Conversations With the Enemy: Diamondbacks/Padres 2012 Preview


We’ve had a little time between our last installment of the Conversations With the Enemy series, but I thought we’d finish off the first go-round with the 2011 Division champs.  The Diamondbacks haven’t made too many huge moves outside of taking Trevor Cahill off the Athletics’ hands, but they had a division-winning team last year, so how many moves could they have needed?

I had a chance to talk with Scott Allen, editor for Venom Strikes.  We discussed the Diamondbacks, the Padres, offseason transactions, and predictions.

 What does the addition of Trevor Cahill to the Diamondbacks mean to Arizona and the rest of the National League West?

Scott – Venom Strikes:

The addition of Trevor Cahill most likely means more wins for the Dbacks, at least from that three spot in the rotation.  Probably brings a little more consistency than Joe Saunders brought in the rotation.  For the rest of the NL West, it means just will have to work harder to de-throne the Dbacks.  Saunders pitched pretty well though against the Padres, so maybe Cahill will be a breath of fresh air for them when the two teams tangle in 2012.

Justin – Chicken Friars:

I agree with you that Trevor Cahill should be an upgrade to Joe Saunders in the rotation.  I think he is going to take some time to adjust, and likely won’t see a meteoric rise to stardom, but he will be production for the Diamondbacks.  I would expect Cahill’s starts against the NL West to be above-average and possibly outpace his starts against anyone else in the league.  The reason for this is the California ballparks.  San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco all play better for pitchers because they are on the coast.  Cahill should be able to exploit this.

Why should other teams be afraid of the Padres pitching anymore?

Scott – Venom Strikes:

From the outside, it seems as if the Padres are the only team that has regressed from 2010 with the loss of Heath Bell.  The bullpen at one point was one of the best in baseball.  Now, not so much.  Mat Latos is also gone from the rotations.

Justin – Chicken Friars:

I would disagree that the Padres regressed from last season.  Huston Street should be a perfectly suitable

temporary replacement for Heath Bell.  The team has plenty of options in their own system for closer going forward after 2012.  The addition of Andrew Cashner, the likely call-up of new addition Brad Boxberger, and Huston Street should actually help the Padres bullpen to a better season than their 2011 campaign.

As far as the rotation, there is a little more of a question mark there.  Mat Latos’ departure is definitely a loss.  However, it seems the team feels Edinson Volquez can have a bounce-back year in San Diego.  They will rely heavily on Tim Stauffer who has proven he can shoulder the load as a Major League starter.  They will also be looking for pitchers who showed promise toward the end of the season last year, Dustin Moseley and Corey Luebke, to carry that success throughout the 2012 season.  On the other hand, they have Robbie Erlin and Casey Kelly in their minor league system who may be ready for promotions come mid to late 2012.

Consider this: Corey Luebke’s FIP last season shows the Padres’ defense did little to help him out and proves he actually pitched better than his mainstream peripherals would indicate.  His ERA was a solid 3.29, but his FIP was an impressive 2.93.  Tim Stauffer started 31 games for the Padres last season and appears to be shaping into a solid number two or three starter.  For now, he will likely be the Padres number one starter.

In all, maybe the league has nothing to fear over the Padres pitching staff.  But then again, their starters could come out of nowhere and catch the league off-guard.