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Sporting News ranks D-backs front office No. 22 in baseball

Chief baseball officer for the Arizona Diamondbacks' Tony LaRussa, right, talks with pitching coach Mike Butcher, left, during a spring training baseball workout Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The D-backs were the center of attention this offseason when they made blockbuster acquisitions, but their lackluster performance this season has Sporting News less than enthusiastic about the team’s management.

In a ranking of all 30 MLB front offices, the website listed the D-backs’ front office – headed by Tony La Russa and Dave Stewart – as the 22nd-best in baseball.

Chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and general manager Dave Stewart went all in over the winter with the singing of Zack Greinke and the trade for Shelby Miller, and, welp. Greinke’s numbers remain inflated by have three disaster starts in his first five, but the trouble that comes with signing a pitcher in his 30s to a long-term deal becomes evident when you realize the impact of one of his prime years turning into a loss. A lot of what Arizona is doing is grounded in strong logic, but the decisions that guided the roster construction for 2016 were problematic and had long-term implications.

Greinke was signed to a six-year, $206.5 million deal this offseason. He was the National League’s runner-up in Cy Young Award voting behind Jake Arrieta in 2015, finishing the year with an MLB-best 1.66 ERA and a 19-3 record.

Sporting News was right: through Greinke’s first five starts, the D-backs ace posted a 6.16 ERA as opponents hit .305 against him. But since then, he’s pitched to a 2.57 ERA, a .228 opposing average and is 7-2. He has won his last six starts.

Meanwhile, Shelby Miller has been a less positive storyline. In 2015, he was an All-Star with the Atlanta Braves, registering a 3.02 ERA and pitching over 200 innings for the first time in his career. Last May, against the Marlins, Miller was one out away from a no-hitter before giving up two straight singles.

The promising arm was traded to Arizona in exchange for outfielder Ender Inciarte, former No. 1 pick Dansby Swanson, and pitching prospect Aaron Blair.

In 2016, Miller is 1-6 with a 7.09 ERA. He was placed on the disabled list on May 27 with a sprained right index finger, and is currently in Single-A Visalia making rehab starts. On Thursday, Miller tossed six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits to the Lancaster Jethawks.

With the trades of Blair and Swanson, MLB.com now lists right-hander Braden Shipley as the team’s No. 1 prospect, followed by outfielder Socrates Brito and left-hander Alex Young.

While some claim the D-backs have traded the future for an underperforming Shelby Miller, others note that players like Miller, Greinke, Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock still have multiple years left on their contracts. If underperformers can right the ship next year and the team starts winning, La Russa and Stewart may face less scrutiny.


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