Know Your Enemy: Arizona Diamondbacks

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Today, we begin our look at the Cubs' N.L. West opponents.

The Diamondbacks have not had a losing record since 2010. That's the good news.

The Diamondbacks have not had a winning record since 2011. That's the bad, and somewhat interesting, news. Arizona has finished exactly at .500, 81-81, in both of the last two seasons.

The problem appears to be lack of offense; their runs-allowed totals have been fairly similar each of the last three years: 662 (2011), 688 (2012), 695 (2013). However, the runs-scored totals have declined: 731 (2011), 734 (2012), 685 (2013).

The D'backs have attempted to address this by adding a big bat to their lineup: Mark Trumbo, formerly of the Angels, who was acquired in a three-team trade in which starter Tyler Skaggs and outfielder Adam Eaton were shipped to the Angels and White Sox, respectively. GM Kevin Towers was busy piling up cellphone minutes in the offseason, as he made another three-team trade (involving the Reds and Rays) in which the essential result for Arizona was deleting Heath Bell from their bullpen (they acquired prospects).

Trumbo is penciled into left field for the D'backs, replacing Jason Kubel. Neither Kubel nor Trumbo is much defensively, but the D'backs hope Trumbo's bat will improve on Kubel's. Trumbo, who just turned 28, should be in the offensive prime of his career.

Otherwise, one key addition to Arizona's roster this year are Bronson Arroyo, who is well-known as an inning-eater, and it's good for the Cubs that he's out of the N.L. Central, because he used to just eat Cubs hitters alive (his lifetime ERA against the Cubs, 2.91 in 31 appearances, is far better than his overall ERA, and his best against any team against whom he has more than a handful of starts). Now, he'll likely be able to face the Cubs just twice a year.

The D'backs made a second deal with the White Sox in which they sent third-base prospect Matt Davidson in exchange for closer Addison Reed, who will replace Bell.

22-year-old Chris Owings is listed as the starting shortstop on the D'backs depth chart, but he'll have to battle incumbent Didi Gregorius for the spot. Gregorius had a pretty good rookie year in 2013 (.252/.332/.373, 94 OPS+, 1.4 bWAR), so that's a battle to be watched in camp.

As far as the D'backs rotation goes, the guy to watch is top prospect Archie Bradley, although at age 21, he's likely to start 2014 in Triple-A.

Despite the D'backs win over the Cubs in the 2007 NLDS, I find it hard to get myself worked up over this team as an opponent. Manager Kirk Gibson has them playing hard, and they do have a chance to be competitive in the N.L. West. Our old pal Henry Blanco is in D'backs camp as a non-roster invitee. He's now 42 and you'd think it would be time for him to retire and get into coaching, but he's giving it another try to be a big-league backup. Another former Cub, Blake Lalli, is also in spring camp with Arizona.

The Cubs and Diamondbacks will meet at Wrigley Field April 21-22-23-24, with the 23rd being the game where the Cubs celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wrigley. The two teams meet in Arizona July 18-19-20. Doesn't that scheduling seem backwards?

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