As Spring Training finally winds to a close with the first games of the 2011 regular season coming on March 31st, here's a look at the 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks roster. There are few spots remaining that have remained unfilled until now.
Ian Kennedy was announced as the 2011 Opening Day starter on April 1st against the Rockies in Denver, to be followed by Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders, and Barry Enright, who was just told he'd be in the rotation a couple days ago. I personally am happy to see that. Barry had a great spring and deserved the #4 spot. The number 5 spot in the rotation is still up for grabs between Aaron Heilman and Armando Galarraga. It would have also included Zach Duke, but since he broke a couple bones in his hand last week, he's going to be out for at least 8 weeks. I assume the final rotation spot will go to Armando.
Led by JJ Putz as our closer, we'll have a mildly different bullpen than last year. Juan Gutierrez is likely to be the 8th inning setup guy, and Esmerling Vazquez is back for another season, as is Jordan Norberto. Some of the new names in reliever spots are Kam Mickolio (mick-oh-lie-oh), David Hernandez, Sam Demel, Joe Paterson, and Brian Sweeney. Okay, yes, some of them pitched a little last year, but for all intents and purposes, these are "new" guys.
The ever-popular Diamondback Miguel Montero will be the everyday catcher for the club, but this year he is supplemented by the veteran Henry Blanco, who I can see being one of the clubhouse leaders. John Hester is the 3rd stringer again this year.
This is the up-for-grabs position to end all up-for-grabs positions. Juan Miranda is making quite a case for himself to start at first this year with flashy defense backed up by solid offense. He's no Mark Grace, perhaps, but he's still young. If the Diamondbacks decide to go with a power bat, they might choose Russell "The Muscle" Branyan, whom they acquired in the offseason. His defense is sloppier than Miranda's, though it seems to be improving as Spring goes on, but boy can he hit. Think Mark Reynolds-style long balls. Unfortunately, that also kind of comes with high strikeout totals. The third option, which I don't expect the club to choose, is to start Brandon Allen at first. To me, Allen is more of a utility guy who will get shifted around to various positions this year when guys need a rest day.
This position belongs to Kelly Johnson, who will look to build upon a decent 2010 season and maybe hit a few more long balls.
With Mark Reynolds gone to the Orioles, this position is kind of open, too. Melvin Mora and Geoff Blum are likely to be the number one and two choices for the hot corner. If it's me, I go with the better defense of Mora, backed up by Blum on the bench to pinch hit.
Stephen Drew. Nothing more to say.
The X-Man, Xavier Nady, is likely to start in left field, backed up by perpetual fan favorite Gerardo Parra, who made some great plays out there last year and will probably be the roving outfielder for the Diamondbacks, moving around to cover if anyone gets injured or needs a day off. Center belongs, once again, to All-Star Chris Young, and right goes once again to All-Star Justin Upton. (Is it too early for me to call All-Stars for 2011?)
Of those I haven't mentioned, Willie Bloomquist (outfield), Ryan Roberts (2nd Base), and Tony Abreu (Ultility) are likely to be on the bench this year as depth for the Diamondbacks' infield and outfield.
This is, of course, a major rebuilding year for the Diamondbacks. I'd love to honestly say that they'll win the World Series this year, and while any team can come together at any time and click, I'll be very happy with a third place (or higher) finish in the NL West - above the Dodgers and Padres, below the Giants and Rockies.