D-backs aim for stability with faith behind Lovullo, Hall says
It’s easy to charge the Diamondbacks with being overly-optimistic if they believe making a playoff push in 2019 is realistic. They lost three of their best players this offseason, after all.
Even president Derrick Hall doesn’t know exactly what to expect. Last season, Arizona led the NL West for much of the regular season before tumbling out of the playoff picture in September.
“September was a surprise. It was a disaster,” Hall told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.
Maybe the pendulum will swing the other way with Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin elsewhere. It’s odd to expect, but Hall is hoping for it.
“When you look at our franchise historically, for whatever reason … when we are projected to win the division or finish high up or go to the postseason, we fall apart,” Hall said. “And when we’re not (Arizona has exceeded expectations). The personality of this organization for years has been: Don’t count us out but don’t talk about us. We don’t want to be talked about.”
Hall has reasons beyond blind luck to think his team can remain relevant. For one, he has faith in Torey Lovullo.
The third-year manager was extended two weeks ago through the 2021 season, and Hall hopes it brings stability to a team hoping to foster new leadership among its players.
“The greatest thing about Torey Lovullo and the biggest reason why we extended him is because of humility. In the dugout, out of the dugout, in the clubhouse, out of the clubhouse, every player that plays for him believes in him and loves him,” Hall said, adding the D-backs extended Lovullo “to show the stability. I think one of the worst things you can have — in particular with a manager who you really like and you believe in his future and you hope he’s going to be here a long time — is he looks like a lame duck.”
Humility showed when Lovullo admitted during D-backs Fan Fest on Saturday that perhaps he’d been too trusting in his players in 2018. He wondered if he allowed them to take too many at-bats while struggling or to pitch one too many batters during a game.
Lovullo’s self-awareness showed that humility, Hall said.
“It’s self-reflection, right? And it’s being honest with one’s self and wanting to improve,” Hall said. “However, he’s had so much success, I don’t think he should get too far away from what brought him here. His instincts are good, his relationships are strong, they have so much faith in him. I don’t want him to go too far. I want him to balance it well, and I think he will.”