineup and solid rotation, the D’backs should be part of a three-team race in the West.

Arizona received mixed reviews after an offseason in which they dealt away both Justin Upton and Trevor Bauer, but there is still a solid roster in place in the desert. While he doesn’t always make favorable moves (I still question the Heath Bell addition), the team at least has a GM who’ll make a move midseason if there one to be made that will improve this team’s chances in 2013. The D’backs could be a fun group to watch, but they’ll still have a tough hill to climb to overtake both the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, who have to be favored in the division.

Be sure you keep up with Venom Strikes for all of your Diamondbacks news and updates throughout the season.

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