I should start by saying that my first baseball love is the Seattle Mariners. Hailing from the Northwest, this is the only professional baseball we have back home and it’s one of the very few pro franchises in a vast region. And in case you didn’t notice, the team isn’t very good and hasn’t been very good for quite some time. Jack Zduriencik hasn’t necessarily delivered the goods and Eric Wedge recently chose to leave the organization rather than stick around to see what’s next. More importantly, Howard Lincoln, the team’s president, made some recent comments that essentially make it sound like winning isn’t the organization’s top priority. Given the context of the last few seasons, this is disconcerting to say the least.
Which leads me to the Diamondbacks. The last two seasons have been disappointing and although 2011 was a nice surprise, it’s not like the franchise is a juggernaut. So, just how convinced should we be that Arizona is making the best possible attempt at winning?
In short: very convinced.
After Kevin Towers’ latest rumblings and the team’s coaching changes, it seems as if the there is some pressure being put on the powers that be to turn this ship around. The misery of 2009 and 2010 aren’t far in the rear view mirror and the team has been exactly .500 the last two years. Yeah, that might have been good enough in 2005 but this is no longer the NL Worst as the division has gotten exponentially better. Why does Towers make these comments? As misguided as they may be, he’s clearly unhappy about the results and that likely stems from a blend of two things: he’s a super-competitive person who’s starting to feel the heat after another disappointing season by a team he constructed.
Clearly this GM and the ownership want to win. They traded a potential superstar in Justin Upton, an incredibly risky move, in order to improve the team. Did it work? The jury is still out on that one as there’s a lot of time left before we know, but it shows the willingness to make bold moves in hopes of success. They even traded Trevor Bauer, another risky move that was greeted with jeers and criticism when they realized they had made a mistake. Moves like these aren’t easy to make for a variety of reasons, namely they put a bullseye on the backs of those in charge who ultimately make the decisions.
While the Mariners are content to wait it out on Justin Smoak to avoid admitting that they failed in the Cliff Lee trade, the Diamondbacks are getting production out of Randall Delgado. Instead of letting prospects like Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley try to get right in AAA, Arizona dealt Trevor Bauer and at least got a useful major league piece in return. I’m not a fan of Kevin Towers’ public comments and wish he would choose his words more carefully, but at least we know he and the front office are passionate about the team.
The Diamondbacks are trying, and that’s not nothing. It could be worse, it could be the Mariners who are trying to sell SafeCo Field as a great place to hang out rather than selling the Mariners as a contender that plays good baseball. Like it or not, the Diamondbacks will continue to be bold as they attempt to build a winner. Just what that looks like is yet to be seen, but this offseason could prove to be quite entertaining as the front office and ownership turn up the heat.
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