One year ago expectations were low for the Arizona Diamondbacks and manager Kirk Gibson heading into the regular season.
What a difference a year makes.
Coming off 94 wins, a National League West title and a season which saw a handful of promising young players bloom into potential stars expectations are through the roof as the Snakes prepare to open the regular season Friday night against the NL West-rival San Francisco Giants at Chase Field.
Gibby and the Dbacks are no longer the hunter, but the hunted not only in the division, but around the rest of the National League.
With the core already in place, Gibson and General Manager Kevin Towers added power to the lineup in outfielder Jason Kubel, as well as depth in the starting rotation with Trevor Cahill who came over in a trade with Oakland.
“They went out and got two pretty good pieces,” ESPN baseball insider Pedro Gomez told Brad Cesmat Monday on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “[Kubel] is one of the top hitters in the American League. This guy is a very consistent 20-25 homer guy. With Cahill, you’re adding an all-star pitcher.”
The additions not only strengthen the roster, but create competition for playing time on a game-to-game basis. It’s the perfect recipe for Gibson and his coaching staff to help his players stay prepared and focused every time they take the field.
It also shows Towers isn’t afraid to make a move, even if it isn’t the most popular with players and fans.
“He decides to trade away one of the most popular players in Mark Reynolds,” Gomez explained to Cesmat. “But [short reliever] David Hernandez came in the deal and look how [good] he was. [Towers] knows what he’s doing and he’s known as the best builder of bullpens among GM’s. If you look at the end of the season, the teams with the best bullpens are the one’s that are hanging around first place.”
We quickly realized what the 2011 Diamondbacks were made of. The 2012 version will try to create their own legacy starting this weekend.