Arizona Diamondbacks – despite challenging season, the pieces could be in place to win
By Mark Brown
Manager Chip Hale of the Arizona Diamondbacks, believes his team is clearly capable of winning
LOS ANGELES – The talent is here, the will and desire is present, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have the capability of winning.
That was the assessment of manager Chip Hale in response to a quote attributed to Tony La Russa, the club’s Chief Baseball Officer. La Russa told the Arizona Republic that the Diamondbacks “will improve dramatically” next season. For now, the Arizona Diamondbacks limp to the finish line, and as a team whose hopes were dashed early in this forgettable season. Through a series of injuries and poor performances, the lofty expectations were far from met, and the future could hold more of the same.
Now so, countered Hale, who make a point to allay fears that he has a strong and competitive team.
“We have the personnel to compete in this division,” Hale said before Wednesday’s game with the Dodgers. “We need to play better than we’ve shown. Will we make some moves going forward? Yes, but we need to show that we can be contenders.”
The fall from grace was as dramatic as it was sudden.
From the signing of Zack Greinke to a $206 million contract, and solidifying the line-up between Paul Goldschmidt and A. J. Pollock, two All-Stars and Gold Glove winners, the expectation was stimulating. Coming into the season, there was a great surge of energy and wonder.
In spring training, Greinke told reporters he was not around a team with as much talent as his new teammates in Arizona. At the same time, Greinke made the point to suggest this edition of the Diamondbacks maybe short on experience, but seem convinced that talent could, in certain situations, overcome the vital factor of experience.
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As if a domino effect, injuries to Pollock (fractured right elbow) and David Peralta landed on the disabled list three different times (and then shut-down with season-ending surgery on his right wrist), clearly compromised the offense. That also included reducing production from a strong defensive gardens left from the 2015 season.
Then again, the Dodgers, entering Wednesday game with a four-game lead over the San Francisco Giants, started four rookies in manager Dave Roberts pitching rotation in September. Roberts explained before Wednesday’s game, “that shows the depth of our organization, and the confidence we have in these pitchers.”
Here, he cited starters Julio Urias, Brock Stewart, Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling as examples of the Dodgers’ organization to overcome a plethora of those in the rotation on the disabled list.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, the Dodgers had 27 players on the DL, and that ties the Red Sox (2012) for the most players on the DL since 1997.
In comparison, Hale replaced Pollock in centerfield with infielder Chris Owings and also moved infielder Brandon Drury to both left and right field on occasion. The result was unsettled amalgam of players playing out of position, and results, especially from a defensive perspective, compromised.
The manager’s take
After the Dodgers hit five homers off of Zack Greinke Monday night, and hammered Shelby Miller for 11 hits and four earned runs in less than five inning Tuesday night, L.A. manager Dave Roberts thought his team was swinging the bats as good as any part of the season.
Coming into Wednesdays game, the Dodgers had a four-game winning streak, and scored 27 runs in that span. That’s an average of 6.75 runs per game. As a team, they are on target to hit the fourth-most homers in a season since the team moved from Brooklyn for the 1958 season.
Next: players recalled to help bullpen
“I would say we’re swinging the bat as well now as any time all season,” Roberts said before Wednesday’s game. “(On Tuesday night), even the outs were hit hard. It’s rare that everyone is swinging well as the same time.”