What is GM Mike Hazen’s Plan?
Captain Hazen has just left harbor with his team. Likely, he had a plan before coming on-board and made adjustments when he saw the situation at ground zero. What is his plan? So far, I think it is big on seeing with new eyes and limited on acquiring new players. It is a voyage of discovery.
What Do I Think?
Until the All-Star break, the D-Backs need to keep alive the possibility that they play in the post-season. Long-term, the D-Backs need to 1) increase flexibility so that if they are leading the NL West Division in any specific season, they can add a boost to reach the post season, and 2) achieve excellent player development that is closely coupled with contracts to lock up core players before arbitration. These strategies fit with the D-Backs’ budget.
Impact of Off-Season Moves
The D-Backs added Mike Fitzgerald to provide statistical support and integrate data into daily game planning to achieve competitive advantages. This will leverage the impact of the coaching staff. Great move! It increases this season’s possibility of playing in the post season.
The D-Backs added Dan Haren as a pitching strategist. Nick Piecoro wrote that he will add “supplements” to Mike Butcher’s pitching game plans. I hope his supplements are so awesome they make last season’s plans obsolete! Great move! It increases this season’s possibility of playing in the post season.
The D-Backs added Chris Iannetta and Jeff Mathis to replace Wellington Castillo. The new catchers have better defensive skills. This change will allow us to see the true state of “how good are our pitchers?” Great move! The $3.5 million in reduced salary has an immediate positive impact on flexibility.
The D-Backs traded away second baseman Jean Segura and outfielder Mitch Haniger for starting pitcher Taijuan Walker. They claimed Jeremy Hazelbaker on waivers. These moves seem to be a wash in terms of this season’s results. However, the changes give flexibility to move a starting pitcher to the bullpen or trade away a starting pitcher.
The D-Backs added Fernando Rodney, closer, and Tyler Jones, relief pitcher. I presume these are the replacements for last season’s Brad Zeigler and Tyler Clippard. The replacements will negatively impact this season’s results. Mitigation is the $11 Million in reduced salary compared to signing Zeigler and keeping Clippard.
The D-Backs added many pitchers, mostly relievers, at the minor league level – JJ Hoover, Keyvius Sampson, Erik Davis, Yukei Nakaushiro, Brooks Hall, Grant Sides, and Asher Wojciechowski. This surplus is an insurance policy in case of injuries or ineffectiveness. Maybe one of these pitchers will transform into an All-Star!
Could More Have Been Done?
Trading Tomas screams “opportunity!” The D-Backs did not yet trade Tomas. Moving Tomas would improve outfield defense, further revealing the true state of “how good are our pitchers?” Any reduced salary costs would go a long way toward achieving flexibility. Of course it takes two to tango – and there may not be many teams willing to trade a fair return for Tomas.
So, back to the question, “Did the D-Backs do enough this winter?” The D-Backs made some great moves. The D-Backs are definitely improved. In the context of starting from 69 wins last season, the D-Backs have not yet done enough to be confident they will play in the post-season. The voyage of discovery continues!