3 Reasons to Be Optimistic for the Arizona Diamondbacks' 2015 Season
It's not always easy to be optimistic for 2015 when your team finished the previous season with the worst record in MLB.
However, the Arizona Diamondbacks are not a typical last-place-caliber team. With most of the team returning strong, along with several key offseason acquisitions, anything less than an improvement from 2014 would be a disappointment.
Here are three reasons why the D-Backs should be optimistic as the 2015 season rapidly approaches.
The injury bug arguably hit Arizona harder than it hit any other team in the National League last year.
A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt both missed significant time with fractured hands. Mark Trumbo was sidelined for most of the season with a stress fracture in his foot. It's tough to produce many runs without your top three offensive players for most of the season.
Ace pitcher Patrick Corbin also missed the entire season after he underwent Tommy John surgery. With Corbin gone, Josh Collmenter led the team in wins with 11. That was not what D-Backs fans expected.
However, this season, with the exception of Corbin, the majority of the big-time contributors are healthy again. Goldschmidt, Pollock and Trumbo are all expected to be ready for the 2015 season. Pollock and Trumbo especially have impressed this spring. Trumbo is hitting .385 with two home runs and 11 RBI, while Pollock is hitting .365 with nine RBI and three stolen bases.
And Arizona fans know that it should be only a matter of time before Goldschmidt starts smashing the ball again.
With the offense completely healthy, the pitching staff will also welcome back Daniel Hudson and David Hernandez (projected to return in May). Therefore, there is reason to be optimistic that the team will enter 2015 healthier than it was in 2014.
Abundance of Youth
During the offseason, general manager Dave Stewart emphasized the need for young "power arms."
But it's not just the arms that are young. There is certainly enough talented youth to go around the organization entering 2015.
Players such as Chase Anderson, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Evan Marshall and Randall Delgado are all expected to contribute mightily this season. In fact, De La Rosa was just confirmed as part of the starting rotation, proving that Stewart will not be afraid to go with the young players over the veterans.
Other young players like David Peralta and Ender Inciarte are coming off impressive rookie seasons and have picked up where they left off in 2014. Peralta is hitting .364, while Inciarte is hitting .360 with four stolen bases so far this spring.
Although young players sometimes take a while to mature at the big league level, the D-Backs were fortunate enough to give the younger players opportunities during their struggles in 2014.
And it is paying off. Now that these players have tasted some success at the highest level, they will likely exceed expectations with even more opportunities in 2015.
The days of former manager Kirk Gibson and former general manager Kevin Towers are over. Enter manager Chip Hale, Stewart and chief baseball officer Tony La Russa.
The D-Backs may not have dug themselves into such a hole over the past few seasons if not for several questionable trades by Towers. The Justin Upton deal is one that Arizona players and fans probably wish they had back.
The lackadaisical personality of Gibson will also not be missed with the hiring of Hale, a fiery former bench coach of the Oakland Athletics.
For now, the organization has a fresh start. With La Russa calling the shots, fans should feel optimistic. After all, the man has three World Series titles and six pennants to his name.
La Russa also said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that he will be "brokenhearted" if Arizona does not post a winning season in 2015.
If La Russa believes the D-Backs will be above .500 after finishing 2014 in last place, he must feel very confident in the players and coaches entering 2015.
Why not trust a man with such a successful track record?