Restoring the rosters: No. 11 – Arizona

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reynoldsupton.jpgThis is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
The Diamondbacks took an odd road initially, making the playoffs in their second year of existence and winning a World Series just two years later, but even though they spent big at the start, they’ve developed talent consistently throughout. Despite having had less time to accumulate players besides any team other than the Rays, they rank 11th here.
Rotation
Brandon Webb
Max Scherzer
Jorge De La Rosa
Brad Penny
Brett Anderson
Bullpen
Jose Valverde
Vicente Padilla
Brian Bruney
Ross Ohlendorf
Jason Bulger
Tony Pena
Clay Zavada
That’s seven legitimate starting pitchers between the five in the rotation, Padilla and Ohlendorf. I think Padilla and Ohlendorf would be the most useful out of the pen, though there’s always been talk about trying Penny and Scherzer as closers. The Diamondbacks, though, don’t need a closer with Valverde in the role, and they have other nice power arms in Bruney and Bulger.
De La Rosa’s presence here will surprise some. The Diamondbacks signed him out of Mexico in 1998, only to sell him back to a Mexican team in 2000. He later signed with the Red Sox. That wasn’t his only stint with Arizona, though. On Nov. 28, 2003, he was sent to the Diamondbacks in the Curt Schilling deal. Three days later, Arizona moved him to Milwaukee in the Richie Sexson trade.
Micah Owings would have made some teams as a pitcher and others as a bench player. The Diamondbacks, though, seemed to have better options all around, at least if everyone were healthy. He’d still be one of the first additions to the team.
Lineup
SS Stephen Drew
RF Justin Upton
3B Mark Reynolds
LF Carlos Quentin
1B Lyle Overbay
2B Dan Uggla
C Miguel Montero
CF Carlos Gonzalez
Bench
OF Scott Hairston
OF Jack Cust
1B/OF Conor Jackson
C Chris Snyder
INF Emilio Bonifacio
How’s that for depth? Not cracking the roster were Rod Barajas, Chad Tracy and Gerardo Parra. As little need as there will be for pinch-hitters, there’s a good argument for carrying Brian Barden as a second utilityman. Still, I just couldn’t bring myself to drop Cust or Jackson.
Overbay, Montero and Gonzalez would all sit against lefties, with Jackson, Snyder and Hairston entering the lineup. The Diamondbacks should be plenty strong against both lefties and righties, and given that all of the key players are still fairly young, that’s not going to change for years.
Summary
The Diamondbacks have one of the game’s top pitching prospects in Jarrod Parker, but trades, particularly the one for Dan Haren, and budget concerns have taken a toll on the farm system recently. Fortunately, most of the team’s key players still have youth working for them, and with all of the old deferred money payouts finally starting to come off the books, the Diamondbacks should be able to keep much of what they have now. The future doesn’t look as promising as it did a couple of years ago, but if they catch some breaks, there’s no reason they can’t contend annually in the NL West.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.