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D-backs’ Derrick Hall: Organization shares collective blame for down year

(Arizona Sports Photo)

It has not been what many in the Valley expected for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

At 22-34, the D-backs are second-to-last in the NL, trailing only the Pittsburgh Pirates.

And after an impressive offseason that netted the team a starting ace in Madison Bumgarner, among other starting-caliber players, the term underachievers has been used often to describe Arizona.

But while the play on the field has been a collective disappointment for the organization, the blame does not rest solely on just one individual.

“I place the blame on the entire organization, I really do. I’ve said it all along,” D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Thursday. “Do I think we’ve underachieved? Absolutely. We just went through these ruts where we couldn’t score, we couldn’t produce any offense and we didn’t have both sides click. We didn’t really have our pitching at its best when we had our offense at its best. Very few games did we see that.

“I can’t blame the coaches, they worked very hard. I can’t blame the players individually, they worked hard. They wanted to win and they certainly haven’t given up. I’m really proud of the effort as I know Torey [Lovullo] is. I would never blame the general manager in this case or the manager. It’s really all of us. It didn’t work and let’s make sure we address it and we fix it. But seeing these guys bounce back and not just caving and giving up.”

The team is well below .500, but strung together back-to-back wins over the Texas Rangers, taking a two-game series sweep. The enhanced play is welcome to finish the year, but there’s much to do moving forward, says Hall.

“I know they feel that way and I agree with them. We do have the talent. We just have a lot of questions to answer. We know that as well,” Hall said. “We can’t forget it was like reading a book we never really enjoyed and several times thought about putting it down. And just because the final chapter was pretty good, you don’t want to walk away and go, ‘Yeah, the book wasn’t bad, I’m going to recommend it.’ We have to remember if you look at the work in its entirety, something was wrong and we’ve got to figure that out.

“But then again, strange season, short season, glimpses of really good play and I think we have a lot of positives to hang our hat on. But I don’t think we can rest on our laurels or just assume the exact punch we have in place is the team to go out to battle with next year.”

But despite the tough 2020 season for the D-backs, Hall is optimistic about the future of the organization. With little chance at making the playoffs, the team turned to younger guys to fill roles and get reps in at the Major League level.

Perhaps the brightest of those youngsters is starting pitcher Zac Gallen. Having come over from the Miami Marlins in exchange for prospect Jazz Chisholm in 2019, the right-hander solidified his spot in the D-backs starting rotation this season.

Gallen — who turned 25 in August — has started 11 games for Arizona in 2020. And in 66 innings pitched on the coronavirus-shortened season, the starter has a 3.00 ERA to go along with 72 strikeouts and a 1.106 WHIP.

“I’m excited about the future. It’s obvious the trades that we made brought in some talent and then we’re starting to produce talent from below,” Hall said. “So it’s not as if you just stick with the Major League roster you started with. You’ve now got to figure out how to sprinkle in some of this talent and then look around and see what’s available out there.

“But I do think we need to answer the question of what went wrong and what has gone wrong the last couple of years even though we’ve had talent we haven’t won, and which way are we going to go here?”

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