Spring training is almost upon us and we’re getting ready to root for the hometown Diamondbacks.

When last we saw them, the D-backs were coming off an impressive National League West title and were only a few plays away from extending their playoff series with the Milwaukee Brewers. They definitely demonstrated that they belonged in the playoffs and would have matched up well against the eventual World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

Considering last year’s success and the moves made so far this off-season, the Diamondbacks will be considered one of the favorites to represent the National League in the World Series this year.

If you are a fair weather fan and only inclined to jump on the bandwagon when things are going good, now if the time to climb aboard. The D-backs are built to win now, but also built to stay relevant for years to come. What more can you ask for? This may be the most realistic opportunity for the franchise to compete for a World Series Championship since the days of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson.

Retention and Addition
With the addition of Trevor Cahill and the re-signing of Joe Saunders, the D-backs have arguably their most complete rotation heading into a season. And that doesn’t even factor in the prospects that are capable of making an immediate impact if called on to play in the majors.

It was nice to see the D-backs retain newcomers Aaron Hill and John McDonald after the season. Both players contributed down the stretch, Hill will be counted on to fill the void at second and McDonald can be a key to the teams success this year if Stephen Drew struggles after off-season surgery. The health of Stephen Drew is one of the few question marks heading into the season.

Although the move likely sends Gerardo Parra into a platoon situation, the signing of Jason Kubel could prove to be a valuable acquisition. He has proven power and could really blossom playing everyday at hitter-friendly Chase Field. Having that consistent power from the left side of the plate should be a great fit, sandwiched between Justin Upton and Paul Goldschmidt in the middle of the lineup. Parra’s defense will be missed, but hopefully some increased offensive production can offset any defensive shortcomings.

The success of the 2011 season should translate into increased anticipation to begin the 2012 campaign. For those that can’t wait until Spring Training gets underway or want to get up close and personal, the Diamondbacks 8th Annual FanFest is the perfect solution. FanFest is a free event held at Chase Field and gives fans access to players, coaches and the broadcast team. It’s a great way to interact with your favorite players and get an early glimpse at rising starts. FanFest will be held this Saturday, February 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Spring is in the air
Spring Training will take a different meaning this year. In recent years, Spring Training may have been looked at as a barometer for how well the team would compete in the coming year. There were obvious position battles and management hoped the pitching rotation would come together. This year, the rotation and opening day roster are more concrete. There’s always welcomed competition and you never know who will step up and impress, while others inevitably fall off the map. But for the most part, the plan will be to keep everyone healthy, get some reps and prepare to pursue back-to-back division championships.