By Will Carroll
March 01, 2011
Even with Brandon Webb essentially missing the last two seasons, the D-backs medical staff has been able to keep their injury stats at the top of the game. The downside of this is that there's likely some level of luck at work here; they are that good, but to balance things out to have this happen is normally a one-year fluke. The D-backs, under Ken Crenshaw, have done this since he got there, after coming over from the Rays where he'd built a system that has that team still at the top. The problem here is that unlike some teams that can see clear paths to getting better by just staying a bit healthier, the D-backs really can't do that ... or can they? The D-backs in '11 might be the perfect test case for what constitutes luck and what is skill. They have a midline risk profile with some clear risks and tasks, but not so much that they should get overwhelmed by even a few extra traumatic injuries. The key task will be the rehab of Justin Upton, the success of which will key the franchise for years to come. Keeping the young arms healthy -- as they've had success with over the past few seasons -- is another key. Add in the challenge of a mostly new field staff and an all-new front office and we can isolate the medical staff pretty well. Crenshaw has met every challenge through three teams, so I'm excited to see what he does this season.

(HEAD TRAINER: Ken Crenshaw; FIVE YEAR RANK: 4; 2010 RANK: 4)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
1B Juan Miranda
There's a lot of candidates for the first base job in Arizona, but Miranda is the most interesting guy. Kevin Towers got a long look at him during his time in New York and Miranda's raw power grades high. With Russell Branyan, Brandon Allen, and Xavier Nady as possibilities at first, the hot hand will have the real advantage.

SS Stephen Drew
The green reminds us that DNA is not destiny.

SP Joe Saunders
Saunders isn't Dan Haren, but like Haren, Saunders is likely to take the ball every fifth day.

SP Zach Duke
Duke's a bit of a gamble in that he hasn't been very good since his rookie breakout. A lot of that can be pinned on being whipsawed by coaches. If there's still something there, the D-backs are hoping that they can pull it out. Duke's going to be a huge project for new pitching coach Chuck Nagy, but even if it doesn't work out, there's depth behind him with Armando Galarraga and a hard-charging Jarrod Parker, who's coming back from Tommy John surgery.

Also Green:
2B Kelly Johnson
CF Chris Young
RP Juan Gutierrez
C Miguel Montero
Montero got the full-time gig ... and promptly got hurt. The D-backs traded off Chris Snyder, leaving them with Montero at C, like it or not. Montero's conditioning was a real question last season. He's a real question mark at the 400 at-bat level, though if he gets that far, it means he's hitting like he did in '09. It's a vicious cycle.

3B Melvin Mora
Mora's a good platoon guy and a bit of a utility player at this stage, but starting is likely to leave him exposed. He does have Geoff Blum backing him up and between them, there's a decent enough player to hold the spot. Mora avoided leg problems last year and just seemed to get in the way of pitches, which might be an adjustment for his bat, if a painful one.

SP Barry Enright
Enright had a nice breakout campaign, putting up solid numbers both in Double-A and in Arizona. The 180 innings between the two means that Enright should be solid for 150 or so, though the team's pitching depth is going to be a strength if it's not taxed by injury.
LF Xavier Nady
Nady struggled a bit coming back from Tommy John surgery. It affected him at the plate more than most, so maybe it's not just the surgery. If Nady falters -- or if the D-backs get away from their free-swinging past -- Brandon Allen could shift here. There's also a looming Willie Bloomquist, who's looking to replace Eric Byrnes' gritty-guttiness, if not his hair.

RF Justin Upton
Upton was scheduled to have the same surgery his brother did a few offseasons ago, but the decision was made to just rehab it. At the time, B.J. Upton was coming off his playoff power push, but went back to being the infuriating talent he'd been the rest of his career. The shoulder was never really a problem again, though the power dropoff made it seem that way. Upton's still likely to lose some pop at the start of the season, so if you don't draft him, there will be more chances to steal him. In keeper leagues, he's worth stealing ... or paying retail for, to be honest.

SP Ian Kennedy
Kennedy got the chance in Arizona that the Yankees never gave him and stuck. That sticking put a big innings jump on him, but I think the red rating is a bit high here. Kennedy showed no sign of struggles, which could mean that the hard leash the Yankees had on him (and others) was really counterproductive. Kennedy showed some signs of fatigue at the end of the season, so he bears watching closely. He just doesn't seem to be the kind of pitcher that can consistently hold that 190 level.

SP Daniel Hudson
Hudson put up most of his innings last season at Triple-A and had his season end with a minor finger injury. Both of those shouldn't factor in to what the Dbacks should expect this year. Above 150 innings, Hudson gets very risky. He's good enough to be the ace of this staff on opening day, so like Mat Latos in San Diego, limiting him is going to be tough. Hudson might actually be helped if the D-backs aren't contending.

CL J.J. Putz
While Duke was a calculated risk from a performance standpoint, Putz is a risk for health. Whether that's the market or a conscious decision by the front office, Putz is the one move made this offseason that dialed up the risk when everything else looked to consciously dial it down. Putz is a bargain if you compare him to a couple closer deals, but at age-34 a two-year deal could be a real issue.

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