I'm in Charge

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Since I’m now in charge I can freely spend money on important things like baseball players, not baseball cards. As has been historically proven, you don’t need $150 million payroll to win a World Series, it’s better to be the Rays and spend money wisely than be the Yankees and spend it foolishly.

I’m not looking to spend $500 million in free agency to lose 94 games like the Rangers did but the question is, will they get to the WS before those contracts expire? If you say yes then they were wise investments. I’m not going to run out and give Trea Turner and Jacob deGrom $300 million each but will certainly explore every opportunity to make this team better and if it costs money or players to do that so be it.

With regard to Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo, they have been told I will honor the commitments made by the previous administration regarding their 2023 contracts. However…they are both on a very short leash and they will be re-evaluated on an ongoing basis with no guarantees they finish out the season, and if one goes they both go.

As is my right, I’ve made some anonymous changes throughout the front office including analytics, scouting and player development. There has been a clear disconnect between them both in the conference room and on the field. It’s not a tear down to the studs rebuild but something needed to be done and coming out of spring training I’m still not happy with the communication more changes will be made.

No one from the on field staff has been fired, all the way down to the DSL Complex. The only changes came from voluntary attrition and earned promotions. There are a lot of talented individuals in the group the key is getting everyone on the same page.

With that said, all field staff throughout the organization will report to SRF two weeks prior to the start of spring training. There will be significant changes to performance expectations starting with a focus on fundamentals. Development happens naturally and is an individual thing, we will not teach or focus on items such as launch angle, exit velo, radar readings or spin rates. Anyone from any department who believes in or teaches a cookie cutter approach will be dismissed.

I believe any personnel changes should benefit the organization, not just the major league team. If I’m going to invest capital in acquiring a player through trade or free agency the expectation is those players will have an impact throughout, just on the field. Gone are signing guys like Jordan Luplow or Mark Melancon because of their names and past performances. It’s not my job to placate the fan base, if we win, they will come but the last thing on my mind when negotiating deals is how many extra ticket packages we’ll sell.

I believe in putting people in the best position to be successful. We will use this ideal to put our minor league affiliates together from the front office to the roster. Jordan Lawlar will have to earn the right to play in Reno, he won’t go there to help them sell season tickets or because he’s a first round pick. If his play doesn’t warrant a promotion he’ll stay where he is; conversely if he’s playing well and if we think he can help at the major league level we’ll promote him and skip Reno altogether. This plan will apply to any player.

To the roster.

Like most people I was happy to see the improvement over 2021 but also realize a good part of that is it’s almost impossible to be that bad, especially two years in a row. The offense improved negligibly, 23 runs total but there was an improvement in runs allowed of 153, almost one per game, despite the failures of the bullpen. This points to the single biggest improvement being on defense and that trend will continue with the focus on fundamentals.

Speaking of the bullpen, this will be napalmed as much as feasible. Hazen has been given a mandate to prioritize this area before February, or else. The option for Ian Kennedy will be declined and all options to trade Melancon will be explored despite the likely financial loss. Reyes Maronta, Caleb Smith and Kenyan Middleton will all be non tendered.

I’m not a believer in investing in bullpens, look at Houston this year, part of the reason they’re in the World Series is because they picked up a bunch of scrap heap guys who all decided to have career years at the same time. For a team with a limited budget investing wisely can be directly tied to success or lack thereof and I can think of better places to put those resources. Come spring training we may have a couple dozen non roster invitees in camp with the majority being pitchers. There are some pretty good arms with major league experience we’ll give a look to including Luis Frias, JB Bukauskas, Edwin Uceta, Corbin Martin and Tyler Holton to name a few. Sidearming lefty Kyle Backhus raised some eyebrows in the Fall League as well.

For the rotation obviously will tender Zac Gallen and try and extend him. Zach Davies will be let go and Humberto Castellanos will miss the season with TJ. Merrill Kelly will be back as well and am guardedly optimistic he can repeat last year. Both Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson pitched well in limited action and will be given a shot to be in the opening day rotation.

Which brings us to the literal dinosaur in the room, MadBum. First thing I plan on doing after the World Series is calling the new guy in Texas and see if I can sell him on a reunion with his manager in San Francisco, Bruce Bochy. Having inside information on their minor league prospects if I can walk away with three or four of their youngsters plus a current ML player I think can do business depending on how much cash they want thrown in.

There were some good performances at the minor league level, specifically Brandon Pfaadt but none of them are on the 40 man roster and at that likely aren’t ready, including Pfaadt. If he performs well in spring training we could add him last minute but there’s no urgency to make moves now.

Clearly we’re not going to be players at the high end of the free agent market for guys like Jacob deGrom or Carlos Rodon. Even some of the middle of the pack guys like Aaron Nola and Luis Severino would be out of range but there’s some value at the bottom of the list, we just have to be careful to avoid another Bumgarner situation. I think there would be value in one or two year contracts for guys like Aaron Sanchez, Dylan Bundy, Martin Perez, Sean Manea, Jameson Taillon and Michael Lorenzen to name a few.

