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Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
2011 Record: 94-68 (First Place in the NL West)
When the Diamondbacks recently dealt top prospect Jarrod Parker for Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Trevor Cahill, some critics might have concluded that the D-Backs were signing away their future.
Instead, Arizona has turned themselves into an even stronger contender by adding a strong, young veteran arm in Cahill to accompany 2011's NL wins co-leader, ace Ian Kennedy, and No. 2 hurler Daniel Hudson.
The Diamondbacks additionally bolstered their bullpen with the addition of veterans Craig Breslow and Takashi Saito.
For an NL team that ranked ninth in the league in ERA and fourth in OPS, the Arizona Diamondbacks are in prime position to repeat as NL West frontrunners.
One of the weaker points of the Diamondbacks squad has been pitcher Joe Saunders, who never quite matched the work of former starter Dan Haren when he came to Arizona in 2010. The D-Backs addressed the issue on Monday by non-tendering Saunders.
Meanwhile, Arizona should be excited with their decisions to re-sign SS Willie Bloomquist, 3B Cody Ransom and 2B Aaron Hill.
2011 rookie sensation Paul Goldschmidt also received some help at first base with the one-year signing of Lyle Overbay.
The Diamondbacks are a fairly young team and will carry their excitement and momentum of the 2011 season into 2012 with the return of Goldschmidt, Ryan Roberts, Justin Upton and Gerardo Parra.
For these reasons, the Arizona Diamondbacks will maintain their position as the No. 1 team in the NL West in early 2012.
Several factors, such as the extent of success experienced by Giants catcher Buster Posey in his return from injury, ares expected to be determined during 2012 spring training,
*These preseason rankings are as of Dec. 13, 2011 and are subject to change with further transactions, injury news and other NL West-related developments.