Thursday, June 3, 2010
Are big changes imminent in Arizona?
From the hard-working Nick Piecoro:
The Diamondbacks' disastrous first two months of the season have prompted the club's ownership to consider all avenues of change, including a drastic retooling of the major league roster.
But Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick said all areas of the organization are under review, from General Manager Josh Byrnes' baseball operations department on down to the players, whom Kendrick says are drastically underperforming.
"When the team is playing as badly as this team is," he said, "and we've had a consistent period of questionable performance going back into a full season last year and the second half of the '08 season, you really need to look very broadly at everything and try to objectively determine what kind of changes you really want to make. We're going to go through that process."
The team's payroll ticked upward this season as the Diamondbacks made several changes to the roster in the off-season, many of which have worked out well individually, but the collective group continues to struggle. The club's everyday players remain inconsistent, the bullpen has failed epically and the rotation has not pitched well enough to offset those shortcomings.
"We've relied on a core group of young guys," Kendrick said. "They're not all the same guys, but we're in the third or fourth year with guys who were anticipated, as a group, would move along and mature and become better performers, and collectively it hasn't happened at the level we would have expected.
The young guys haven't developed as I thought they would. But we're not really talking about a lot of guys, are we? Chris Young's been a disappointment, but Stephen Drew's a shortstop with league-average hitting and Mark Reynolds will hit 35 or 40 home runs this year. Justin Upton might be the only future superstar, but superstars are really hard to find; when you do find one, you've gotten at least a little lucky.
None of the starting pitchers are products of the organization, but newcomers Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson have both pitched better than their records. Dan Haren is better than his ERA, and Rodrigo Lopez ... well, he's still Rodrigo Lopez, and he's been about as good as anyone could have hoped.
The biggest problem is that bullpen ... which is good news! Because the easiest thing to fix is the bullpen. Even if the Diamondbacks do nothing, the bullpen will improve. Unfortunately, there aren't any other quick fixes available, as the Diamondbacks' Triple-A roster seems bereft of power arms.
Well, there's one quick fix (maybe): Fire the manager!
I don't type those words lightly. A.J. Hinch seems like an intelligent fellow, and I'm not blaming the Diamondbacks' struggles this season or last on him. But Kendrick goes out of his way to absolve Hinch, which seems odd considering that if the manager has a great deal of power over one thing on the club, it's probably the bullpen. He might not choose the relievers he's got, but he does decide how they're used. Isn't it fair to suggest that a different manager might be getting more out of his relievers than Hinch has gotten?
Maybe a "drastic retooling" really is in order, considering that this season's already a lost cause. But that presumably means jettisoning most of the franchise's best players, which in turn means a multi-year rebuilding effort. Is everybody up for one of those?