While watching the Arizona Diamondbacks struggle to begin the 2014 season, it's tough not to think back to something team president Derrick Hall said during spring training.
Chatting with Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Hall said teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers have an advantage because they can, literally, afford to make player personnel mistakes.
"In our situation we cannot afford to make mistakes," Hall said on March 27. "When we go out and get a free agent or if we make a trade and it doesn't work out, we're hurting for years. Whereas if you're the Dodgers or a team spending a lot of money, you make a mistake you just turn the page and you pay someone else. That is the tough part; that is the disparity."
It's true. Major League Baseball is structured to where the wealthier teams do have a bit of an advantage, though as Hall also said in that interview, a high payroll does not necessarily equate to a high win total.
But the problem for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who entering play Monday were a Major League-worst 8-20, is that they have made mistakes, and plenty of them. Here's a look at the team's 10 highest paid players, courtesy of ESPN.com:
Those 10 are collectively earning $85,800,000, or roughly 76 percent of the team's franchise-record $112,688,666 payroll entering the season. Heading into Monday, the six hitters have combined to bat .231 with 12 home runs, 64 RBI and 103 strikeouts; the four pitchers have chipped in two wins, 12 losses, one save and a 5.86 ERA in 95.1 innings of work.
All of the contracts were signed or acquired after the D-backs won 94 games and the NL West in 2011, and not one of them has helped the team reach that level of play since.
Now, it would be unfair not to point out that the D-backs currently have Paul Goldschmidt on contract for just $1,083,333, and while that number will go up with his contract extension, he's still very much a bargain. And at $523,500, Wade Miley is a good bargain, while Chris Owings looks to be a pretty good player on a really inexpensive deal.
Collectively, the group the Diamondbacks have assembled can't seem to get things going. The offense is not good enough to carry the team and the pitching staff is not consistent enough to regularly keep them in games.
Ownership has been willing to spend, but unfortunately its money has not been spent particularly wisely. And too few of the team's recent trades -- many of which were controversial at the time -- seem to have worked out in their favor. It's all left the franchise in a bad spot.
With the season clearly not going as expected, continued struggles will likely lead to changes, both in the coaching staff and with the roster.
But where does the blame lie? Is the coaching staff not getting the most out of its players? Did key injuries kill the team's season before it even began? Are the players playing considerably worse than could have reasonably been expected? Was the group of players simply not very good to begin with?
It's probably a combination of the four.
Whatever the reason, it's hard to see things being solved in time for this season to be salvaged, meaning the team can and should turn its attention to moving on from 2014 as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Unfortunately, the D-backs have far too many contracts that appear untradeable, and the ones that are belong to players who they'd probably like to keep around. Besides, are you confident the people whose decisions put the team in this predicament are the ones who can get them out of it?
It's difficult to be, which brings us back to something else Hall told Doug and Wolf that March morning when talking about how the Diamondbacks can't afford to spend like the Dodgers and are at an inherent disadvantage.
"But we just have to do our jobs better," he said, "and we have to make sure we hire the right people to do those jobs."