Yahoo! MLB writer Passan: ‘Serial mismanagement’ has plagued D-backs
The Arizona Diamondbacks entered the All-Star Break with a 38-52 record.
They are occupying last place in the NL West, and are a healthy 19 games back of the division-leading San Francisco Giants.
After the offseason they had, in which the club inked Zack Greinke to a contract worth $206.5 million and traded a bevvy of talent to the Atlanta Braves for pitcher Shelby Miller, and added them to a team that won 79 games in 2015, it would not be unfair to say the D-backs are the biggest disappointment in all of baseball.
“Yeah, they’d have to be,” Yahoo! Sports MLB insider Jeff Passan told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “Tampa Bay was expected to finish around .500 and they’ve just been a complete disaster, and the Pirates I thought were going to be a lot better than they’ve been, but at least they’re still over .500.
“The Diamondbacks have just been awful.”
Passan pointed to injuries as a factor — especially the one suffered by A.J. Pollock just before Opening Day — but said the team’s issues go beyond that, Zack Greinke’s recent ailment and Shelby Miller’s ongoing struggles.
“When you see Dansby Swanson just absolutely tearing up the minor leagues and it goes to a misappropriation of money toward one particular person (Greinke) when you don’t carry a payroll that warrants that,” he said. “I just think there has been serial mismanagement there, and it shows.
“They need to blow up what they can now and extract every little last bit of trade value and as much as you can hit the start button, do it.”
The Diamondbacks have given no indication they play on tearing their underachieving roster apart. They dealt closer Brad Ziegler the Boston Red Sox last week, but the veteran is in the last year of his contract and the team decided it would be best to get some value for him now rather than risk losing him for nothing in free agency.
There have been other rumors that they might move more bullpen pieces, but other than that, it seems as though the organization is steadfast in its belief that yes, while the team is doing poorly now, the pieces for success are already in place.
That may be the perspective internally, but on the outside, opinions of the D-backs and what they are doing are not quite as high.
Passan, who was never in favor of the deal that sent Swanson, Ender Inciarte and Aaron Blair to the Braves for Miller, pointed to that move as evidence that the D-backs “value the wrong thing.”
“I think they overvalued what Shelby Miller was; I think they thought Shelby Miller was a legitimate No. 2 starter and they thought they were going as far in as you could possibly go this year and they were trying to win this season, and they were going to sacrifice whatever they had in the future for it,” he said.
There was certainly criticism of the trade when it went down last winter, and Miller’s performance thus far has done nothing to quiet the doubters. In 14 starts with the D-backs, the 25-year-old has posted a 2-9 record with a 7.14 ERA. Opponents are batting .312 off the right-hander, and he has allowed 13 home runs.
Last season with the Braves he had a 6-17 record, but did so with a 3.02 ERA while opponents hit .238 against him.
Over in Atlanta, Inciarte is hitting .227 with one home run, 11 RBI and eight stolen bases, while Blair has a 7.99 ERA in 11 big league starts. Swanson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, his hitting .284 with six home runs, 39 RBI and an OPS (on base+slugging) of .811 over stops with High-A Carolina and Double-A Mississippi.
“I understand that when you have Paul Goldschmidt and you have David Peralta and you have A.J. Pollock and you have what Jake Lamb has turned into; when you have as many bats as the Diamondbacks do, and when you play in a super-charged environment like Chase Field, then it makes you think you can survive without a superstar bat a shortstop,” he said. “But when you have one of those, I’m sorry, you just don’t give it up for a pitcher. That is, to me, the type of trade that comes back to haunt teams, when they give up potential star bats for pitchers.
“Sometimes it works — sometimes it really does — but most of the time, the team getting the bat is getting the much surer thing.”
While the Miller deal so far looks like at best a wash, but probably a loss for the Diamondbacks, the reality is there is nothing they can do about it now. The organization’s best hope is that Miller rediscovers the form he displayed in Atlanta and turns into the type of pitcher they thought they were getting.
After that, while Passan believes the D-backs should look to reset things, he’s not entirely sure about how they should or could go about doing it.
The writer does not see anyone going after the team’s highest-priced player, Greinke, and after that, he figures the players other teams might have interest in are the kind the D-backs probably don’t want to part with.
“The bigger question is do you dangle Pollock or, I hate to say this, but do you dangle Goldschmidt?” he asked. “Because Paul Goldschmidt has an absurdly team-friendly contract and if you wanted to start over and do this the right way, or close to the right way, that’s the type of guy you consider trading.
“But his contract is so good it’s almost like he’s untradeable because you couldn’t get enough back for him.”