GM Mike Hazen has confidence in 2024 Diamondbacks’ intangibles

Feb 29, 2024, 9:29 AM

There’s an obvious fear for general manager Mike Hazen that his still-young Arizona Diamondbacks might take a 2023 World Series run for granted and get smacked in the face by a new year.

But if he’s to look at what made that version of the D-backs reach that point, their roster construction can soothe concerns.

Without major changes, Hazen sees a team leaning on the same intangibles in 2024.

That youthful energy by the likes of Corbin Carroll and Zac Gallen can help to avoid the team’s past success leading to a stale improvement process in the spring.

“I think we have the same thing. I think the fabric of the team is still very serious, hard-working, diligent, drink-a-lot-of-water-after-games type of team,” the GM told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Thursday. “I don’t think you’re going to see us on TMZ very often — that’s just my guess, I don’t know.

“I think what we felt like we had when we were getting (third baseman Eugenio Suarez), bringing in Joc (Pederson), obviously a full year of (closer) Paul Sewald, those guys are incredible professionals that have been around multiple teams that have been through winning environments. I think they add a level of comfort and consistency for the younger players when the ups and downs hit.”

The downs once the regular season aged almost got the Diamondbacks in 2023.

Arizona was 50-34 after a July 1 victory but from there went 7-22 until Aug. 12, finishing that stretch on a nine-game losing streak. It took a bit to pull out of the rut just to make the playoffs before the D-backs caught fire.

“When we went down in July we went down hard, and we almost didn’t come out of the crater,” Hazen said.

He credited Evan Longoria, Tommy Pham and later Sewald — after the closer was acquired in a deadline trade — for stabilizing the young players.

Of those veterans, only Sewald is back.

The Suarez addition put a permanent face at third base. Pederson’s significant role, likely as DH, will also provide a calming influence in the locker room.

Kristian Robinson flashes for D-backs

Once the Diamondbacks’ top prospect, outfielder Kristian Robinson has flashed early this spring in seven at-bats, posting a home run, two hits, three RBIs, plus a walk and a strikeout.

His path to this point, of course, makes up the context of why those seven at-bats are so intriguing.

The now-23-year-old Bahamian, who was Hazen’s first international pool signing as GM of Arizona in 2017, was arrested in April 2020 for allegedly punching an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer after he was approached for walking in traffic lanes of Interstate 10 in Phoenix.

The D-backs supported Robinson despite the outfielder not being cleared for a work visa until last season after he served community service following a misdemeanor charge.

With that in his past, Robinson flew through the farm system from Rookie League ball to Single-A and eventually five games with Double-A Amarillo last season.

“It’s an incredible story, it’s a challenging story,” Hazen told Bickley & Marotta. “I mean obviously there’s got to be repercussions sometimes for behaviors. … Yet at the same time, when you’re dealing with some things off the field, you also have to have the empathy around these are young kids and things happen and you have to be there to help them. And not knowing that you’re ever going to see the light of day on the other side from a professional standpoint. … But you feel so good to see him come back from where he has and where he’s standing right now.

“We’ll be there to support him no matter what. He’s a great kid. He’s an incredible human being and we will try to help him any way he can. Hopefully, he gets to achieve that success as a professional, too. What we’re seeing so far in spring training right now is awesome.”

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GM Mike Hazen has confidence in 2024 Diamondbacks’ intangibles