Open Letter To Tony La Russa

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Mr. La Russa,

I am compelled to write as a devoted Arizona Diamondbacks fan, writing from a fan's perspective. I certainly don't profess to have the slightest experience and knowledge you have gained in your baseball career. I also make no claim to having insight to the non-public discussions between the front office and the ownership. Feel free to assess this essay as you wish .

As the 2016 season is now entering its second half with our team 19 games out of first place in the NL West (10 behind for a NL Wild Card spot) it is apparent the team has little chance of reaching the post-season this year. We are on track to be worse than 2015. It has been most disappointing as the fans' expectations were raised to a level not seen in years as a result of off-season moves and a robust Spring Training performance. Certainly, the injuries to key players have had adverse consequences on this season , yet this team is not unique in that context. Having said that, I firmly believe that our contention window remains very much open for the next several seasons. It will, however, require some retooling to achieve the success we all hope to see.

To begin, I and many others are convinced that Chip Hale and his immediate staff are not performing to the degree necessary to be a playoff contender. You have said it many times: this team has the talent to compete. The obvious question then becomes: why are we underperforming? Is it because our talent is overrated or is it that our talent is being mismanaged? If overrated, then a complete overhaul of the current roster would be in order; if mismanaged the solution would be to find credible alternatives and replace the field management, sooner than later. Other than Dave McKay and possibly Mark Grace, I believe the team would be better off replacing the coaching staff.

Another concern is the talent provided vying for too few available positions This is a front office problem. Looking at the infield, Jake Lamb, Jean Segura, Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings, and Brandon Drury are five talented players with just three positions available on a regular basis (not to mention utility man Gosselin ). Owings and Drury have done a quasi-serviceable job filling in for injured outfielders but what happens when Pollock and Peralta are back? Where will they play? I'll assume that Tomas will remain on the roster (not because of his talent). I'm assuming Bourn and Weeks, Jr. will not be on the roster.The construction of this team is out of balance. In my opinion, one or more of our surplus infielders as well as one surplus outfielde needs to be traded for bullpen pitching help. With Ziegler gone, Hudson imploding regularly and the balance of the bullpen being mostly average (with a few exceptions), it is critical to add a proven MLB arm if we are going to be a contender. There is one veteran reliever on the staff that, frankly, should not be on the staff: Josh Collmenter. Bring Zack Godley up as a long reliever in his place.

Let's look at our starting pitching staff. If we're going to contend in 2017 and later we will need quality starters. Zack Greinke is the only one that currently fits that description. Prior to his injury. Rubby De La Rosa appeared ready for a breakout season with the stats to back it up. Without knowing the medical details it's unclear if he will be able to resume his role as a starter. By the way, I believe every fan would rather not see Greinke or De La Rosa rushed back during the remainder of this season. Take all the time necessary to see that their recoveries are complete.

The balance of the starting rotation is where the problem lies. As every fan has noted, Shelby Miller has been the biggest disappointment this season. The team attempts to address the problem do not appear to have been successful. It is the enigma of all-time. It certainly would not disappoint the fans if he were optioned until the problem is corrected. Of the remaining three, the two best performers have been Archie Bradley and Robbie Ray. Both have shown signs that they can be very effective at the MLB level. I fully expect one or both to have a breakout year in 2017...if the right pitching coach is on the staff. That leaves us with Patrick Corbin. Once again, with the right pitching coach perhaps Corbin can again become the starter we saw in 2013 and 2015. I suppose it depends on which pitcher (Miller or Corbin) is best able to regain their previous form, because one of them likely has to go.

One last thing: If we're going to evaluate minor league prospects at the MLB level, do it during the remainder of this season.

In closing, I see a team that has underperformed in key situations including pitching, hitting, and defense. I attribute most of this to inadequate coaching, with some of the blame due to players playing out of a non-regular position because of injuries to regular starters. I believe these problems can be corrected and I look forward to the team's success in the upcoming seasons.

Thanks for reading.