Double Trouble

Double Trouble

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The offseason addition of Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks' lineup provides an interesting challenge for manager Kirk Gibson, as he tries to juggle two sluggers.

SCOOTSDALE, Ariz. -- Over the past five years, 11 Major League teams have had two players hit at least 30 home runs and drive in at least 100 runs in a single season, and of those 11, six went to the playoffs. From 2010 through 2012, having a pair of 30-100 guys in your lineup assured your club a place in the postseason, with Texas (Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton), Detroit (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder), the Yankees twice (Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson in 2011, Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in 2010) and the Milwaukee Brewers (Fielder and Ryan Braun in 2011).

Having a pair of mashers in the middle of the lineup isn't a guaranteed ticket into the playoffs, but it sure doesn't hurt.

Last season, Mark Trumbo, largely hitting cleanup for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, socked 34 home runs and drove in 100 even, though his power-or-nothing approach at the plate netted him a .234 batting average.

In Arizona, Paul Goldschmidt -- christened by some as "The People's MVP" – was busy keeping the Diamondbacks in contention despite two front-end starters not quite performing as expected, hitting .302 with 36 jacks and 125 RBIs in 160 games.

Now, the two are together in the Arizona lineup, and Trumbo is working on that batting average issue. If he, Goldschmidt and the Diamondbacks are to be a threat for the NL West title, Trumbo's going to have to be more than a .230 hitter.

"I made some adjustments during the offseason, and I'm anxious to put them in play and see what happens," says Trumbo. "I've just made things a little shorter. If you were to watch my swing last year, I got a little long at times, big leg kick, and it makes it tough to recognize pitches, at times."

With five of the past six teams to have two 30-100 players in their lineups advancing into the postseason, this past offseason, the Diamondbacks went all-in on Trumbo, trading for the Angels slugger an then avoiding arbitration by signing him to a $4.8-million, one-year contract, ostensibly to protect Goldschmidt in the lineup, although this spring, manager Kirk Gibson has yet to have the two hit back-to-back.

"I would argue that Goldy had plenty of protection last year," Gibson says. "He had 125 RBIs and 36 home runs. I just think that we have a pretty solid lineup, regardless of who we put behind him. There's going to be a lot of protection. As far as the lineup construction when we get into the season, we haven't figured that out yet, but having his bat in there certainly is going to allow us to score multiple runs, on more occasions. We've got to get guys on in front of him, though, as well. One of the thoughts is to split them up a little bit, because you'd think that Goldy would clean a lot of the runs up, so you want to have multiple opportunities. We haven't figured that out, yet."

During a rain-shortened March 1 game, Gibson did as he has done throughout spring training – separated Goldschmidt and Trumbo. Goldschmidt drew three walks and did not record an official at-bat. Trumbo went 1-for-2 with a run and an RBI – both coming on a solo bomb to left center field on a third straight challenge fastball.

"He hit a pretty good pitch on the inside part of the plate, and that's why he's in the lineup," Gibson says. "We hope we can get guys out in front of him."

That, along with cashing in those runners, seem to be the rub, at the moment.

The next day, Goldschmidt went 0-for-3 hitting third, while Trumbo once again went 1-for-2 batting fifth, with one run and no RBIs. The next time the two played in the same game – on March 4, Goldschmidt went 2-for-3 with three runs and an RBI batting third, while Trmbo went 1-for-3 batting fifth, with three men left on base: Anything but conclusive evidence for the existence – or absence – of lineup protection.

"Wherever it is – fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh – I think there are going to be a number of guys that are going to be tasked with that duty," Trumbo says of protecting Goldschmidt. "For me, obviously I'm more of a power hitter, and I think if I'm able to put together a season that I think I'm capable of, then I thing pitchers are probably going to look twice and not give him a free pass as much, and I think that's the mindset of everybody that's going to hit behind him."

Spacing the two out in the lineup, for Gibson, gives the batting order a different look from last season. Hitting them back-to-back – particularly with Trumbo's all-or-nothing stroke at times – would concentrate all the power into one place, rather than allow the Diamondbacks to have multiple run-scoring opportunities throughout the order.

"Then we turn into last year's lineup, where we get guys on behind Trumbo and we've got nobody to hit the ball out of the park," Gibson said of putting the two together. "If you spread those guys out, maybe it gives you an opportunity to score multiple runs on different occasions in different spots throughout the lineup."

While the two may not back one another up in the order, having two prodigious run producers on one team is something that even the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers have struggled to do, with the combination of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, or either of those two in combination with Adrian Gonzalez -- who's had three 30-100 seasons in his career – and Hanley Ramirez, who came close in 2012 and 2009, with seasons of 24-92 and 24-106.

If Trumbo and Goldschmidt do hold to their production of last season, they could very well be one of the most feared one-two power punches in the division, if not the league.

"You've got to go out there and do it, though," Trumbo says. "Each and every year, you have to go out there and prove yourself. I'd love it if things shook out that way, but there's a lot of hard work that goes into it, and you've got to make it happen when it counts."

Ryan Gorcey publishes BearTerritory.net (California) and GoldenStatePreps.com (CA high school recruiting) for Scout.com, and covers Major League Baseball.

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