It’s come to the point where most cliches’, monikers and adjectives have been used in late July to summarize the Arizona Diamondbacks rapid descent to the bottom of the bottom of the National League West.
If there were “do overs” in professional sports the D-backs would have likely cashed in their 2016 card quite some time ago. Key injuries, underproduction, over-analysis and at times simply bad luck has left the remaining summer nothing more than essentially extended spring training over the next two-plus months.
Fingers have been pointed at demoted starter Shelby Miller, underperforming outfielder Yasmany Tomas, manager Chip Hale and usually reliable reliever Daniel Hudson who’s seen his July earned run average balloon to over 15. Even chief baseball officer Tony La Russa’s integrity was recently called out by one prominent media member after Arizona traded closer Brad Ziegler to the Boston Red Sox for a pair of minor leaguers.
The D-backs stumbles haven’t come as a complete surprise to others around the game who believe the dis-function on the field in some ways starts at the top according to one baseball insider.
“This is an organization that has certainly raised eyebrows around Major League Baseball for years,” ESPN’s Pedro Gomez told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a recent phone interview. “It’s one that when I talk to rival people in front offices they always are like, ‘what exactly are the Diamondbacks doing? What is their master plan?'”
Gomez cites the Kansas City Royals as a team which developed an internal plan to rebuild and stuck with their young, high draft picks despite some rocky seasons where wins were difficult to come by. However, the end result was back-to-back World Series appearances and a championship last fall.
Arizona has parted with Dansby Swanson, Trevor Bauer, and dating back a bit Max Scherzer who has gone on to be one of the top aces in baseball. Maybe it’s best if Arizona takes a page from the Royals blueprint.
“They drafted very high a number of years because they were so horrible,” Gomez said of the Royals. “But they were able to get guys like Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Luke Hochevar…all were high draft picks. But they didn’t turn around and trade those guys away.
Lessons learned and regrettable decisions can haunt professional franchises.
Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks are learning that firsthand.