The same is true for catching, the free agent market is pretty thin so we’ll tender a contract offer to Carson Kelly. I’d love to bring Austin Hedges on board, there is no better game manager out there right now but his lack of offense matches Kelly’s, without an offensive compliment that would create a lineup hole which long term would cause problems. Texas is deep in catching prospects so if we are lucky enough to strike a deal for Bumgarner I would ask for one in return, such as Phoenix native Sam Huff.

As with Gallen, we will tender Christian Walker and try and extend him. After a slow start he hit almost .300 during the second half and is a Gold Glove finalist. Pavin Smith is a trade candidate, I think he has more value elsewhere. I’m not opposed to him being on the roster as Walker’s backup but that’s an easy spot to fill without much investment.

I’m not opposed to moving Ketel Marte; there’s more value to teams in his contract than in his performance, especially this year. I think he’s one of those guys who plays better when the team plays better, he loses focus when things aren’t going well and it translates to the field. He’s been an MVP candidate in the past and we’re hoping he can be in the future. But if we get a Corleone offer…..

Based on games played Geraldo Perdomo was the worst player in the majors this season, clearly he wasn’t/isn’t ready quite yet. Or perhaps just not that good. Either way, he won’t be the everyday shortstop next year. In a perfect world Nick Ahmed will be healthy come spring training and rejuvenated to resume his career in a walk year and Perdomo and Sergio Alcantara can fight for the backup role in the spring. If Nicky can’t overcome the injuries and is unable to play everyday then that’s going to be problematic because neither of the other two are everyday players either. There are some top flight options for shortstops in the free agent market but like with pitching we can’t sit at that table. Could a low cost guy like Isaiah Kiner-Falefa be had in a trade? Perhaps.

I actually like the Josh Rojas/Emmanuel Rivera platoon at third base but I’m going to be calling Evan Longoria soon as I’m allowed. I know he’s 37 and I know he’s had some injuries past couple of seasons but he’s a borderline Hall of Famer who happens to live in Scottsdale, maybe getting a chance to finish his career literally "at home" could give him enough to push him over the border line.

Like everyone else I love the future of our outfielders. There’s enough depth here not only to sustain the major league team for years but also bargain for sustainability at other positions too.

I’ve made this comment before but it bears repeating now; If Corbin Carroll was 6’1" he would have been the first overall pick in his draft easily. But he’s not. He’s also not 5’10". I understand from a scouting perspective with the demands of his position and his true size there would be some durability concerns but you have to let the kid play without restrictions. He can DH once in awhile or sit against a tough lefty but he’s an investment in your future, holding him back doesn’t do any good anywhere.

Daulton Varsho has earned the everyday right field job. Obviously I can’t sign Aaron Judge or even Wil Myers so until something better comes along he’s our guy.

As of today left field looks to be a Jake McCarthy/Stone Garrett platoon and I’m OK with that too. I think at some point Alek Thomas will factor in the equation but whether he’s traded or McCarthy it doesn’t matter as their skills and values are similar.

There is a shortage of righthanded options here and outside of Garrett there aren’t too many options, if any. Jordan Luplow will not be back and I’m not enamored with Cooper Hummel. Coming from a scouting background I’m enamored with tools, but as I’ve slowly come to learn tools don’t always translate to skills. I’m still waiting for Bubba Starling to break out and he’s been retired for two years. Over the past ten years or so I haven’t seen too many players with more tools than Lewis Brinson. Given the opportunity he could have a similar breakout season Trayce Thompson had this year with the Dodgers so we will be reaching out in an attempt to sign him.

I don’t have a crystal ball so I’m not going to guarantee a won loss record or play off appearance, but what I can promise is a young, aggressive team who is competitive every day. Everyone in the organization will be accountable to that, starting with me. The days of scripted BS answers in post game press conferences in response to performance will be no more. If Torey can’t honestly answer a question then he won’t be here, if he made the pitching change or called for a sacrifice then you would expect him to be able to explain why. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable ask.

We will reinstate the old time caravans which will travel around the state promoting the team. Participation will be mandatory for all staff, players and coaches. We will invest in buses which will be used to transport fans from the outskirts of the Valley to games. We will put together an alumni team which will travel around and play games as a way to promote the team and raise funds for local youth baseball groups.

A recent Sagat survey showed the Dbacks are the most fan friendly in the majors when it comes to cost for taking a family of four to a game. With that said improvements can still be made. There’s no reason why anyone should have to spend $13 for a beer they can get at Circle K for $4. We’ll normalize prices on some things; that may mean increases in some areas but no one will feel cheated. All parking will be free and if we need to build our own parking garage to do that, so be it.

We will bring back the 1998-2000 uniforms. There will be some (not many) throwback days to recall some of the newer color/design schemes but for the most part they are not a good look.

We will work with the other pro sports teams in the Valley to create our own broadcast/streaming service which will ensure ALL games are available to all state residents free of charge with no blackouts. Let the Dodger fans cover the cost.

I don’t like losing and understand growing pains come with developing young players into future stars. Success breeds success. I’m OK going to the park everyday despite knowing the chances of winning may not be very good, but as long as the games are competitive and the players care that’s what I want to see. I would never want to have a repeat of 2004.

Chase Field will be full again…with Dback fans.